Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain, is the single greatest obstacle to economic and social development around the world. Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and police brutality, is not considered political corruption. An illegal act by an officeholder constitutes political corruption only if the act is directly related to his official duties.
Forms of corruption vary, but include bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft and embezzlement. While corruption may facilitate the criminal enterprises such as drug trafficking, money laundering and human trafficking, it is not restricted only to these activities. It distorts markets, stifles economic growth, debases democracy and undermines the rule of law.
Corruption poses a serious development challenge. In the political realm, it undermines democracy and good governance by flouting or even subverting formal processes. Corruption in elections and in legislative bodies reduces accountability and distorts representation in policy-making; corruption in the judiciary compromises the rule of law; and corruption in public administration results in the inefficient provision of services. More generally, corruption erodes the institutional capacity of government as procedures are disregarded, resources are misused, and public offices are bought and sold. At the same time, corruption undermines the legitimacy of government and democratic values such as trust and tolerance.