April 7, 2016, by Charlotte Anscombe

The UK’s approach to tackling corruption overseas examined by Nottingham expert

Paul Heywood, Sir Francis Hill Professor of European Politics at The University of Nottingham, has given evidence at the International Development Committee’s tackling corruption overseas inquiry.

Professor Heywood is leading the British Academy/DFID Anti-corruption Evidence (ACE) partnership, a £3.6 million initiative to support leading international research teams to research and identify the most successful ways of addressing corruption in developing countries.

The Department for International Development (DFID) has developed specific anti-corruption strategies for each of the countries it works in. Ahead of the Prime Minister’s Anti-Corruption Summit, which will be held in London in May, the International Development Committee (which Professor Heywood has given evidence to), is inquiring into the direction and effectiveness of DFID’s current anti-corruption efforts, the development impacts of UK Government policy on corruption and the coherence of the Government’s approach as a whole.

The International Development Committee is inquiring into whether DFID should have a zero tolerance policy towards corruption in the countries where it is working. How effective has the 2013 DFID anti-corruption strategy been and the inquiry will examine what the balance should be between seeking to tackle corruption top down at institutional level and bottom up at the grass roots.

Professor Heywood said: “Everybody agrees corruption is hugely damaging, especially in the developing world. But efforts to combat corruption over recent decades have seen very disappointing results. One reason is that too often we have adopted a rather simplistic approach to corruption, trying to find some kind of measurable ‘amount’ or ‘level’ in particular countries and suggesting ‘one size fits all’ solutions. But corruption is complex, and takes different forms in different places, both within countries and also transnationally.

“For example, the systematic theft of state assets by public officials, or the sale of government policy to private interests, is very different in scale and impact to the routine, day-to-day bribery that is typical of how many/most citizens access public services in large parts of the developing world. The former, crucially – as has been dramatically demonstrated through the Mossack Fonseca revelations – is dependent on external collusion and facilitators; the latter is usually not. And without minimising the impact of ‘petty’ corruption on daily life, it is the plundering of state assets that really undermines good government and costs citizens (especially the most vulnerable).

“Only through more detailed and focused interdisciplinary work, involving academic researchers working closely with anti-corruption policy-makers and activists, will we develop the kinds of insights we need to make a real difference.”

To watch Professor Heywood’s evidence visit  the website.


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