Pogledaj Full Version : Citizen Empowerment and Grass-Roots Action to Curb Corruption and Gain Accountability

Željko Zidarić
29th-May-2012, 05:12 PM
Shaazka Beyerle, Senior Advisor, International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (http://www.bistandstorget.no/newsread/ReadImage.aspx?DOCID=913&QUALITY=10)

Table of contents:
Why is it important to empower citizens to fight corruption
Why are citizens often effective in curbing corruption
Dynamics of people power
Examples of cases

Why is it important to empower citizens to fight corruption?

1. It’s ordinary people who bear the brunt of corruption, have direct experience of it and suffer from it. Aruna Roy, one of the founders of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) movement for the “Right to Know” in India, characterizes corruption as “the external manifestation of the denial of a right, an entitlement, a wage, a medicine…” In bottom-up approaches, corruption isn’t considered in a vacuum; it’s linked to other injustices, from violence to poverty, human rights abuses, substandard social services, authoritarianism, unaccountability, to environmental destruction.

2. People have power and can use it to curb corruption. Nonviolent social movements and campaigns have a rich history of ending oppression and injustice, including forms of corruption. A 2009 study found that over the past 110 years, violent campaigns succeeded historically in only 26 percent of all cases, compared to 53 percent in the case of nonviolent, civilian-based campaigns (see resources section).

3. Traditional, top-down, administrative, rules-based strategies are based on the assumption that once anti-corruption structures are put in place, illicit practices will change. Institutions accused of corruption are often made responsible for enacting change. But those benefitting from graft are much less likely to end it than those suffering from it. Thus, even when political will exists, it can be thwarted, because too many people have a stake in the crooked status quo.

4. When citizens fight corruption, the priorities often shift from technocratic reforms and grand corruption, to curbing those forms of graft and abuse that are most harmful or common to ordinary people, particularly the poor. In people-centered approaches, curbing corruption becomes part of a larger set of goals for accountability, participatory democracy, and social and economic justice.

Why are citizens – mobilized in grass-roots campaigns and movements – often effective in curbing corruption?

People power may be particularly suited to a systemic approach to curbing corruption because it consists of extra-institutional pressure to push for change, when power-holders are corrupt and/or unaccountable, and institutional channels are blocked or ineffective.

Top-down and bottom-up, grass-roots approaches are not mutually exclusive. Civic campaigns and movements can:

Complement and reinforce legal and administrative mechanisms, which constitute the anti-corruption infrastructure needed for long-term transformation of systems of graft and abuse;
Shake-up vertical and horizontal systems of corruption;
Exert pressure on the state as well as on other sectors of society;
Bolster efforts and support/protect honest individuals within the state and other institutions and sectors attempting reforms and change.

What are the dynamics of people power?

Mobilized citizens, engaged in organized, civil resistance can generate social force - people power - that:

Disrupts dishonest relationships and the status quo within systems of corruption by -

shaking up corrupt interactions and relationships
generating political will
pushing for people-centered measures
reinforcing new patterns of administration and governance centered on accountability to citizens.

Wins people over to the civic campaign or movement, even from within corrupt systems
Weakens sources of support and control for unaccountable and corrupt power holders, entities, and their enablers

Citizens in grass-roots anti-corruption campaigns/movements utilize a variety of nonviolent tactics, such as:

civil disobedience
low-risk mass actions
displays of symbols
street theatre and stunts
songs, poetry, humor
citizen and candidate report cards
demanding and acquiring information
monitoring officials and institutions
monitoring budgets, spending, services
social audits
social networking/digital technologies
education and training
social/economic empowerment initiatives
youth recreation
creation of parallel institutions
anti-corruption pledges
public awards
protests, petitions, vigils, marches, sit-ins
strikes, boycotts and reverse boycotts
nonviolent blockades
nonviolent accompaniment