The United States supports International Anti-Corruption Day, which occurred on December 9 this year, because it gives everyone a chance to pause and reflect how their respective countries are dealing with the serious problems posed by corruption. Corruption weakens the stability and security of countries’ ethical values, government institutions, and economic development. Transparency International defines corruption as “the abuse of power for private gain.” Under this definition, corrupt officials take money meant for the public good and manipulate policies, institutions, and key stakeholders to sustain the officials’ power, status, and wealth. If a country’s private citizens, businesses, and non-corrupt officials don’t take action, the corrupt individuals grow stronger and take more from the economy.
U.S. Department of State Secretary Michael Pompeo said in his speech supporting International Anti-corruption Day that corruption facilitates transnational crime, fuels terrorism, obstructs economic growth and development, weakens the rule of law, and undermines democracy. His reaffirmation to help partner nations build transparent, accountable institutions and strengthen criminal justice systems that hold the corrupt accountable reflects the United States’ determination to block corruption’s negative impacts on economic growth, investment, and shared prosperity.
Many citizens feel their fight against corruption doesn’t decrease the illicit behavior. Others ask, “what can I do?” There are many answers to the former question, but I suggest a few below:
· Organize a civil society organization that becomes part of the budget review process and publishes findings that indicate possible corruption such as misappropriation of goods;
· Be vocal about public services that are not successful because of people hired into jobs without the proper credentials;
· Report bribery, especially if the briber is a government official that is already paid to do said job; and
· Teach students ethics and social responsibility starting at a very young age.
The U.S. Embassy did something this year. It held a “What Does Corruption Look Like to You?” video contest. The panel of judges were very impressed with the video entries and the Federated States of Micronesia young people who created the videos. These youth demonstrated Micronesian national and local governments can empower citizen-led action against corruption and establish accountable institutions. These youth are waiting for the opportunity. Listen to their voices. I include the links below for your awareness.
Winetta Irons & Debby Schutz
Video Link: https://www.facebook.com/100010012032902/posts/760063067670754/
Andreas Rayphand & Jonathan Mori
Video Link: https://www.facebook.com/as.rayphand/videos/vb.100002407702530/1978446558912248/?type=3
Ceecee Kepin & Jaimaleen Tinag
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BolEP3damI&feature=youtu.be
Robert A. Riley, U.S. Ambassador to Federated States of Micronesia