Towards an Integrative Approach
Edited by Harmen Van der Wilt and Christophe Paulussen
Chapter 9: Transnational prosecution of grand corruption and its discontent
Grand corruption, a phenomenon also known as ‘kleptocracy’, indicates far-reaching corrupt practices perpetrated by authoritarian heads of states, which include the theft from national treasuries, the systematic looting and illegal sale of natural resources or cultural treasures, and the misuse of funds borrowed from international institutions through illicit activity. Most recently, the international community recalled such a contemporary global issue during and after the upheavals which took place in North Africa (2011) and Ukraine (2014). From an international law perspective, states are facing significant challenges in cooperating to prosecute those states’ former corrupt leaders and to recover the proceeds of their corrupt practices from the countries where the ‘stolen’ assets were previously invested or hidden. Against this background, this chapter reflects on the way grand corruption is currently tackled by states through the suppression conventions, and explores whether it would be desirable to identify it as ‘core’ international crime. In order to do that, the author first illustrates the current status of international criminal law cooperation to hold corrupt leaders responsible and to recover their illicitly-gained assets from ‘haven’ to ‘victim’ states. Secondly, the author exposes some of the practical and doctrinal arguments put forward in favour of prosecuting grand corruption as an international crime in the International Criminal Court (ICC). The aim of the chapter is to consider whether the way states are currently tackling grand corruption at the international level may be improved by a (complementary) system of prosecution carried out by international tribunals such as the ICC.
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