For many people, the word corruption brings to mind a picture of some politician, police officer or other civil servant taking a bribe. While this picture fits the definition of corruption, its definition is simply: “The misuse of public office for private gain,” according to the World Bank and Transparency International (TI).
“As such, it involves the improper and unlawful behavior of public-service officials, both politicians and civil servants, whose positions create opportunities for the diversion of money and assets from government to themselves and their accomplices” (United Nations, Global Program Against Corruption 1999). It is that simple
The negative effects of corruption are many. Corruption undermines the democratic underpinnings of a government, causes inefficient government programs and ultimately causes citizens to doubt their government and elected officials. It also weakens or destroys the rule of law resulting in further distrust.
In the fall of last year the Thomson Reuters Foundation launched a global program called Trustlaw. It’s goal is to bring together free legal assistance with those who are facing corruption, according to The Corruption blog.
Ultimately, the best defense against corruption is transparency. Full disclosure avoids the opportunity to take advantage and use resources for personal gain.