Terminando con la Corrupción: La Honestidad como forma de vida
Información del desafío
Resumen del desafío
La competencia a terminado y los tres ganadores han sido selecionado por la comunidad de Changemakers!
A Challenge to Take Action Against Corruption
Welcome to "Ending Corruption: Honesty Instituted"— a Changemakers collaborative competition. Whether you work in business, the media, the citizen sector or in government, you know that one of the biggest impediments to your success is corruption.
However you define or experience it, corruption is a disease that infects and impoverishes society. From the "lubricating" corruption of everyday bribe seekers among traffic police, hospital caregivers, permit administrators, customs agents, or prison guards—little by little grinding down those who need their services and approvals—to the "venal" corruption of self-interested political "kleptocrats" emptying entire national coffers, corruption is a poison that eats away at communities and institutions to devastating effect. "Business as usual" is all too often replete with access for some, dead ends for many, and tortuous alleys of shady dealing that affect us all.
Corruption is a pandemic disease invading society. The World Bank estimates that the cost of corruption represents about seven percent of the annual world economy, roughly $2.3 trillion. This is a staggering amount ... a figure that is larger than the entire federal budget of the United States government ($2.2 trillion).
In the words of Transparency International's Founder, Peter Eigen, "There are no short cuts and no easy answers" of how we can eradicate the disease. To eradicate any global disease we must use a clinical approach: diagnosis leading to therapy and cure through patient education and treatment.
First, society's systems need a thorough examination and diagnosis to ensure a proper diagnosis. If the diagnosis is wrong, the therapy or medicine will be wrong. We could kill the patient which is us and our society. Examine each organ of your own society. What is the cause of corruption? Why does it take hold so tenaciously and spread? What agents are infecting society with this scourge? Dishonest government civil servants, politicians and lobbyists, businessmen and women, citizen sector organizations, complicit citizens, others? And are the whistle-blowers who alert us to corruption sufficiently protected when they shed light on the malfeasance of their superiors or other colleagues?
Second, armed with a diagnosis, we must design the therapy and find a cure, and a sustainable way to distribute the cure. Who will invest in and support the most promising "integrity" therapies? Donors, foundations, international agencies, private businesses? Who is best positioned to test their efficacy? Changemakers, reformers, communities? Who will develop the vaccine to inoculate entire populations and societies?
Ashoka believes that when a problem is ripe for solution, social entrepreneurs (leading changemakers) come rushing in like white blood cells coursing through the body finding disease antigens, surrounding them, attaching to them, and destroying them. We believe that we now have an unprecedented opportunity to solve the problem of corruption and find therapies and cure that restore honesty to institutions and organizations.
Changemakers invites you to send us your corruption cures. If you are a citizen, business, or government changemaker, let us know your innovative solutions for ending corruption. How will you smash through old systems to create something new?
The competition will begin on February 28th and come to an end May 16th. Please visit the guidelines page for more details.
We challenge everyone to join us in sourcing, supporting and scaling the most powerful solutions. Refine the solutions with your new ideas, spread the word amongst your community, and provide resources that will help these solutions succeed. Share with us how you are a changemaker combating corruption; Ashoka believes everyone can be a changemaker.
Vice President, Global Fellowship
Ashoka: Innovators for the Public
Guidelines and Assessment
Welcome to the Changemakers "Ending Corruption: Honesty Instituted" Collaborative Competition, which aims to find innovative solutions and catalyze a community of changemakers to help eliminate corruption.
The competition description and timeline are as follows:
The competition is open to all types of organizations (citizen sector organizations, private companies, public entities, religious organizations, and independent entrepreneurs) from all countries.
To be considered entries should:
- Reflect the theme of the competition "Ending corruption: Honesty Instituted": In constructing your entry be sure to frame your work to demonstrate how it is helping end corruption. Please do not assume that judges will make the connection and be explicit in your description.
- Be beyond the stage of idea concept, or research, and, at a minimum, be at the demonstration stage and indicate success: While we support new ideas at every stage, our judges are only able to evaluate programs that are beyond the conceptual stage, and have demonstrated a proof of impact, even at small scale. If you are unsure of the stage of your entry feel free to contact us at email@example.com for clarification.
- Complete the entire entry form.
The judging criteria for the "Ending Corruption: Honesty Instituted" Collaborative Competition is as follows. Judges will examine all entries for the following characteristics. In your entries be sure to highlight where your work meets such criteria.
- Innovation: This is the knock-out test; if the work is not innovative the judges will not give it high rankings. The application must describe the systemic innovation that it is focused on. The innovation should be a unique model of change and ready for large-scale spread.
- Social Impact: It is important that the innovation has begun to have an impact on the field it addresses. Some innovations will have proven success at a small level, while others will have scaled to engage millions of people. Regardless of the level of demonstrated impact, it is important to see that the innovation has the ability to be applied to more than a small group of people. Please be sure to indicate how you believe the entry to be scalable, and be very specific about the details of your work.
- Sustainability: Entries should describe not only how they are currently financing their work, but how they plan to finance their work in the future. Go beyond describing whether you charge or not for your services, and describe your business plan.
