/ Corruption on the Agenda / Getting Started / What is Corruption?

Corruption is a broad term covering a wide range of misuse of entrusted funds and power for privat gain: Theft, fraud, nepotism, abuse of power etc. A corrupt act is often - but not necessarily - illegal. In handling corruption you will often face a gray zones and dilemmas






Dilemmas: What is corruption - and what is not?


In many countries, corruption is everywere and daily life is riddled with situations in the gray zone between legal and illigal. Many people accept petty corruption as a fact of life. But what should you accept in your own organisation?


Were do you draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior? Check out these dilemmas from real life - and use them as starting points for discussions.


More or less corrupt...

Corruption exists everywhere. The causes might differ, however, whether corruption results from a need, a culture or simply from an opportunity too tempting not to exploit, it influences the way we deal with it - or don’t deal with it.


In the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index, issued by the anti-corruption organisation Transparency International, Denmark, New Zealand and Finland were at the top of the list. Somalia and North Korea were to be found at the bottom of the list as the World's most corrupt countries.



Definitions of Corruption 


  • Wikipedia defines the meaning of the word corruption here


  • The World Bank uses a straight forward definition on corruption as 'the abuse of public office for private gain'. Read more here.


  • Transparency International defines corruption as 'the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.' Read more here.


  • Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) defines corruption as the 'misuse of entrusted power for private gain'. Danida's definition corresponds with the conception of corruption in the Danish Penal Code, and other international conventions.


  • Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) defines corruption in development co-operations as 'when institutions, organisations, companies or individuals profit inappropriately from their position in the operations and thereby cause damage or loss. This includes giving and receiving bribes, extortion, favouritism and nepotism, embezzlement, fraud, conflict of interest, and illegal monetary contributions to political parties.'


Illustration by Sammi Mwamkinga ©


About this site

This website is a toolbox for civil society organisations in their fight against corruption, fraught and abuse of funds in international development cooperation.

The site is hosted by CISU - Civil Society in Development, an association of Danish CSO's engaged in international development. 

The site is funded by Danida, the Danish state development agency.

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'Spreading the Word':

CISU testing a prevention toolbox in India.


Address: CISU - Civil Society in Development, Klosterport 4a, 8000 Århus C, Denmark
Tel: 045 8612 0342, weekdays 10.00-15.00, Mail us at cisu@cisu.dk

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