Two Essential Volumes on Corruption

The study of corruption and what to do about it is no longer an academic or policy-studies backwater.  Matthew’s bibliography of corruption-related publications now lists over 6,000 books, articles, and reports and, as his regular updates show (thank you Matthew), the list continues to grow at the rate of some 50 plus per month.  That is the good news.  It is also of the course the bad news.  Few practitioners, and I suspect even academics, can claim to have absorbed the learning in the 6,000 current documents let alone keep up with the outpouring of new works.

For those who can’t , I recommend two recent books: Dan Hough’s Analysing Corruption and Alina Mungui-Pippidi and Michael Johnston’s Transitions to Good Governance: Creating Virtuous Circles of Anti-Corruption.  Both do an excellent job of synthesizing and extending recent scholarship on corruption issues, and both do so in a sophisticated but accessible manner.  Both have the added virtue of being available in reasonably priced paperback editions. Continue reading

Post-TPP Withdrawal: Loss of a Trade-Corruption Milestone?

As promised, President Trump removed the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement soon after he took office in January. The move withdrew the world’s leading economy from the largest regional trade deal ever proposed. It also represented a major step back from what looked like a breakthrough in linking anticorruption and trade. As I discussed in a previous post, the TPP’s anticorruption chapter was an important step towards inclusion of anticorruption commitments in trade deals, making the U.S. withdrawal from the TPP a step backwards for the decades-old movement to incorporate anticorruption provisions in trade agreements.

Yet Trump’s move was not the end of the TPP negotiations. Nor should it be the end of championing an increased role for anticorruption and transparency in trade deals. With the TPP having reached the final stages of negotiation, its Transparency and Anticorruption Chapter can provide an outline for future trade deals that might provide further opportunities for trade-corruption linkage. As outlined in a previous post, the TPP’s chapter on anticorruption made several strides forward, including obligations to join UNCAC and respect other anticorruption instruments. What’s more, the anticorruption provisions were to be made enforceable in trade dispute resolution tribunals (though, as Danielle has previously written, corruption can already support certain actions in trade dispute arbitration). Looking at the strides forward in the draft TPP, there are three key avenues through which the Transparency and Anticorruption Chapter can continue to strengthen international trade deals.

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Guest Post: A “Guatemalan Spring”? — Not Yet.

Alicia Robinson, a student at Harvard Law School, contributes the following guest post:

Guatemala has long been beset by persistent poverty, corruption, and a culture of impunity – an Unholy Trinity that has afflicted much of Central and South America. Moreover, Guatemala has the misfortune of being geographically located at the center of major drug trafficking routes to the North American and European markets, where the unrelenting demand has allowed organized crime to strengthen its hold over the country’s institutions of governance. Yet as Mathieu Tromme’s recent post on this blog highlighted, there are some encouraging signs of change. Most notably, the recent uncovering of a massive tax fraud orechestrated at the highest levels of the executive branch triggered protests that forced the resignation of the vice president – a major victory against impunity in the country.

However, despite this success, and the broad popular support for more action against corruption and impunity, Mr. Tromme may be overly optimistic when he characterizes this this event and the surrounding protests as the inception of a “Guatemalan Spring” that will bring an end to the era of impunity in Guatemala. Corruption still very much riddles every corner of Guatemalan society and the toughest part of the battle lies ahead. Continue reading