Integrity vs. Corruption

The Allard Prize for International Integrity is awarded to an individual, movement or organization that has demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in combatting corruption, especially through promoting transparency, accountability and the rule of law. The $100k prize was established by UBC alumnus Peter Allard, QC, as part of an $11.86m donation that helped fund the new Law building, Allard Hall.

The inaugural recipient of the prize is Anna Hazare, who for decades has led successful movements across India to enhance government transparency and investigate and prosecute official corruption.

The other finalists – Dr. Sima Samar, an internationally celebrated advocate for human and women’s rights, and Global Witness, an organization campaigning against natural resource‑related conflict and corruption and associated environmental and human rights abuses – were each awarded $25,000.

Watch an inspirational video about the finalists’ lives and work:

The following is abbreviated from remarks made by Peter Allard, QC (BA’68, LLB’71), at the Allard Prize ceremony held on September 25, 2013:

(L-R) Allard Prize award winner Anna Hazare; Keynote Speaker Stephen Lewis, CC .; Peter Allard, QC.
(L-R) Allard Prize award winner Anna Hazare;
Keynote Speaker Stephen Lewis, CC .; Peter Allard, QC.

Just after the end of the Second World War, the generation of UBC Law students who preceded me came forward with a new sense of hope and commitment to build a better and more just world. Tens of millions of the world’s citizens had just died horrific deaths through the most cruel savagery, atrocities and traumas imaginable.

Political regimes preceding WWII, both on the extreme left and right, clearly demonstrated that, despite their constitutions and manifestos to the contrary, the realities of their political administrations stripped citizens of their basic democratic rights of fairness and justice through denial of an equitable rule of law. Tyranny reigned.

After the war, with the assistance of a number of initiatives including the Marshall Plan and creation of The United Nations, democracy in North America and Europe began to encounter an era of peace and stability.

Every form of government is a constant “work in progress,” demanding full transparency, accountability and value for those citizens who work and deliver revenue to the system. The goal is to ensure that those less fortunate are raised up to a minimum level, that checks and balances over power and abuse of power actually work, and that our democratic values and principles are rooted to the middle ground where a strong sense of right and wrong, social justice and the truth are in place and stabilized.

We often naïvely think that issues of accountability, corruption and the lack of the rule of law are Second and Third World issues. But the reality is that our Western democracies are subject to precisely the same concerns. Over the past 30 years, the necessary checks and balances have been increasingly eroded through deregulation and the influence of money over substance and democratic principles.

Stability and the rule of law have, to a significant extent, given way to unfettered power in the hands of a few, and an over‑taxed and increasingly vulnerable middle class. Self‑interest and short‑term greed are threatening legal systems around the world, and long‑term protections are disappearing.

Much of this degradation has been accomplished with or sanctioned by the concurrence of our legal and judicial brethren. Furthermore, there has been a loss of judicial independence over time, and judges, some of whom come to their positions through elaborate political networking systems, are themselves subject to the temptations of their own and their associates’ interests.

In order to protect each and every democratic principle that we hold dear, it’s imperative that we foster more independent, probative, balanced and impartial justice systems worldwide. We must protect and fight for the basic rights that some people have today and for which others yearn. For history has warned us that they are fragile. And they can disappear overnight.

What better place to highlight the need to strengthen the concept of the rule of law, ethics and international integrity within the legal profession and the broader community than at UBC Law? And how better to support this activism than to focus attention on those guiding lights in the world who tirelessly and selflessly fight, often at great personal risk, on behalf of those who are denied equal access to a just and fair legal system?

The Allard Prize honours those precious and inspirational souls whose work and actions embody all of the prize criteria – including leadership, courage, transparency, accountability and the rule of law. All of this year’s finalists – Global Witness, Anna Hazare and Sima Samar – are extraordinary, all are deserving, and we hold all of them in the highest esteem.

To a large extent this prize is meant to honour the generation that preceded me along with their ideals and hopes for a just and better life, and who had hopes and dreams for their families and their families’ families for a safer and more secure society. It is now time for us to encourage the next generation to be actively engaged and vigilant, and for disparate groups to come together, to effect positive change and find common sense solutions to the constant threats to basic human rights and security.

I challenge all of us to become participants in the quest to improve all of the systems that we are responsible for managing. Not just in Canada, but worldwide. And I challenge all of us to spend less time on pure commentary, and more time on incorporating our collective intellects into progressive and equitable action.

Transcript of remarks made by Allard Prize winner Anna Hazare on accepting the honour:

Anna Hazare
Anna Hazare

Dear Sisters and Brothers / Ladies and Gentlemen:

Mr. Peter Allard is one who has dedicated his mind, body and soul towards service to the society and I am very happy to receive this recognition.

