This book comes at a very opportune time in the dialogue around development. Starting in the early 1990s, there has been increasing concern about corruption, not only about the impact of corruption and governance in general on development but also about the ethical dimensions of behavior and the role that individuals, firms, and institutions play in governing such behavior. Many countries have adopted anti-corruption policies, but there is evidence from data that little progress has been made. Any progress in curbing corruption must come from a broad-based coalition of actors: the three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial), civil society, the media, and the private sector.
The World Bank Institute (WBI, or the Institute) has been involved in the diagnostic, policy advice, and capacity development support to countries on the issues of corruption and governance. Recognizing that corruption is a complex phenomenon, the Institute has been using an action-learning approach, helping countries solve problems in their own settings, using their own experience to learn from what works and what does not, and engaging them with other countries who are struggling with similar issues and who have made progress in addressing issues of particular relevance to their country constraints.
Our partner in our work to strengthen government accountability through enhanced parliamentary oversight is the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). As a network of, and professional development association for, some 16,000 parliamentarians across the Commonwealth, the CPA has made considerable progress in recent years in working in what might be termed “applied parliamentary development,” as well as continuing its traditional role of promoting parliamentary practice and procedure. In that context, the Association focuses on the role of parliaments and parliamentarians in the process of curbing corruption.
This book was conceived after observing a major gap in the level of knowledge around the world on the role that the institution of parliament plays in development. Responding to research findings and country demands, WBI’s Parliamentary Strengthening Program and the CPA organized a series of conferences over a period of three years. These conferences, held at and organized in collaboration with Wilton Park, assembled leading experts, Members of Parliament, and parliamentary staff from all over the world to share experiences and discuss the roles, tools, and strategies that parliamentarians have at their disposal to fight corruption. The main focus of the conferences was on the primary areas of interest of, and leverage for, parliaments regarding anti-corruption.
The first conference was held June 10–13, 2002. It presented an overview of the issues and challenges facing parliaments and governments in their efforts to reduce corruption, including cultural perceptions, pay and conditions of public service, and access to information. It thus set the stage for detailed examination of issues in later conferences: party political funding, election systems, parliamentary codes of