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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Professor Susan Rose-Ackerman Co-organizes Conference in Italy on Anti-Corruption Policy

On June 13-17, 2011, the Rockefeller Foundation conference facility in Bellagio, Italy, was the setting for a workshop co-organized by Susan Rose-Ackerman, Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence (Law and Political Science) with Paul Carrington, Professor of Law and former Dean at Duke Law School.

Rose-Ackerman and Carrington brought together twenty invitees for a discussion of: “Anti-Corruption Policy: Can International Actors Play a Constructive Role?” Participants included academic experts on the control of corruption along with representatives of prominent civil society groups, development and legal professionals, and a leading journalist and author. The attendees were a diverse international group that crossed disciplinary lines with a focus on law, economics, and political science.

“The discussions were serious, lively and wide-ranging, aided by the beautiful setting and the lack of distractions beyond the view from the windows,” said Rose-Ackerman.

The sessions covered development agency projects to combat corruption, the role of civil society advocacy groups and the press, tensions between the criminal and the civil law, the connection between human rights and corruption, and the impact of international treaties and of the international arbitration system.

“Some participants provided examples of successful programs while others pointed to the frustration of designing programs that were undermined by time constraints and external political and economic pressures,” said Rose-Ackerman. “Others pushed us to extend our focus to cover what might be called ‘legal corruption,’ that is, all the ways that private wealth affects public power. This led us to go beyond corruption in developing countries to consider the broader global context.”

Several of the legally trained participants pointed to the weakness of the existing arbitral system as a forum for resolving allegations of corruption, and Carrington went further to propose specific reforms, including a new international tribunal with an anti-corruption mandate. Others spoke about the way that outsiders can support embattled whistleblowers and investigative journalists in corrupt countries and about the special difficulties that arise in post-conflict states where institutions are weak and massive amounts of aid flow in. All agreed that there can be no simple checklist for international actors. Nevertheless, a range of options exist from providing information on successful models, to managing international disputes involving corruption, to working directly with local actors to implement and evaluate programs.

In addition to the Rockefeller Foundation, the gathering was funded by the Open Society Institute and Yale Law School. The organizers are very grateful for the support of all three institutions. Professor Rose-Ackerman has written an essay reflecting on the workshop discussions that will be available soon on the Law School website.