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Gütersloh/Berlin, 12/08/2002

Carl Bertelsmann Prize 2002 Awarded to Transparency International

Bertelsmann Foundation honors global corruption watchdog for its efforts in promoting coalition building

This year’s Carl Bertelsmann Prize, which includes a donation of EUR 150,000, will be awarded to Transparency International (TI). TI, a non-governmental organisation fighting corruption, is being recognised for its work in promoting transparency at all levels of society and for advancing solutions to problems created by the failure of the market and the public sphere.

The award also recognizes the personal example set by Chairman Peter Eigen, a social entrepreneur who founded the internationally respected organization.

“The all-regulating state is slowly reaching its limits,” said Dr. Stefan Empter, member of the management of the Bertelsmann Foundation, on the announcement of the award to TI. “It is essential,” he continued, “that business and civil society build a cooperative alliance with the political sector in order to solve socio-political issues. Transparency in decision-making is indispensable if the public is to have confidence in this coalition.”

The same convictions prompted Peter Eigen to found Transparency Internati-onal in May 1993. A former World Bank Director for East Africa, Eigen joined forces with a small number of like-minded individuals to establish the organization because he was repeatedly struck by how massive an obstacle corruption is to business and society. Corruption, Eigen believes, can be fought effectively only if the civil sector, as a “neutral third party,” cooperates closely with the business sector and political institutions. Eigen views transparency as the key lever: if taboos surrounding corruption are to be lifted, the public must be well informed. Eigen is also sure that the problem cannot be solved through confrontation. A solution will come about only with the participation of all involved - those who are often enough both perpetrators and victims.

Transparency International was able to establish itself worldwide more quickly than expected. Today the organization has an International Secretariat and 87 National Chapters, and is either active in or has contacts in 122 different countries. It is concerned with domestic and international corruption, and also with the supply and demand aspect of corruption. At the international level, TI aims to sharpen public awareness of the dire consequences of corruption. It campaigns for national laws to implement multilateral accords against corruption, and monitors compliance by the governments, corporations and banks involved.

At the national level, the 87 National Chapters support new measures and reforms intended to promote transparency, especially in financial affairs. They are largely autonomous from the International Secretariat in Berlin, since efficacy in any given country depends to a large degree on making the appropriate choices for the local culture and the local context.

The Carl Bertelsmann Prize will be awarded to TI at a ceremony in Gütersloh on September 5. Patrick Cox, the President of the European Parliament, will deliver the keynote address and Dr. Gunter Thielen, the new CEO of Bertelsmann AG, will present the award.

The Carl Bertelsmann Prize is awarded annually as a way of giving new momentum to socio-political debate in Germany by drawing attention to international models and approaches. Experts conduct research into the topic in countries in which innovative ideas are expected.Last year the foundation recognized the peaceful transition from authoritarian forms of government to democracy and a market economy. The recipients were Poland and Bolivia.

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