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Corruption is neither black nor white but fifty shades of grey, explains Alina Rocha Menocal, in this audio interview. Any attempts to tackle it must take such nuances into account.
Rocha Menocal is a senior research fellow in the Developmental Leadership Program at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, and co-author of Why corruption matters, a 2015 report published by the UK Department for International Development.
“If you are concerned about inequality, corruption is a big problem because however you look at it ... the main burden of corruption will fall on poor people.”
Alina Rocha Menocal
Here she lifts the lid on myths surrounding corruption — including the alarming development that, rather than stamping it out, the transition of many regimes from authoritarian to democratic government during the 1980s entrenched new forms of graft.
In states where institutions of accountability are weak, the democratic process is often “where much of the business of corruption happens”, Rocha Menocal says. There’s a lot of money involved, “both legal and completely dirty”.
Another issue is that “corruption is not the sole domain of the developing world … [but] exists everywhere”. According to Rocha Menocal, developed countries are often responsible for propping up corrupt practices in the global South. Meanwhile, mechanisms for measuring and analysing corruption vary across different contexts, making it difficult to compare across countries, continents or regions. Breaking down what people mean when they use the word “corruption” and putting in place robust mechanisms for measuring and analysing it will be a vital first step towards its eradication, she says. The interview was recorded at Corruption and Development, an event at University College London, United Kingdom, on 29 June.