For the sixth year running the Organization for Economic and Cooperation is hosting a two-day conference on ethics and corruption. This year’s theme is how corruption has eroded trust in government and is helping advance what Secretary General Gurria termed in his opening remarks the three destructive “isms” haunting the world today: populism, nationalism, and protectionism.
The organization’s members are 35 of the world’ s richest nations (all save Russia and the PRC), and despite extraordinary levels of wealth by any historical measure, and recent upbeat economic news, citizens across the 35 have soured on their governments. Trust in government across the 35 is at a record low while cynicism and distrust in elected leaders is at an all-time high, and though the Secretary General put much of the blame for the current funk on the 2008 economic crisis and the still uneven and unbalanced recovery, corruption, he stressed, has done its part. Revelations of wrong-doing at the highest levels of government coupled with the petty corruption that frustrates the delivery of basic government services has only deepened citizens’ suspicions in their government. If OECD member states are to win back citizens’ confidence, and avoid those destructive “isms,” they cannot, he argued, ignore the corruption question.
For those unable to fund a trip to Paris or with a sponsor or client willing to foot the bill, the conference home page with the agenda is here. Four things I found useful on day one: Continue reading