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Anti-Corruption Policy: Can International Actors Play a Constructive Role?

In this paper Susan Rose-Ackerman discusses what the ultimate goals of the international anti-corruption strategy ought to be and the most appropriate routes for maximising international influence in this area. First, the paper introduces the basic types of international actors involved in the area of anti-corruption. Second, the author moves on to discuss the crucial role of effective anti-corruption policies in achieving ultimate policy goals, which include aims such as efficient international markets, economic growth, poverty alleviation, government legitimacy and rebuilding political and economic order in post-conflict countries. Third, the discussion focuses on the role of international organisations in achieving these policy goals. Here, the author suggests that international actors should act in three main capacities: as information provider, international facilitator, and domestic project sponsor.

Rose-Ackerman also briefly explores how multi-national companies adversely influence public policies through the use of legal routes, taking advantage of the rules on campaign financing, lobbying or consultancy payments to the politically connected. According to the author, this should prompt international organisations to broaden their anti-corruption agenda beyond an exclusive focus on illegal acts of corruption and address issues like corporate social responsibility. The paper concludes that the international anti-corruption initiatives need to take a more holistic approach, which means that reducing corruption throughout the world should not be considered an end in itself. On the contrary, the most constructive international efforts to fight corruption should be designed to achieve the broader goals of economic development, government legitimacy, and international competitiveness.

In general, international organisations have been actively involved in preventing and combating corruption across countries since the mid-1990s. However, their exact role and the best ways in which these organisations can or should influence national policies remain subject to debate. Due to their own distinctive institutional and resource limitations, international organisations adopt very different strategies to combat corruption throughout the world. The existing literature on this subject is often limited to the analysis of either one international organisation or one particular type of action, such as the adoption of the anti-corruption international treaties.

The importance of the above research stems from the fact that it seeks to systemise the general types of actions that should be taken by international organisations to maximise their endeavours in the area of anti-corruption. The author reiterates helps us to better understand the ultimate goals that should lie behind every international anti-corruption strategy. Identifying these goals allows for a reassessment of the anti-corruption activities of major international players in this area. Moreover, the taxonomy of types of international action - as information provider, international facilitator and domestic project sponsor - should also enable international actors to redefine their priorities and make sure that there is no overlap with other organisations active in the same area.

Citation: S. Rose-Ackerman, ‘Anti-Corruption Policy: Can International Actors Play a Constructive Role?’, Yale Law School, John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy Research Paper No. 440, September 2011 [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 16 January 2012]

Author : Susan Rose-Ackerman

23 Jan 2012

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