Anti-Corruption Agencies: between empowerment and irrelevance

Anti-Corruption Agencies: between empowerment and irrelevance

The post-cold war environment has witnessed two major developments in the fight against corruption: 1) corruption has become a transnational phenomenon; and 2) attempts to curb its occurrence are no longer contingent upon state jurisdictions, actors and measures. Globalisation has married both domestic and international control initiatives. The globalisation of corruption mechanisms and transactions raises the need for an externalisation and internationalisation of control initiatives, whilst international initiatives need to be transposed into national jurisdictions where most anti-corruption work is carried out. Another distinctive feature of the anti-corruption activity of the post-Cold War period is the level of regulatory and institutional innovation achieved. Further to the role played by traditional anti-corruption actors, we also witnessed the rise of a key number of new (or renewed) governmental and civil society forces both at the domestic and international levels. One of the most prominent "integrity warriors" of the 1990s were the anti-corruption agencies (ACAs). Anti-corruption agencies are public (funded) bodies of a durable nature whose specific mission is to fight corruption and associated crimes and to reduce the opportunity structures favourable to its occurrence through preventive and repressive strategies. Although embryos to these institutional units can be traced back in time, the first ACAs date from the postcolonial period in the aftermath of World War II. Since the end of the Cold War, the geographical location of these bodies has expanded from the developing to the developed world, from transition to consolidated democracies, as corruption started to be discussed and condemned beyond the stereotyped vision which previously circumscribed it to the Southern hemisphere. World institutions have incessantly recommended the creation of ACAs as an important piece of the national institutional architecture and grand strategy against corruption. In Central and East Europe countries, ACAs have also been recommended as part of macro anti-corruption programmes promoted in view of EU membership (The Copenhagen criteria suggest reforms related to the functioning of the political sphere and the judiciary as a pre-condition to accession). The format of these agencies and their success in keeping up with new forms of corruption vary from one country to another. But there is also a good deal of institutional mimetism and isomorphism. On the one hand, the creation of ACAs is the product of specific patterns of legal-institutional development. Each agency is, in that respect, one of a kind. Some countries have endowed their agencies with investigative and prosecution powers, whereas others have preferred a more preventive, educational and informative role. The formal label not always fit the institutional reality. Certain ACAs remain unknown to the wider public. There are also differences with regard to their scope of action, resources, accountability requirements, etc. On the other hand, there has also been a convergence in the type of agency discussed/adopted. The Hong Kong ICAC, created in 1974, is often referred in parliamentary debates preceding the adoption of these specialised agencies as "the most successful ACA" and it has become a model to many other countries. It may be improper to use the word "model", but at least we could say that, since the late 1980s, we have witnessed an increasing cross-country transfer of knowledge about the format of these bodies. Knowledge of the successes and failures of foreign experiences and the importation of models already tested abroad is an important feature of this policy process. Independently of their format and competences, ACAs encounter various constraints to their mandate, which explains the meagre results obtained by some of them: 1) difficulties in unveiling corruption via complaints (technical, statutory and cultural); 2) difficulties in obtaining information about corruption and its opportunity structures from other state bodies/agencies and 3) difficulties in establishing a good working relationship with the political sphere. There is also a discrepancy between expected results and achievable ones that should not be ignored. The burgeoning literature on corruption (Heidenheimer 1989, Mény 1992, Della Porta 1992) suggests that the most important issues are the incidence of corruption itself (causes, contexts and effects) and the effectiveness of various possible responses. Instead, our proposal argues that anti-corruption activity and in particular the new institutional responses to corruption, i.e. ACAs, should now be regarded as an important object of study in its own right (Anechiarico & Jacobs 1998; Krastev 2004).

