Job Opening for Anticorruption Advisors at the U4 Centre

A job opening possibly of interest to some of our readers:

The U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, part of the Christian Michelsen Institute in Bergen, Norway, is looking for two full-time anticorruption advisers. The official announcement, which contains more information about the positions, is here. Applications are due November 27 (three weeks from today).

Cells for Suites: Why Corruption in Prison Matters, and What To Do About It

In the latest chapter of Philippine corruption drama, a police raid of a large prison complex revealed the lavish accommodations enjoyed by several drug lords. The luxury cells included jacuzzis, strip bars, and marble-tiled bathrooms. Police also uncovered methamphetamines, inflatable sex dolls, and a small concert stage, complete with strobe lights and a disco ball. The prisoners involved were found with over $40,000 each in their pockets, which they had kept on hand in order to pay off prison officials. It is incredible that such a blatant abuse of the system took place under the watch of government officials. As one anticorruption advocate noted, the scandal highlighted the frustrating truth that, due to widespread corruption in the prison system, even a conviction does not guarantee that justice has been done.

The Philippine example may be extreme, but the issue of prison corruption is an important one, and it receives far less attention from the anticorruption community than it should. To be sure, there have been a few studies about this topic, including the U4 Issue Report on Detention and Corrections, released in January 2015. But the U4 Report, while helpful in some ways, contains only broad, general assessments about the possible causes of corruption among prison officials. Moreover, the report considered the issue of prison corruption in isolation—it focused only on the effects of such corruption on the prison itself, without addressing the effects on the broader fight against corruption in society at large. While prosecutorial efforts and institutional reforms are crucial to anticorruption efforts, it is also extremely important that prison officials act in accordance with the law, and ensure that justice is, in fact, done. Continue reading

Guest Post: Fighting Corruption in Anti-Deforestation Programs — The Case of REDD+

Aled Williams, Senior Advisor at the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, contributes the following guest post:

The protection of tropical forests is a hot topic, particularly in light of the pressing threat of global climate change. The 2014 UN Climate Summit saw a range of national and subnational governments, along with numerous business and civil society organizations, endorsed the New York Declaration on Forests, which set a timeline for cutting natural forest loss in half (by 2020) and ending it completely (by 2030). A major goal of the declaration is to agree at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Paris is to reduce deforestation and forest degradation as part of a post-2020 global climate agreement. And financial contributions are now stacking up, with more than USD 9.6 billion pledged by 22 countries to the UN’s Green Climate Fund.

Securing a global climate agreement that includes tropical deforestation would no doubt be a historic achievement. But once world leaders return from Paris next year, the proof of the pudding will lie in national implementation. They may well wish to consider what can be learned from recent schemes for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (known as REDD+), to date largely funded by the Norwegian government through bilateral arrangements with major deforesters like Indonesia and Brazil, but also channeled through multilateral agencies. It turns out that even when donors have pledged substantial amounts of money, spending that money effectively can be challenging. A major part of that challenge relates to the difficult political-economy of forest sector reform in developing countries, where corruption in its various guises can be a core feature. Indeed, despite being described as a potential game-changer for addressing tropical deforestation, REDD+ financing also risks increasing corruption and related problems like land grabbing.

These challenges are not new and indeed were well-known among Norwegian aid practitioners as REDD+ pilots began some four years ago. But the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre has just completed a three year research project–based on case studies of REDD+ pilots in the DRC, Indonesia, Kenya, the Philippines, and Tanzania–that sheds some new light on the issues. The report’s empirical findings suggest three main lessons: Continue reading

Guest Post: The Impact of Foreign Anti-Bribery Laws on the Demand-Side Countries

Francesco De Simone, an Advisor at the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, contributes the following guest post:

What are the consequences of “supply side” foreign bribery laws, like the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and UK Bribery Act (UKBA), on the developing countries that are often the bribe receivers in foreign bribery cases (the “demand side”)? When can OECD country (say, the United States) prosecutes a company for paying a bribe in a developing country (say Nigeria), what are the implications for Nigeria – for its institutions and for its overall corruption environment and anti-corruption framework? How does the investigation or prosecution affect Nigeria’s ability to investigate prosecute the same case? What are the consequences if the U.S. case is settled? How can Nigeria obtain restitution of the proceeds of the bribe? And should it?

Although foreign anti-bribery laws like the FCPA have attracted a great deal of analysis and discussion (including on this blog: see here, hereherehere, and here), there is much less material on those sorts of questions. (An exception is the work by Professor Kevin Davis, see here and here, also discussed on this blog.) In a new U4 paper I co-wrote with Bruce Zagaris, we attempt to provide a more in-depth analysis of how supply-side enforcement of foreign anti-bribery laws by OECD countries affects parallel investigation and enforcement action in the demand-side country whose officials allegedly took the bribes. Unfortunately, reliable information on how many supply-side enforcement actions result in parallel investigations by the demand-side host countries is not currently available (so far as we know), but we were able to extract a great deal of useful information from FCPA and UKBA cases, as well as other recent studies like the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR) Left Out of the Bargain report.

The main takeaways from our study can be summarized as follows: Continue reading

Should We Use Randomized Trials for Anticorruption Education and Training?

I recently attended two unrelated anticorruption conferences that both raised — in very different contexts — questions related to the appropriate design of education programs designed to inculcate ethical norms and prevent corruption.  In one conference, focused on corporate anti-bribery compliance, the issue had to do with the design of compliance training programs (and associated measures) designed to teach employees about their legal and ethical obligations, as well as the steps they should take to address any potential problems they come across in the course of their work.  At the other conference, focused more broadly on university education in the developing world, participants spent a considerable amount of time discussing (and sometimes advocating) the integration of anticorruption components into university courses — including courses not specifically on corruption — in order to produce a generation of students who would be more likely to resist corrupt norms and promote more ethical conduct.

Notably, although there seemed to be wide consensus in both discussions that education is important, there was much less of a clear sense of what sorts of education or training programs are most likely to be effective, and how much of an impact one can expect such programs to have. That’s understandable, of course: In this context, as in many others, the messiness of reality makes it very difficult to figure out what works, and to isolate the impact of any one intervention. But perhaps some forms of anticorruption education (in both the corporate training and academic contexts) may be suitable for randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Let me use this post to make a tentative case for expanded use of RCTs in this context. Continue reading