Competition launches: February 28, 2007
Early Entry deadline: 6:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (EST), March 28, 2007
Competition ends: 6:00 p.m. (EST), May 16, 2007
Judges select top 10-12 entries and online voting begins: June 6th, 2007
Online voting ends, and three winners announced: June 21, 2007
Any time before May 16, 2007 at 6:00 p.m. EST competition participants can revise their entries based on questions and insights that they receive. Entrants should note that Changemakers community can, and will, post comments, questions, and insights about the entries. Entrants are strongly recommended to participate in online discussions, and provide answers and feedback to the questions. Additionally, this is a unique opportunity for entrants to send their entry to their networks to receive feedback, testimonials, and new ideas that will help support the entry. Participation in the discussion enhances one's prospects in the competition and gives the community and the judges an opportunity to understand one's project more completely.
Early Entry Prizes: The top two entries that submit an entry by 6:00 p.m. EST, March 28, 2007 will win a free featured advertisement in a well established, appropriate magazine or journal. Being an Early Entry Prize winner does not preclude you from winning the competition in any way.
Competition Winners: The top three entries will win US$5,000 each. After the judges select the roughly 12 finalists from the entire competition, the Changemakers online community will vote for 3 winners from the 12 finalists. The three US$5,000 winners will be decided as a result of this online voting.
Disclaimer—Compliance with Legal Restrictions
Ashoka complies fully with all U.S. laws and regulations, including Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations, export control, and anti-money laundering laws. All grants will be awarded subject to compliance with such laws. Ashoka will not make any grant if it finds that to do so would be unlawful. This may prohibit awards in certain countries and/or to certain individuals or entities. All recipients will comply with these laws to the extent they are applicable to such recipients. No recipient will take any action that would cause Ashoka to violate any laws.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Mosaic of Innovative Solutions
Ending Corruption: Honesty Instituted
Mitigating and eliminating corruption at all levels
Cynicism & Apathy
Lack of Accountability & Transparency
Absence of Rule of Law
Few Vehicles for Collective Participation
Use software to back-up documents chronicling human rights abuses and corruption
Rebuild deteriorated prison system by reforming inmates, educating prison officials, and involving the general public
* Ashoka Fellows
Participate Discuss   Read the Overall Framework of the Competition
Barriers refer to the main challenges—perceived or real—to overcome and end corruption:
- Cynicism & Apathy: The fatalistic attitude of "nothing can change" acts to deepen and perpetuate corruption.
- Limited Information & Complicity: Lack of knowledge of one's rights or acceptance of the role of victim allow corruption to continue unchecked.
- Lack of Accountability & Transparency: Without mitigating power checks from other branches of government, or from the public or media, corruption flourishes.
- Absence of Rule of Law: Societies without basic norms and structures in place in the judiciary, policing systems, and corporate sector, or those in a constant state of violence and unrest, are susceptible to corruption.
- Few Vehicles for Collective Participation: A paucity of citizen sector organizations and other citizen-centric organizations leads to a feeling of being a sole entity pitted against an organized mafia of those who wield authority.
Insights represent new standards emerging from practical applications that are meant to inspire and guide the innovation process. Note that although the best solutions probably involve more than one insight, in the mosaic below we have chosen to emphasize one specific innovative aspect. If you would like to learn about the multiple innovations behind each solution, please click on each name in the mosaic for a fuller description of each case.
- Build Citizenship: Creating a platform that helps the public understand their rights and the responsibilities of civil society encourages them to step into their power and confront corruption.
- Reward/Create Non-Corrupt Leaders/Institutions: Holding up models of leadership with integrity, or establishing new ones through new organizations and initiatives, provides a shift in expectations and highlights the possibility of honorable society.
- Foment Transparency: Building systems that allow public scrutiny of government, institutional, and corporate foibles and crimes discourages future transgressions.
- Collaborative System Reform: Enlisting parties from multiple sectors, including those inside corrupt systems, can drive corruption out.
- Shift Power Outside the Corrupt System: Building alternative power structures outside the corrupt systems can alleviate major harms and nurture a sense of control and ability to make a difference.
- Shame & Prosecute Offenders: Treating offenders with public, punitive action re-establishes the norms of honorable society and deters future abuse.
Short Descriptions of Mosaic Cases
- Train people in the best ways to exert their right to participate in decision-making
Guillermo Worman is changing the relationship between Argentina's government and the citizen sector by opening spaces and forums for civic activity within the country's public sector. He effectively raises the public's awareness of, and engagement in, state activities and grassroots advocacy projects to inform political decisions and protect citizens' rights.
In Argentina vandalism and threats have replaced democratic processes as people have grown totally disillusioned of a country where state policies are rarely oriented toward public welfare, public institutions are crippled by economic collapse, and public agencies inspire zero confidence. Without any institutional channels through which to engage with democratic processes, citizens resort to disruptive, violent demonstrations as their channel for registering dissatisfaction.
Worman, an Ashoka Fellow, founded Participación Ciudadana (Citizen Participation) to stimulate responsible civic participation from a larger portion of Argentina's citizen base. He has developed programs through which regular people become involved in the political process and influence decisions affecting their daily lives. By opening spaces for public forums within government buildings and training community members in advocacy, he provides an outlet for the constructive redirection of participants' frustration, based on better understanding of policy and civil rights.
Worman's trainings and tools inform social leaders, students, and their neighbors on current issues and on the best ways to sway forthcoming decisions on those issues. Worman's focus on current topics and the underlying trends and policies that cause them to attract the critical mass necessary to impact public decision-making. A key aspect of Worman's strategy involves drawing media attention to Participación Ciudadana's advocacy campaigns to further inform the citizen base of its rights and opportunities to take a more active role. Worman's successes include: introducing transparency mechanisms that guarantee free access to public information and changing municipal laws and regulations to enable citizens to influence policy.