Estatuto: 
Participant entity
Financed: 
No
Entidades: 
OLAF/CE
Rede: 
corruption
Keywords: 

Anti-Corruption Agencies; Corruption Control; Institutional Capacity; Judicial Reforms

The post-cold war environment has witnessed two major developments in the fight against corruption: 1) corruption has become a transnational phenomenon; and 2) attempts to curb its occurrence are no longer contingent upon state jurisdictions, actors and measures. Globalisation has married both domestic and international control initiatives. The globalisation of corruption mechanisms and transactions raises the need for an externalisation and internationalisation of control initiatives, whilst international initiatives need to be transposed into national jurisdictions where most anti-corruption work is carried out. Another distinctive feature of the anti-corruption activity of the post-Cold War period is the level of regulatory and institutional innovation achieved. Further to the role played by traditional anti-corruption actors, we also witnessed the rise of a key number of new (or renewed) governmental and civil society forces both at the domestic and international levels. One of the most prominent "integrity warriors" of the 1990s were the anti-corruption agencies (ACAs). Anti-corruption agencies are public (funded) bodies of a durable nature whose specific mission is to fight corruption and associated crimes and to reduce the opportunity structures favourable to its occurrence through preventive and repressive strategies. Although embryos to these institutional units can be traced back in time, the first ACAs date from the postcolonial period in the aftermath of World War II. Since the end of the Cold War, the geographical location of these bodies has expanded from the developing to the developed world, from transition to consolidated democracies, as corruption started to be discussed and condemned beyond the stereotyped vision which previously circumscribed it to the Southern hemisphere. World institutions have incessantly recommended the creation of ACAs as an important piece of the national institutional architecture and grand strategy against corruption. In Central and East Europe countries, ACAs have also been recommended as part of macro anti-corruption programmes promoted in view of EU membership (The Copenhagen criteria suggest reforms related to the functioning of the political sphere and the judiciary as a pre-condition to accession). The format of these agencies and their success in keeping up with new forms of corruption vary from one country to another. But there is also a good deal of institutional mimetism and isomorphism. On the one hand, the creation of ACAs is the product of specific patterns of legal-institutional development. Each agency is, in that respect, one of a kind. Some countries have endowed their agencies with investigative and prosecution powers, whereas others have preferred a more preventive, educational and informative role. The formal label not always fit the institutional reality. Certain ACAs remain unknown to the wider public. There are also differences with regard to their scope of action, resources, accountability requirements, etc. On the other hand, there has also been a convergence in the type of agency discussed/adopted. The Hong Kong ICAC, created in 1974, is often referred in parliamentary debates preceding the adoption of these specialised agencies as "the most successful ACA" and it has become a model to many other countries. It may be improper to use the word "model", but at least we could say that, since the late 1980s, we have witnessed an increasing cross-country transfer of knowledge about the format of these bodies. Knowledge of the successes and failures of foreign experiences and the importation of models already tested abroad is an important feature of this policy process. Independently of their format and competences, ACAs encounter various constraints to their mandate, which explains the meagre results obtained by some of them: 1) difficulties in unveiling corruption via complaints (technical, statutory and cultural); 2) difficulties in obtaining information about corruption and its opportunity structures from other state bodies/agencies and 3) difficulties in establishing a good working relationship with the political sphere. There is also a discrepancy between expected results and achievable ones that should not be ignored. The burgeoning literature on corruption (Heidenheimer 1989, Mény 1992, Della Porta 1992) suggests that the most important issues are the incidence of corruption itself (causes, contexts and effects) and the effectiveness of various possible responses. Instead, our proposal argues that anti-corruption activity and in particular the new institutional responses to corruption, i.e. ACAs, should now be regarded as an important object of study in its own right (Anechiarico & Jacobs 1998; Krastev 2004).

