This module is a resource for lecturers  


Key issues


Corruption is a complex phenomenon that affects all segments of society. As such, it requires a comprehensive response from all sectors: public sector, private sector and civil society. An overview of the different forms and definitions of corruption, as well as its harmful effects across the globe, is available in Module 1 of the E4J University Module Series on Anti-Corruption. For present purposes, it should be noted that the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) refrains from providing one overarching definition of "corruption". Rather, it defines and classifies various acts of corruption as criminal offences, such as bribery and embezzlement (in both the public and private sectors); abuse of functions (i.e. when those performing public functions misuse their power to obtain a benefit); trading in influence; illicit enrichment; and money-laundering. With 186 States parties (as of November 2019), UNCAC is approaching universal adherence, and the different acts of corruption as defined by the Convention can be considered internationally accepted.

Module 4 and Module 5 of the E4J University Module Series on Anti-Corruption discuss, respectively, the roles of the public and private sectors in fighting corruption. The present Module complements those modules by focusing on the role of civil society - including individuals, civil society organizations (CSOs) and the media - in fighting corruption. It is widely accepted that anti-corruption efforts cannot be left solely to the State. To ensure the success of anti-corruption efforts, citizens must participate in the fight against corruption. The involvement of citizens is crucial for ensuring that both the private and public sectors are accountable to their stakeholders and conduct their duties in a manner that is transparent and in compliance with the law and ethical norms. Participation of individuals and CSOs, including professional bodies and global organizations, can have a significant impact on the fight against corruption on a local and international level.

To illustrate the importance of citizen participation in anti-corruption efforts, the Module examines the role of citizens, CSOs and the media in the fight against corruption; discusses the importance of access to information; and considers how citizens can use information and communications technology (ICT) as a tool for fighting corruption. At the same time, the Module discusses concerns about the potential instrumentalization and exploitation of citizen anti-corruption movements and the risks and challenges facing citizens who seek to participate in anti-corruption efforts. The Module concludes with a few notes on the obligation of governments to ensure citizen participation in anti-corruption efforts, in line with article 13 of UNCAC. At the outset, the Module briefly defines relevant basic terms (citizen participation, CSOs, the media) and core concepts (social accountability, empowerment, public trust, institutions and informal norms).


The following sections of the module provide an overview of:


Next:  Core terms and concepts
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