In India, Ashoka Fellow Arvind Kejriwal is using the recently legislated Right to Information Act (RTIA) to enable citizens to hold their governments accountable to high standards of transparency and integrity.
Without access to information that drives government action, people cannot hold government accountable to basic standards of integrity; nor can they participate in decisions that shape their lives. India has lived for decades under an opaque system of governance, and the recent enactment of the RTIA marks a significant shift for Indian democracy. With a few exceptions, the Act guarantees citizens the right to file an information request to any public institution. Failure to provide accurate information within the stipulated time is a punishable offence. But the Act remained on paper, with no government effort to publicize or implement it.
Through his organization Parivartan (Change), Kejriwal equips individuals—common citizens—to use the Act's power to question their government. He promotes participation in governance by demonstrating how simple information requests can directly benefit their lives. Using the Act as a springboard, Keriwal raises awareness of the right to government transparency, and motivates citizens to demand information and accountability of public institutions. Simultaneously, he collects data on system failures and public grievances, and conducts public audits to address these problems.
Parivartan directs criticism beyond single individuals to cover entire departments and state machinery. This enables it to use each victory to address the entire political structure. Recently, Parivartan's efforts led to India becoming one of the few countries to offer substantial state protection for whistleblowers.
In Paraguay, a fragile democracy fraught with corruption, Ashoka Fellow Carlos Bareiro prepares ordinary citizens to push public institutions toward high standards of integrity and transparency. Bareiro recruits and trains people's groups to monitor and root out corruption in government. With his support, citizens found Contralor'as Ciudadanas and join a network that connects their local efforts to a national movement to make public institutions accountable. Members of the network share tactics, gather and present proof of corrupt dealings, and initiate legal action against corrupt officials
Paraguay is ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Faced with overwhelming evidence and personal experience of bribes, blackmail, and other abuses of authority, Paraguayans have largely given up on the democratic process. As government officials and institutions lose credibility, more and more ordinary citizens turn away from the law.
Bareiro restores power in the hands of the ordinary Paraguayan by placing citizens at the head of a movement for accountable government. He provides them with the ability to audit their authorities and ensure that they obey the law; and if they don't, to ensure that they are appropriately punished. Through his Contralor'as Ciudadanas, groups of volunteers report abuses, monitor and participate in public budgeting, and support honest officials. Bareiro regularly brings monitoring groups together for trainings and idea exchanges.
To further broaden the circle of their efforts, Contralor'as partners with international watchdogs like Transparency International, as well as citizen-sector groups: they established close ties to associations of housewives and peasant groups, along with organizations working on consumer, environmental and human rights issue Their efforts are changing the way politics works: across Paraguay, local candidates for office and several Presidential candidates have asked to be monitored by the Contralor'as.
In Brazil, where there is widespread apathy and disaffection toward politics, Ashoka Fellow Gilberto de Palma Augusto has launched a grassroots citizenship awareness movement that focuses on accountability at the municipal level. It aims to engage students and others to create non-partisan institutions across Brazil that monitor municipal elections and revive the public's faith in democratic processes and principles.
Transparency International ranks Brazil in the most corrupt twenty percent of countries in the world. A disillsioned public regards corruption as part of the culture, and therefore seemingly impossible to eradicate. The general perception is that politics and holding political office are dirty business, removed from the life of ordinary citizens. Schools fail to educate students about their rights and duties as citizens, and there is no non-partisan organization focusing on people's role as voting citizens.
Augusto believes that to create an educated citizenry two things are needed: a body of interesting material that puts practical, citizenship-related problem solving skills in the hands of citizens; and a municipal-level, non-partisan body that can serve as a gathering point for citizen comments and complaints. To meet curriculum needs, Augusto has developed a series of course offerings that have been adopted by several public and private high schools in São Paulo.
He has created municipal-level Voters Rights Agencies that advocate for the rights of citizens who vote based on the promises that candidates make during election proceedings. These bodies follow up on the activities of elected officials and function as a consumer protection agency for voters and citizens. Town hall meetings called "Voter Debates" bring civil society together to discuss local public policy and the conduct of elected officials, giving an open forum to the students educated through Augusto curriculum and adults seeking just actions on the part of their elected government.
Focusing on the strengths of successful panchayat (village councils) leaders, Ashoka Fellow Ilango Rangaswamy is building systems to change the role of local Indian governance.
Indian villages house the largest poor population in the world. A recent constitutional amendment establishing a formal role for the panchayat has the potential to restructure the fight against poverty by shifting power to the local level. However, with no organized effort to develop the capacities of local leadership, the panchayat system remains plagued with problems of corruption, nepotism and inefficiency.
Ramaswamy, a two-term panchayat president, is the first to offer continuing services and opportunities designed to help panchayat officials fulfill their roles as agents for democracy and development in rural India. Ramaswamy's program has three main components. His Panchayat Academy throws open several possibilities for Village Panchayats and their members. It provides training and practical insights to panchayat leadership with regard to planning, budgeting, fundraising, community participation, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation, and offers a forum for developing sustainable models. The Model Village program showcases effective, low-cost success stories in village development that has been implemented by panchayats. Clients for these two programs are drawn from a third Ramaswamy initiative, a professional association of "Outstanding Panchayat Presidents" who have been screened and selected according to criteria of commitment, honesty, and reputation among their home constituencies.
Karen Tse is building international coalitions to support public defenders in emerging democracies. Through a replicable sequence of training, structural reform, and international support, this Ashoka Fellow enables societies to pursue the basic rights to legal representation and protection from mistreatment at the hands of the law.
