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Partnering with UN to Fight Official Corruption

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity held a work­shop this week at which scholars and leaders from around the globe came together at the Egan Research Center to dis­cuss the devel­op­ment of a first-​​of-​​its-​​kind cur­riculum for courses on pre­venting cor­rup­tion in the public sphere, along with other courses. The three-​​day event, enti­tled the Inter­na­tional Work­shop on the Devel­op­ment of Aca­d­emic Anti-​​Corruption, con­cluded yesterday.

“We are here to put together a product that will be offered to uni­ver­si­ties and be incor­po­rated into the cur­ricula,” said Dim­itri Vlassis, chief of the UN’s Cor­rup­tion and Eco­nomic Crime Branch Divi­sion of Treaty Affairs, which is based in Vienna. “We will uti­lize the col­lec­tive expe­ri­ence and knowl­edge rep­re­sented at this table to create a com­plete struc­ture that will target not only busi­ness and law schools, but will be rel­e­vant to the fields of public admin­is­tra­tion, the social sci­ences and crim­inal justice.”

The gath­ering, coor­di­nated by Pro­fessor Nikos Passas of the School of Crim­i­nology and Crim­inal Jus­tice, was a col­lab­o­ra­tion between North­eastern and the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime designed to yield an unprece­dented anti-​​corruption frame­work to be made avail­able to aca­d­emic insti­tu­tions world­wide, and trans­lated into a number of dif­ferent lan­guages. The work­shop drew par­tic­i­pants from China, Russia and Argentina, among other inter­na­tional locales, and was sup­ported by fac­ulty and staff from Northeastern’s Law School, Center for Emerging Mar­kets and the Col­lege of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion. The Col­lege of Social Sci­ences and Human­i­ties, the School of Crim­i­nology and Crim­inal Jus­tice and Vice Provost Bob Lowndes also pro­vided finan­cial support.

Offi­cials from the UN Devel­op­ment Pro­gramme, the Organ­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co-​​operation and Devel­op­ment, the Inter­na­tional Bar Asso­ci­a­tion and other inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tions were present. Offi­cials trav­eled from each of the world’s UN regions to Boston for the three-​​day meeting.

While there is no single world­wide def­i­n­i­tion of cor­rup­tion, the term gen­er­ally refers to  such actions as bribery, money laun­dering and extortion.
It is impor­tant, Passas said, to focus on edu­ca­tion efforts at the uni­ver­sity level because it was the best way to reach and inform future leaders. Because the field is so broad, the group decided to create a “menu” that edu­ca­tors teaching courses on cor­rup­tion could con­sult for resources, ref­er­ence and guidance.
Georges Van Den Abbeele, the dean of Northeastern’s Col­lege of Social Sci­ences and Human­i­ties, said he was grateful that atten­dees trav­eled to Boston from all over the world to work to estab­lish stan­dards for teaching about corruption.

“I look for­ward to working with you as you tackle this problem of cor­rup­tion, which is a top pri­ority world­wide,” Van Den Abbeele said.

With the work­shop com­plete, par­tic­i­pants will con­tinue to cor­re­spond and col­lab­o­rate as they work to trans­form a draft syl­labus into a com­plete aca­d­emic pro­gram acces­sible to uni­ver­si­ties world­wide. The course would address a wide array of issues, including the ori­gins and vari­eties of cor­rup­tion that exist, how wide­spread issues of cor­rup­tion and where they are most severe, and the devel­op­ment of inter­na­tional poli­cies and strate­gies tar­geted at stop­ping cor­rup­tion in public and pri­vate spheres.

The com­pleted draft syl­labus will be pre­sented at the fifth Con­fer­ence of the States Par­ties to the UN Con­ven­tion against Cor­rup­tion and at the annual Gen­eral Meeting of the Inter­na­tional Asso­ci­a­tion of Anti-​​Corruption Author­i­ties, both of which are to be held this October in Mar­rakesh, Morocco. Prior to the pub­li­ca­tion of the final syl­labus, expected in early 2013, a pilot ver­sion of the course would be offered at 30 to 40 law schools worldwide.

“It is impor­tant for uni­ver­si­ties to teach about these kinds of cor­rup­tion,” said Mary Crane-​​Charef, the Direc­torate for Finan­cial and Enter­prise Affairs in the Anti-​​Corruption Divi­sion of the Orga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Coop­er­a­tion and Devel­op­ment in France. “We can all find a way to work with uni­ver­si­ties so the next gen­er­a­tion of busi­ness and policy leaders can be more aware of the kinds of cor­rup­tion, why it’s bad and how it can be stopped.”

– by Greg St. Martin

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