Anti-Corruption Odyssey
01 June 2004

‘It is much harder for a senior politician to be corrupt in front of the public’, Laurence Cockcroft said. ‘But on an individual level it depends on how far people take on initiatives to change it.’

LAURENCE COCKCROFT, Chair of the UK chapter of Transparency International (TI), stressed the role of the individual in fighting corruption, in a lecture at the IC centre in London in February. He spoke of the ‘huge courage, effort and energy’ of the four winners of TI’s annual Integrity Awards, which are given to individuals who have stood out against corruption.

With democracy more widespread than ever before, ‘it is much harder for a senior politician to be corrupt in front of the public’, Cockcroft said. ‘But on an individual level it depends on how far people take on initiatives to change it.’
‘Corruption is a dynamic entity,’ he said. ‘It gets better or worse, but is never static. We have to ask the question: to what extent corruption prevents the world from becoming inclusive.’

Referring to the role of religion in Africa, he said that ‘Islam and Christianity are both antagonistic to corruption, but there is a failure by both, institutionally, to address the question.’

Cockcroft stressed that TI in the UK ‘needs to focus more on what is going on in defence and politics’. In the private sector changes happen much faster than in the political or public sectors. The day after Cockcroft's forum, the Financial Times reported that there had been no major prosecutions of businesses for corrupt practices. The paper quoted Cockcroft as saying that corporate behaviour would ‘only change markedly when there are a couple of high-profile prosecutions’.




PLEA TO SUPPORT THIRD WORLD FARMERS
‘AGRICULTURE USED to have a very high standing in the development plans of Western countries, but over the last 10 years this has been lost,’ maintained Christie Peacock, Chief Executive of the British-based non-governmental organization Farm Africa.


Dr Peacock was speaking at a public forum at the IC centre in London in April, hosted by the International Farmers Dialogue—a programme of IC. She appealed for greater status to be accorded to small farmers across Africa.

Farm Africa has produced an ‘agenda and rationale’ for investing in African agriculture and is busy lobbying DFID (the UK’s Department for International Development). A new document, Reaching the Poor—a call to action, argues the case for investing in smallholder farmers in Africa. Peacock said that it was understandable that governments gave large sums in direct food aid during a crisis but it made more sense in the long term to enable poor farmers to increase their production.




VISION FOR THE MASS MEDIA

BERNARD MARGUERITTE,President of the International Communications Forum (ICF), addressed a one-day media conference organized by the Royal Society of Edinburgh in March. Its aim was to consider the breakdown of public trust in the media, and how well journalism properly served the public interest. In Scotland, concerns have been voiced about the relationship between the Scottish media, the Parliament in Edinburgh and the public, as well as about the concentration of media ownership.


Margueritte said that the media could and should play a prominent role in the battle to build a better world, but in order to do so ‘we have to refind our dignity and sense of mission. At stake is our own credibility, as media people and as human beings, and at stake is the future of our societies and our world.’

The other main speakers were Prof Philip Schlesinger, head of the Media Research Institute at Stirling University, Lord Steel, former presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament, Tony Stoller of Ofcom (the regulator for the UK communications industries), and Alastair Campbell, the former head of communications for Prime Minister Blair. The Chairman was BBC presenter James Naughtie.




2003 INDEX
A comprehensive index for Volume 16 of ‘For A Change’ can be ordered from Maria Grace, 15 Lewis Walk, Newbury, Berks RG14 6TB, UK. Price £2.00 to cover photocopying and postage. For a free copy in electronic format, email: maria.grace@uk.iofc.org




'WE USED YOUR MAGAZINE ALL THE TIME. MAINLY STUDENTS FOUND A LOT OF USEFUL INFORMATION THERE.'
RETIRED PROFESSOR, CZECH REPUBLIC



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