Anticorruption Bibliography–June 2021 Update

An updated version of my anticorruption bibliography is available from my faculty webpage. A direct link to the pdf of the full bibliography is here, and a list of the new sources added in this update is here. Additionally, the bibliography is available in more user-friendly, searchable from at Global Integrity’s Anti-Corruption Corpus website.

As always, I welcome suggestions for other sources that are not yet included, including any papers GAB readers have written.

New Podcast Episode, Featuring Alice Mattoni

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, my collaborators Nils Köbis and Jonathan Kleinpass interview Alice Mattoni, Associate Professor in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the University of Bologna. Professor Mattoni is an expert both in anticorruption and in social movements more broadly, and the interview addresses several aspects of how these two topics intersect. For instance, Professor Mattoni discusses what anticorruption activists and scholars can learn from research on social movements–for example, why it makes more sense to speak in terms of outcomes rather than “successes” or “failures,” and also the importance of how issues are framed. Professor Mattoni also addresses whether (and how) it might be possible to mobilize a global anticorruption movement, in light of the very specific and different understandings of the nature of the corruption problem in different countries. Professor Mattoni also discusses some of the challenges of conducing field research on corruption, and why some people resist labeling themselves as “anticorruption activists.” The final part of the interview turns to social movement activity online, including online anticorruption activism, and whether these forms of online protest can make a positive difference, or whether online forums tend instead to produce so-called “slacktivism,” in which people post or re-post slogans and memes without effecting real change.

You can also find both this episode and an archive of prior episodes at the following locations:

KickBack is a collaborative effort between GAB and the ICRN. If you like it, please subscribe/follow, and tell all your friends! And if you have suggestions for voices you’d like to hear on the podcast, just send me a message and let me know.

Streaming Now: Compensating Corruption Victims

Click here to join a discussion on compensating victims of corruption starting now (10:00 am U.S. East Coast time). One of the several events held as part of the UN General Assembly’s Special Session on Corruption, it is sponsored by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC). the Asset Recovery Subcommittee of the International Bar Association, Transparency International, and World Bank-UNODC StAR initiative.  Speakers are yours truly along with –

  • Mr. Stephen Baker, English barrister and Jersey advocate, Asset Recovery Subcommittee of the International Bar Association
  • Mr. Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)
  • Ms. Sankhitha Gunaratne, Deputy Executive Director, Transparency International Sri Lanka

The event moderator is Mr. Emile van der Does de Willebois, Coordinator, StAR Initiative.

You are asked when joining the event to use the following format for your name: Country (Or: Organization)_First name_Last name.

New Podcast Episode, Featuring Michael Mohallem

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, I interview Michael Mohallem, a Brazilian law professor, lawyer, and consultant based in Rio de Janeiro, about recent developments in Brazil’s struggle against corruption. Our conversation focuses on the so-called Lava Jato (“Car Wash”) operation, particularly recent developments including the Bolsonaro Administration’s decision to terminate the Car Wash task force, and recent decisions by the Supreme Court invalidating the corruption conviction of former President Lula. We also discuss the Bolsonaro administration’s overall anticorruption record, and the prospects for future progress against corruption in Brazil in light of what appears to be a very challenging and inhospitable political environment for the foreseeable future. You can also find both this episode and an archive of prior episodes at the following locations: KickBack is a collaborative effort between GAB and the ICRN. If you like it, please subscribe/follow, and tell all your friends! And if you have suggestions for voices you’d like to hear on the podcast, just send me a message and let me know.

Anticorruption Bibliography–May 2021 Update, Plus the Introduction of Global Integrity’s (Anti-)Corruption Corpus

An updated version of my anticorruption bibliography is available from my faculty webpage. A direct link to the pdf of the full bibliography is here, and a list of the new sources added in this update is here.

In addition to this month’s update, I am delighted to announce that Global Integrity has created an online searchable version of the bibliography, complete with user-friendly search functions, links to open-source versions of the pieces (when available), and other helpful features. This resource (which GI is calling “The (Anti-)Corruption Corpus”) is a huge improvement over my extremely low-tech long PDF document, and I hope that this will make the database more useful. My collaborators at Global Integrity and I will be ironing out the kinks over the next little while, and I will continue to post PDFs of the full bibliography and each month’s new additions on my webpage, but I am optimistic that in the very near future the Global Integrity database will supplant my original version, and serve as the go-to resource for researchers and others looking to get a sense of what’s available in the English-language corruption literature.

As always, I welcome suggestions for other sources that are not yet included, including any papers GAB readers have written.

New Podcast Episode, Featuring Nicola Bonucci

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, I interview Nicola Bonucci, currently a partner with the Paul Hastings law firm, who served for many years as the Director of Legal Affairs for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Our interview focuses primarily on the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Officials in International Business Transactions (sometimes referred to simply as the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention), which Mr. Bonucci was involved in creating and implementing. We discuss the history behind the convention, the reasons for its (relative) success, and also some of its current shortcomings. We also explore some of the current questions and challenges for this convention, including whether large emerging economies (such as China) ought to be brought into the convention, and how to enforce the convention’s requirement that enforcement of foreign anti-bribery laws shouldn’t be influenced by political or national economic considerations. Near the end of our talk, Mr. Bonucci reflects on his new perspective working with private clients addressing foreign bribery issues. You can also find both this episode and an archive of prior episodes at the following locations: KickBack is a collaborative effort between GAB and the ICRN. If you like it, please subscribe/follow, and tell all your friends! And if you have suggestions for voices you’d like to hear on the podcast, just send me a message and let me know.

