Pockets of progress with otherworldly purposes

Pockets of progress with otherworldly purposes

02 Feb 2023 ( CSMonitor )

Two surveys cite successful struggles for honest governance and why humanity must focus on curbing corruption – perhaps even in space. 

It is a mark of progress in honest governance that a few experts are starting to ask this question: Do national laws against corruption apply in outer space? The question is not so far-fetched.

One American company, Lonestar, plans to put computer servers on the moon later this year. And Elon Musk’s next big space venture, Starship, promises “long-duration interplanetary flights” for people who can afford them. The struggle to ensure integrity in business and government – wherever they exist – keeps on expanding.

As a leader on Earth in exposing transnational corruption, the United States sees this struggle as not only a benefit to its economy, democracy, and national security, but also, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in December, “a challenge in many other domains.” That’s why, Mr. Blinken added, it is important to show “that pockets of transparency and accountability can actually be nurtured.”

Many of those “pockets” were highlighted in two global surveys released this week that hint at terrestrial progress.

The 2022 Democracy Index found the number of countries improving on measures such as political accountability has risen compared with 2021. And Transparency International called attention to eight countries – Ireland, South Korea, Armenia, Vietnam, the Maldives, Moldova, Angola, and Uzbekistan – that have improved their scores on its corruption perception index in the past five years.

Both surveys made a point to cite progress on a continent where corruption remains rife.

In sub-Saharan Africa, “citizens’ movements calling for deeper democratization and accountability remain a core part” of politics, stated the Democracy Index. The region saw improvements in political culture and political participation. On the corruption index, seven African nations are on the list of 24 nations worldwide that made significant progress against corruption. They include Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Angola.

“More leaders in [Africa] have stood up for democracy, and the African Union has spoken out against military takeovers,” stated the Transparency International report.

The Biden administration has elevated the struggle against corruption to the top of its foreign policy. Part of its strategy is to reinforce progress in honest governance worldwide. “We see the ways that the fight for accountability can actually motivate real, positive change – from Kyiv to Kuala Lumpur, from Lusaka to Bratislava,” says national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

And, as he might add someday, on the moon and beyond.