The Coalition Building and Monitoring for Anti-Corruption in Southeast Europe project was successfully launched in September 2000 as part of the Southeast European Legal Development Initiative.
Purpose and premise
The overall objective of the SELDI anti-corruption project/component is to introduce aregion-wide institutional framework for public-private cooperation in countering corruption in the countries of Southeast Europe. The main premise of the project approach is that the institutionalization of corruption in the SEE countries cannot be explained by the national circumstances alone. A number of region-wide causes need to be taken into account if we are to comprehend the depth of the problem.
The gravity of the problem calls for bold and radical measures if corruption is to be stemmed. For this to happen, broad public coalitions need to be formed both within countries, and region-wide. Traditional bureaucracies – be they national or international – cannot muster the type of public support needed if these reforms are to be successful.
Thus a partnership between public and private institutions is the most appropriate anti-corruption model for the region. This approach has three main pillars – encouraging coalition building on a regional basis, enhancing public awareness and regular monitoring of corruption dynamics. In all three areas, the process is intended to be NGO-driven.
The importance of the latter is premised on the fact that support coming from a cross section of society, involving major public and private actors could only be enlisted in this process if society has a clear view of the severity of the problem. This warrants the introduction of a new kind of corruption assessment which goes beyond traditional law enforcement methods. This new kind could only be successful if it is based on cooperation between the public institutions, involved in designing and implementing anti-corruption policies, and civil society institutions which are expected to generate civic support for these policies. For this to happen, the assessment on which these policies are based, needs to be carried out in a public-private partnership.
The project is supported through a grant from USAID.
Regional corruption assessment
A task force of experts was set up to draft a background document as basis for the development of an Regional Corruption Assessment Report (RCAR), to be implemented in phase two. The development of the background document is being achieved through the following steps:
– Country reports on the status and scope of corruption in the participating countries are being developed by using the inputs from local experts.
– The seven country reports (the report for Bulgaria is part of the Corruption Assessment Report (CAR) developed by Coalition 2000 annually since 1999) will be integrated into a single document intended to serve as background for RCAR in Phase II.
In order to adopt a uniform approach to the development of country reports and to enhance the capacity of participating NGOs, representatives of the network mobilizers participated in a corruption assessment training seminar in Sofia in December 2000. The training was based on the experience of the Coalition 2000 CAR. The trainees were introduced to the use of monitoring instruments for the purpose of implementing a corruption watchdog system. Production of regional corruption indexes based on the Coalition 2000 model was also included in the training workshop curriculum.
Regional corruption monitoring system
In the meanwhile, work progressed on the development of a regional corruption monitoring system. Experts from Vitosha Research, the sociological unit of the Center for the Study of Democracydeveloped a survey methodology for the corruption diagnostics in seven SEE countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia and Montenegro. A network of survey agencies and watchdog NGOs was established to carry out the surveys.
As a result, a report Regional Corruption Monitoring in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia and Montenegro was produced in March 2001. The main goal of the comparative analysis contained in the report was to show the public significance of the problem of corruption and the extent to which corruption has penetrated into the various sections of society.
The report is a unique effort which has not been undertaken in the region before. Its significance was underscored at the international conference Beyond Anticorruption Rhetoric: Coalition Building and Monitoring Impact, organized by Coalition 2000 in Sofia. Both Bulgarian and international media widely covered the report which was presented and discussed at the event. The conference was attended by representatives of non-governmental organizations and public officials from Southeast European countries as well as by representatives of international organizations, such as USAID, OECD, the World Bank, the European Union, UNDP and the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe. Among the keynote speakers were Mr. Sten Ask, Ambassador of Sweden, holding rotating presidency of the EU and the US Ambassador to Bulgaria Richard Miles. In his opening speech Ambassador Donald Kursch, Principal Deputy Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe, highly praised the achievements of the Southeast European Legal Development Initiative.
Preparation of phase two
It is of key significance to the overall project objectives that the momentum gathered during phase one is sustained through the second phase. To this end, preparatory efforts have already started. These include identification of additional partners –both public and private – in the target countries, identification of appropriate awareness materials for regional use, consultations with international institutions concerned with the issues of anti-corruption in the region, as well as consultations with potential donors. The Center for the Study of Democracy also started analytical efforts to identify regional “soft security” factors contributing to corruption in the region (eg trafficking in human beings and narcotics, commercial fraud, etc) as an additional contribution to the future development of a Regional Corruption Assessment Report (RCAR).
As the major challenge of the second phase will be the development and endorsement of the RCAR, it is paramount that networking effort started in phase one is expanded to include a wide range of public and private organizations from SEE as well as international organizations.
Regional Corruption Monitoring Indexes
The 2002 Regional Corruption Monitoring Indexes, produced within the framework of the Southeast European Legal Development Initiative, were officially presented at a press-conference held on April 4, 2002, at the Center for the Study of Democracy, SELDI Executive Secretariat.
The regional monitoring of corruption is being held for a second year in a row as part of the Coalition Building and Monitoring for Anti-Corruption in Southeast Europe project. The Regional Corruption Monitoring System (RCMS), introduced by SELDI in 2001, is based on the experience and methodology of the monitoring system of corruption developed and implemented on a quarterly basis since 1998 in Bulgaria by the anti-corruption initiative Coalition 2000.
The RCMS is the first ever region-wide corruption diagnostics carried out simultaneously in Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, and Yugoslavia on the basis of a uniform methodology. The regional monitoring is a unique effort which has not been undertaken in the region before as it measures the link between public values and the actual spread of corruption in the countries. It allows a comparison of the public sectors most affected by corruption thus providing objective data for the design of regional anti-corruption policy instruments.
The main goal of the comparative analysis contained in the RCMS is to show the public significance of the problem of corruption and the extent to which corruption has penetrated into the various sections of these societies. This monitoring system allows citizens in the region to voice their concern about the corruption pressure exercised over them. Thus, as public support is an indispensable component in any anti-corruption campaign, the RCMS is a key instrument for empowering the public and generating civic involvement in anti-corruption efforts.