Corruption involves the dishonest or fraudulent use of resources in order to deprive others of moral, social, political, or economic rights. Corruption is a universal problem, which governments all over the world have to deal with at all levels of development. Corruption destroys the ideals of good governance, which include transparency, openness, and integrity. The effects, causes, and methods of tackling corruption have become very important issues in defining international and national agendas of policy makers around the world.
For instance, there are several anti-corruption laws and initiatives in various countries and regions. In 1997, the World Bank reported that reduction of corruption would assist in economic development. Anti-corruption was considered by the financial experts around the globe as an effective measure of responding to the global financial crisis. Financial professionals have contended that the levels of corruption have failed to reduce, because while many concentrate on methods of tackling it, few take time to understand the meaning and types of corruption at different organizational levels.
There are several categories of corruption. Private corruption must be distinguished from the public corruption. Public corruption is defined as abuse of power by a public official in order to gain a private advantage. The definition has been expanded to include the individuals, who abuse power but do not gain any personal advantage from the abuse of power. This occurs in the scenarios like those, where police officers fabricate evidence just to pervert the course of justice against an individual. In such cases the police officer does not stand to gain any private benefit. It is suggested that the best method of classifying corruption is by considering legal and moral considerations. Corruption may, therefore, involve acts such as bribery, but may be extended to cover acts such as nepotism. In bribery the person being bribed expects a favor from the briber, while in nepotism there is no expectation that the favor will be returned.
Corruption manifests in the diverse ways. Here are some case examples of instances when corruption occurs: when a tax commissioner deposits public money in his personal bank account; when a political party secures majority of votes by stuffing fake ballot papers in the ballot box; when evidence is fabricated in a court of law in order to implicate an innocent suspect; when colleagues in a profession, such as medicine, unite and fail to testify against a colleague, whom they know has committed negligence or malpractice; and when athletes dope, or their coach provides them with prohibited illegal substances. The examples of cases of corruption listed above do not involve bribery.
Corruption is deemed as a legal offence in the economic sector. Corruption is highly linked with other economic offences, such as fraud, insider trading, and bribery. Prevalence of corruption in the economic sector is the reason, as to why most of the solutions proposed as methods of tackling corruption are economic in nature. This is the wrong approach, as corruption has moral, legal, and social implications. Some acts of corruption are lawful in nature. Before 1977, in the United States of America it was considered lawful to pay a bribe in order to secure a contract in a foreign land. Though the practice was outlawed later, it goes a long way into showing that corruption is best addressed from a moral dimension rather than from the legal one.
Many of the corrupt people do not abuse their power for purposes of economic gain; they do so for purposes of personal gratification with the objective of proving to their subjects that they are the ones in control. Some progress has been made in tackling the monster that is corruption. Institutional corruption is one of the prevalent forms of corruption. In cases, where a police officer fabricates evidence, but is a member of a police force that engages in fabrication of evidence, then the police officer is simply engaging in the institutional practice of corruption.
In philosophical discussions, corruption is considered as deviation from the standard ideals contributing to moral impunity. Corruption can be divided into petty corruption, grand corruption, and systematic corruption. Petty corruption occurs on a very small scale within day to day personal relationships. It involves obtaining personal favors through the usage of gifts, connections, or other means of cajoling. Grand corruption occurs at the highest levels of government and administration, and requires high level interference with the economic, legal, and political systems in place. It is commonly found in the countries with authoritarian regimes, where transparency is pushed to the background. In such countries there is no independence between the judiciary, the executive, and the legislature. The executive normally gives unilateral orders to the other arms of government. Such orders serve to perpetuate corruption. Systematic corruption, on the other hand, normally occurs due to glaring weaknesses or inefficiencies in the organizational or administrative structure. It may start as petty corruption perpetuated by individual officers in an organization only to grow into an acceptable practice within the organization. It is driven by impunity, low pay, lack of transparency, conflicting interests, and discretionary powers. In such organizations, corruption becomes a norm and everybody participates in the corrupt practices.
In the legislative arm of the government, corruption involves political abuse of power or resources by representatives of the electorate, so as to promote personal interests. In the executive arm of government corruption is normally rampant in the police force. The most common form of police corruption is taking bribes in exchange for no reporting crimes or reducing the penalty for an offence. They may also collude with criminals and participate in the organized crime. In the judicial arm of the government, corruption takes the form of misbehavior by the judges, who may take bribes; are biased in their judgment in favor of a particular income; and improperly sentence people based on the orders from the executive.
Philosophers hold different ideologies in relation to corruption. Plato stated that the world is inherently corrupt. According to him, the physical word corrupts the pure spiritual form of creation. Aristotle, on the other hand, attributes corruption to the dying or ceasing to exist of morality. To him, corruption is simply the decadence of morality and the rise of hedonism. Pedro Vicente and Daniel Kaufman, on the other hand, took a legal approach to corruption and saw it as processes that while not prohibited by law; they are not specifically allowed; and in which people participate for purposes of private gain rather than public gain.
Corruption is universal and deeply entrenched in many legal systems. Various methods have been proposed in order to combat the vice that is corruption. While most have failed, some have succeeded in various jurisdictions. The most effective method of dealing with corruption is establishment of strong effective institutions and appointing credible leaders to those institutions on basis of merit, qualifications, and integrity. Independent anti-corruption authorities and commissions capable of investigating high-profile cases without fear have proved to be successful methods of tackling corruption in the countries, such as Hong Kong.
Public awareness forums meant at changing the public attitude towards corruption also help in tackling corruption, since the public stops passive participation in the corrupt activities and reports cases of corruption that one comes across. Establishing strong institutions is important but is never enough. Effective combating of corruption involves shared responsibility, cooperation between the citizens, law enforcers and their leaders, active participation of civil society groups, and most of all political will. Anti-corruption measures only succeed when the government of the day is willing to fight corruption. Without political will, attempts to fight corruption often backfire. Corruption was significantly reduced in the countries, such as Liberia and Kosovo, because the presidents led the fight against the corruption from the front. Other countries in the world can emulate the two examples in the fight against corruption.