Societies worldwide are struggling with technical and cultural obstacles to criminal-justice reform. Until dedicated criminal defense systems are established, neither persons accused of crimes nor the lawyers representing them have tools and systems that guarantee fair representation and due process.
Tse's goal is a global movement to improve criminal defense systems, particularly regarding due process and the rights of the accused. She is forming "Communities of Conscience," comprising public defenders' offices in other countries, bar associations, law schools, law firms, businesses, and other civil institutions interested in a particular target country or human rights in general. They do everything from raising money to equipping legal-aid offices to providing expert assistance, volunteers, information systems, and close collaboration on procedural reform.
Tse's organization, International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) is introducing several new methods to the field of international legal reform. It works with governments, not against them: for instance, IBJ is the first citizen-sector organization to have a formal agreement to work with China's legal aid bureaus. It eschews advocacy as a tactic, concentrating on the nuts and bolts of systemic reform: rooms in police stations where attorneys and clients consult in confidence; information systems that track cases and clients; agreements with police on advising suspects of their rights, etc.
IBJ opens relationships by working intensively within the system, but Tse sees that long-term support must be a citizen-led effort leading to a global system that enablespeople interested in criminal justice, no matter where they are, to contribute to legal reform in any country.
Project Leader: Damodar Acharya
Organization: The Concerned for Working Children (CWC)
Mosaic Insight: Reward & Create Honest Leaders & Institutions
Mosaic Barrier: Few Vehicles for Collective Participation
In India, Ashoka Fellow Damodar Acharya is fighting child labor by empowering the children to lead the charge against a flawed economic and political sytem that pushes them into servitude.
Child labor and urban migration occur because of lack of alternatives. If local occupations and opportunities exist that guarantee financial stability, families will stop sending children into frequently hostile and dangerous work situations. Establishing occupations requires reorganization of villages. To bring about such development, Acharya has identified and implemented mechanisms to organize children, educate them, and give them a voice in political decision making. He demonstrates that, with guidance and education, children create child-centric and environment-friendly development models.
Acharya's organization, Concerned for Working Children (CWC) makes children responsible for political change. They directly plan and execute projects that affect their lives and prepare them to be future representatives of local self-government. CWC encourages children to form workers' unions and organize into children's "panchayat," (local councils of elected village officials) alongside the existing adult panchayat. As a related strategy, working children put up their own candidates for local and national elections and convince them to write manifestos that include children's agendas. Children mount campaigns and influence their parents to vote for "child-friendly" candidates.This guarantees activity on child labor issues and child-centered development programs.
Acharya works with the village education system, making it more attractive for children and their families by, for instance, introducing child- and family-friendly schedules for attendance and homework. As an alternative to formal education, the CWC offers various options, including artisanship and vocational training, schooling in panchayat process, and awareness-building about new technologies and the economy. Children can also learn to set up and manage professional business enterprises locally.
Social entrepreneur Peter Eigen founded Transparency International (TI) to build a corruption-free world that is socially and morally accountable to its citizens. Working on the tenet that corruption has grim global consequences that breed social, economic and political unrest and has trapped millions into poverty and misery, TI works cooperatively with those governments, civil society, international bodies, and think tanks that are committed to democracy building and fighting corruption. It brings together people in a powerful worldwide coalition of more than 90 locally established chapters to nix corruption on the one hand, and to change victimhood into empowerment, on the other. It challenges the inevitability of corruption, raises awareness, plays a role in diminishing apathy and tolerance of corruption, and suggests practical solutions to address the problem.
TI does not undertake investigations of alleged corruption or expose individual cases, but often works in coalition with organizations that do. TI has the skills, tools, experience, expertise and broad participation to fight corruption on the ground, as well as through global and regional initiatives. TI, through its independent, locally established national chapters, is helping organizations to actively define and address corruption in their countries and to implement their own national programs as well as agreed global and regional strategies. The chapters are also instrumental in shaping the movement's strategy and policies, and often address regional priorities as well. TI's International Secretariat and national chapters work together to change laws, regulations and practices in order to stamp out corruption and to prevent its recurrence. Over time, TI has developed corruption-fighting tools that include Integrity Pacts, the Corruption Perceptions Index, the Bribe Payers Index, and the Global Corruption Barometer.
TI partners with international organizations to adopt and monitor multilateral agreements that increase information sharing, close legal loopholes and increase cooperation. It has been responsible for putting corruption on the world agenda, with global heavyweights like the World Bank, United Nations and International Monetary Fund acknowledging corruption as one of the major obstacles to economic and social development. Through its work, global integrity standards in public life have come to be defined, and TI has played a significant role in anti-corruption conventions. It was instrumental in drafting the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption. It was also involved in establishing the OECD's Anti-Bribery Convention.
A lawyer with extensive experience in litigation, Bola Fajemirokun is dramatically improving Nigeria's inefficient judicial system through her online database that is efficient, transparent, and accessible to public officials, researchers, lawyers, and the public. She is improving the court reporting system and enabling the judiciary to respond more effectively to pressing legal issues, especially those in the field of environmental law. In the process, this Ashoka Fellow is restoring public confidence in their judicial system.
Currently, court records in Nigeria are maintained on paper. In the absence of a national electronic database, records are misplaced or catalogued informally in ways that preclude quick access. For a legal system that relies on precedent, this is especially problematic, as inaccessible information translates into protracted and inefficient court proceedings that leaves lawyers and their clients frustrated and render legal proceedings vulnerable to corruption. Public faith in the judicial option is also in danger of being seriously eroded. This situation is worse for environmental cases that lack any precedent in Nigeria and are highly contentious because they often involve oil companies and their host communities. Without easy access to court proceedings, rumors of court decisions replace responsible reporting.
