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13 June 2008

Corruption hurts everyone


What is corruption?

Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It hurts everyone whose life, livelihood or happiness depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority.

Corruption hurts everyone, and it harms the poor the most. Sometimes its devastating impact is obvious:

• A father who must do without shoes because his meagre wages are used to pay a bribe to get his child into a supposedly free school.
• The unsuspecting sick person who buys useless counterfeit drugs, putting their health in grave danger.
• A small shop owner whose weekly bribe to the local inspector cuts severely into his modest earnings.
• The family trapped for generations in poverty because a corrupt and autocratic leadership has systematically siphoned off a nation’s riches.
Other times corruption’s impact is less visible:
• The prosperous multinational corporation that secured a contract by buying an unfair advantage in a competitive market through illegal kickbacks to corrupt government officials, at the expense of the honest companies who didn’t.
• Post-disaster donations provided by compassionate people, directly or through their governments, that never reach the victims, callously diverted instead into the bank accounts of criminals.
• The faulty buildings, built to lower safety standards because a bribe passed under the table in the construction process that collapse in an earthquake or hurricane.


Corruption has dire global consequences, trapping millions in poverty and misery and breeding social, economic and political unrest.

Corruption is both a cause of poverty, and a barrier to overcoming it. It is one of the most serious obstacles to reducing poverty.

Corruption denies poor people the basic means of survival, forcing them to spend more of their income on bribes. Human rights are denied where corruption is rife, because a fair trial comes with a hefty price tag where courts are corrupted.

Corruption undermines democracy and the rule of law.

Corruption distorts national and international trade.

Corruption jeopardises sound governance and ethics in the private sector.

Corruption threatens domestic and international security and the sustainability of natural resources.

Those with less power are particularly disadvantaged in corrupt systems, which typically reinforce gender discrimination.

Corruption compounds political exclusion: if votes can be bought, there is little incentive to change the system that sustains poverty.

The conclusion - Corruption hurts everyone.

Source : Transparency International, the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption

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