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Anti-corruption and ethics: the foundations for integrity in governments


Anti-corruption and ethics: the foundations for integrity in governments

Anti-corruption and ethics: the foundations for integrity in governments

Anna Mara, Member of SwissFintechLadies

Anti-corruption and ethics: the foundations for integrity in governments

In a world where transparency and trust in governments are crucial, the fight against corruption takes on a central role. Preventing corruption and promoting ethical behaviour are fundamental elements that lay the foundation for integrity in government institutions. In this article, we will take a closer look at the importance of anti-corruption and ethics in the context of governments and reflect on how these two factors contribute to ensuring good and transparent governance.

The nature of corruption is also found in governments

Corruption is the abuse of power for personal gain. However, it only undermines citizens’ trust in government, but also jeopardises fair and equitable access to public resources and services. In fact, according to Transparency, 62% of respondents to a 2021 survey assume that their government is corrupt.

Let’s look at this a little more closely

Corruption can come in various forms, be it bribery, abuse of office or nepotism. Therefore, fighting corruption is essential to ensure that governments act in the best interests of their citizens and use public resources efficiently and fairly.

Two forms of corruption need to be precisely distinguished. First, there are the so-called “facilitation payments”, aptly called facility payments, whereby a public official is paid a second time for doing his or her job. For example, in the passport office, issuing a new passport takes only one day if the official is paid USD 100, or approving an infrastructure project goes quickly and swiftly if the authority is rewarded a second time through facilitation payments. In most countries, it is about these facilitation figures when corruption is talked about.

According to the comparison of länderdaten.info, the countries with the highest corruption are usually also the countries where the annual income is the lowest. This seems logical. people here are vulnerable to such facilitation payments.

But there is a second form of corruption according to Transparency international Canada: money payments to governments and their organs to change political decisions. Here, the boundaries to lobbying are sometimes still grey areas, but many countries have now passed laws on this, although in many cases they are inadequate, do not take effect or are not respected at all.

The fight against corruption is a continuous process that includes various instruments and strategies. Laws and regulations prohibiting corruption are the cornerstone on which the fight is built. However, these laws must not only exist, but also be consistently enforced. In this context, it is naturally a challenge that governments should protect themselves from preventing political influence through payments; they are both profiteers and controllers. Facilitation payments are different. These can be more easily contained and eliminated by independent institutions that have the power to investigate and punish violations.

Another important element of the fight against corruption is the promotion of a culture of transparency and compliance. Governments should be open and accessible to citizens to ensure that their actions are not only accountable, but free from payments that alter democratic decisions. Asset disclosure, lobbying activities and public procurement are areas where transparency can limit the likelihood of decision alteration.

What is the role of ethics in this area?

Ethics form the moral backbone of any society and its institutions. In relation to governments, ethical behaviour is about putting responsibilities and duties to citizens above personal interests. Ethical governance aims to uphold the highest standards of integrity, transparency and accountability. This not only creates an environment of trust, but also a framework in which citizens are able to voice their concerns and participate in political processes.

Fine words. However, there are different notions of ethics. On the one hand, there is Leviathan, Job’s social contract on which social contracts such as the Paris Climate Agreement or the United Nations with its rules are based. On the other hand, in the German-speaking world, Kant’s concept of ethics applies, which has some areas of friction with Leviathan. According to Anton Leist of the University of Zurich, Hobbes and Kant, along with Aristotle, are the most important precursors of our current conflictual moral self-understanding.

What Hobbes and Kant share is the question of the rational justification of the social order. Both have an ideal political order in their conception of ethics. While Job’s is interpreted today in the sense of a living contract (i.e. the contract is concluded once in society and then adapted each time without further participation of the citizens), Kant as an epistemologist insists on the categorical imperative, honesty at all costs, while Hobbs’ Leviathan bows to utilitarianism. Which ethical model is the more effective in socio-political terms is a matter of debate. At the moment, Leviathan is clearly the winner. However, he did not consider the problem of modern democracies with the possibility of changing political decisions by paying money.

An ethically oriented government should act in accordance with the interests of the citizens and not for the personal benefit of individuals. This is not always easy or clear with the multitude of public-private partnerships that populate international institutions.

Another aspect of ethical leadership in governments is the promotion of professionalism and qualifications. The selection of government officials is based on their skills and expertise rather than on political loyalty or personal relationships. This creates an environment where decisions are made based on expertise and knowledge.

It is important to raise global awareness of the different forms of corruption International norms and standards could help promote a culture of integrity and encourage governments to respect ethical principles.

Presseportal: https://www.presseportal.ch/de/nr/100096065https://swissfintechladies.ch/blog/

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