There is also a view that in some countries, it’s just a necessary evil, that corruption is the way to get things done. But Pyman and Eldon do not buy into the view that corruption is inevitable in certain environments. Pyman says in certain places, for powerless individuals, it is unavoidable to interact with a corrupt system, but he does not believe it’s hopeless.
“It’s just the confluence of circumstances that says that’s how they’ve evolved their system,” he says. “So can you change it? Absolutely, yes. And there are lots of examples of countries getting dramatically better over time in dealing with corruption.” Pyman also says that some people may like to believe it’s a necessary evil so that they can “just carry on and collude in it.”
To get the efforts started, it’s imperative that a senior leader or chief civil servant comes out and says that the subject is important. They don’t have to necessarily go after individuals. The key is that they are attempting to change the system. This high-level attention puts the issue on the table for discussion.
“So to get over that first [ability to discuss corruption] issue, I think is the common denominator almost everywhere,” says Pyman. He adds that it’s actually not difficult to get people to open up about corruption once they realize the topic is not taboo.
“Because, particularly with defense and security, the only levers to initiate change within these kinds of establishments are the establishments themselves,” says Eldon.
Eldon says that once the government or military authorities have bought in to fighting corruption inside and outside of their ranks, it is also important to have participation from a range of civic society groups outside of the government as well as from nongovernmental organizations, like TI.