Beating corruption with prevention
20 Jun 2016
By Blogging Consultant James Brindley
Corruption is a universal problem, one faced by developing and developed nations alike, and it manifests itself in ways ranging from misappropriation of funds, to hiring nepotism, and a myriad of other incarnations. In one prevalent example, operation procedures for public services can be complicated or unclear to the point that people will turn to illegal avenues for getting things done.
It’s possible to combat corruption when its impacts are felt, but prevention is more effective. A system should be created where people have faith that government services and processes are efficient, concerns are heard, applications are treated fairly, and communication channels stay open. This system would eliminate the ‘need’ for corruption.
Uzbekistan is a signatory of several international protocols serving to limit the spread of corruption, particularly the United Nations Convention against Corruption that makes government bodies responsibility for fighting the scourge with the tool of innovation.
To turn these agreements into action, UNDP’s ‘Support to enhancement of law-making, rulemaking and RIA’ project has collaborated with national partners in creating a policy that eliminates the gaps and ambiguity in laws and legislation that make corruption possible.
What makes this policy practical
“The policy helps create a system of honesty and co-operation,” said project manager Mr. Karabaev. “Ultimately it encourages people to take risks, be adventurous and enterprising, and take full advantage of government services. The multiplying impacts of this change can be enormous.”
The new policy for carrying out the anti-corruption revision of legal acts has been approved by the Minister of Justice on December 25 2015, addressing 23 corruption factors which may be present in legal acts and drafts. It’s a multifaceted policy, but the problem itself is complex and needs to be tackled as such. Its factors have been divided into three main categories:
The first category addresses ambiguity, for instance in deadlines or criteria, that let law enforcement use inappropriate discretional powers or make unjustified exceptions to rules. This helps limit discrimination and favouritism. The policy’s rules, correctly applied, will eliminate the ambiguity that causes corruption. For instance, a new licensing act without concrete deadlines will be turned down.
The second category addresses laws that put unspecific, awkward or unnecessary requirements on individuals or organizations seeking to undertake what should be simple task. Over-complicated procedures are cumbersome at best, and an avenue for discrimination at worse. Through the new policy, if a legal act discriminates against any natural or legal persons, it should not enter law.
The third and last category relates to gaps in legal legislation, not effectively addressed by administration policies, which could be exploited as loopholes – a simple but important concern. The policy works to seal these gaps – for instance if there is a lack of provisions for appealing an applications’ rejection, without a concrete mechanism or identification of individuals responsible, it should be turned down.
Turning policy into action – where the real work is
This policy serves to take on a ‘watchdog’ role. Through the policy, the Ministry of Justice would be able to refuse state registration of departmental regulations that contain corruption factors. The broad-reaching mechanisms will apply not only to draft legal acts, but also to existing legal acts and treaties of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Having the new law on paper is essential, but its strength depends entirely on how well it is understood by relevant parties and consequently how effectively it can be implemented.
To accompany the policy and make it simple to use, a manual focusing on anti-corruption expertise of legal acts is being developed for use by related bodies. In addition, the project is constantly working with the Ministry of Justice and anti-corruption experts to conduct seminars and workshops, as additional funding becomes available.
This is where the real work is, and we’ll be publishing more content about the efforts we are making to spread awareness of the policy and to boost its impacts. Watch this space to learn more!
By blogging consultant James Brindley