Corruption constitutes one of the most serious problems the world is facing today. The large-scale looting of public treasuries and resources by heads of state and their allies has devastating consequences for social, economic and political structures, leading to gross human rights violations, distorting markets and allowing organized crime to flourish. Efforts to curb corruption have gained momentum in the last 20 years, leading to the adoption of numerous international legal instruments. Nevertheless, the perpetrators of grand corruption usually escape any form of criminal liability. Strong arguments speak in favour of including grand corruption on the agenda of international criminal justice. Although there is no specific mention of corruption in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, kleptocracy could be classified as “other inhumane act” within the category of crimes against humanity. It is arguable that legitimately prosecuting corruption requires an amendment of the Statute which is lacking political support in the near future. Notwithstanding, the mandate given to the ICC is meant to address a reality that is constantly presenting new challenges. The Court’s impact on the rule of law and its deterrent effect is strong in spite of all limitations and criticism. Where corrupt acts fulfill all statutory requirements of crimes against humanity, the ICC should prosecute them. Such efforts have to be complemented on a national and regional level, in particular where corruption does not qualify as a crime against humanity as such. Recent developments raise hopes that impunity for grand corruption can be successfully fought.
Bärbel Schmidt, Independent Consultant, Germany
Stream: Criminal Justice Policy and Law
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