“You can be the most democratic country in the world, but you will still find corruption. The point is the approach taken to fight it.” This was a statement by one of the guest speakers at a panel titled “Power, Corruption, and Lies,” part of a much larger film festival spanning over the course of 8 days in the historic city of Prizren. Dokufest is an annual tradition in Kosovo, an event that attracts artists, filmmakers, activists and professionals from all over the world. This year’s theme was corruption, a theme UNDP chose to support through its Support to Anti-Corruption Efforts in Kosovo project (SAEK).
This one-hour panel featured three speakers representing Kosovo, the UK and Iceland. The overarching theme of the discussion was the role citizen engagement played in identifying and challenging corruption. As Michael Chessum from the UK stated, “every nation has the government it deserves.” Essentially, you cannot complain about corruption unless you as a citizen are actively engaged in stopping it.
Citizen engagement is paramount in addressing corruption, however it has been minimal. Lumir Abdixhiku described this as a “societal paralysis,” the non- reaction of citizens to acts of corruption that effect their everyday lives. He urged society to change this through three steps: mobilize the will to fight, know how to fight and then have the ability to fight. The more we talk about corruption, the more it will be challenged.
The final topic discussed was step two and three of Lumir’s solution: know how to fight and have the ability to fight. Inequality within society leaves many without the resources to challenge corruption. Mr. McCarthy, who works at an organization named Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, suggested we increase the effectiveness of fighting corruption by reducing inequality. There should be steps taken towards transparency, increased access to justice and capital, social welfare, education, structures of government, and even the simplest things such as the ability to leave your village. This is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals created by the United Nations in 2015, particularly number ten which targets the reduction of inequality and number sixteen which advocates for peace, justice and strong institutions. As all three panelists unanimously agreed, “we need to restore meaning to politics.”