Today’s guest post is by the Rev. Joel Edwards on behalf of the EXPOSED Campaign.
Joel is the International Director for Micah Challenge, a global Christian response to extreme poverty. Prior to his role within Micah Challenge, he was General Director of the Evangelical Alliance UK. Currently Joel is an Advisory Member of Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation. He also serves as a member of the Advisory Board on Human Rights & Religious Freedom with the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office and is a regular broadcaster with the BBC and other UK and international media channels.
If at the birth of Jesus, you were given 1 trillion U.S dollars and spent 1 million dollars every day since then, you would still have 213 billion dollars left. 1 trillion dollars, that is how much money is paid in bribes each year! A quarter of Africa’s GDP ($150 billion each year) is stolen from African economies by corruption.
It is the poor and vulnerable who suffer most from secret and corrupt deals as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It’s not just money that is lost though: corruption kills. The lives of 230 children under the age of five could be saved every day if the issue of tax evasion is addressed.
Corruption is active at all levels of society. It ranges from families in developing countries having to pay bribes to go to school to a lack of transparency in extractive industries. From paying to give birth in a hospital to large companies not declaring profits and hiding assets, corruption has simply become a way of life.
We are all implicated. The phones, tablets and laptops we use contain coltan, which is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country which is torn apart by war and the conflict there is being funded by mined minerals. Injustice is happening in Congo due to a lack of transparency in the production chain of these minerals and our phones, laptops and other electronic devices. We are all implicated in this!
Corruption robs people of the fullness of life that God desires for rich and poor people alike. It is a global problem that is crying out for our attention.
At Micah Challenge International our vision comes from Micah 6:8
“He has shown you O man what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Our aim is a world free from extreme poverty with our mission to be a global voice for the Church: to educate, inspire and mobilise Christians to bring impact on the issues of poverty and injustice. We spoke to a wide cross-section of our 40 global partners across the globe in 2009 asking what was the one thing stopping them to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by World Leaders in 2000 and the overwhelming response was corruption.
That is what the EXPOSED Campaign is about. We are a coalition of Christian organisations that aim to mobilise churches, governments, businesses and individuals to shine a light on practices that oppress the poor and re-establish integrity in financial and political systems. We are aiming to collect 1 million signatures to hand over to the G20 in Brisbane, Australia in November this year when the world leaders will discuss the international financial system.
Signatures for petitions do work! The Jubilee Campaign at the turn of the Millennium saw 21 million signatures with rich countries promising to write off $110 billion of debt from the developing world. In 2005 the biggest ever Anti Poverty Movement – ‘Make Poverty History’ saw 444,000 people e-mail the Prime Minister and the 2005 G8 summit signalled an extra $48 billion a year to be spent on tackling poverty. Campaigns can make a difference! That is why we need you to get involved.
In October last year thousands across the world gathered together to hold vigils to pray in public for integrity within their local communities, businesses, public services and government.
Many signed the EXPOSED global call which is what will be handed over at the G20:
“To G20 leaders
We call on you, as leaders of the world’s largest economies, to take practical steps that promote greater transparency in the financial affairs of business, government and individuals.
We are concerned that the tax evasion activities of some multinational companies and individuals as well as the corrupt use of funds by government officials, are having adverse effects on the world’s poorest people.
Please increase the ability of citizens worldwide to hold their own governments to account for the revenue they receive from taxes and all other payments, helping to ensure that resources are shared fairly and all people have the opportunity to flourish.”
Your voice is a powerful one.
As a faith community this is the first global Christian response to corruption and this pioneering campaign is starting to make cracks in the walls that corruption has built. Help us tear down these walls down and shine a light on corruption by being one in a million.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
Watch the video and please SIGN THE CAMPAIGN!
 Interview with Daniel Kaufman, Global Governance Director, The World Bank Institute, “Six Questions about the cost of corruption” April 8th 2004
 World Bank (2007) Stolen Asset Recover (StAR) Initiative; Challenges, Opportunities and Acton Plan.