Editor’s Note: Judge Mark Wolf developed “The Case for an International Anti-Corruption Court” after presenting the concept at the
2014 World Forum on Governance
, convened by the Brookings Institution and Czech nonprofit Zaostřeno in Prague, Czech Republic. To learn more about the WFG, read the
2012 Conference Report
. An op-ed by Judge Wolf on t
he need for an international anti-corruption court is also featured by the Washington Post.
Public corruption is endemic at the highest levels of government in many nations. Such “grand corruption” is costly, is closely correlated with the most serious abuses of human rights, and threatens the stability of many nations and the world. Grand corruption depends on a culture of impunity that exists because of the unwillingness of leaders to permit the honest and able investigation of their friends, families, and, indeed, themselves.
International efforts to combat grand corruption have been inadequate and ineffective. Similar circumstances concerning genocide and other egregious abuses of human rights led to the creation of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) in 2002.
An International Anti-Corruption Court (“IACC”), similar to the ICC or as part of it, should now be established to provide a forum for the criminal enforcement of the laws prohibiting grand corruption that exist in virtually every country, and the undertakings that are requirements of various treaties and international organizations. Staffed by elite investigators and prosecutors as well as impartial judges, an IACC would have the potential to erode the widespread culture of impunity, contribute to creating conditions conducive to the democratic election of honest officials in countries which have long histories of grand corruption, and honor the courageous efforts of the many people, particularly young people, who are increasingly exposing and opposing corruption at great personal peril.
My biggest concern is that Washington is signaling to Russia that it’s OK to meddle in the politics of sovereign nations which are your neighbors. Meddling is going on from Paris to Ukraine, from east to west and north to south, within Europe and at its borders, and always with the intent of undermining the credibility and effectiveness of democratic institutions. And it is being either denied or downplayed.