On the World Bank’s fight against corruption

A global world that requires so many sacrifices to solve its global problems will not be able to do so if it must swim in too dirty corrupt waters. Therefore, fighting against corruption must be at the top of the World Bank’s agenda. But for that fight to signify more than another flavor of the month, it needs to be completely internalized into a deeply felt organizational modus vivendi. In this respect, the World Bank, while fighting corruption, needs to keep the following in mind:

To invest more scarce resources into anticorruption efforts than what the corruption could itself potentially cost is managerial corruption.

To fight corruption among third parties without fighting it first and foremost among your own is hypocritical corruption.

To create the impression that certain risks of corruption are effectively taken care of is collaborating with and camouflaging for corruption.

To focus the attention on the small fish while letting the big fish free, even though the small can grow to be big, is plain cowardly corruption.

To believe it is only when money is involved that it really matters creates the space for self-righteous corruption.

And finally, to believe that corruption can be contained to some pockets and not contaminate the rest of the world, and that some nations are by nature more immune to it, has nothing to do with corruption; it is just plain stupidity.

And so what shall it do? Well, as Dori in the Finding Nemo movie would have said, “Just keep fighting . . . just keep fighting!” I would start by recommending that all projects, urgently, include in their documentation, a very simple one-page Public Notice that lays out the most important risks of corruption in the operation, making clear what World Bank is doing to diminish them but, much more importantly, what it is not in their hands to do. That page should then transparently surf the Web in order to enlist the civil civilians in the fight.

(Extract from a presentation of Voice and Noise at the InfoShop on May 16, 2006)