Corruption is often thought of as a collection of individual venalities: a politician with a weakness for Rolex watches, an underpaid cop who looks the other way in exchange for some wadded-up bills. This image underestimates the dimensions of today’s problem. Public corruption scandals now routinely feature billion-dollar sums. Far from the work of individual wrongdoers, they constitute the operating system of sophisticated networks weaving together public officials, captains of industry, and out-and-out criminals. Indignant populations rise up in outrage, sparking revolutions, such as those that swept through the Arab world and Ukraine, or mass protests that have toppled governments from Brazil to South Korea. Some victims join extremist insurgencies that promise a purified government. Starting with a decade on the ground in Afghanistan, Carnegie Endowment Senior Fellow Sarah Chayes has experienced, developed policy towards, and researched some of the most corrupt countries on earth. At Falling Walls, she will explain why not only dogged investigation, but also network analysis skills are needed to truly understand and thus fight this problem – and why we should be applying such efforts to our own Western countries, not just the usual suspects.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Sarah Chayes, a senior fellow in the Democracy and Rule of Law program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, combines academic rigor with practical experience in her field of corruption. Having lived in Afghanistan for nearly a decade, first as a reporter, then running a small business in downtown Kandahar, and finally as special adviser to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the US military, she gathered first-hand experience on the damage and erosion of trust caused by a kleptocratic government. Her research has since expanded to investigating systemic corruption on a global scale, making her one of the most prominent voices in her field.