The rapidly changing state of the world makes planning in the face of complex interconnected problems a formidable challenge. Our ability to conceive adequate solutions and strategies is often undermined by our lack of understanding of the nature of problems in their wider context. The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential offers a radically different perspective to associations, policy-makers, social researchers and those concerned with development strategy. By clarifying the ways in which problems reinforce and sustain each other, the Encyclopedia shifts the level of attention from isolated problems to problem cycles, and thus to sustainable strategy cycles. This allows for a more holistic understanding of the environment in which global problems and strategies are situated.
Corruption is a debasement or subversion of integrity or purity and may occur in ideology or personal morality, culture, commerce, civil service (including police) or in politics. It constitutes a barrier to progress, and promotes conflict as a result of frustration and alienation; instability as a result of apathy; violence and crime. It may lead to social, ethnic, political, national and ideological disintegration and possibly revolution.
Corruption feeds on itself. People involved in petty corruption become increasingly involved in more and larger amounts. Corruption has many victims. Public corruption offenses affect all citizens directly and personally, particularly those at the lower end of the income scale. Building inspectors paid small amounts of money to approve shoddy work results in dangerous construction, substandard electrical wiring, and inferior building materials, usually in the poorest areas of town. Judges and lawyers who line their pockets result in criminals set free to victimize citizens. Taxpayers pay for corruption. When officials are bribed to award construction contracts the cost of the bribe goes into the cost of the construction often with interest. In a corrupt system, good people avoid public service. Honest contractors refuse to bid on government contracts; honest lawyers refuse to become prosecutors or judges; honest citizens avoid participating in politics either as voters or candidates.
Corruption has been highly detrimental for development. It introduces an element of irrationality in all planning and plan implementation by distorting the actual course of development plans. A common method of exploiting a position of public responsibility for private gain is the threat of obstruction and delay; hence corruption impedes the processes of decision-making and execution at all levels. It increases the need for controls to check the dishonest official. Thus it tends to make administration cumbersome and slow, and prohibits rational delegation of authority. Corruption and the widespread knowledge of corruption counteract the strivings for national consolidation and in particular, decrease respect for and allegiance to the government.
In its most evident form, corruption affects dealings of the public with government bureaucracy and political hierarchies whereby money or favour is given in exchange for a benefit from the official. This extends to dealings between business enterprises and the bureaucracy and politicians. But corruption may also affect any transactions, notably with or between businesses, even where no governmental or political body is involved. In its simplest form corruption consists mainly of bribery and tipping. Generally bribes are negotiated payments made before a transaction, whereas tips, reflecting gratitude are paid afterwards based on the evaluation of the donor with regard to short-term and long-term interest in the relationship.
The international monetary system is fundamentally one that is used for payments in world trade. Big trading countries have strong voices in monetary affairs and their currencies are therefore "hard" (capable of use in world trade without restrictions). Countries with small shares in world trade and weak agricultural economies have "soft" currencies, which are not accepted in payment for their imports. Their trade is limited by the amount of "hard" currencies they can earn at any given time by their exports. As the world has become more interdependent, these guidelines of an earlier era are too simple to accommodate the complexities of international trade.
The external financial pressures on developing countries are of an unparalleled intensity. Severe difficulties in meeting debt service payments are widespread. Some statistics indicate a net flow of resources from the less developed countries to the developed countries, as efforts to repay years of credit continue.
The word "corruption" means the abuse of public trust for private purposes. It is a moral phenomenon, even though money is involved in the vast majority of cases. A public office is used for the benefit of one or more individuals, rather than in the national interest. Corruption may exist independently of any financial benefit; it is universal and multiform, and exists within non-governmental organizations. There are several definitions of corruption in existence but it can be said simply that corruption means the abuse of an office for personal ends. This office may be public or private but corruption is usually regarded as a public phenomenon. An individual abuses the public confidence placed in him to serve his own interests or those of the group to which he belongs. To understand the many forms of corruption, it is first necessary to consider the nature of the situations and persons concerned: civil servants, businessmen, private individuals or companies using the same processes. The external factor intervening in the decision-making process influences the unwarranted benefit to the decision maker or executive in the form of a gratuity or the promise of a gratuity.
Corruption affects all sectors of both public and private economic life. The existence of a public sphere and a private sphere is a prerequisite for corruption, but certain differences can be observed in the interests pursued. A businessman, working within the law, who slips an inducement across the table is generally pursuing an end corresponding to the interests of his company. The act - though reprehensible - thus comes within the framework of the normal operation of the enterprise. This is also the case of the politician who, in his own interest or in that of his party, tries to cover up a financial scandal but cannot do so without the help of other persons whose action or inaction he purchases. Another area very propitious to corruption is nepotism. This is a phenomenon extremely difficult to pin down but, since the criterion of competence has been replaced by that of favouritism, it creates between the decision maker and the beneficiary of the decision a link of dependency which may well influence future decisions.
