Corruption and Human Rights: Improving Accountability
Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on corruption as it intersects with human rights violations, and the prospects for strengthening accountability at the international level, including through strengthened criminal prosecution.
There is growing recognition around the world of the impact of corruption on human rights. In October 2003, when the Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly, then-Secretary-General Kofi A. Annan described corruption as “an insidious plague” that undermines democracy and rule of law, and leads to violations of human rights. Ten years later, in March 2013, Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, argued that corruption is an enormous obstacle to the realization of all human rights.
In the United States, the dual goals of human rights and anti-corruption promotion are found in national strategy documents and in law. The White House National Security Strategy of 2010 characterized corruption itself as a "violation of basic human rights." The Obama Administration’s 2014 fact sheet on the U.S. Global Anticorruption Agenda stated that “pervasive corruption […] undermines the rule of law and the confidence of citizens in their governments, facilitates human rights abuses and organized crime, empowers authoritarian rulers, and can threaten the stability of entire regions.”
Last month, Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom hosted the Anti-Corruption Summit 2016 in London. The concluding Declaration stated that there is to be no impunity for those responsible for corruption, and the accompanying communiqué identified steps to be taken to strengthen transparency and enforce existing laws. Participating governments committed to “explore innovative solutions,” build on UNCAC, and support international institutions and cooperation. Some innovative mechanisms already in place, such as the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, CICIG, have helped justice systems advance significantly in prosecuting corrupt officials, and have empowered civil society to confront corrupt practices.
The hearing will examine what has been done to date in the effort to combat corruption at the international level, and ask what more is needed. Witnesses will review the commitments made at the Anti-Corruption Summit, and offer recommendations for increasing the impact of existing national and international laws and tools, and for institutional reforms to complement these, including an international anti-corruption court.
The hearing is open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the public and the press. The hearing will be live-streamed via the Commission’s webpage. For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton (for Rep. McGovern) at 202-225-3599 or Kimberly.Stanton@mail.house.gov or Isaac Six (for Rep. Pitts) at 202-225-2411 or Isaac.Six@mail.house.gov.
Mr. John Sifton, Deputy Washington Director, Human Rights Watch
Ms. Stephanie Ostfeld, Acting Head of U.S. Office, Global Witness
Mr. Matthew Murray, Esq., International Law Expert
The Honorable Mark L. Wolf, Chair of Integrity Initiatives International and author of "The Case for an International Anti-Corruption Court"
Rep. James P. McGovern, Opening Remarks: Corruption and Human Rights
Submitted for the Record
The Honorable Mark Wolf, The Case for an International Corruption Court
Lantos Commission Letter to Secretary of State John Kerry (December 9, 2014)
State Department Response
Global Witness, Lowering the Bar
Global Witness, Shell and Eni's Misadventures in Nigeria
Global Witness, Building for the Long-Term
Matthew Murray and Andrew Spalding, Freedom from Official Corruption as a Human Right