New Podcast Episode, Featuring Grant Walton

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In latest episode, host Dan Hough interviews Grant Walton, Associate Professor at the Australia National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy. Their conversation focuses on corruption in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Professor Walton discusses his research on differences in how people in PNG understand the meaning of “corruption”  and how this understanding may differ from common Western understandings of the term. He also emphasizes his view that inattention to this disconnect has implications for how campaigners and reformers design anticorruption messaging. Professor Walton also discusses how PNG’s formal anticorruption institution and how external actors can effectively support those institutions. You can also find both this episode and an archive of prior episodes at the following locations: KickBack was originally founded as a collaborative effort between GAB and the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRN). It is now hosted and managed by the University of Sussex’s Centre for the Study of Corruption. If you like it, please subscribe/follow, and tell all your friends!

Reporting Corruption Easily and Safely: Papua New Guinea’s Phones Against Corruption Initiative — UPDATE

Nick Brown, head of Global Distribution for Mobimedia International, contributes the following Guest Post. [Ed. note: Data from UNDP on the project’s operation received June 2022 added at end of post.]

 Persuading corruption victims to complain remains one of the great challenges to combating corruption.  Policymakers can’t prioritize prevention efforts or know where to deploy enforcement resources if they don’t know who is demanding bribes where and from whom. But getting citizens to blow the whistle is no mean feat.  Citizens must be convinced it is worth the effort, that something will happen if they do speak up.  Citizens must also be assured they will be safe if they do, that the corrupters will not harm them or their loved ones, financially or physically.

With its “Phones Against Corruption” initiative, the Government of Papua New Guinea has hit upon a way that citizens can easily and safely report corruption complaints, and since its launch in 2014, with technical support from Mobimedia International and financial backing from UNDP and Australia, it has taken off.  Critical to its success is that it makes no technological or financial demands on PNG’s limited capacity.  It requires no more technological sophistication from citizens than the ability to send a text message, a form of communication widely used throughout the country. How does it work? Continue reading

Large-Scale Land Acquisitions: Opportunities for Corruption

Recent years have seen a significant rise in large-scale land acquisitions by foreign investors, generally for agricultural or extractive purposes. Many of these land deals, termed “land grabs,” have had injurious effects on local populations who are often pushed off of their land without their informed consent. (For a description of contemporary land grabs and a land grab bibliography, see here.) Foreign companies and governments secure the majority of these land deals in poorer countries, where large tracts of land can be purchased cheaply, and where many of the local inhabitants do not have the means to contest the deals through the legal system. The land is frequently used for agriculture or production of “flex crops” (such as soy or palm oil), which are then sold abroad, rather than to the host country. Therefore, land grabs can result in not only the displacement of local communities, but also the reallocation of these vital resources to external actors, rather than to the inhabitants of the host country.

Large-scale land deals are often facilitated by corrupt practices perpetrated by the foreign purchaser and/or the host government, through the transactions themselves or through weak institutions. Last November, the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) and Global Witness released a report that details the opportunities for corruption at each stage of large-scale land acquisitions, as well as the current legal frameworks for addressing this corruption. As noted in the report, corruption can occur in each of the six phases of a land deal: Continue reading

Guest Post: Hosting Proceeds Down Under — Australia and the G20 Anticorruption Agenda

Professor Jason Sharman of Griffith University, Australia, contributes the following guest post:

On November 15th–two days from now–the latest G20 leaders’ summit kicks off in my home town of Brisbane, Australia, with anticorruption once again on the agenda. Though the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group has made some important progress, many of the member states have been letting down the side. Specifically, Australia tends to receive less critical scrutiny than it should when it comes to international action against corruption, particularly in terms of hosting stolen assets from other countries in the region. And the G20 leaders’ summit is as good a time as any for the international community to press Australia for its many failures to deal with its status as a regional haven for money laundering in the Asia-Pacific. Continue reading

Curbing Corrpution in Papua New Guinea: What Australia Can do

A lively discussion is underway on the Development Policy Centre‘s DevPolicy Blog about what Australia can do to help control corruption in Papua New Guinea, the largest recipient of Australian foreign assistance.   It follows a government promise that by July 2015 the government will “detail the measures we [Australia] will adopt to protect Australian Government aid funds and how [Australia] will support our partner country’s anti-corruption efforts.”  What’s made the discussion so lively, as Grant Walton and Stephen Howes explain in the initial post, is the juxtaposition of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s recent discussion of the government’s plans to implement the policy with PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s evasion of arrest for his alleged role in a major corruption scandal and his attempts to dismantle PNG’s anti-corruption taskforce. Continue reading