The corrupted and the corrupter are not accomplices: each is the perpetrator of a distinct offence, subject to its own procedures and punishments. Moreover, corruption must be distinguished from the traffic of influence that one individual exercises over others to persuade them to refrain from carrying out one of their duties so as to give him an undue advantage. Both the corrupter and the corrupted can be civil servants, State agents, private individuals or elected officials. Corruption thus creates a dual responsibility: the corrupted (the passive subject) is just as responsible as the corrupter (the active subject). This dual responsibility gives rise to the fact that both parties are liable to punishment. Corruption can also engage the responsibility of the State if the latter is organizing it through the operation of its organs or when, by a permissive attitude, it accepts the fact that private entities or private individuals are practising it.
The internal corruption described above can have several connections in other countries: it then becomes transboundary and is carried out by private companies or individuals on a large scale and involving several States. Corruption, whatever its perpetrator and its extent, constitutes economically speaking a serious obstacle to the economic and social development of the countries affected. Thus, poisoning as it does the economy and the social fabric, corruption violates the economic, social and cultural rights as well as the right to development and to a healthy environment of the peoples and population sectors concerned.
Metals have been used for centuries and are fundamental to major industries, yet some have the potential to damage human health and disturb the balance of environmental systems if they are allowed to reach excessive concentrations in air, water, soil, or food.
Only a few metals are important environmentally: those most likely to cause concern include copper, cadmium, mercury, tin, lead, vanadium, chromium, molybdenum, manganese, cobalt and nickel. In addition, the metalloids (including antimony, arsenic and selenium), which have some metallic properties, may cause environmental problems; uranium, plutonium and other actinides also have metallic properties, and are a cause for concern.
A metal is regarded as toxic if it injures the growth or metabolism of cells when it is present above a given concentration. Almost all metals are toxic at high concentrations, and some are severe poisons even at very low concentrations. Copper, for example, is a micronutrient, a necessary constituent of all organisms, but if the copper intake is increased above the proper level, it becomes highly toxic. Like copper, each metal has an optimum range of concentration, in excess of which the element is toxic. The toxicity of a metal depends on its route of administration and the chemical compound with which it is bound. The combining of a metal with an organic compound may either increase or decrease its toxic effects on cells. On the other hand, the combination of a metal with sulphur to form a sulphide results in a less toxic compound than the corresponding hydroxide or oxide, because the sulphide is less soluble in body fluids than the oxide. Toxicity generally results: when an excessive concentration is presented to an organism over a prolonged period of time; when the metal is presented in an unusual biochemical form; or when the metal is presented to an organism by way of an unusual route of intake. Less well understood, but perhaps of equal significance, are the carcinogenic and teratogenic properties of some metals.
Recreation and tourism are becoming popular to the extent that in many countries they have developed into a national industry; they are often accompanied by extensive damage to the environment. Aquatic ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to the effects of an increased tourist trade and the resultant building of hotel accommodations, sewage disposal works, roads, car parks and landing jetties on banks and coastlines; and the increased angling, swimming, water skiing, shooting or use of motor-boats in the water body. These all produce direct deleterious effects when conducted on a massive scale, including shore damage, chemical changes in the water, and sediments and biological changes in the plant and animal communities. Indirect effects are caused when small towns and villages near a water body are visited periodically by a large number of people; or by changes in the land usage within the drainage area often due to an increase in industrial sewage or agricultural run-off that is associated with the local growth of tourism.
Environmental disadvantages accompanying the over-exploitation of tourism include: despoiling of coastlines by construction of tourist facilities; pollution of the sea; loss of historic buildings to make way for tourist facilities; loss of agricultural land for airport development. Ownership of land and the control of components of the tourist industry are increasingly in the hands of non-residents and of companies based elsewhere, giving rise to serious problems of control. Often outside interests acquire the best sites and beaches and then exploit them in such a way that an overall tourist plan cannot be implemented at a later date.
Tourism places direct and indirect pressures on, and threats to, the conservation of species and habitats, and may cause disturbances to wildlife and increase pollution caused by transportation.
Disposal of waste produced by the tourism industry may cause major environmental problems. Such waste can generally be divided into: sewage and waste-water; chemical wastes, toxic substances and pollutants; and solid waste (garbage or rubbish). The effect of direct discharge of untreated sewage can lead to eutrophication, oxygen deficit and algal blooms.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a unique, experimental research work of the Union of International Associations. It is currently published as a searchable online platform with profiles of world problems, action strategies, and human values that are interlinked in novel and innovative ways. These connections are based on a range of relationships such as broader and narrower scope, aggravation, relatedness and more. By concentrating on these links and relationships, the Encyclopedia is uniquely positioned to bring focus to the complex and expansive sphere of global issues and their interconnected nature.
The initial content for the Encyclopedia was seeded from UIA’s Yearbook of International Organizations. UIA’s decades of collected data on the enormous variety of association life provided a broad initial perspective on the myriad problems of humanity. Recognizing that international associations are generally confronting world problems and developing action strategies based on particular values, the initial content was based on the descriptions, aims, titles and profiles of international associations.
The Union of International Associations (UIA) is a research institute and documentation centre, based in Brussels. It was established in 1907, by Henri la Fontaine (Nobel Peace Prize laureate of 1913), and Paul Otlet, a founding father of what is now called information science.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.