Academia, business, and civil society unite to forge a corruption-free private sector in Pakistan

7 February 2023, Islamabad - Corruption hinders economic and social growth despite worldwide efforts, especially in countries with weak legal systems and ubiquitous corruption in the private sector, which is a primary engine for economic growth. With the objective to offer a level-playing field to all, stakeholders must engage in 'Collective Action' through collaborative exchange that builds trust and compliance as part of the tenth principle of the United Nations Global Compact. 

In a bid to confront the persistent challenges of corruption within Pakistan's private sector, UNODC has launched an innovative series of collaborative workshops that will run throughout 2024. These workshops aim to unite academia, business, and civil society against corruption. The interactions are strategically designed to pinpoint challenges and intricacies, paving the way for effective solutions that resonate across sectors. The findings and insights gathered from these workshops will be synthesized into a comprehensive action plan, with a specific focus on bolstering the active participation of civil society and academia in the ongoing efforts against corruption within the private sector. 

The first two events under the banner of ‘Multistakeholder Workshop for Anti-Corruption Collective Action’ have been successfully held in Karachi and Lahore on 4 and 30 January 2024 respectively as part of the ongoing effort. The workshops brought together a cross-section of 68 participants, representing diverse disciplines of academia, civil society and private sector business community, laying the foundation for a collective action towards addressing corruption. 

The workshops transcend the conventional approach of merely identifying challenges. The engagement methodology encourages a collective brainstorming, fostering an environment where stakeholders collaboratively propose bespoke solutions tailored to the unique challenges observed. The goal is to empower participants to critically analyze, discuss, and propose proactive measures. Through innovative solutions, the workshops aim to leave a lasting impact on the private sector's anti-corruption efforts, making them more effective and inclusive. As reflected by a participant, Aisha Kashif, representing academia, “The experience has been immensely beneficial, fostering growth and insight. I am eager to continue our collaborative efforts in our shared mission to combat corruption, striving towards a brighter future for our country.” 

This groundbreaking initiative is supported by UNODC’s Global Action for Business Integrity Project, emphasizing the commitment to leveraging collective expertise for sustainable change on a global scale. This was demonstrated through powerful reflections and statements from the participants. As observed by Sohaib Khan, representing the private sector, “The UNODC team deserves sincere appreciation for orchestrating such a commendable event, fostering learning, and encouraging collaboration in the global fight against corruption.” 

The workshop's inclusion and diversity fostered the participation of diverse voices cutting across sectors with representation of multiple actors from society, promoting respect for multi-sectoral world views and recommendations. Naureel Abbas, representing a civil society organization committed to inclusion of differently-abled people shared, “I appreciate UNODC for the insightful workshop, fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange to strengthen the fight against corruption.” Prof. Dr. Sarah Safdar from Pak Mission Society affirmed, ‘This was a great opportunity for stakeholders to join hands, and proactively share experiences and ideas on how to connect academia, civil society and private sector together in combating corruption.” 

As UNODC prepares to transform these dialogues to concrete actions through reaching out to diverse stakeholders across the national landscape, the recent workshop in Lahore served as a model to engage and develop a ‘community of practice’ to demonstrate how these collaborative initiatives are shaping a more resilient and effective Anti-Corruption Collective Action in Pakistan.