Resolving Rights

Many instances of corruption are due to different parties being in conflict over resources that result from (often legitimate) overlapping claims. This type of conflict can emerge because policies and regulations are sometimes deliberately badly designed, or have historically conferred conflicting rights onto different people.

In these cases, horizontal support for rule enforcement requires policies that seek to resolve the underlying conflicts of rights in conjunction with the enforcement of rules.

For instance, conflicting land records have emerged in all three of our target countries. This is the source of huge problems in land markets, driving crippling levels of corruption in land cases. While some of this corruption is due to a lack of transparency in land registry and land tax offices, a major reason is the deep inconsistencies in land rights inherited from the past.

These conflicts cannot be settled by courts because all parties may have semi-legitimate claims. Court cases can therefore go on for a decade or more with the parties bribing lawyers, judges, politicians and other intermediaries, till one of the parties becomes bankrupt or exercises political power to resolve the issue.

Policy recommendations here are challenging and require a deep understanding of possibilities in different areas and for different actors. Effective anti-corruption strategies will have to supplement existing ones that rely on digitizing land records and improving transparency in land administration. They will also have to complement appropriate conflict resolution and arbitration solutions for each context.

Photo credit: Wooden dreams/Naser I Hossain (Flickr/Creative Commons)