Using the public records that Fajemirokun has entered into her database, judges, litigants, legal advisers, and researchers have quick and easy access to court records to inform their work. Fajemirokun sees this database as a first fundamental step in not only improving the management of court records, but in ensuring a properly functioning legal system as well.
Ashoka Fellow Hanif Mahmoud is making Bangladesh's land recording systems more accountable, transparent and accessible to the public. The methodology he has developed enables citizens, particularly the poor, to defend their land rights thereby ensuring their economic livelihood in this largely agrarian society.
High population density of Bangladesh's agriculture-based economy has resulted in abnormally high land prices that effectively bar poor people's access to property. Most farmers are landless possessing only their labor as a means of livelihood. Since agriculture is seasonal, they have no regular earnings. Nor is their any social security net. Ironically, the Constitution guarantees the poorest sections access to "khas" (unutilized) government land. In practice though, influential persons and prosperous farmers connive with government officials, to grab khas land.
Recognizing that an efficient methodology for identifying and verifying records is essential for land reform, Mahmoud's organization Human Rights Development Centre (HRDC) has been working on this issue. Starting with one area, he has searched, correlated and linked the different land surveys done in that region from 1890 onwards. This method is time consuming but provides an accurate record of the land area and can be replicated all over the country. Through this process HRDC also identified the loopholes that allow officials to manipulate records.
Concurrently, Mahmoud conducts trainings and public awareness campaigns on land issues. The trainings target citizen sector organizations to equip them to identify khas land in their areas. They can then assist their poor beneficiaries to mobilize and gain rights to those lands. The awareness campaigns target the general public, particularly the poor, focusing on procedures involved in identifying and verifying land deeds. By offering the government a workable model and applying pressure through educating and mobilizing the people, HRDC is paving the way for land reform to be effectively implemented.
In Argentina, lawyer and Ashoka Fellow Christian Gruenberg is using public hearings on government projects as a means for engaging diverse actors—from government, business, and multilateral institutions, to community organizations and everyday citizens—to battle corruption and strengthen democratic citizen participation.
Large-scale, deep-rooted corruption is one of Argentina's most pressing problems. Polls reveal that Argentines view politicians as the most corrupt of groups, followed by the police, unionists, public officials, and judges. One of the areas where corruption is rampant is government projects where decisions are typically made to serve private interests, rather than public good. Such wasteful spending profoundly short-changes a country's prospects for social and economic development.
Working through Fundacion Poder Ciudadano (Citizen Power Foundation), Gruenberg has developed a process of third-party coordination and monitoring of the mandatory public hearings regarding government projects that transform these meetings from empty formalities to a well-managed process that gives citizens the power to stop corruption and wasteful government spending before it starts. Gruenberg does this by creating an external coordinating arm for bringing the different actors involved in the hearing together, educating them about the process, and monitoring and disseminating results.
As the number of successful public hearings multiplies, it demonstrates a new, low-cost technique for engaging citizens in democracy and rebuilding confidence in government. Simultaneously, it encourages government officials, citizens and contractors alike to prioritize transparency in public works administration. Gruenberg is providing powerful forums for voicing citizen concerns and making governments accountable for their spending decisions. The process also provides politicians and others interested in demonstrating their own commitment to preventing corruption with a space in which to dialogue with the community and prove themselves as partners in democracy.
Ashoka Fellow Mandira Sharma is documenting police violations on detainees and using this to advocate for large-scale changes in Nepal's flawed justice system. Her organization Advocacy Forum adopts a top-down approach in working with the very people who are in charge of the system to force them to confront its dysfunctionality and to adopt procedures that dramatically improve their own and their subordinates' compliance with the law. The forum has secured both broad parliamentary support for more extensive legal aid and concrete policy steps that will make it mandatory for police to demonstrate that they are following the rules. Advocacy Forum is also installing community-level monitoring of the justice system to ensure that it adheres to its obligation to protect human rights.
In 2006 Human Rights Watch acknowledged Sharma's unceasing campaign for justice by bestowing its highest honor upon her.
Nepal has good laws but these are poorly implemented, if at all. The treatment meted out to those detained but not yet formally charged, particularly, demonstrates rampant disregard of their legal and human rights. The violations are a result of willful commission and omission, and also of ignorance. The result: citizens have totally lost faith in the police and the judicial systems.
Advocacy Forum documents the human rights violations, shares these with key decision-makers in Nepal's justice system, and through sustained persuasion, wins them over as active partners and secures their agreement to design and implement critical changes. Simultaneously, Advocacy Forum itself files lawsuits on behalf of victims of torture by government forces, investigates cases of deaths in government custody, and files habeas corpus petitions to free prisoners illegally detained by the government. It is also educating lawyers and plugging holes in the Legal Aid Act to make it more effective in protecting detainees' rights.
Advocacy Forum works with international groups like UNHCR to exert pressure when required, and partners with international groups to develop programs for those incarcerated for petty offenses.
A technology entrepreneur and a former rocket scientist, James Fruchterman has developed successful social enterprises and technologies to benefit the disadvantaged. He founded Benetech with the goal of harnessing the power of technology to serve humanity and to achieve more equality in society. Benetech's products and services are emblematic of the kinds of technology being employed around the world to tackle sticky social problems—from eliminating poverty and disease to aiding in conflict resolution and creating transparent views of suspect governments' actions.
