Transparency International

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from one of Transparency International’s national chapters. The Anti-Corruption Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International and funded by the European Union


Could you provide an overview of what the literature says about the potential for civil society to build on social (protest) movements to achieve systemic change?


  1. Coalition building between civil society and social movements
  2. Case studies of coalitions
  3. Building on social movements – recommendations for civil society
  4. References


Over the past 10 years there has been a grassroots "eruption against corruption”, led by a “coalition of the concerned” (including citizens, civil society organisations (CSOs), the private sector and government officials) fighting to curb corruption in their communities and countries (World Bank 2017).

There is some evidence that CSOs promoting good governance reforms are a necessary condition to translate anti-corruption campaigns and protests into sustainable reforms. In countries as diverse as Georgia, Brazil, India and Romania, organised civil society groups have been able to capitalise on spontaneous, visceral outpourings of citizen anger at high-profile corruption scandals as well as on more coherent social movements to achieve systemic change. This has been made possible by providing strategic leadership, direction and a sense of purpose to such movements. As such, harnessing popular social movements and joining forces in loose coalitions could be viewed as a viable strategy for CSOs seeking to achieve lasting change in the fight against corruption.

While there is no silver bullet to achieve such outcomes, a few lessons can be drawn from these examples. Developing a sound understanding of the local corruption context to be able to deploy appropriate tactics, harnessing the power of the media, building awareness and channelling the negative “outrage” into positive “hope” are some of the key lessons learned from the case studies of Georgia, Brazil, India and Romania explored in this answer.


Kaunain Rahman, [email protected]  


Matthew Jenkins and Marie Chêne, Transparency International




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