The problem of corruption isn’t a new agenda which have been in discussion past these years but it has been rooted in the societal era since times immemorial. As a counter principle to keep a check into the matter, several efforts were made at an international level through the compilation of different countries legislative frameworks. Not only the judicial relativity but even the religious texts in ancient times who were based on religious beliefs like Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, and Taoism condemned corruption. The described legal and moral stances were exclusively addressing bribery but were not concerned with other aspects that are considered corruption in the 21st century. Which means that the corruption in the present century includes within several other aspects as compared to the ancient one.
In the 1990s corruption was increasingly perceived to have a negative impact on the economy, democracy, and the rule of law. Especially in diplomacy and for international trade purposes, corruption remained a generally accepted phenomenon of the political and economic life throughout the 19th and big parts of the 20th century. This was the period when Embezzlement, cronyism, nepotism, and other strategies of gaining public assets by officeholders became perceived as trusteeships instead of the property of the officeholder, leading to legislation against and a negative perception of those additional forms of corruption.
Efforts at International level to overcome it:
The 1990s was considered as the beginning of the phase when the way actually was paved for the regulation of it. The increased awareness of corruption was widespread and shared across professional, political, and geographical borders. But the problem was the cold war going on in-between the countries which made the international effort against corruption unrealistic. So a new discussion on the global impact of corruption took place, leading to an official condemnation of corruption by governments, companies, and various other stakeholders. As a result, the 1990s additionally saw an increase in press freedom, the activism of civil societies, and global communication through an improved communication infrastructure, which paved the way to a more thorough understanding of the global prevalence and negative impact of corruption. In consequences to those developments, international non-governmental organizations (e.g. Transparency International) and inter-governmental organizations and initiatives (e.g. the OECD Working group on bribery) were founded to overcome corruption.
Since the 2000s, the discourse became broader in scope. It became more common to refer to corruption as a violation of human rights, which was also discussed by the responsible international bodies. Besides attempting to find a fitting description for corruption, the integration of corruption into a human rights-framework was also motivated by underlining the importance of corruption and educating people on its costs.
Approaching the fight against corruption in an international setting is often seen as preferential over addressing it exclusively in the context of the nation-state. The reasons for such preference are multidimensional, ranging from the necessary international cooperation for tracing international corruption scandals, to the binding nature of international treaties, and the loss in relative competitiveness by outlawing an activity that remains legal in other countries.
- Code of Hammurabi
Among the earliest documented anti-corruption efforts include the code of Hammurabi, dated to around 1754 BC. The code of Hammurabi (c. 1754 BC), the Great Edict of Horemheb (c. 1300 BC), and the Arthasastra (2nd century BC)are among the earliest written proofs of anti-corruption efforts. All of those early texts are condemning bribes in order to influence the decision by civil servants, especially in the judicial sector.
The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention was the first large scale convention targeting an aspect of corruption when it came in 1999 into force. Ratifying the convention obliges governments to implement it, which is monitored by the OECD Working Group on Bribery. The convention states that it shall be illegal bribing foreign public officials. The convention is currently signed by 43 countries.
- United Nations
20 years before the OECD Convention was ratified, the United Nations discussed a draft for a convention on corruption. But it was proved successful only When the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) presented its draft of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2003. It has a wider scope in comparison to OECD as it does not exclusively focus on public officials but includes inter alia corruption in the private sector and non-bribery corruption.
- International Anti-Corruption Court
Mark Lawrence Wolf floated in 2012 the idea to launch an International Anti-Corruption Court, as either a part of the already existing International Criminal Court, or as an equivalent to it which was widely discussed by a variety of NGOs including Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC), Global Witness, Human Rights Watch, the Integrity Initiatives International (III), and TI but implementation to the concept is not scheduled.
- Existing international organizations
In 2011, the International Anti-Corruption Academy was created as an intergovernmental organization by treaty to teach on anti-corruption topics.
Many other intergovernmental organizations are working on the reduction of corruption without issuing conventions binding for its members after ratification. Organizations that are active in this field include, but are not limited to, the World Bank (such as through its Independent Evaluation Group), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and regional organizations like the Andean Community (within the framework of the Plan Andino de Lucha contra la Corrupción). The efforts for keeping a check shall not only be limited to the international legislation but even the national legislation shall legislate on these matters.
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