One of their innovations is Martus, a software technology that is enabling human rights workers and watchdog groups to securely collect and disseminate information on human rights violations, helping activists fight injustice in over 50 countries. A related service is the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) that offers expertise and tools for each stage of human rights data projects: collection, management, processing and analysis. HRDAG provides consulting in a variety of areas as well as standard and customized technical tools and services. It provides assistance with computer networking, backup, and security, as well as building database and classification systems, and with advanced statistical analysis of mass atrocities.
Benetech delivers these benefits using the new model of social entrepreneurship, which combines market forces with philanthropic capital and entrepreneurial drive. Their business model is similar to that of a technology startup, where specialized professionals identify needs and opportunities where technology could have a tremendous impact. These are rigorously tested, strategic partners and philanthropic investors with a like-minded worldview put in place, and the technology taken to scale. Benetech measures their return on investment not in monetary terms, but in the number of lives they affect. They believe that this return on humanity will pay off for generations to come.
Benetech's offerings have had huge impact and have played a part in changing history. Two examples: The UN Commission for Historical Clarification was able to establish that genocide was committed against the indigenous population in Guatemala; expert testimony before the International Criminal Tribunal was made possible for the Former Yugoslavia to prove that Slobodan Miloševic's defense theories were inconsistent with the data in Kosovo.
Basil Fernando and his Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) are building a continental movement that reveals human rights abuse, advocates solutions, scrutinizes public institutions, and fixes serious flaws in the justice systems of Asian societies. Fernando, an Ashoka Fellow, has brought new ideas and clarity to the field of human rights work. From South Korea to Pakistan, he has linked people of a dozen countries to campaigns for systemic legal reform.
Three billion people in Asia live in societies with legal, administrative, and social systems that inadequately protect basic rights and freedoms. Prevailing human rights initiatives either take a grassroots approach responding to individual issues as they arise; or address legal reform. Few combine the two effectively to achieve change.
Fernando unites the approaches by demonstrating how "protection" of victims and their communities is the missing link between grassroots credibility and systemic reform. Without protection, "participation" is not possible; without victims' participation, campaigns lack the driving energy of a citizen base. Without a base, the field cannot effectively monitor institutional practices and redress failures.
Fernando has developed several ways to put this core idea into action. The electronic Urgent Appeals system transmits information about cases of abuse to outside friends and supporters. A "grassroots witness protection program" houses and cares for victims, witnesses, and others in danger of retribution. Supporting these initiatives are networking, training, and campaign programs. These include web-based graveyards for the disappeared; a regional People's Tribunal program; publications; media advertising; and monitoring national human rights commissions.
AHRC's key strategy is to develop a network of partner organizations throughout the region and, working together, demonstrate success time after time, in one country after another, setting new goals, employing new methods, and achieving unprecedented results. Together AHRC, its citizen base, and partners create a platform that can support long-term campaigns for systemic change.
Ashoka Fellow Mercedes De Freitas is building a movement for citizen participation in governance and social activism by helping Venezuelans understand the opportunities and threats their democracy faces and the importance of people's participation in legal and structural reform.
In Venezuela, government institutions exist to serve the state and do not answer to the country's citizens. All income and benefits from state-owned businesses go to the political party in control of the government and are not reinvested in the country for public benefit. This lack of accountability facilitates corruption and contributes to the system's failure to cover basic rights like health care and social security. The December 1999 Constitution makes several references to the protagonism of Venezuela's citizens but includes few mechanisms to ensure this participation. The current system is a clear detriment to Venezuela's democracy.
De Freitas has created a non-partisan movement for citizen participation in governmen that is leading the general population toward a more transparent and effective democracy. Through her organization, Mirador Democrático, she is helping citizens understand their role in governance. De Freitas has elected to focus on two critical laws in the new constitution promoting public participation, the Electoral Power Law and the Law on Municipal Regulations. She works to influence the legal framework and monitor the enforcement and application of the laws. Her strategy to effect citizen participation includes empirical studies, media outreach, and alliances between citizens, community organizations, community groups, and government agencies.
By researching the state of elections and funding for political parties, publicizing legal issues through the press, and arranging alliances between citizens and officials, de Freitas deters reliance on partisan politics and makes people central to legal reform. Rather than support one political party, she is working to strengthen political parties in general to further reinforce the democratic system.
Project Leader: Raghunath K. Manwar
Organization: Occupational Health and Safety Association (OHSA)
Mosaic Insight: Shift Power Outside the Corrupt System
Mosaic Barrier: Cynicism & Apathy
Raghunath K. Manwar, a mechanical technician in a power station in Gujarat, India, is organizing a comprehensive approach to occupational health hazards in power plants across India. This Ashoka Fellow is building multiple coalitions among factory workers, health officials, and lawyers to raise awareness of preventive measures and to lobby for reforms in worker health and safety laws.
Despite being branded as a "hazardous industry" by the Factory Act of India, power plants have yet to define health and safety regulations for their workers. Nor has there been any organized citizen action to get the industry to account for the health and environmental costs of its profit-making operations.
The blatantly dangerous working conditions that prevail in India's power plants have motivated Manwar to organize systematic reforms. He envisions a society where workers are both aware of occupational health risks and able to influence their working conditions, and in which power companies are held strictly responsible for the dangers to which their employees are exposed. The latter are notorious for flouting rules and obfuscation of the dangers involved on the shopfloor.
