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The expert group.

UNODC’s anti-corruption modules validated at Oxford University

One of the foundations of good governance is the absence of corruption, and a determination to struggle against it when cracks appear in society and government. As corruption takes many forms and comes through many channels, it is necessary to fight it through a variety of measures and ways, at different stages. Increasingly, formal education at various levels is being recognized as a pro-active, essential step in the struggle against corruption around the world.

In its concerted efforts to promote a culture of lawfulness and the rule of law, the Education for Justice (E4J) initiative, a component of UNODC’s Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, has developed a series of university modules around the subject of lawfulness. Developed in coordination with some 600 academics and experts, from more than 400 universities around the world, E4J’s modules provide support to tertiary level educators in their efforts to transmit a better understanding of rule of law related issues to their students.

In addition to anti-corruption, the subjects include crime prevention and criminal justice, organized crime, trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants, firearms, cybercrime, counter-terrorism, integrity and ethics, and wildlife, forest and fisheries crime. Open source and freely available, these nine series are designed to be easily adaptable, whether as stand-alone teaching resources, or as additional elements to incorporate into existing courses in a wide variety of disciplines.

To validate the anti-corruption modules, an expert group meeting was held in April at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government. Over the course of three days, education specialists and professors from institutions around the world reviewed the modules, discussed their application at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and considered follow-up activities to promote anti-corruption education.

Dr. Catharina Groop, Deputy Director for the Centre for Lifelong Learning at Åbo Akademi Univeristy is a member of the expert group, and she took part in the validation meeting.

“There was consensus on the real need which these modules filled. There are few teaching resources on the subject, and you don’t have an actual community at home to discuss these kind of issues, but this expert group meeting provided a platform. We need an instrument to push in education, and we can now use these modules for arguments about integrating and mainstreaming. They can even be targeted to those beyond academia, opening up many possibilities.”

Dr. Nikolas Kirby, Director of the Building Integrity Programme at the University of Oxford, remarked on the timeliness and usefulness of E4J’s modules: “There is no silver bullet to addressing corruption; however, education is a tool that can mobilize the entire population to the cause. By understanding how corruption works, why addressing it so important, and how they might contribute, hopefully we are recruiting a whole new generation to the cause of both addressing corruption and building integrity.”

Experts also considered the relevance of the modules outside academia, in the corporate world. As Ruth Steinholtz, business ethics specialist and Managing Partner of AretéWork, explained, “the modules are a great resource for those working in business: we must educate the future generations, as students will end up in the business world as well.”

Several professors stated they already looked forward to incorporating these modules into their curricula. For World Bank expert Alexandra Manea, this was a necessary step to take: “While stakeholders might have different approaches to fighting corruption on the short and medium term, education – as the only sustainable response to corruption – brings everyone together. These modules are important for international practitioners, because their content is validated by a group of experts coming from various disciplines and geographic areas, thus recognizing that corruption needs a multidisciplinary and complex response, and because they are benchmarked by UNODC, a key player in the area of anti-corruption. I also believe that UNODC’s efforts to make these modules available reflect the organization’s laudable long-term vision.”

The anti-corruption modules will be made available during 2019 for download here.