World Leaders Call for International Anti-Corruption Court

Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) - COSP8. Photo: UNODC (Representational Image)
Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) – COSP8. Photo: UNODC (Representational Image)

The Declaration advocates for a new international court to address the global problem of Grand Corruption.

Integrity Initiatives International announced in June that more than one hundred world leaders from over forty countries have signed a Declaration calling for the creation of an International Anti-Corruption Court. 

The Declaration advocates for a new international court to address the global problem of Grand Corruption – the abuse of public office for private gain by a nation’s leaders (kleptocrats) – which thrives in many countries and has devastating consequences for human rights, human health, and international peace and security. Signatories to the Declaration include:

former President of Colombia and Nobel Laureate Juan Manuel Santos

former President of Tunisia Moncef Marzouki

former Prime Minister of Sweden Carl Bildt

Nobel Laureate and former Judge Shirin Ebadi of Iran

former Foreign Minister of Canada Lloyd Axworthy

former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Peter MacKay

former UN High Commissioners for Human Rights Navi Pillay and Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

former Judge Claudia Escobar Mejía of Guatemala

President of the International Bar Association Sternford Moyo

Chair of the Munich Security Conference Wolfgang Ischinger

“Kleptocracy and impunity for crimes of Grand Corruption are an enduring and a growing evil in many countries. The victims are invariably the poor and powerless from whom vast sums are, in effect, stolen. An International Anti-Corruption Court is urgently needed to prosecute, punish and deter kleptocrats, and to recover, repurpose and repatriate vitally needed illicit funds,” said Justice Richard Goldstone of South Africa, the first Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and a board member of Integrity Initiatives International.

Corruption, particularly Grand Corruption, is increasingly recognized as a major international problem. On June 3, President Joe Biden issued a Memorandum establishing the fight against corruption as a core U.S. national security interest. 

He stated: “Corruption erodes public trust; hobbles effective governance; distorts equitable markets; undercuts development efforts; contributes to national fragility, extremism, and migration; and provides authoritarian leaders a means to undermine democracy worldwide.”

On June 2, the G7 Foreign Ministers stated that they “recognize that corruption is a pressing global challenge” that they will address at their next ministerial meeting in September, 2021.

Kleptocracy does not flourish because of a lack of laws, but because kleptocrats control the administration of justice in the countries they rule. “As Grand Corruption has global consequences and often cannot be combated by the countries most immediately victimized by kleptocrats,” the signatories to the Declaration assert that, “a new international institution – an International Anti-Corruption Court – is necessary and justified.”

“The Declaration is a strong statement from world leaders that an international forum to hold kleptocrats accountable is needed now more than ever to end impunity for Grand Corruption. Its signatories signal the emergence of a coalition catalyzed by Integrity Initiatives International that will campaign throughout the world for the creation of the International Anti-Corruption Court,” said U.S. District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf, the Chair of Integrity Initiatives International, an NGO whose mission is to strengthen the enforcement of criminal laws against kleptocrats.

The Declaration and its full list of signatories can be found here.

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Rakesh Raman