COMBATING GRAND CORRUPTION: IS INTERNATIONAL LAW THE ANSWER?
February 20, 2015 | 12–4 PM
Austin Hall, Room 111, Harvard Law School
The past decade has seen an impressive expansion of global efforts to combat corruption. Instruments such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the U.K. Bribery Act, the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) have been operationalized to investigate, punish, and prevent bribery of public officials. China has notably embarked upon a recent campaign to eradicate corruption and countries around the world have developed anti-corruption strategies and commissions in compliance with the international treaty regime.
Yet many of these national plans remain aspirational and corruption continues to plague developing economies and communities throughout the world. The strides that have been made have largely affected the “supply side” – companies and individuals who pay bribes or offer the equivalent thereof – rather than the “demand side” – public officials or power brokers who request something of value in exchange for conferral of a benefit. This one-sided approach is particularly problematic in situations of grand corruption, defined by Transparency International as “acts committed at a high level of government that distort policies or the central functioning of the state, enabling leaders to benefit at the expense of the public good.” The successful eradication of corruption and its consequences depends upon removing officials who perpetuate misconduct.
For a host of legal, diplomatic, and practical reasons, penalizing corrupt public officials presents many challenges. Nevertheless, a number of ideas have been posited. Scholars, like Sonja Starr, have argued that corruption should be designated an international crime. Civil society groups, like the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, have advocated for special courts to prosecute cases of grand corruption. Judge Mark Wolf recently authored a paper calling for the establishment of an international anti-corruption court.
This timely conference will bring together experts from Harvard, the World Bank, the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Department of Justice, the International Criminal Court, the private sector, and civil society to assess current challenges and potential solutions to confronting the highest levels of government corruption.
Details of the event can be viewed at https://orgs.law.harvard.edu/lids/2015-symposium-speakers-schedule/