Objectivos: 
They have been influenced by a particular model, the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption. How successful have these transplants been? Has the same approach been valid in different national contexts? Or has a one-size-fits-all approach contributed to failure? International organisations like the World Bank and the OECD have been particularly concerned with the effects of corruption on economic growth. Corruption is increasingly explained using economic models. How can we locate and understand the emergence of anti-corruption agencies in context of the contemporaneous rise of neo-liberalism and related changes in the pattern of international order? In short, what are the vices and virtues of these (re)newed "integrity warriors", and whose purposes are they serving? Has the new preoccupation with corruption had unintended consequences?
State of the art: 
The increased concern about corruption (and anti-corruption) that we have witnessed since the end of the Cold War may be a response to a real increase in the number of occurrences of corruption and their sophistication. It may also be a product of the sharpening of perceptions about the phenomenon - even a sort of fin-de-si&egrave;cle hysteria. But it would be difficult to deny the importance of corruption and anti-corruption to public debate today and to policy-making at local, national and international levels. Governments, civil society, regional and international organisations are reacting to corruption and its pervasiveness. <p>Anti-corruption in the 1970s and 1980s was shaped by the interplay of a key number of conventional forces that were hitherto &lsquo;largely held in check or lacked the muscle to stand up against the arrogance and corruption of the elites' (Della Porta &amp; M&eacute;ny 1997). At the forefront were the magistrates, but also the press and the political class.</p><p>The post-Cold War political map displays two major developments, which deserve close attention: the global expansion of democracy (from 22 in the post-WW II period to 119 today); and the evolution of corruption and anticorruption from a non-issue into a global concern at all levels of decision-making. In the 1990s anti corruption became more international and global. Transparency International, founded as an NGO in 1993, was very successful in persuading international organisations and aid donors to adopt anti-corruption strategies. One of the major institutional responses recommended were the creation of anti-corruption agencies (henceforth ACAs). The EU also insisted that countries aspiring to membership of the union created such anti-corruption institutions. A small industry of training and technical assistance has grown up to ensure compliance. International pressure was being applied directly on governments in transition and developing economies, but also indirectly through external support for NGOs that produce a demand for &lsquo;good governance'.</p><p>The interplay of these actors and the complex knitting of control measures and instruments has created a process of value change which cuts across national jurisdictions, constituting what may be termed as an &quot;international anti-corruption movement&quot; which has several characteristics:</p><p>&nbsp;</p><ul><li>it aggregates the efforts of governmental and non-governmental organizations - the fight against corruption is no longer only a matter for a states. Civil society, in its multiple forms has equally been engaged, thus raising interesting considerations has to the accountability and legitimacy of their initiatives and the relationship between governmental and non-governmental actors: competitive or mutually-supportive?; </li><li>it marries global and local initiatives - The fight against corruption is no longer contingent upon state jurisdictions, actors and measures. International control initiatives are cumulative to those taken at the domestic level. The globalisation of corruption mechanisms and transactions raises the need for an externalisation and internationalisation of control initiatives, whilst international initiatives need to be transposed into national jurisdictions where most anti-corruption work is carried out. National actors, such as the Judiciary and ACAs look outwards to international fora and higher levels of decision-making to compensate for the insufficiency of domestic instruments and responses in addressing cross-border mechanisms and occurrences of corruption. International efforts, such as the UN and OECD international conventions against corruption have to look downwards in search of national partners and constituencies where most of these instruments need to be ratified and implemented; </li><li>it is both a movement of global awareness raising as well as a network of policy transfer and institutional mimetism The notion of movement implies both an organized effort by different actors and supporters towards a common goal and a tendency or trend of ideas, policies, institutions. International actors and fora have not only been successful in raising awareness about corrupt practices, they have equally contributed to fostering the diffusion, transfer and assimilation of knowledge on the general format of anti-corruption tools and institutions, highlighting best practices through comparison.</li></ul><p>The burgeoning literature on corruption (Heidenheimer 1989, M&eacute;ny 1992, Della Porta 1992) suggests that the most important issues are the incidence of corruption itself (causes, contexts and effects) and the effectiveness of various possible responses. Instead, our proposal argues that anti-corruption activity and in particular the new institutional responses to corruption, i.e. ACAs, should now be regarded as an important object of study in its own right.</p><p>[28]United Nations Development Programme (2005). Institutional Arrangements to Combat Corruption: A Comparative Study. Bangkok: UNDP. http://regionalcentrebangkok.undp.or.th/practices/governance/documents/corruption_comparative_study-200601.pdf</p>
Parceria: 
International networ
Peter Larmour
Nikos Passas
Alan Doig
Coordenador 
Start Date: 
01/09/2009
End Date: 
01/12/2011
Duração: 
27 meses
Closed