To achieve this, Manwar begins with a series of workshops that raise workers's awareness of health and safety standards, and that introduce them to the practice of wearing protective gear. He follows up by creating close connections with several workers' organizations that further strengthen commitments to safety. Concurrently, he has also focused on the medical establishment—on its routine neglect and misdiagnosis of occupational illnesses, and its wilful ignorance of workplace realities. In collaboration with the Occupational Health and Safety Organization, he instigates retraining sessions that inform doctors about working conditions.
The lethargy and indifference of city-dwellers to the deteriorating quality of life is notorious. People focus their complaints on inefficient, corrupt public institutions not realizing their own collective potential and the fact that the improvement of living standards is more in their own hands than in those of estranged, impersonal bureaucratic institutions.
In India, Ashoka Fellow M.B.Nirmal has launched a movement that provides city dwellers with the tools that inspire them to dare to imagine better neighborhoods and cities and to act on realizing these.
The power of his organization, Exnora, rests solidly on a burgeoning number of street-level chapters. Neighbors are brought together both to solve local problems—initially usually the cleanup of their chronically littered street—and to build community communication and joint problem-solving mechanisms. These local groups are the building blocks for the creation of a caring community as well as the font of practical ideas in a generally disconnected, indifferent urban environment.
The second dimension is to tap India's resource pool of overseas Indians, especially those who have returned enriched by what they have seen and learned from living in efficient metros. Nirmal and his Exnora colleagues work over possible ideas intensively with one another, trying chiefly to adapt them to Indian realities. They then use their relationships with public officials, reinforced by their growing network of citizen street committees, to get the ideas a hearing and try and influence policy changes.
Project Leader: H. Sudarshan
Organization: Viviekananda Tribal Welfare Group
Mosaic Insight: Shift Power Outside the Corrupt System
Mosaic Barrier: Lack of Accountability & Transparency
In the Biligiri Rangana Hills in the Indian state of Karntaka, Dr. H. Sudarshan, Ashoka Fellow and winner of the international Right Livelihood Award, works with the Soliga peoples to provide alternate food sources and income generating projects that liberate them from being dependent on corrupt, inefficient government welfare schemes.
His work is now a model that is being replicated throughout India.
India has some 42 million tribal people who derive part or all of their livelihood from the forest. These people have traditionally survived using slash and burn agriculture. During parts of the year when the harvest is insufficient, they live on minor forest produce such as wild fruits, roots and tubers, and graze their cattle in the forest. In 1972, when the government enacted the Wildlife Protection Act which mandated that forest land could no longer be inhabited or used for food and fuel, some 20,000 Soliga people became landless and unable to hunt or gather. They thus became utterly dependent on government welfare schemes that are rife with corruption. Unable to access traditional sources of food, and receiving little assistance from an apathetic and corrupt public welfare system, the Soliga suffered from terrible nutritional deficiencies and other malnorushment-related diseases.
Through a rural development program, Dr. Sudarshan has established a multi-faceted approach to alleviating the inadequate food supply, and has implemented programs to insure on-going projects to maintain these improvements. His work is multi-dimensional-agricultural, educational, and income generating. The projects he has initiated include: planting vitamin-rich fruit trees, establishing a dairy program providing nourishing dairy products and income for families, founding a school for health and nutrition education, establishing a readily-accessible hospital for the tribal groups and co-founding an association of independent rural developers across Karnataka.
The UN and Human Rights Watch have ranked Venezuelan prison systems as being among the top human rights violators in the world, and least capable of rehabilitating its prisoners. The Attorny General went so far as to declare that prison violence was threatening the stability of Venezuela's democracy.
Ashoka Fellow Humberto Prado, a former prisoner, through his organization, the Venezuelan Observatory of Prisons, is turning around Venezuela's corrrupt and steadily worsening prison system by restructuring it from within. In a system where under-trained and poorly paid staff engage in widespread bribery and traffic in arms and drugs, he is educating and training prison officials, reshaping prison governance with a focus on decentralization, and involving citizen sector organizations in the process. His dynamic rehabilitation and reformation program for inmates is based on his own unique experiences as a former prisoner, and then as a prison official, lawyer, and ombudsman. Thanks to the language that Prado was asked to draft, there is now a mandate in Venezuela's 1999 Constitution in support of his vision.
Prado's Observatory—comprising specially trained criminal justice and human rights lawyers—is both a think tank and ombudsman to protect human rights and bring abuses to light. Its primary efforts are focused at the two categories of people whose behaviors Prado is working to change: prisoners and prison guards. This includes changing the criminal mindset of prisoners and making them fit to reenter society as responsible citizens. For this, he is building ties between the inmate community and business people, citizen organizations, doctors, nurses, lawyers, universities, and churches. These connections provide important resources for rehabilitating prisoners: healthcare, legal assistance, educational services, job training and improved alimentation.
Following the success of his program, Prodo is currently developing a consortium of Observatories that includes four other Andean countries to share strategies for lowering rates of recidivism.
Project Leader: Prema Gopalan
Organization: Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP)
Mosaic Insight: Shift Power Outside the Corrupt System
Mosaic Barrier: Few Vehicles for Collective Participation
Building women's perspectives in the context of decentralized planning, development, and reforms in the sectors of water, health, and education is an area that needs urgent attention in India. Water scarcity and affordability and lack of sanitation in their daily lives impact poor women the most as they have the highest stake in accessing these. Privatization of these services has failed in reaching the poor with any consistency or quality and accountability is woefully lacking.
