Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Launch of an Exciting Research Project in IWA!

By Kowsar Gowhari

Last week, Afghanistan Integrity Watch launched an exciting one year research project. The project is funded by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Afghanistan Integrity Watch is implementing the project in partnership with Transparency International, a prominent organization dedicated to fighting corruption in the world. The research project is directed at fighting corruption in Afghanistan and it will be utilizing what is called the National Integrity System (NIS), an assessment tool designed and developed by Transparency International. The system has been successfully employed in seventy cases such as this since the inception of the organization in the 1990’s.

The National Integrity System (NIS) explores the principle governance institutions in a country where research is carried out. When these institutions suffer from the lack of appropriate regulation and unaccountability, corruption is likely to thrive, with negative rippling effects on societal goals for equitable growth, sustainable development and social cohesion. Functioning optimally, the National Integrity System, will create an environment wherein government institutions interact and work properly together.  Of course this will carry with it the ability to effectively stamp out corruption as well.  

The NIS assessment evaluates the legal basis and the actual performance of institutions relevant to the overall anti-corruption system. These institutions – or ‘pillars’ –include the executive, legislature, judiciary, the public sector, the main public watchdog institutions (e.g. supreme audit institution, law enforcement agencies), as well as political parties, the media, civil society and businesses as the primary social forces which are active in the governance arena (NIS Assessment Toolkit).

In general, the NIS explores and studies these  pillars ( depicted in the following figure), which contain a number of foundations in terms of political, social, economic and cultural conditions of the country under research.

NIS then looks at the relationships among these various pillars focusing on their levels of integrity, presupposing that a lack of integrity in a single institution would lead to serious flaws in the entire system. Consequently, the NIS assessment does not seek to offer an in-depth evaluation of each pillar, but rather puts emphasis on covering all relevant pillars and at assessing their inter-linkages.

In conducting this research, the goal of Transparency International and Afghanistan Integrity Watch is the implementation of NIS in Afghanistan with the aim of strengthening and enhancing governance in the country. The research will provide TI and IWA with a comprehensive and up-to-date overview of Afghanistan’s challenges with regard to corruption. TI and IWA will use this subsequent data to develop strong advocacy and outreach strategies, define priorities and establish networks and contacts in the country. This will inevitably contribute to a more just society overall. 
Following is an introduction to two of IWA’s highly enthusiastic Junior Researchers, Naser and Nasrat who recently joined the team to work on the above mentioned research project. We welcome them to the IWA family and wish them an insightful and enjoyable work experience!

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