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We are very happy to announce the results of the 2014 ACRN Research Paper competition. This competition gives emerging scholars an opportunity to take up the challenge of filling important knowledge gaps in the field of corruption, present innovative approaches for measuring and understanding corruption and showcase new findings on what works and what does not in tackling corruption and ensuring sound governance.

This year’s competition was intended for young scholars who are graduate and PhD students, post-doctoral fellows, young professors and practitioners under 35.  The contest was made possible by the generous contributions of Transparency International and the International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC).

The papers were evaluated on their originality of perspective / approach, their ability to grasp the complexity of debates around their chosen topic, and their presentation of a sound argument in favour of the thesis.

We are very pleased to announce that the winner* of the 2014 ACRN research paper competition is Bettina Kuntz. Bettina is currently enrolled in the MA in Dispute and Conflict Resolution of the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London). Her winning submission studies the prosecution of grand corruption under international law. As the winner of the competition, Bettina will receive a scholarship to attend the 16th IACC as well as a gift card to buy books of a value of EUR 500.

We are grateful to our international panel of judges for taking time out of their very busy schedules to participate in the judging process. The members of the panel were (in no particular order): 

  • Delia Ferreira Rubio (PhD), Individual Member, Transparency International and former President of  Poder Ciudadano – TI’s National Chapter in Argentina
  • Mechtild Lauth, Legal Counsel, Transparency International – Secretariat
  • Dieter Zinnbauer (PhD), Senior Programme Manager - Emerging Policy Issues, Transparency International – Secretariat

 We would like to thank the participants for their submissions.

 * Given the low number of papers received for this year’s competition, it was decided not to allocate a second and third price.


Winning Submission

Bettina Kuntz, The Playboy’s Mansion and Tin Roof Shacks: should grand corruption be a crime under international law? (2014).

Abstract: Following the two world wars, it became apparent that a supranational judicial system was necessary to punish individuals for crimes such as genocide and establish a formal process of judging war criminals. International criminal law has given birth to transnational courts and universal wrongs such as crimes against humanity. Over the past fifty years, the international civil society has become a driving force for the development of international law to promote greater accountability and defend human rights. Various studies have shown that grand corruption undermines development, exacerbates poverty, breaches human rights and point out that it has caused more victims than both world wars. International criminal law, however, has been particularly slow at addressing the issue. This paper argues that there should be a supranational judicial process for prosecuting grand corruption and recovering stolen assets. It first examines international criminal law and asks whether the International Criminal Court would be an appropriate forum. It also discusses the link between human rights and grand corruption as a potential tool to fight this phenomenon. Finally, it analyses the case of Teodoro Obiang which highlights the need for consistency and unity between jurisdictions in order to prevent sovereign wealth theft, promote accountability and defend human rights.

Author : Marie Terracol, Editor of the ACRN website

09 Dec 2014

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