Corruption and Anti-Corruption Reform in Central Asia

Corruption and Anti-Corruption Reform in Central Asia

Duane Windsor (Rice University, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 31
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2239-4.ch003

Abstract

This chapter surveys information available in English from public sources concerning levels and composition of corruption in the five countries of Central Asia. Similarly, the chapter examines relevant information available in English from public sources concerning anti-corruption reform efforts in Central Asia. Focus is on the relationship between corruption and reform and economic, educational, and touristic development in the five countries. There is consideration of possible links to foreign direct investment and operations by multinational corporations. There is some comparison to neighboring countries. The chapter proceeds in the following phases. The first step is to assemble available information and studies concerning corruption and anti-corruption conditions in the five countries. The second step is to assess the determinants and consequences of both corruption and anti-corruption reform. The third step is to place information and assessment into regional context. The chapter provides a conceptual framework for interpreting detailed country information.
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Introduction

The research problem addressed in this chapter is how to study the relationship of corruption conditions and anti-corruption reform efforts to economic development, educational development, and touristic development in the five countries of Central Asia. Recent empirical scholarship finds that the relationship of corruption to development dimensions and to effectiveness of anti-corruption reform efforts is ambiguous, non-linear, and context dependent.

Corruption is pervasive across Central Asia. Anti-corruption reforms seem tepid. The political regimes are authoritarian. In the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) measures for 180 countries and territories (Transparency International, 2019a), three Central Asian countries rank in the bottom quartile (152nd or below) and two other countries rank in the bottom half (132nd and 124th). Regionally, only Africa averages as more corrupt than Eastern Europe and Central Asia (Transparency International, 2019b, Paragraph 4).

The methodological issue is how to study corruption and anti-corruption reform in specific countries. Given the latest scholarship findings suggesting complexity of corruption and anti-corruption, detailed country-level information is essential for understanding and research about Central Asia. The chapter provides a conceptual framework for helping to interpret detailed information about Central Asia. The general perspective of the chapter is a study of publicly available key information in English on corruption and anti-corruption reform. The methodology is a survey and analytical interpretation of that information. This survey is not a complete and exhaustive study of all publicly available information. Instead the inquiry is focused on essential aspects of the research problem to develop a general picture.

The importance of Central Asia is due in part to its unique geographical location. The five countries are adjacent (on different frontiers) to Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia. All these neighbors are corrupt. Afghanistan is an active war zone. Central Asia is a useful setting for studying possible regional cooperation and influence of adjacent corruption conditions and anti-corruption efforts. For purposes of assessing anti-corruption campaigns, India (adjacent to Pakistan and China) and China are highly relevant.

The objectives of the chapter are as follows. The first is to examine available key information on corruption in Central Asia. The second investigates such information on anti-corruption reform efforts. The third is to relate corruption and anti-corruption reform to the evolution of the political regimes in Central Asia. The chapter then considers solutions, recommendations, and future research directions. A further purpose is to provide the general reader with references and additional readings that should prove useful in the further study of Central Asia.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Authoritarianism: An illegitimate political system concentrating authority and power to a dictator or small elite of oligarchs not constitutionally constrained by the ruled.

Constitutional Polity: A legitimate political system based on the rule of law defined in a constitution limiting authority and power of rulers, whether functioning as a representative republic or a direct democracy.

Central Asia: The five countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, previously soviet socialist republics (SSRs) within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), which became independent in 1991 upon USSR disintegration.

Petty Corruption: Adapting the definition by Transparency International, corruption through bribery or extortion occurring in daily life, including private transactions and at lower levels of government.

Corruption: Adapting the definition by Transparency International, illegitimate abuse of a position of trust or power, especially public office, for private gain obtained typically through bribery by or extortion of others.

Grand Corruption: Adapting the definition by Transparency International, corruption through bribery or extortion occurring at higher levels of government.

Culture of Corruption: Attitudes, beliefs, and practices so pervasive as to make much of the population tolerant of corruption in public and private life and indifferent to anti-corruption reform through lack of confidence in the possibility of positive change.

Anti-Corruption Reform: Private, governmental, and international efforts to reduce corruption in particular countries.

Political or System Corruption: Adapting the definition by Transparency International, systematic corruption and abuse of power by the top officials of government typically in combination with and furtherance of authoritarianism.

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