Legal Remedies for Grand Corruption

In too many nations, ruling elites rob the populace on a grand scale, awarding friends and relatives lucrative government contracts, siphoning off revenues from oil and other natural resources, even writing checks to themselves on the central bank.  Curbing such “grand corruption” will require much: an active, informed citizenry; coordinated international action; vigorous diplomacy; shrewd application of international sanctions.

new volume from the Open Society Justice Initiative, pictured below, describes how civil society can mobilize courts of law in the struggle.  It recounts efforts that range from using international tribunals to force government to address corruption, as the Nigerian NGO SERAP’s case before the court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States illustrates, to bringing suit against a kleptocratic ruler in a foreign jurisdiction, as Sherpa and TI-France did against Equatorial Guinean Vice President Teodoro Obiang, to the creative use of domestic law doctrines common to most legal systems to force wrongdoers to answer for their crimes in their own courts.

Grand corruption is behind many of the globe’s most pressing problems: massive environmental degradation, gross human rights abuses, large-scale emigration. Taming it must be a priority for the global community.  Legal Remedies for Grand Corruption offers an important set of tools for doing so.

Legal Remedies for Grand Corruption

4 thoughts on “Legal Remedies for Grand Corruption

  1. Grand corruption’s biggest enabler is the lack of political will to root out public corruption despite the UNCAC and domestic laws criminalizing the use of public office for private gain

    • Indeed, when the corrupt are in control of the government machinery, they have no will to go after themselves. Several chapters in the book discuss how to get the wrongdoers before a court in a country where there is political will.

  2. I’m curious to know a bit more about trends regarding focus on the front end of corruption, meaning legal or other ways (perhaps via technology) to remove opportunities for corruption before it takes place. In contexts where high level prosecutions simply aren’t taking place and investigations frequently get buried, is this an area (front-end corruption curbing attempts) where increasing numbers of anticorruption professionals are focusing their efforts? For example, in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) there have been moves to legally codify changes to business registration processes at the state, entity, cantonal and municipal level. This includes championing “one-stop shops” for businesses to complete their registration. BiH has one of the longest and most complicated business registration processes which is not only inefficient and deters foreign investment, but lends to increased opportunities for corruption. I believe that pursing judicial reform and pushing for prosecution of crimes related to corruption is critical but so is finding other choke points to tackle this complex issue when backend anticorruption efforts stagnate.

  3. One issue that I think many civil societies come up against is the lack of will to enforce decisions even when there is a favourable decision on the part of international tribunals. For land claims in particular, often rulings by international tribunals are not reflected in actual change for the victims. I think there is an interesting issue about how far international tribunals can go in trying to have their decisions enforced, and whether tribunals limit their decisions and remedies to those that they feel will actually be enforced to prevent individuals from being disenfranchised by the lack of action.

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