Corruption is a dishonest, fraudulent, or even criminal act of an individual or organization, using entrusted authority or power to make a personal gain or other unethical or illegal benefits. Corruption happens not only in political fields but also in social and economic fields, such as business, education, media, and so on. A lack of transparency and effective regulations are often the main causes of corruption. 

Corruption 1) undermines institutions’ reputations, instability, and working efficiency, 2) prevents economic development and wealth collection, 3) distorts individuals’ freedom and rights, and 4) attacks democracy and justice

Some solutions are instituting rules that prevent gray areas, transparent processes should be established. Thus, the public can get information and supervise decision-makers. In addition, some anti-corruption organizations as third-party oversight can help resolve disputes and make a difference in enhancing the democratic and economic environments. For example, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime is an international institution that aims to reduce corruption. The United Nations Convention against Corruption is “the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument,” and has been signed by 140 countries.

[Last updated in June of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]