U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from a U4 Partner Agency. The U4 Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International in collaboration with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre based at the Chr. Michelsen Institute.

Query

Is there any evidence that RTI laws help to reduce corruption and / or improve the quality of public services? If it helps, under which conditions? Is there evidence of approaches that are effective in implementing and encouraging use of RTIs?

Note

This Helpdesk answer is also available in Spanish and French.

Content

1. Do RTI laws contribute to reduce corruption and improve the delivery of public services?
2. What is required to achieve the potential benefits of RTI laws?
3. References

Summary

There is a broad consensus of the importance of right to information (RTI) laws in enhancing transparency and accountability, thus reducing the opportunities for corruption. Nevertheless, empirical evidence of the impact of RTI laws remains scarce. In general, several studies have found that access to information is positively correlated to control of corruption, but the actual impact of RTI laws seems to depend on a series of other factors. As demonstrated by several studies, the RTI law alone can have a positive impact and help in the solution of specific cases, but it is unlikely to bring sustainable change if not effectively implemented and accompanied of other measures, such as guaranteed freedom of press and association, effective checks and balances mechanisms, including the prosecution and dismissal of public officials found to be involved in corruption, and coherent policy responses to problems detected in service delivery.

In addition, cases of successful implementation of RTI laws requires a strong leadership and political will as well as the establishment of independent and well-resourced oversight institutions, a clear legal framework and appeal mechanisms, training and capacity building of public officials, and awareness raising activities to inform citizens, civil society, the media and companies on how to exercise their right to know.  

Authors

Maíra Martini, Transparency International, tihelpdesk@transparency.org

Date

07/08/2014

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