How Reliable Are Global Quantitative Corruption Statistics? A New U4 Report Suggests the Need for Caution

Those who work in the anticorruption field are likely familiar with the frequent citation of quantitative estimates of the amount and impact of global corruption. Indeed, it has become commonplace for speeches and reports about the corruption problem to open with such statistics—including, for example, the claim that approximately US$1 trillion in bribes are paid each year, the claim that corruption costs the global economy US$2.6 trillion (or 5% of global GDP) annually, and the claim that each year 10-25% of government procurement spending is lost to corruption. How reliable are these quantitative estimates? This is a topic we’ve discussed on the blog before: A few years back I did a couple of posts suggesting some skepticism about the US$1 trillion and US$2.6 trillion numbers (see here, here, here, and here), which were followed by some even sharper criticisms from senior GAB contributor Rick Messick and guest poster Maya Forstater.

This past year, thanks to the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, I had the opportunity to take a deeper dive into this issue in collaboration with Cecilie Wathne (formerly a U4 Senior Advisor, now a Project Leader at Norway’s Institute for Marine Research). The result of our work is a U4 Issue published last month, entitled “The Credibility of Corruption Statistics: A Critical Review of Ten Global Estimates.” (A direct link to the PDF version of the paper is here.)

In the paper, Cecilie and I identified and reviewed ten widely-cited quantitative estimates concerning corruption (including the three noted above), tried to trace these figures back to their original source, and assess their credibility and reliability. While the report provides a detailed discussion of what we found regarding the origins of each estimate, we also classified each of the ten into one of three categories: credible, problematic, and unfounded.

Alas, we could not rate any of these ten widely-cited statistics as credible (and only two came close). Six of the ten are problematic (sometimes seriously so), and the other four are, so far as we can tell, entirely unfounded. Interested readers can refer to the full report, but just to provide a bit more information about the statistics we investigated and what we found, let me reproduce here the summary table from the paper, and also try to summarize our principal suggestions for improving the use of quantitative evidence in discussions of global corruption: Continue reading

New Podcast, Featuring Patrick Alley

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, I interview Patrick Alley, a director and co-founder of Global Witness. Global Witness, as many readers are likely aware, is a leading global advocacy organization focused on the inter-related issues of human rights violations, environmental degradation, and grand corruption. At the start of our conversation, Patrick discusses the founding of Global Witness and how his interest in environmental protection in developing countries like Cambodia led him, and the organization, to a greater focus on corruption and illicit financial flows. He then turns to a more in-depth discussion of how Global Witness seeks to raise awareness and prompt remedial action to address these and related problems, including the importance of forming effective–and sometimes surprising–partnerships You can also find both this episode and an archive of prior episodes at the following locations: KickBack is a collaborative effort between GAB and the ICRN. If you like it, please subscribe/follow, and tell all your friends! And if you have suggestions for voices you’d like to hear on the podcast, just send me a message and let me know.

Anticorruption Bibliography–April 2021 Update

An updated version of my anticorruption bibliography is available from my faculty webpage. A direct link to the pdf of the full bibliography is here, and a list of the new sources added in this update is here. As always, I welcome suggestions for other sources that are not yet included, including any papers GAB readers have written.

ASIL/World Bank/OECD Symposium on Supranational Responses to Corruption–Call for Papers

The Anti-Corruption Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law (ACLIG), the World Bank’s Office of Suspension and Debarment (OSD), and the OECD’s Anti-Corruption Division are organizing a symposium on “Supranational Responses to Corruption,” tentatively planned to be held in person in Vienna, Austria on November 18-19, 2021, with the possibility to participate remotely. The theme of the symposium–which is described in greater detail here–is “supranational responses to corruption.” In other words, the symposium will focus on current and prospective anticorruption efforts that transcend national boundaries or governments. Themes of this symposium may include, but are not limited to:

  • Efforts that can transcend national boundaries or governments structures when it comes to generating and operationalizing anticorruption policies and measures undertaken by intergovernmental organizations, regional organizations, institutional investors, donors, and private sector firms;
  • Efforts to establish regional/global investigative, prosecutorial, and adjudicatory anticorruption institutions;
  • Efforts to enhance coordination and collaboration among the actors undertaking anticorruption efforts at the international level.

The organizers are inviting proposals for both full papers (minimum 5,000 words) and short essays (minimum 2,500 words) from scholars, private sector professionals, international organizations professionals, policymakers, public officials, civil society organizations, and the broader international anti-corruption community. The deadline to submit a proposal is May 15, 2021 (a month from today). A proposal should be between 250 and 500 words, and should indicate how the proposed paper or essay relates to the themes of the symposium. To submit a proposal, you should send it (together with a brief biographical statement) to acsymposium2021@gmail.com. Successful applicants will be informed by June13, and the deadline for submitting the full paper or essay will be September 25, 2021.

This sounds like a great event on an important set of topics, so I hope that many of you will consider submitting proposals!