Carr Center Conference on Human Rights and Corruption: Full Video

There’s been a great deal of recent interest, in both the anticorruption community and the human rights community, about the connections between these topics. Back in May 2018, the Carr Center for Human Rights at the Harvard Kennedy School held a conference on this topic (entitled “Corruption and Human Rights: The Linkages, the Challenges, and Paths for Progress”). I posted a link to the written summary report of the conference last summer. I’m now pleased to report that a full video of the all-day conference is available here.

It’s long (over 4 1/2 hours), so here’s a quick guide to what speakers and presentations you can find where: Continue reading

The Debate Over the International Anticorruption Court Continues… This Time in Podcast Form!

As many GAB readers are aware, Judge Mark Wolf’s vigorous advocacy for the creation of an International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC), modeled on but distinct from the International Criminal Court, has prompted a great deal of commentary and discussion on this blog (see, for example, here, here, here, here, and here), and elsewhere.

Last month Judge Wolf and I had the opportunity to sit down with Alexandra Wrage, the President of TRACE International, to discuss the IACC proposal on an episode of TRACE’s “Bribe, Swindle, or Steal” podcast. The direct link to the podcast is here. You can also find the link on the TRACE podcast main page, which also includes links to a number of past podcasts on anticorruption-related topics, which might also be of interest to GAB readers.

Anticorruption Bibliography–November 2018 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.

New “CurbingCorruption” Website on Sector-Specific Anticorruption Reform Strategies

Here at GAB we’re always delighted to welcome more platforms to the online community devoted to discussing, and hopefully making some progress toward addressing, the corruption problem. And so it’s with great pleasure that I commend to all of our readers a new website, CurbingCorruption. The brainchild of Mark Pyman, and developed by him with assistance from several other distinguished anticorruption specialists, CurbingCorruption seeks to provide concrete anticorruption advice tailored to specific sectors (such as construction, education, health, fisheries, etc.) The website is still a work-in-progress, but that’s actually one of the things I found so exciting and innovative about it: The idea, as I understand it, is to use what’s already on the site as a foundation, but to “crowdsource” additions and revisions by inviting users to contribute their own experiences, insights, and suggestions, and eventually for the website to be managed by collaborative groups of users, with different teams focused on different sectors. The site also welcomes inquiries.

This seems like an exciting, innovative experiment in accumulating and synthesizing knowledge about “what works” in anticorruption. I have no idea whether this experiment will be successful—efforts to create online knowledge repositories have had a mixed track record, or so I’ve been told—but I do hope it takes off, and I encourage GAB readers to check it out and perhaps to get involved.

Tracking Corruption and Conflicts of Interest in the Trump Administration–November 2018 Update

Since May 2017, GAB has been tracking credible allegations that President Trump, as well as his family members and close associates, are seeking to use the presidency to advance their personal financial interests, and providing monthly updates on media reports of such issues. It looks like our approach is catching on, given that this past month the New York Times published a similar compendium (which the authors described as “the definitive list”) of Trump-related corruption and conflict-of-interest allegations. It’s not clear whether the NYT plans to regularly update this compendium–if they do, then we might wind down the Trump COI tracker here at GAB, given the NYT‘s much wider reach and greater resources. But for now, we’re going to keep plugging away with our monthly updates. The October 2018 update is now available here. The most notable additions since the previous update include:

  • Reports that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke may have been involved in a shady property development deal that entails negotiations and transactions with parties connected to firms over which the Interior Department has regulatory authority.
  • Renewed and intensified concern about President Trump’s past and present business ties to Saudi Arabia, in light of the administration’s tepid response to the murder of Saudi journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Kashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey, apparently by Saudi intelligence agents.
  • President Trump’s intercession with Japanese officials on behalf of his campaign donor and supporter Sheldon Adelson, in connection with the latter’s interest in a lucrative license to operate a casino in Japan.

As always, we note that while we try to include only those allegations that appear credible, we acknowledge that many of the allegations that we discuss are speculative and/or contested. We also do not attempt a full analysis of the laws and regulations that may or may not have been broken if the allegations are true. For an overview of some of the relevant federal laws and regulations that might apply to some of the alleged problematic conduct, see here.

Anticorruption Bibliography–October 2018 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.

Kleptocracy and Neoliberal Shock Therapy – Talented Researchers Wanted

Professor Kristian Lasslett of the University of Ulster in Belfast, Northern Ireland, posts this announcement about funding opportunities for doctoral candidates.

A kleptocracy is a state where government institutions have been captured and then employed to rig the national political-economy. Rigging the national economy allows the benefits from the revenues generated by the state’s many estuaries of activity to be politically choreographed, leading to a centralisation of wealth and an increase in inequality. It also allows revenues to be channelled from one sector of the economy to another through various rackets. It could be that public revenues are systematically pilfered, or profits from those sectors in the economy not controlled by members of the kleptocratic regime are squeezed so that those sectors under the command of kleptocrats can earn artificially inflated revenues. Kleptocratic regimes also see public and private assets alienated through means that allow kleptocrats to obtain fixed and circulating capital at a discounted price or permit the kleptocrats to offload the assets at an artificial premium.

What happens to a kleptocratic regime when it is subjected to neoliberal shock therapy? Does it allow state-organised criminal rackets to become legitimate?  Does it lead to a steady erosion of kleptocracy? Does it produce a new elite that sits alongside an old kleptocratic guard? Or does it intensify the kleptocratic dynamic thus creating a worst of all possible situations scenario?

Ulster University is currently advertising a generously funded doctoral research post to test a series of hypotheses emerging from regions where kleptocracy and shock therapy overlap.  Continue reading