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Business - Written by on Friday, February 13, 2009 11:35 - 1 Comment

Participatory regulation and anti-corruption efforts

Participatory regulation is arguably the best way to surface and defeat corruption in government and industry. I’ve highlighted a range of impressive efforts below. They range from Transparency International’s more top-down survey and index approach to the bottom-up Wikileaks site where anybody can post documents that uncover instances of corruption. You can add your examples in the comments.

Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. The annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), first released in 1995, is the best known of Transparency International’s corruption-fighting tools. It has been widely credited with putting TI and the issue of corruption on the international policy agenda. The CPI ranks 180 countries by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys. TI also has the global corruption barometer, the bribe payer’s index (assesses the supply side of corruption and ranks corruption by source country and industry sector) and the revenue transparency project (working to disclose company payments to resource-rich countries ). Given their clout and reputation I would like to see TI adopt a more participatory approach. At the moment, donating funds to their organization seems to be the main channel for public participation. Although credit to them, they do appear to make their data available for resuse.


The Kimberley Process (KP) is a joint government- industry-civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds – rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments to devastating effect in countries such as Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone. The Kimberley Process established a supply chain monitoring and diamond certification process that is supposed to ensure that conflict diamonds do not reach retail shelves. Although the initiative appears to have made considerable progress, Global Witness, which (along with Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) and other NGOs) had an unusually high level of involvement in developing and building support for the scheme, claims that there is still a flourishing illicit trade in diamonds globally. Global Witness reports that poor controls in some diamond producing countries (e.g., Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone) allow significant volumes of blood diamonds enter the legitimate trade through Ghana and Mali, where they are being certified as conflict free.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is similar in intent to TI’s bribe payer’s index — it also aims to strengthen governance by improving transparency and accountability in the extractives sector. The EITI initiative works directly with participants in the extractive industry (e.g., mining, oil & gas companies and governments) to set a global standard for companies to publish what they pay and for governments to disclose what they receive. The goal is to ensure that the revenues from oil, gas, and mining companies in the form of taxes, royalties, signature bonuses and other payments become an important engine for economic growth and social development rather than simply enriching the ruling elite.

Wikileaks is arguably the most open and participatory anti-corruption efforts in the mix. Its core objective is to provide a platform for people who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations and it does this by hosting a wiki for mass document leaking and analysis. To date, it has received over 1.2 million documents from dissident communities and anonymous sources, focused largely on exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

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Steve Song
Feb 13, 2009 14:29

This approach is promoted by economist Paul Collier although I am more inclined to think of it as Open Standards for Governance rather than participatory regulation. The voluntary Open Standards approach of Internet RFCs have the power of being demonstrably useful i.e. not useful = not used. A successful Open Standard is a stick that civil society can use to interrogate their government and ask them to explain at least their rationale for *not* using a successful open standard, such as EIT, etc.

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