I have been combating corruption for the last 25 years. I have always followed and practiced non‑violent methods of “Satyagrah” (ie: protests through agitations, demonstrations, hunger strikes, etc.) I have never allowed any violence to take place.

On August 16, 2011, when I went on a hunger strike at Ramleela Maidan, New Delhi, people turned up in very large numbers, not only in New Delhi but also all across the nation. Millions of people came forward on to the streets to pledge their support, but not a single stone was thrown. This has become a unique example for the rest of the world. I have also been imprisoned by the government quite a few times, especially during agitations.

I also tried to fight the legal battles through the judiciary. Some of the deposed ministers filed various legal suits against me at various places. Eleven advocates came forward and offered me their voluntary legal services. Some are still fighting cases on my behalf, without charging any money.

Due to the persistent anti‑corruption activity, six cabinet ministers had to resign from their posts, and more than 400 corrupt government officers have been dismissed. Due to these agitations, the government was forced to bring about transparency in their operations. The government amended and framed newer laws.

Similarly, agitations for improvement in government functioning led to introduction of biometric attendance systems in government offices. A new legislature came into existence by virtue of which no document could remain without action for more than seven days.

The Right to Information Act came into existence. Earlier information on various facts was denied to the public under the pretext of the Official Secrets Act. After gaining access to vital information, the RTI Act has led to the unearthing of a large number of scams and some really big ones.

Earlier there were several malpractices for the transfers of the government officers. Now, due to the new legislature, no government officer can be transferred before completion of his three year term, nor can he retain that post for more than three years.

A village community meeting is, in fact, a village parliament. A new legislature came into existence empowering the village community with more powers. The co‑operative institutions were plagued with rampant corruption. A completely new legislature was framed to counter the corruption.

There are several co‑operative credit societies, and these are mostly controlled by powerful politicians. The controllers would siphon out almost all the money and later declare the society bankrupt. Many poor depositors lost all their wealth, deposits and their lifetime’s earnings. Our agitations forced the government to declare a 2000 million Rupees relief package for poor aggrieved depositors.

For the last two years, I have mainly focused my efforts for a very strong “Jana Lokpal Act” (Ombudsman Act). I have already given a notice to the government to go on hunger strike on this issue when the next winter session of parliament begins.

I have dedicated my life in the service of the people. I believe, service to humanity, is in real sense, the worship of God. I have been doing my bit and continue to do so within the limits of my abilities. I am thankful to the prize committee to consider me worthy of the honour. Thank you.

Photo Competition

A photo competition to reflect the themes of the Allard Prize was also launched, with winning entries being announced every six months.

Katharina Hesse is a Beijing‑based photographer who has worked throughout Asia for nearly two decades. Her work primarily focuses on China’s social concerns, among them youth and urban culture, religion and North Korean refugees.

Khesse-Borderland 001 high resThe woman in this photo is Kim Jeong‑Ya (a pseudonym), 67, from Yanji, China. Ms. Kim is one of a handful of Chinese activists from this region who have put their lives at risk to help neighboring North Korean refugees. Ms. Kim has dedicated her life to creating a safe passage to South Korea for North Koreans via mainland China. She has been imprisoned twice by North Korean agents operating in China.

The Allard Prize Photo Competition jury selected this photo as it captures the image of a woman with extraordinary courage and with dedicated commitment to human rights.

NORTHThe woman in this photo is Kim Jung‑ae (a pseudonym), 62. After her son died two years ago of starvation, Ms. Kim escaped from North Korea to find food and shelter in China. It was no easy task to leave North Korea – a country that denies its citizens the basic human right to travel freely. During her journey to China Ms. Kim had no income, was disabled and had to live on herbs and grass that she collected in the mountains. It took Ms. Kim five days by foot to reach a town in China, where she now supports herself by reselling garbage that she collects on the streets.

The competition jury selected this photo as it captures the image of a woman with the courage to seek a better life despite the risks involved.

Somenath Mukhopadhyay is an amateur photographer and a teacher at a higher secondary school. His work primarily focuses on people and the environment and in particular in the areas of agriculture, human health, water and food security and climate change.

High Res_Somenath MukhopadhyayThe boy in this photo is collecting water from a dried up pond in Birbhum, a district in West Bengal, India. The district is known for its arid soil and sparse vegetation. Climate change and extreme weather conditions have marginalized communities such as Birbhum that rely on its surroundings for food and shelter.

The competition jury selected this photo as it highlights the basic human rights issue of access to safe drinking water.


One comment

  1. Victor Kok says:

    Thank you Mr. Allard for your reminder. How we have forgotten the sacrifices of the previous generation, their hopes for a just and better life, their hopes and dreams for their families and their families’ families for a safer and more secure society. Let us remember and not forget. Let us act and not stand idle.

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