The Basel Institute's Vice-President, Prof. Dr. iur. Anne Peters, has published an illuminating paper on "Corruption as a Violation of International Human Rights". 

Published in the European Journal of International Law, the article asks two basic questions:

  • Can we legally view corruption as a violation of human rights?
  • Should we?

Peters' clear writing and examples make this an essential read for anyone concerned about corruption, human rights and the link between the two.

States perceived to be highly corrupt are at the same time those with a poor human rights record. International institutions have therefore assumed a negative feedback loop between both social harms. They deplore that corruption undermines the enjoyment of human rights and, concomitantly, employ human rights as a normative framework to denounce and combat corruption. But the human rights-based approach has been criticized as vague and over-reaching.

Recent corruption scandals have shown the negative effects that corruption may have in countries around the world, including those of the Latin American and Caribbean region. The Inter-American Development Bank has therefore convened an independent group of experts composed by eight governance and anti-corruption scholars and practitioners to identify innovative and effective approaches to combat corruption in the region.

The Basel Institute on Governance participated in several workshops between 8 and 9 October 2012 with key stakeholders of the South African anti-corruption system (Asset Forfeiture Unit of the National Prosecuting Authority, Special Investigating Unit, Department of Public Service Administration, South African Revenue Services, National Treasury, Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigations of the South African Police Services) at a special session hosted by the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT).

It is a fact that states with a high corruption rate (or a high corruption perception) are at the same time those with a bad human rights situation. Beyond this coincidence, the paper seeks to identify a concrete legal relationship between corruption and deficient human rights protection. This seems relevant and practical terms, because the extant international norms against corruption have so far yielded only modest success; their implementation could be improved with the help of human rights arguments and instruments.

This paper therefore discusses a dual question:

The transition process in many countries in Central and Eastern Europe from a one-party state to a democratic system has been long and difficult and has frequently been accompanied by institutional instability.

The judiciary and law enforcement bodies have been no exception. Both have suffered from a weak legal tradition in many countries of the region, weak implementation of existing legislation, limited operational effectiveness, corruption and the influence of informal personal networks. These developments can also be observed in the area of financial intelligence.

An expert from the International Centre for Asset Recovery, a part of the Basel Institute on Governance, visited Mozambique between 10-14 October with a view to conduct an on-site assessment of the anti-corruption legislative package that had been proposed by the Council of Ministers to the Assembly of the Republic. The project, jointly financed by USAID and DfID, sought to assess the impact of the package in the Mozambican legal system, as well as to benchmark it with the international and regional standards on preventing and combating corruption.