Islamic States Agree to Anticorruption Convention

On 28 Jumada Al-Awwal, 1444h (December 22, 2022), Anticorruption Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation agreed to assist one another in preventing, detecting, investigating, and prosecuting corruption crimes.

The Makkah Al-Mukarramah Convention commits OIC’s 57 member states to exchange information and share expertise on bribery, embezzlement, trading in influence, and the other corruption offenses listed in the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. Member states foreign ministers are expected to ratify the Convention by March of this year.

The Convention is an important step forward. For two reasons. One, as a practical matter requests from one OIC member to another for assistance in locating fugitives, securing evidence, or recovering stolen assets often run up against obstacles ranging from outmoded procedures to a lack of trust between law enforcement agencies.

This makes it easy for embezzlers, bribe takers and payers, and other scam artists to escape prosecution.  Not only does the Convention require states to eliminate these barriers, but its creation of a General Secretariat and a Conference of State Parties should help smooth working relations among law enforcement personnel as well as provide a forum for resolving disputes.

The greater impact is surely the Convention’s demonstrative effect. Beyond an immediate effect on behavior, law serves an expressive function, creating and validating social norms. The OIC is in its own words “the collective voice of the Muslim world.” For the representative of the believers in one of the world’s great religions to join the fight against corruption validates and reaffirms the importance of the fight. That the English for “Makkah Al-Mukarramah” is “Holy City of Mecca” serves to emphasize this importance to Muslims of all states.

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