News / Africa

Study: Connection Between Corruption, Recent Revolutions

Thousands of Egyptians protest in Cairo's central Tahrir Square, the focal point of Egyptian uprising, as they hold banners and signs demanding prosecution of ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his regime Friday, April 8, 2011
Thousands of Egyptians protest in Cairo's central Tahrir Square, the focal point of Egyptian uprising, as they hold banners and signs demanding prosecution of ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his regime Friday, April 8, 2011



A study by Global Integrity, an international nonprofit organization, says corruption risks increased in Egypt, some Middle Eastern, North African and Eastern European nations before this year's popular uprisings that swept the region.

Global Integrity Managing Director Nathaniel Heller likened corruption to a black hole when he spoke to reporters at the release of a new report he said seeks to measure transparency and good governance measures that can counter corruption.   

Heller said anti-corruption data collected in 2010 for Yemen, Morocco, and the West Bank show they face challenges similar to those experienced in Egypt before that country's popular uprising in January.

"Looking back across several years of assessments from countries like Egypt, Yemen, Morocco, the West Bank, we have seen a steady decline almost universally in the region and for almost all countries dating back to at least 2006," he said. "In Egypt in particular, we saw this steady march downward from a situation that was already very challenging when it came to anti-corruption and transparency to one that was becoming an incredibly poor situation."

The new study finds that Egypt, Yemen, Morocco and the West Bank did not fare well on measures to promote anti-corruption safeguards, such as an independent media, transparency of senior government officials' assets and effective auditing of government programs to ensure funds were not being diverted.     

Global Integrity has generated 207 national assessments since 2006. In that time, Israel and the United Arab Emirates were the only two countries studied in the Middle East and North Africa that avoided the label of "very weak" on anti-corruption safeguards.

"In some ways, it is not surprising what is going on," said Heller. "I think we are starting to see the real evidence of a breaking point when it comes to citizens just being unable to deal with a scenario in which there is virtually zero government accountability, zero means of seeking redress for abuse of power."     

It is not just the Middle East and North Africa that concern the Washington-based nonprofit.

Global Integrity says there was improvement in Eastern European nations, such as Bulgaria, Romania and Poland as they strove to meet requirements to join the European Union and NATO. But, Heller said, since these nations joined these international blocs, they have felt less pressure to maintain anti-corruption and transparency gains.

"And, three or four years ago, we predicted that we would see these data decline over time as that carrot and that incentive disappeared.  When we looked at the data for this year from the 2010 results for Romania, Bulgaria and Poland in particular, unfortunately, we saw that prediction borne out precisely,"  said Heller.

In South Asia, Global Integrity found anti-corruption safeguards weakened significantly in Pakistan last year for the first time, after the country struggled for years as a "middle performer." Heller said he suspects that corruption probably played a role in terrorist Osama bin Laden's ability to elude capture until he was killed by U.S. commandos.

"And given what we now know, just from media reporting about the bin-Laden raid and where he was living for the past several years, I think it does raise some really interesting questions in terms of how someone like that could live in a giant villa, close to a military base, close to the national capital, and simply not raise eyebrows for several years," he said.

Global Integrity says Argentina, Peru and Ethiopia all demonstrated a noticeable improvement in anti-corruption performance in 2010. The report said, in Ethiopia, there have been gains in the areas of public access to information, civil service professionalism, conflict of interest safeguards across all three branches of government, as well as political financing transparency safeguards.

Global Integrity says it bases its report on the findings of local researchers, journalists and academics.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs