When the Tunisian revolution took place in early 2011, the people demanded – and expected – an end to corruption. But the fight against corruption is a long term struggle where the mindset of the people in a corrupt society needs to be changed. That was one of the concluding remarks after the ILAC and Sida seminar on anti-corruption held in Almedalen, Sweden, on 30 June.
There’s a clear linkage between corruption and poverty and therefore work against corruption is one of Swedish Sida’s priorities. At a seminar during the Almedalen week in Visby, ILAC and Sida jointly organised a seminar focusing on how Swedish aid and development work can prevent corruption.
The seminar was a part of an anti-corruption collaboration between 15 different organisations and companies led by the Swedish Institute Against Corruption, Transparency International Sweden and the American Chamber of Commerce in Sweden.
Tunisia as a case study
Key speaker at the seminar was Mr Samir Annabi, President of the new Tunisian Anti Corruption Agency, ILAC member, and a longstanding figure within the Tunisian judiciary. The Tunisian experience of the fight against corruption after the so called Arab Spring was presented as a case study by Mr Annabi, and commented and reflected by Ms Molly Lien, Senior Policy Specialist, Anti-Corruption, Sida and Annica Sohlström, Secretary General at Forum Syd together with prof Bo Rothstein, the Quality of Government Institute, Gothenburg University.
Anti-corruption work is long term
There’s an ongoing debate on whether or not the setting up of a specific anti-corruption agency is the best strategy in fighting corruption, or if a more mainstreamed work against corruption works better. Molly Lien, Sida, pointed out that it is not a question of either or, and that all anti-corruption efforts needs to be tailored to fit the specific country and context.
Within Forum Syd, gathering 158 CSOs, there’s a “zero tolerance” towards corruption. But Annica Sohlström was clear in saying that this approach doesn’t mean that development projects will end if there are signs of corruption.
– We need an openness in order to fight corruption in corruptive environments, said Annica Sohlström. People involved in projects need to be able to speak up on corruption.
According to Prof Bo Rothstein the Tunisian effort so far is a good start, but not enough. Studies around the world shows that the work against corruption basically is about the quality of governance in a country and that this is something that often takes generations to achieve.
Samir Annabi concluded by echoing prof Rothstein and noted that the Tunisian people strongly condemns corruption, but at the same time practice corruption. That’s the scenario in a corrupt environment, and the work to change the mindset of the people takes time.
The Almedalen seminar was webcasted and can be seen on YouTube:
More information about the Sida funded ILAC project on Anti-corruption, implemented by the CEELI Institute, can be found here.
Pictures from Mr Samir Annabi’s visit to Almedalen can be found and shared through ILAC’s Flickr account here.