Corruption: A Violation of Human Rights and a Crime Under International Law?

By Martine Boersma

Corruption - the abuse of public office for private or political gain - currently receives an increasing amount of attention from scholars and practitioners in various disciplines, including law. While the phenomenon is as old as mankind, the last 15 years have seen the rise of many anti-corruption treaties, aimed at criminalization, prevention, and cooperation. At the same time, there seems to be relatively little work done on corruption in the field of human rights law or international criminal law. This book argues that these areas of law can certainly contribute to fighting corruption, by giving a human face to both the victims and perpetrators. The book commences with a broader analysis of the 'multi-headed monster' named corruption, looking into issues of definition, measurement, and consequences. This is followed by an overview of the content and functioning of the global and regional anti-corruption treaties that are currently in force, including the United Nations Convention against Corruption. The book then considers whether or not corruption can be qualified as a violation of internationally recognized human rights, enshrined in the International Bill of Rights. It is argued that corruption, especially in the public sector, can have a severe negative impact upon both civil and political rights, as well as upon economic, social, and cultural rights. Moreover, the study examines to what extent this is recognized by the human rights supervisory mechanisms at the global and regional level. The concluding observations and case law of the human rights treaty bodies are scrutinized, as well as the outcomes of the various Special Procedures and the Universal Periodic Review System of the UN Human Rights Council. At the regional level, the case law - of the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights, as well as the cases of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights - are discussed. Additionally, the book views corruption from the angle of international criminal law, inter alia by examining whether or not types of corruption can be qualified as a crime under international criminal law. In this context, the question is answered whether corruption can fall under the current provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court de lege lata. Also, the various possibilities offered by international criminal law de lege ferenda to combat corruption are touched upon. Finally, it draws conclusions and formulates recommendations as to how human rights law and international criminal law can best be used to address corruption. This includes a draft General Comment on corruption and human rights, with the purpose of providing a starting point for further reflection on the topic. (Series: School of Human Rights Research - Vol. 56)


516 pages

Publication Date: 12/4/2012
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781780681054