Through her organization, Swayam Shikshan Prayog (Self Learning and Practical Application), Ashoka Fellow Prema Gopalan is demonstrating how privatization can actually democratize the management of basic services, and that village women can form the backbone of leadership for such a process. SPS is getting together a critical mass of well-informed women's groups and communities of the poor to participate in the development reforms, thereby ensuring that their concerns become central to the planning process. SPS is empowering these women to build bridges between facilitating policy at the government level and taking ownership at the local level. The emphasis is on creating management and accountability systems that will lend themselves to scaling up across thousands of villages.
Today, her organization educates, trains and partners with hundreds of self-help groups with thousands of women members who are at the core of the developmental process, from planning to implementation. Gopalan is collaborating with the government for promoting community ownership of water supply systems through multiple strategies. Her work ranges from involving the women's "federations" to voice their demands, to designing of the government order, and implementing, managing and monitoring it to ensure a transition from a supply-led to a demand-driven approach for water and sanitation. The women's groups are also equipped with technological skills to help them design, build, operate, and maintain water and sanitation systems.
Post-independence, in a bid to reduce inequities in land ownership in India, many state government acts placed a ceiling on how much land individuals could possess and manage. The idea was to redistribute land among landless farmers so as to increase the number of cultivator-owners and thereby develop India's rural economy. However, these laws have long been misused by the government to benefit corrupt landlords and businessmen. Huge tracts of land under government title are lying fallow while people starve.
John Abraham, an Ashoka Fellow, is leading the rural poor and adivasis (indigenous peoples) to occupy and stake a formal claim on unused government land, with potential legal, economic, and political implications nationwide. The basic premise under which he formed his organization, Bhumi Huk Ka Andolan (Land Rights Movement), was this: vacant government "ceiling land" originally intended for landless people should in fact be theirs to own and cultivate.
Through a coordinated scheme of occupation and farming, political pressure, and legal maneuvering, the Andolan is establishing a new legal right for impoverished rural groups to possess and farm on unused government land. The movement is posing a legal, political, and moral challenge to the management of ceiling lands with adivasis coming together as an economic and legal power in asserting their rights through owning any land, anywhere. In doing so, the disenfranchised poor have developed a newfound dignity and self-esteem, as they at last find free expression of their right to choose their own lifestyle.
Seventy percent of the 42 fishemeal companies in Peru are located in urban areas and are a major cause of coastal industrial contamination. High levels of toxic factory waste flow into city water supplies and emit dangerous gases into the air. Intimidated by the industry's economic and political clout, few have confronted the fishmeal industry concerning the environmental devastation it has caused. Compounding the problem is the fact that this industry is subject to very little environmental monitoring and that many Peruvians work in these factories. Residents even allude to the stench produced by the fish-processing units as "the smell of money."
Ashoka Fellow María Elena Foronda is educating citizens about the environmental damage caused by these factories and is negotiating with the fish industry to find realistic, effective responses to rising ecological problems. Her strategy is not confrontational, but enabling. She finds common ground between those who suffer from pollution and those who cause it, and turns victims of pollution into environmentally aware social actors who propose workable solutions to alleviate pollution. She trains committees of youth investigators who spell out the environmental damage, monitor compliance, and negotiate with the government and businesses.
With the assistance of environmental experts and workshops on industrial contamination, she has been able to build citizen confidence in demanding their environmental rights. Her organization, Instituto Natura, advises citizens on their rights as stated in the Peruvian Constitution and international environmental treaties, and is developing citizen vigilance committees that monitor progress toward a solution to the contamination problem.
To push forward change and to go to scale, the institute works though critical alliances at the local and national levels that include the government, businesses, the public sector, churches, and thought leaders. Today, Natura is considered an important reference on environmental issues and was sought after by the UN as well.
Ashoka Fellow Louis Onyia Uche is using his skills as an investigative journalist and lawyer to tackle the endemic corruption that exists in Nigeria. He combines investigative reporting with legal and civil action to hit out at grassroots corruption which is what he believes feeds corruption at the highest levels in his country.
In the 1970s, corruption was limited to government officials in high places, but today it permeates every facet of Nigerian life, from religious leaders to the lowest ranks in government. Most efforts to curb corruption have failed because of the widespread nature of the problem, lack of political will to persecute erring officials, and an absence of concerted citizen pressure.
Uche is tackling corruption head on through his newspaper, The Independent Summit, which reports corruption at the community, regional, and state government levels. News stories are followed up with petitions to the anticorruption tribunal and cases filed in court against offending officers. He is also forming alliances with—and between—citizen sector organizations, both to accelerate the campaign against corruption, and to check on the cases he has forwarded to the anticorruption tribunal and courts.
Illegal jail detention and torture in police stations is common in India, with most victims being rural illiterates who are ignorant about their legal rights. Compounding this are government programs and policies that actually create opportunities through which law enforcement authorities abuse the rural masses, especially when related to natural resources and common properties.
Following the dictum that "information is power," Ashoka Fellow S. Pandian has built up a widespread movement in the country to demand humane treatment for citizens subjected to police custodial care and interrogation. The movement acts both as an information disseminator on human rights and legal issues for rural activists, common people, and police personnel, and as a support during legal struggles.
Through his "Campaign for Custodial Justice and Abolition of Torture" Pandian is building public attention and using Victims Forums as pressure groups to enforce custodial justice and abolish torture in rural police stations, jails, and institutions. Using documentary proof of state abuse cases as examples, he is educating the rural masses, panchayat (village councils) members, and youth leaders on legal issues and custodial justice.
The Campaign's success has attracted trade union leaders to join the effort as they build their own movements among organized and unorganized labor.
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