Research Handbooks in Financial Law series
Edited by Barry Rider
Chapter 35: Corruption and public policy in post-conflict states
Corruption in international development is a hot topic. Newspapers fulminate about it and politicians legislate against it, often with little direct impact. Within developing or post-conflict states the same level of public condemnation exists, but the practices on the ground are often far subtler and more nuanced than public discourse and Western media attention might allow. Unpleasant as it may seem in fragile states, corruption can be a necessary tool of state building alongside traditional aid and development programmes. There are a series of analytical frameworks that stress different elements of corruption depending on the local environment, but broadly speaking the different definitions all coalesce around a rather simplified view of corruption as always a barrier to state development. There is a related tendency in Western humanitarian policy to assume that further international laws, conventions and commissions will help to address the problems of corruption in developing or post-conflict states. As discussed in Chapter 33 of this handbook, there are considerable limitations on the practical effect of these international agreements on domestic jurisdictions, but the wider international agreements do serve to highlight the issue of corruption. Whilst such international effort may make a difference to the international perception of corruption issues, the more practical concerns raised by various chapters in this handbook are more likely to have an effect on corruption within fragile states. The key focus should be on understanding the specific context of the individual country and situation.
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