Rethinking International Anti-corruption Conventions: Advancing Corruption-free Service as a Human Right

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Addis Ababa University


Corruption is a global phenomenon which every society faces though its degree of severity varies from country to country. Despite its long history, there is no single universally agreed upon definition of corruption. Moreover, its causes, forms and impacts are diverse and multi-faceted. Understanding corruption by itself is a complex undertaking. However, it is agreed that corruption is inimical to public administration, undermines democracy, degrades the moral fabrics of the society and violates human rights. The pain of corruption touches all the human family but it disproportionately affects the vulnerable sections of the society. It reinforces discrimination, exclusion and arbitrariness. Corruption is a universal problem undermining universal value- human rights. The international legal regime against corruption takes a political and economic view point in addressing corruption. The measures adopted are not sufficient to give response to victims of corruption. The anti-corruption conventions did not address the human rights impact of corruption while it violates different set of human rights. Moreover, the monitoring mechanisms of the anti-corruption conventions are weak even to implement the covenant provisions. The thesis advocates for the elevation of the human right to corruption-free service as a panacea to the weaknesses of the anti-corruption conventions. Investigation of the existing literature on the relationship between corruption and human rights reveals that corruption per se is a violation of human rights and hampers the global movement for the enforcement of human rights on the one hand and a culture of human rights can be a preventive tool for corruption on the other hand. The problem of corruption and the violation of human rights need an integral approach. It is with this view that the human right to corruption-free service is put forward to give meaning to the integral approach. Besides, the right to corruption-free service is an end in itself rooted in human dignity and equality like the right to life, privacy and security. Setting the fight against corruption within a human rights discourse by elevating corruption-free service as a human right, will open an additional avenue for the fight against corruption and opens a door for the realization of human rights. It is argued that the right to corruption-free service is both a means for reducing corruption and instrumental for the enforcement of other human rights. In addition, the existing human rights monitoring mechanisms such as international and regional human rights commissions and courts, UN complaint mechanisms or national human rights systems will be useful to remedy corrupt practices if corruption free service is recognized as a human right.



Advancing Corruption -Free Service as A Human Right