A Global View of Corruption The Boston Globe

Program News | Posted Feb 28, 1999

An editorial, originally published on Sunday, February 28, 1999

Not too long ago it was fashionable for world-weary realists to argue that a little bribery might serve the cause of economic efficiency. No more

The cataclysms that have racked Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, and Russia taught an expensive lesson: Corruption, far from being part of the solution for underdevelopment in Third World and postcommunist countries, is a root cause of the problem. Suharto in Indonesia and Mobutu in Zaire ran their enormous countries as family fiefdoms, popularizing kleptocracy as a category of political science.

The violent chaos in Indonesia and the renamed Congo demonstrate how high the price can be for endemic corruption. It is an acid that corrodes currencies, markets, and investments; a subversive force that can topple the most entrenched regimes; an accomplice to organized crime, narcotics trafficking, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

These are some of the threats to international peace and prosperity that will be the focus of a symposium on ''Global Crime, Corruption, and Accountability'' at Tufts University from March 4 through March 7. Held under the auspices of the EPPIIC [sic] program at Tufts - Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship - the symposium will bring together some extraordinary men and women who have risked their lives and careers in the fight for accountable government and transparent financial systems.

Among the participants will be Wole Soyinka, a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and an intrepid opponent of Nigeria's corrupt military dictatorship; the fearless and lucid Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng; Luis Moreno Ocampo, president of Transparency International for Latin America and the Caribbean and a former prosecutor of the Argentine junta. This is a symposium that promises to bring history makers together with students to seek answers for the knottiest problems bedeviling the contemporary world. The event illustrates the possibilities for moral and intellectual relevance at a university.

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