Global Development Institute Blog

The use of public office for private gain benefits a powerful few while imposing costs on large swathes of society. Transparency International publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index which measures the perceived levels of public-sector graft by aggregating independent surveys from across the globe.

OECD countries appear less in the top 25 which is largely formed mainly of failed states, poor African countries and nations that either were once communist or are still run along similar lines. Comparing the corruption index with the UN’s Human Development Index (a measure combining health, wealth and education), demonstrates an interesting connection. When the corruption index is between approximately 2.0 and 4.0 there appears to be little relationship with the human development index, but as it rises beyond 4.0 a stronger connection can be seen whereby corruption at this level impacts negatively on development. As development experts, we should be interested in this dynamic.

The work done by the Effective States and Inclusive Development research centre investigates what political contexts are needed for development to succeed. Transparency International looks specifically at sectors where we should be shining a light to ensure transparency of action, objective and lack of corruption and that progress or action doesn’t work against development goals.

Corruption in Defence and Security is Dangerous, Wasteful and Divisive:

  • Public trust: Corruption erodes the public’s trust in the armed forces and, in some cases, can undermine trust in the government as a whole.
  • Government integrity: The government exists to serve its people, and defence and security establishments to protect them. When defence and security establishments are corrupt, the integrity of the government is undermined as leaders abuse the power entrusted in them for personal enrichment.
  • Economic impact: Corruption is costly and a waste of a country’s scarce resources as defence and security are expensive areas of a national budget, even when conducted with integrity.
  • Threat to security: Corruption is a danger to security and anti-terrorism policies, even contributing to regional and international instability.
  • Peace keeping: A critical element in the conflict resolution and/or immediate post-conflict phase is the role of the military and a compromised defence force impacts a country’s ability to restore peace.

The need for transparency in the pharmaceutical industry:

  • Provision of services: Corruption weakens the quality of services and in some cases can deny access to healthcare
  • Economic impact: Corruption in the sector has a corrosive impact on health, negatively impacting public health budgets, the price of health services and medicines, and the quality of care dispensed.
  • Knowledge is power: There is a knowledge gap between the providers and users of healthcare, leaving patients subject to the knowledge they are provided by healthcare providers, suppliers, and regulators. This inequity of information is open to exploitation for private gain, opening possibilities of corruption.
  • Temptation: The volume of funds involved in the sector provides incentive for private gain. Due to the high number of people involved in decision making, and the often bureaucratic nature of the pharmaceutical and health sectors, it is susceptible to individual discretion and regulatory capture.

Find out more about Transparency International’s work in defence and the pharmaceutical industry and listen to the full lecture here: