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Corruption: A Very Short Introduction

Corruption: A Very Short Introduction

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Corruption is one of the biggest global issues, ahead of extreme poverty, unemployment, the rising cost of food and energy, climate change, and terrorism. It is thought to be one of the principal causes of poverty around the globe. Its significance in the contemporary world cannot be overestimated. Corruption: A Very Short Introduction notes that corruption is as old as humanity itself, and then considers why the international community has only highlighted it as a problem in the past two decades. It explores the phenomenon from several different perspectives, from the cultural differences affecting how corruption is defined, its impact, its various causes, and the possible remedies.

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Public Sector Strategies in Curbing Corruption: A Review of the Literature

  • Open Access
  • Published: 30 June 2022
  • volume  22 ,  pages 571–591 ( 2022 )

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  • Federico Ceschel   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-6639-4490 1 ,
  • Alessandro Hinna 2 &
  • Fabian Homberg 3  

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Corruption is widespread and preventive strategies to reduce corruption need to be adapted within the local context. Considering the United Nations (UN) Convention against corruption as our starting point, the paper presents a literature review based on 118 articles on corruption prevention initiatives in the public sector. The analysis indicates a substantial alignment between the guidelines deriving from the UN Convention, except for a lack of work on the risk-based approach to corruption prevention. Further, the review indicates problems with research designs. Based on the insights generated from the analysis, we develop an agenda for future research.

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Corruption is widely recognized as a social plague that affects most countries worldwide. The so-called ‘syndromes of corruption’, such as elite cartels, clans and oligarchs described by Johnston ( 2005 ), locate corruption scenarios in different contexts. Certainly, both the public sector (Anechiarico and Jacobs, 1996 ; Auriol & Blanc, 2009 ) and the private sector (Argandoña, 2003 ; Castro et al., 2020 ; Lange, 2008 ) suffer from corruption. A significant portion of the specialized literature, focusing on the public sector during the end of the 1990s, highlights the harmful effects of corruption. There is evidence that corruption reduces investment (Mauro, 1995 ) and foreign direct investment (Wei & Wu, 2001 ), damages productivity and economic growth as a whole (Hall & Jones, 1999 ), diminishes the quality of procurement services (Rose-Ackerman, 1997 ), exacerbates income inequality and poverty (Gupta et al., 2002 ) and hampers efficient and effective allocation of resources of public expenditure (Tanzi & Davoodi, 1997 ).

Against this background, a growing interest emerged at the beginning of the 2000s in combating corruption not only through counter policies aimed at punishing corruption but also with prevention policies aimed at limiting the occurrence of potential effects. A significant milestone that marked a significant change in the anti-corruption strategy was sparked by the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) that was opened for signature in Merida in 2003, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 31 October 2003 (resolution 58/4), and entered into force on 14 December 2005 (in accordance with article 68(1)). According to the UN, this was “the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument” that affirmed the preventive approach to the corruption phenomenon. The Convention has become a milestone for the public sector in promoting and strengthening measures “to prevent the most prevalent form of corruption” (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2003 , p. iii). Starting from the premise that “a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach is necessary to effectively prevent and combat corruption”, chapter no. 2 is devoted to corruption prevention measures. It thus inextricably links the concept of prevention with policies and practices of intervention both at the national level, calling for “appropriate legislative and administrative measures”, and at the level of the individual organization calling for (among other things) maintaining and strengthening “systems for the recruitment, hiring, retention, promotion, and retirement of public employees”, as well as implementing “codes or standards of conduct”. This is particularly relevant for public procurement and public financial management, with their emphasis on implementing reporting systems, adopting accounting and auditing standards, implementing system of risk management and internal control.

With this integrated and multidisciplinary approach to corruption prevention, inspired by the work within the OECD ( 2000 ), public and private organizations might develop and implement more accurate, realistic, and effective preventive actions as these measures are linked to the assessment of the corruption causes to which organizations are potentially exposed.

Furthermore, within the framework of the general principles defined by the UNCAC, each State must adopt the mentioned basic rules in its context according to the fundamental principles of its legal, organizational, and cultural system. Certain scholars (Hopkin, 2002 ; Meagher, 2004 ) and governmental organizations (McCusker, 2006 ; Disch et al., 2009 ; OECD, 2008 ) emphasize design and implementation at the national level and thereby contribute to this framework of renewed interest in prevention policies.

However, little is known about governments' implementation of corruption prevention strategies inspired by these renewed international guidelines. While corruption is increasingly seen as a risk to public organizations, the prevention activities undertaken by such organizations or the results of these activities for the public institutions themselves are poorly understood (Miller et al., 2008 ; Power, 2007 ).

Considering the above, this paper presents a literature review based on 118 articles on corruption prevention initiatives in the public sector published between 2001 and 2020. Given the aforementioned need to adopt anti-corruption measures in their reference context, we defined clear selection criteria for the articles included in the review: We focus on upper-middle-income (with a GNI per capita between $4,046 and $12,535) and high-income countries (with a GNI per capita of $12,536 or more) as defined by the World Bank, that are often considered less vulnerable to corruption. As Graycar and Monaghan ( 2015 , p. 587) assert, “corruption is different between countries with established democracies and those in a state of political-economic development or transition”. Consequently, anti-corruption measures should vary with the state of development in a given country. Hence, focusing our review on richer countries provides a purposeful grouping and can potentially deliver additional insights concerning anti-corruption measures.

Therefore, we aim to make three main contributions to the research field. First, by focusing on the anti-corruption measures, we shed light on the extent to which evidence has been generated on their use and effectiveness. Second, by giving a central role to the organizational and individual level in corruption studies, we shift attention to the practices and processes of implementation that can affect their effectiveness within public institutions. Third, arising from the integrated nature of the review, we propose an agenda for future research on corruption prevention.

The paper proceeds as follows. The following section introduces a conceptualization of corruption; the third section presents the major streams in corruption prevention research, and the fourth section outlines the agenda for future research.

The Nature and the Causes of Corruption

If, as already mentioned, the analysis and therefore the awareness of the effects of corruption have certainly motivated a renewed interest on the part of institutions in activating policies of prevention and not only of contrast, on the other hand, it is precisely the desire to "prevent" that makes in-depth study of the nature and causes of corruptive phenomena increasingly relevant. Dimant and Tosato ( 2018 ) summarise findings relating to 22 single causes of corruption (see Table 1 in Dimant & Tosato 2018 for a summary), also identifying new developments. For example, there is evidence that corruption is contagious and spills over to neighboring countries and it works both ways, i.e., for corruption prevention policies. This is a field of investigation that is characterized by a long tradition of studies, demonstrating unequivocally the complex and multidimensional nature of corruption (Capasso & Santoro, 2018 ) and, therefore, the multifaceted nature of the motivation to engage in corrupt behavior (Bicchieri & Ganegonda, 2017 ; Dimant & Schulte, 2016 ), which requires a multilevel analysis approach where micro-meso and macro-level are necessarily interdependent. In particular, as Aguirre ( 2008 , p. 13) argues, "addressing one level of the triad, without ignoring another, renders the entire system ineffective."

Approaches to understanding corruption at the micro-level have invoked the “bad apples” analogy (Anand et al., 2004 ), i.e., such approaches emphasize the combination of contextual and individual psychological factors that bring about corrupt behavior as a result of questionable moral standards. For example, according to Cressey’s ( 1953 ) fraud triangle model, opportunity, motivation, and rationalization efforts combine to enable corrupt behavior. While such individual-level explanations remain popular in applied empirical research on fraud and corruption (Homer, 2020 ; Le et al., 2021 ), researchers also criticized the fraud triangle for its heavy emphasis on individual-level factors, which are unable to explain more socio-systemic triggers of fraud (Suh et al., 2020 ) and its incapacity to capture different notions of financial crimes (Huber, 2017 ). Notwithstanding these criticisms, a detailed analysis of the origins and use of the fraud triangle by Morales et al. ( 2014 ) identifies the fraud triangle as a trigger stimulating the development of organizational controls as a countermeasure to the emergence of corrupt behavior. Consequently, Morales et al., ( 2014 , p.185) conclude that the “(…) fraud triangle has been harnessed as a tool, in the service of practitioners and theorists, to promote a branch of knowledge that views fraud at the juncture of an individual and organizational problem”. In fact, part of the specialized literature has devoted itself to this over time (Hinna et al., 2018 ), studying the basis of the corruption phenomenon at the firm level, thus integrating itself into a more traditional and established macroeconomic literature, by offering a socio-psychological view on why individuals engage in corrupt acts.

Specifically, focusing on the organizational level of corruption, the literature has analyzed the causes of corruption from the point of view not only of what determines the “opportunity” of a corrupt action but also of what could “incentivize” it, combining a macro level of analysis with a meso level of analysis. In terms of opportunity, Klitgaard et al., ( 2000 , p. 35) state that an individual “will have the opportunity to garner corrupt benefits as a function of their degree of monopoly over a service or activity, their discretion in deciding who should get how much, and the degree to which their activities are accountable”. It follows that, on the opportunity side, the prevention of corruption can be effectively achieved through an improvement of control systems on operators, a limitation of their monopoly conditions, and an increase in the level of transparency of the actions implemented by them.

Other types of arguments focus on the study of the “incentives” to carry out corrupt acts. As these are inevitably correlated to the characteristics of the environmental and organizational context, one needs to consider how they, therefore, “interact” with the characteristics of organizational actors and that can be at the base of their corrupt behavior. In particular, two arguments can be distinguished.

First, with reference to the external context of the individual firm, beyond the aforementioned spaces of “opportunity” that may be created by environmental features such as turbulence and munificence, as well as low rivalry intensity or complex and ambiguous characteristics or newly enacted legislation, other two main factors of “environmental” origin are identified as underlying corruption risk (Baucus, 1994 ): (a) the “pressure” to which the company is subjected, due not only to elements of fore competitiveness of the markets but also to the possible scarcity of available resources or to a regulatory framework in constant evolution; (b) a “predisposition,” deriving from a context with a significant and consolidated level of illegality.

Second, with reference to the internal context of the individual company, some pioneering contributions (i.e., Albrecht et al., 1984 ) have gradually developed the original model of Cressey, precisely focusing on the formal and informal dimensions of work organization, investigating not only organizational structures and processes but also operating systems and the social and cultural dimensions of the organization, as possible determinants of individual behavior (Palmer, 2012 ). This allows the study of whether they could alternatively push individuals toward wrongdoing (i.e., the need to guarantee a certain level of performance) or “justify” corrupt behavior, whether in response to corporate interests or interests of an individual nature (Hinna et al., 2016 ; Palmer, 2012 ).

Therefore, through the combination of economic, social and psychological theories and perspectives, the set of contributions provided to date in the literature allows for an integrated view for understanding corruption, which is not limited to the analysis of only individual factors but expands to both the relationship between the individual and organizations, and between the organization and the context in which the company operates (Fig.  1 ).

figure 1

Source: Hinna et al., ( 2016 , p.155)

Environment (macro), organization (meso), and individual (micro) relationship: the integrated model of organization corruption determinants.

Major Streams in Corruption Prevention research

The analysis of the results that emerged in the literature review allows us to make several considerations on how the research overcomes the traditional repressive approach to corruption to adopt a more preventive one. We begin with describing a few general patterns found in the articles reviewed and proceed then to a more detailed discussion of three main themes which are related to (i) the attempts to generate more transparency at the macro-level, (ii) identification of initiatives at the organizational level that complement transparency enhancing measures and (iii) micro-level individual processes with relevance for preventing corrupt behavior.

Major Patterns Observed in the Literature

Reviewing the articles included, first we find that studies analyzing corruption have significantly increased during the period under analysis (2001–2020). More specifically, out of the 118 works examined, 82 percent of the publications were published in the last ten years (2010–2020) (Fig.  2 ).

figure 2

Focus of the publications

The second consideration is that the research interest has progressively turned to the theme of corruption prevention. This is already evident by observing the number of papers dedicated explicitly to preventive measures. But it is further confirmed by the papers dedicated to the causes of corruption, as a typical object of investigation for the choice and evaluation of prevention strategies. However, although the combination of studies dealing with the causes and preventive measures of corruption increasingly outweighs studies focusing on its consequences over time, it is worth noting that the relationship between causes and related anti-corruption measures is still rarely discussed. This is particularly evident in studies focusing predominantly on one or the other aspect. In fact, only 20 works in our sample investigate both the causes and the related preventive measures, realizing an effective contextualization of the proposed measures against the identified causes.

A third element that stands out concerns the methodological perspective. Our research shows that most works adopt empirical approaches of which 58 percent (69 studies) qualifies as quantitative work, whereas 24 percent (28 studies) qualifies as qualitative work. Only 16 percent of articles (19 studies) are conceptual in nature or qualify as some form of review (2 percent, 2 studies). As corruption is notoriously difficult to observe, it is not surprising that quantitative studies rely primarily on country rankings based on international corruption indices such as the Transparency International Corruption Index or World Governance Indicators. At the same time, it is worth noting the unexpected predominance of quantitative studies in a field of research that does not yet present consolidated theoretical and explanatory models.

A fourth consideration is related to the alignment of the emerging literature adopting the preventive approach with the fundamental principles of the Merida Convention, which also highlights the adoption of measures aimed at avoiding the occurrence of corrupt behaviors in the organizational context. Indeed, the primary level of analysis adopted by the studies: 53 percent of the studies analyzed (63 studies) indicate that academic interest is moving towards a meso level of analysis, thus responding to the demand for studies that go beyond the macro-level (52 studies, 44 percent) to investigate organizational and behavioral aspects related to corruption (Jain, 2001 ). The meso-level analysis is mainly adopted by studies addressing the causes of corruption and the related measures (see Table 1 below).

More specifically, according to the key principles of the Merida Convention and consistent with distinct levels of analysis, some dominant themes emerge in the specialized literature: transparency and accountability strategies, human resource management (HRM) system, individual attitudes, and behaviors.

Finally, it is noteworthy that only one paper investigates a prevention system based on a “risk-based” approach (Van der Wal et al., 2016 ). Using data from 36 Victorian (Australia) public sector bodies the authors examined public officials' perceptions and the ability to identify and analyze corruption risks, the strategies to mitigate these risks, and the integrity mechanisms in place (Van der Wal et al., 2016 ).

Addressing Corruption through Transparency

At a macro level of analysis, one of the dominant themes is undoubtedly centered on the concepts of transparency and openness and how they in turn contribute to tackling corruption in the public sector with its promise to increase the chances of accountability. Transparency and anti-corruption policies have experienced a rapid spread worldwide – from the dramatic increase of freedom of information laws to the recent Open Government Partnership.

One example addressing the transparency argument is the work by Escaleras et al. ( 2010 ) asking if freedom of information acts have been an effective measure against corruption. Their findings do not support the effectiveness of freedom of information laws as a deterrent to corruption and remain neutral. But they support a moderating effect of institutional quality. They even find an increase in corruption for developing countries in the presence of freedom of information legislation. Hence, they conclude that freedom of information acts might be a small complementary measure in anti-corruption campaigns.

In contrast, in a study with a sophisticated empirical design de Simone et al. ( 2017 ) show that increasing fiscal transparency is an effective measure in the fight against corruption. Similarly, using data from the World Values Survey, Capasso et al. ( 2021 ) support the view that transparency creates incentives for individuals to be rule compliant and thus is an effective anti-corruption measure. Global pressure has played a significant role in policy dissemination and in some cases has also created an external pressure for legitimacy that has empowered domestic policymakers and facilitated the related adoption processes (Schnell, 2015 ).

However, the beneficial effect of government transparency may be contingent on the nature of the demand for accountability, as well as on a series of "heroic assumptions" (Fukuyama, 2015 , p. 16) about the nature of stakeholders' willingness and ability to act upon the information received (Bauhr & Nasiritousi, 2012 ; Kolstad & Wiig, 2009 ). With their empirical research in public procurement, Bauhr et al. ( 2020 ) contribute to this debate with two significant elements. The first is the need to develop a theoretical distinction between ex-ante and ex-post transparency, the second is to consider the fact that the mere publication of relevant information is not enough for holding governments to account, as the legal and technical complexity of data presents substantial barriers to data use. Ayhan and Üstüner ( 2015 ) study reforms on public procurement in Turkey. While the initial aim of creating a more transparent public procurement system triggered the process, their analysis reveals an overall quality decline in the Turkish procurement system. One reason they identify is the dilution due to an increase in regulations (i.e., they report that about 20 amendments have been made to the original regulation) thereby creating untransparent rules, procedures, and regulations undermining anti-corruption efforts.

Often the need to build a transparent procurement environment inevitably passes through the adoption of technologically innovative solutions, such as e-procurement platforms (Liao et al., 2003 ). Understandably, the adoption of an innovative e-government approach should not be seen as a panacea for corruption problems in public organizations. A recent work by Wu et al. ( 2020 ) examines the potential and limitations of using e-government as an innovative anticorruption measure from the perspective of public officials in China and India, verifying that the effectiveness of this measure varies based on the political, economic, and cultural conditions of a country.

However, the implementation of an e-governance system is not only associated with the issue of transparency but—more generally—with the second important research stream identified at a macro level: good governance as a corruption prevention tool. In this sense, using cross-national secondary data from 191 countries, Chen and Aklikokou ( 2021 ) demonstrate a positive association between e-governments’ development and government effectiveness, as well as between e-governments’ development and their control of corruption.

In the same research field, the focus is often aimed at evaluating the degree to which public administration reforms contribute to corruption reduction (Andrei et al., 2009 ; Matei & Matei, 2009 ; Neshkova & Kostadinova, 2012 ; Segal & Lehrer, 2012 ). Other works take into consideration more specific reform processes, such as the adoption of quality public sector accounting (Lewis & Hendrawan, 2020 ) or auditing practices (Gustavson and Sundström, 2018 ) that can assist in reducing corruption. Similarly, Christensen and Fan ( 2018 ) report on the introduction of an anti-corruption campaign in China characterized by strict reporting rules between local and central governments. Such reporting rules discourage supervisors from covering up lower-level employees' misbehavior, hence increasing transparency. But Christensen and Fan ( 2018 ) also acknowledge the limitations of such institutional measures by highlighting that also deeply ingrained cultural attitudes need to be changed. They see the anti-corruption campaigns as a vehicle to do so.

Addressing Corruption through the HRM System

An HRM system integrates practices of pay and reward, recruitment, selection, training and development, career progression and related HRM practices. Berman ( 2015 ) offers a detailed discussion on how HRM can support efforts to fight corruption. Regarding the HRM system, several empirical studies have investigated the anti-corruption effect of the different HR practices. HRM efforts may also instill career commitment, loyalty and pride in serving the public. Therefore, highly selective recruiting procedures, appropriate onboarding and continuous training (Beeri et al., 2013 ) and socialization efforts may contribute to building a public sector workforce that is less inclined to engage in corrupt practices. In this sense, robust HRM systems act as an antidote to corrupt behavior (Berman, 2015 ). For example, looking at the recruitment of public officials in Denmark, Barfort et al. ( 2019 ) investigated whether a systematic self-selection of honest types into public service may be one channel that helps sustain a low level of corruption and found that dishonest individuals are more pecuniarily motivated and self-select out of public service and into higher-paying private-sector jobs.

A traditional argument in the corruption literature focuses on public officials’ compensation ( inter alia , seminal work of Becker & Stigler, 1974 ). Higher salaries (compared to private sector salaries) that allow individuals to sustain their living costs are commonly seen as a deterrent to corruption. Individuals working under such conditions are simply less inclined to accept bribery payments or other gifts. While van Veldhuizen ( 2013 ) confirms this argument empirically in a laboratory experiment, showing that higher wages make individuals less corruptible, the broader review of the literature reveals a more nuanced picture. For example, setting up a theoretical model Macchiavello ( 2008 ) challenges the idea that the relationship between wages and corruption is monotonic. However, this study does not provide systematic empirical evidence to support the claim. In contrast, work by Chen and Liu ( 2018 ) and Dhillon et al. ( 2017 ) present empirical evidence on the wage argument. Chen and Liu ( 2018 ) study bribes received by Chinese officials based on court proceedings data and find a U-shaped relationship. Thus, according to their results, higher wages are effective when base salaries are low but increasing salaries as an anti-corruption measures loses its effectiveness when wages are at elevated levels already and when bribes can be negotiated. Results presented by Navot et al. ( 2016 ) who study a dataset consisting of 58 countries, highlight that higher wages may increase public corruption and demonstrate that people with a stronger sense of belonging tend to be less affected by pecuniary incentives. This finding is consistent with theories about intrinsic motivation.

Researchers have tested whether the relationship between performance rewards and corruption is conditioned by patronage-based recruitment (Campbell, 2020 ). They discover, through a comparison of over 100 countries, that the effect of pay on corruption is negative when clientelism is low but not significant or positive in countries where clientelism pervades the hiring process. On the same theme, Egeberg et al. ( 2019 ) oriented their studies to answer whether a system of recruitment based on merit enhances good and non-corrupt governance. In their case, the field of investigation was the European Union regulatory (decentralized) agencies and it emerged that these agencies seem to overwhelmingly apply meritocratic instruments when hiring people, regardless of their location.

Specific personnel management measures are also considered potential corruption prevention tools. For example, under the job rotation, public officials are less likely to accept bribes and this leads to less manipulated decision-making by public officials (Fišar et al., 2021 ). Also well-curated content for employee training may mitigate the corruption problem. For example, Luk ( 2012 ) recommends a three-pronged approach advocating the integration of ethical leadership, ethical training, and ethics legislation for maintaining the integrity of the civil service in Hong Kong.

Addressing Corruption by Influencing Individual Attitudes and Behaviors

Considering the results of the review, several authors have recently addressed the determinants of corruption at the individual level. Among others, Mangafić and Veselinović ( 2020 ) analyzed the effects of individual determinants on the likelihood of engaging in bribery, confirming that specific personal characteristics predicted corrupt behavior. Rabl ( 2011 ) explores the effect of contextual variables on the willingness of the individual to accept a bribe using laboratory experiments. Furthermore, Nichols and Robertson ( 2017 ) underscore the need to explore the role of moral emotions for bribery research. Another study demonstrated how dishonesty is strongly negatively correlated with public service motivation (Olsen et al., 2019 ).

The analysis of individual psychological determinants conducted by Kakavand et al. ( 2020 ) provided elements for HRM to understand workplace corruption better. The main results highlight that sense of mastery, distributive justice and procedural justice have a negative impact on workplace corruption, whereas powerlessness has a positive effect on workplace corruption. A further implication is that by staying in tune with motivational processes a HRM system is suited to prevent corrupt mechanisms fueled by frustrated or endangered motivational resources (Kakavand et al., 2020 ). Also Dhillon et al. ( 2017 ) offer a perspective based on psychological economics by applying a crowding-out logic (Frey et al. 2013 ) to explain the effects on bribe acceptance. In their theoretical model, they acknowledge the variety of individual motivational dispositions. Furthermore, they argue that concern for the collective reputation of the profession may be at play. They conclude that “optimal policies to reduce corruption should take account of the competing motivations for public sector work and the importance of maintaining a high status in the public sector as opposed to private sector work” (Dhillon et al., 2017 , p.3).

The consideration of motivation also prompts thoughts on incentive systems in general. In a corrupt transaction both parties, e.g., a bribe-giver and a bribe-taker, are subject to different incentives to engage in the corrupt activity. Addressing this situation, some authors have argued that the nature of corruption is a decisive factor in determining such incentives. Capasso and Santoro ( 2018 ) distinguish between active (i.e., bargaining power to set bribe lies with the official) and passive (i.e., bargaining power lies with the private actor) corruption. Based on their empirical analyses, they recommend monitoring and strict supervision as more effective deterrents to active corruption whereas controls are more effective when fighting passive corruption.

Research further emphasized the impact on individual behaviors deriving from the adoption of codes of conduct or ethical leadership (Thaler and Helmig, 2016 ). In this empirical research carried out in Germany, it emerges that only ethical leadership has a positive effect on employees' organization-related attitudes. Consistently with this evidence, Janenova and Knox ( 2020 ) demonstrate how the introduction of specific ethics commissioners improves the benefits deriving from the adoption of the code of conduct in the context of Kazakhstan.

The encouragement of whistleblowing and protection of whistleblowers is the last dominant theme that emerged. A literature review published ten years ago on the wave of growing interest in the subject, despite the lack of empirical knowledge, discussed new theoretical and methodological areas of research in the domain of whistleblowing (Vadera et al., 2009 ).

As the decision to blow the whistle is rooted in the individual, the works analyzed in this review illustrates the interplay between the individual (micro), the organizational (meso) and the macro level. In order to encourage whistleblowing, both the organization and the legal system need to implement protection measures for the individuals involved. Hence, the literature reviewed highlights the complementary role organizations need to assume in anti-corruption initiatives as institutional measures may not be sufficient.

Following this path, recent studies have worked on: the content and effectiveness of whistleblowing policies (West and Bowman, 2020 ); the whistleblowing process, especially from a practitioner perspective (Vandekerckhove & Lewis, 2012 ); the organizational conditions necessary to encourage the whistleblowing (Previtali & Cerchiello, 2018 ), the determinants of a whistleblowing intention (Vadera et al., 2009 ; Cassematis & Wortley, 2013 ; Chang et al., 2017 ), and the influence of the ethical position on whistleblowing behavior in private and public contexts (Nayır et al., 2018 ). Noteworthy in this context is the work by Chang et al. ( 2017 ) on whistleblowing as it zooms in on the determinants of whistleblowing beyond mere institutional and regulatory protections. In their large-scale analysis of Korean public officials, they identify perceived colleague support and organizational support as significant antecedents to the willingness of individuals to blow the whistle in the presence of observed wrongdoing by others.

Instead of looking only into whistleblowing policies, organizations may also consider enforcement policies. For example, Burlando and Motta ( 2016 ) developed an anti-corruption enforcement model demonstrating that, within an optimal compensation scheme, legalization can play a critical anti-corruption role. In fact, they found that fiscal and legalization policies have an impact on reducing enforcement costs because they affect individual incentives to crime and corruption rents. Despite the model and the debate on the enforcement issue present at the global level, the two authors point out some significant limitations to this type of policies, in particular the negative implications on people’s trust, that could interpret the legalization as a repugnant policy.

Taking a similar perspective on enforcement, Capasso et al. ( 2019 ) analyzed a dataset on 80 countries to assess the relative effectiveness of various types of law enforcement, judicial efficiency and broader measures of related institutional quality, demonstrating that strengthening country-level institutions is the most powerful deterrent to corruption. The main and most interesting implication from this study is that “comprehensive improvements in enforcement involving better institutions related to law and order are more effective in combating corruption than focus on individual dimensions of enforcement” (Capasso et al., 2019 , p. 357), hence stressing once again the need for a holistic approach to fight against corruption.

Future Research Agenda

This work reviewed the literature on public sector anti-corruption for upper-middle- and high-income countries. We assessed 118 studies identified by our search methodology according to a wide range of criteria, such as country of origin, methodological approach and its quality, level of analysis, scope, and anti-corruption approach, among others.

The problem of preventing corruption has long been an international political priority, and the need to activate policies of prevention, and not merely repression, of corruption is unequivocally present in both the UNCAC and the various control mechanisms, such as the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) or the OECD’s Working Group on Bribery in International Business (WGB). As demonstrated by our review, the academic literature has responded to these demands and progressively focused its efforts on the prevention of corruption, which also highlights the adoption of measures aimed at avoiding the occurrence of corrupt behaviors in the organizational context.

Our research demonstrates an increasing adoption of the organizational level of analysis to investigate the determinants and the possible measures for corruption prevention and it outlines a new additional item which is the recognition of the individual as an essential element to explore both the causes and the specific measures which impact individual behaviors.

Concerning preventive measures, the study highlights a substantial alignment between the guidelines deriving from the Merida Convention and the dominant themes of interest in the academic debate, except for a lack of work on the risk-based approach to corruption prevention. From this vantage point, while corruption is increasingly considered a risk to public organizations’ performance (Power, 2007 ), the findings of the review suggest that little is known about the activities of various public organizations in promoting the logic of risk management or about the impact of these activities for administrations. This evidence is surprising as an exception to the importance that the management of risk has assumed a central role in public policy and management (i.e., Brown & Calnan, 2013 ; Hood et al., 2004 ; Miller et al., 2008 ) and raises some questions about the processes of analysis, evaluation and choice of prevention measures that, if not linked to an effective risk assessment, could be adopted in a standardized form.

From this point of view, there is a need to study risk management systems and processes for anti-corruption, also to better understand the link between causes and measures of corruption. Academic literature (Jain, 2001 ; Jancsics, 2019 ) and the international conventions stress the importance of linking the causes of corruption to the possible measures for formulating better policies and more effective identification of the appropriate recipe for the specific context. However, our review found that in academia, the alignment between causes and potential measures for combating corruption is still poorly investigated both at organizational and individual levels. This is particularly problematic as this missing link often hinders the effectiveness of anti-corruption policies with consequences on the interests and objectives of academic research as well as for theoretical or practical relevance.

Moreover, because of the nature of the research object and to build a plausible explanation for the causal relationship that links antecedents and countermeasures of corruption in specific organizational contexts, exploratory analyses are required (Benbasat et al., 1987 ). In this regard, the low number (and depth) of qualitative studies is surprising since the qualitative research methodology is beneficial in fields of study where it is still necessary to understand the studied reality, where consolidated theoretical and explanatory models cannot yet be found.

While the methodological challenges are severe, it is possible to overcome them. One issue lies in the hidden, invisible nature of corrupt activities which creates difficulties for empirical study. However, researchers can work on making it visible and it could be successful with regard to smaller payments, i. e. in the form of petty corruption. A case in point is the use of publicly available data that potentially makes corrupt activity visible and can be studied. For instance, Schoeneborn and Homberg ( 2018 ) exploited reports on a website to make small bribes visible. Another example is displayed in Bauhr et al. ( 2020 ) which presents an analysis based on publicly available information about public procurement tenders involving more than 100,000 observations. Corruption is made visible here by analyzing the number of participants in bids. Additional opportunities arise from the use of algorithms and computer science techniques that can identify hidden patterns through a combination of different databases, such as described in Velasco et al. ( 2021 ), who used data mining techniques to identify corruption risk patterns. As far as field studies are concerned, researchers can choose settings that allow them to make relevant observations such as Olken and Barron ( 2009 ) who studied more than 6000 illegal payments made by truck drivers to officials in Indonesia. Additionally, ethnographies or other forms of qualitative inquiry could help understand where institutional setups break down or which anti-corruption measures have design flaws. Therefore, overall, creative research designs can overcome some of the challenges that plague corruption research.

This literature review has provided a snapshot of the current state of the literature on corruption in upper-middle-income and high-income countries, highlighting future research needs to address. First, more attention to risk management processes is required; second, a stronger focus on the interrelationship between causes and solutions for corruption is needed; and third, more creative effort needs to be put into study design in order to generate solid evidence on corruption at the organizational and individual level. As the corruption literature grows further, we are confident that researchers will be able to address these challenges.

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Ceschel, F., Hinna, A. & Homberg, F. Public Sector Strategies in Curbing Corruption: A Review of the Literature. Public Organiz Rev 22 , 571–591 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-022-00639-4

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Corruption in Russia.pdf

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Endemic corruption is a defining characteristic of the Putin regime. While the president is the prime beneficiary, cronies maintain this system of corruption. These loyal supporters are necessary for Putin to ensure the status quo and they often pursue the government’s illicit interests, which it cannot fulfill itself.

This publication presents a succinct overview of the systemic corruption present in Russia. Unlike corrupt systems where oligarchs rule and compete with one another over power and wealth, Russia has developed a top-down structure of corruption, where the political and business success of elites is dependent almost entirely upon their relationship to the President. Although these elites continue to be called “oligarchs,” it is no longer appropriate to think of them as such. Rather, they ought to be thought of as “cronies.”

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Contributors: Paul Massaro, Policy Advisor, Michael Newton, Intern, and Amelia Rausing, Intern

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Vladimir Kara-Murza: Putin's Personal Prisoner

Stream here: HEARING: Vladimir Kara-Murza: Putin's Personal Prisoner - YouTube Vladimir Kara-Murza, a father, husband, and a freedom fighter, has been in detention for over five hundred days and is currently being transferred to a prison in Siberia. As he is being moved, his family has lost all contact with him and are faced with worry over his quickly deteriorating health. This Helsinki Commission examined why the Department of State has failed to designate Mr. Kara-Murza as a Wrongfully or Illegally Detained Person and the importance of securing his release from Putin’s prison. Mrs. Evgenia Kara-Murza, Advocacy Director at the Free Russia Foundation and wife of Vladimir Kara-Murza presented his life leading up to his arrest, his time in prison, and plea to the United States of America to save her husband. In Mrs. Kara-Murza’s testimony, she described his courage and internal fight to continue advocating against the Putin regime despite being poisoned twice. Mrs. Kara-Murza stated a quote from Senator John McCain that “Courage is not the absence of fear but the capacity to act despite our fears” which described Vladimir Kara-Murza’s yearning to return to Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. Mrs. Kara-Murza then stated how her husband’s health continues to deteriorate and has lost contact with family while he is being transferred to a penal colony in Siberia. She ended her testimony by explaining that if the United States wants to see a different and democratic Russia that is at peace with its neighbors then her husband represents that vision and should be saved. Ms. Meghan McCain, in her testimony to this Helsinki Commission, spoke to support the freedom “of a warrior, a patriot, and … a friend” and to urge the Department of State to declare Mr. Kara-Murza a “Wrongfully Detained Person” under the Levinson Act. Ms. McCain began her speech by explaining the fall of Russia. A nation which once possessed a flourishing culture of great artists and writers has fallen into a “gray winter” from Communism to then the regime of Putin. She stated how Vladimir Kara-Murza is the spring who she described as a fearless man knowing all risk and will bring better days to Russia. Ms. McCain then finished up her testimony with a plea that the designation of Vladimir Kara-Murza as “Wrongfully Detained” is in American interest and the designation will also improve his moral condition. Another notable speaker who testified to this Helsinki Commission was Vladimir and Evgenia’s daughter Sonya Kara-Murza, who spoke on behalf of her siblings. Ms. Kara-Murza described the passion her father has for  his work to achieve “his goal of a peaceful and hopeful future for Russia” as well as his lessons of bravery to his family. She stated to the Commissioners the necessity of a loving family to be together and eloquently finished with saying to the Commissioners “please bring my father back home”. Following the testimonies, the Commissioners proceeded to ask questions to both Mrs. Evgenia Kara-Murza and Ms. Meghan McCain on Vladimir Kara-Murza’s medical condition and the Department of States lack of clarity on the reason for not declaring Vladimir Kara-Murza a “Wrongfully Detained Person”. Chairman Wilson and Ranking Member Cohen introduced a bill requiring the Department of State to designate Vladimir Kara-Murza a Wrongfully Detained Person or failing that, explain to Congress why this is not possible. A takeaway quote from this hearing from Mrs. Evgenia Kara-Murza was as follows: “I do realize that behind bars Vladimir will not receive the medical attention that he needs.  I do realize that he has already lost over 55 pounds over this year.  I understand that his medical condition is only going to deteriorate and I understand that he’s being held by the same people who tried to kill him twice…So this is urgent and it is a matter of life and death”

Commissioners Call on Administration to Review Swiss Nationals for Sanctions

WASHINGTON—Yesterday, U.S. Helsinki Commission Chairman Representative Joe Wilson (SC-02) and Ranking Member Representative Steve Cohen (TN-09) sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen requesting that the United States consider sanctioning three Swiss nationals, Vinzenz Schnell, Patrick Lamon, and Michael Lauber, under the U.S. Magnitsky Act. The Magnitsky Act authorizes the U.S. government to sanction individuals who financially profited from the murder of Sergei Magnitsky, who exposed a fraudulent tax scheme perpetrated by Russian nationals. The Chairman and Ranking Member are requesting that these individuals are reviewed for Magnitsky sanctions for their involvement in abetting Russian nationals to regain funds originally frozen in connections with the fraudulent tax scheme, and accepting unauthorised gifts and trips paid for by Russian officials and oligarchs. The letter comes as the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office has decided to return about 80% of that frozen money to Russian individuals, including those sanctioned by the U.S. The letter reads: Dear Secretary Blinken and Secretary Yellen, We are writing you to request that the United States review for sanctions under the U.S. Magnitsky Act three Swiss nationals for their involvement in efforts to conceal the fraudulent tax scheme exposed by Sergei Magnitsky. These individuals have abetted Russian nationals sanctioned under the Magnitsky Act to regain access to funds, originally frozen in connection with the fraudulent tax scheme, and accepted unauthorised gifts and trips paid by Russian officials and oligarchs. These individuals are Vinzenz Schnell, Patrick Lamon, and Michael Lauber. The 2009 murder of Sergei Magnitsky was such a grave injustice that the United States passed the Magnitsky Act in 2012 to sanction the perpetrators, those who financially profited from his murder, and their agents. The Magnitsky Act was expanded to the Global Magnitsky Act in 2016 to cover all those involved in foreign corruption and human rights abuse. Since then, a number of individuals have been sanctioned by the U.S. government, including Olga Stepanova (the tax official who approved the illegal $230 million tax refund), her husband Vladlen Stepanov, and Dmitry Kluyev, the head of the Kluyev Organized Crime Group, that organized the fraudulent tax refund exposed by Sergei Magnitsky. These individuals were also sanctioned by our allies, including Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. From 2011-2013, Swiss prosecutors froze approximately $20 million in assets connected to that fraud, including accounts controlled by the sanctioned individuals Stepanov and Klyuev, as well as a son of Russian government official Denis Katsyv, who paid over $6 million in settlement of the Department of Justice civil forfeiture action. We were appalled to learn that the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office has decided to return approximately 80% of that frozen money to these Russian individuals, including those sanctioned by us. This decision was made by then Swiss Federal Prosecutor Kohler and authorized by current Federal Prosecutor Stefan Blättler. The decision to return the stolen money to the perpetrators was justified by the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office by repeating the false narrative of Russian officials claiming that “no criminal group was identified” in this fraud and that the tax officials who authorized the refund were “tricked.” These findings are in direct contradiction to the findings of our government and many of our allies. The Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office repeated verbatim the statements they received from the Russian government. More worrying is that the leading Swiss investigator on the case, Vinzenz Schnell, was found to have taken bribes in the form of hunting trips funded by Russian oligarchs. When the investigator was convicted, he revealed that he was asked to derail the Magnitsky investigation. Swiss Federal Prosecutor Lauber and senior prosecutor Lamon were also exposed to have gone on trips paid by the Russians. Members of the Helsinki Commission have approached the Swiss government about this case and been told the Swiss government “cannot interfere in a judicial process.” In this time of Putin’s brutal and unprovoked war against Ukraine, the Swiss government is primed to return money to criminals in Russia who have been sanctioned by the U.S. government and justify it by making and repeating the false account of the fraud concocted by the Russian government. The Magnitsky Act has specific provisions to deal with situations like this, including in relation to sanctioning those involved in corruption, or as agents of sanctioned individuals and those involved in the concealment of the liability for the fate of Sergei Magnitsky, including through the making of false accounts about the fraudulent tax scheme he had uncovered. We request that you review the aforementioned three Swiss individuals for sanctions under the Magnitsky Act in relation to the corrupt gross misconduct and abetting persons sanctioned by the United States. Sincerely, ### Click the PDF icon above for the full letter.

Rescuing Ukrainian Children and Women from Russia's Aggression

Russia’s war has exposed the critical need for U.S. and international action to both save Ukraine’s children and to put in place measures for the future that will protect children, as well as vulnerable refugees around the world, from wartime atrocities and from other threats such as human trafficking. Ukraine’s children are suffering serious injury and trauma due to Russia’s genocidal war of aggression on Ukraine. Almost two-thirds of Ukraine’s children have been displaced, thousands have been injured and hundreds killed. The Ukrainian government has documented close to 20,000 cases of children forcibly taken to Russia or Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine for forced russification, a war crime under the Geneva Convention that could amount to genocide. In addition to the immediate dangers, the effects of war on children will have lasting negative consequences if not addressed. Many Ukrainian children have witnessed unimaginable violence, including the murders of their own parents or family members. At the same time, some Ukrainian women and children are facing increased vulnerability to human trafficking. Of the 8 million refugees that have fled Ukraine, 90% are women and children. There continue to be credible reports of traffickers trolling border areas, train stations, and refugee centers trying to lure refugees with promises of accommodation, onward transportation, or employment, sometimes even masquerading as volunteers providing assistance. Nevertheless, international responses, particularly along border areas, have not been sufficient. This hearing will provide testimony from top officials and experts on the ground to discuss the devastating impact of Russia’s war on Ukrainian children and women and what the United States and the international community can do to better protect these vulnerable women and children from the trauma of war and to prevent human trafficking. It will also detail a new bill taking action to address these challenges, Oleksandr’s Act, which is dedicated to the Ukrainian children who have suffered during this war.


Wednesday, July 26, 2023 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Rayburn House Building room 2200 Streaming here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n-NyI5xjt8 Russia’s war has exposed the critical need for U.S. and international action to both save Ukraine’s children and to put in place measures for the future that will protect children, as well as vulnerable refugees around the world, from wartime atrocities and from other threats such as human trafficking. Ukraine’s children are suffering serious injury and trauma due to Russia’s genocidal war of aggression on Ukraine. Almost two-thirds of Ukraine’s children have been displaced, thousands have been injured and hundreds killed. The Ukrainian government has documented close to 20,000 cases of children forcibly taken to Russia or Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine for forced russification, a war crime under the Geneva Convention that could amount to genocide. In addition to the immediate dangers, the effects of war on children will have lasting negative consequences if not addressed. Many Ukrainian children have witnessed unimaginable violence, including the murders of their own parents or family members. At the same time, some Ukrainian women and children are facing increased vulnerability to human trafficking. Of the 8 million refugees that have fled Ukraine, 90% are women and children. There continue to be credible reports of traffickers trolling border areas, train stations, and refugee centers trying to lure refugees with promises of accommodation, onward transportation, or employment, sometimes even masquerading as volunteers providing assistance. Nevertheless, international responses, particularly along border areas, have not been sufficient. This hearing will provide testimony from top officials and experts on the ground to discuss the devastating impact of Russia’s war on Ukrainian children and women and what the United States and the international community can do to better protect these vulnerable women and children from the trauma of war and to prevent human trafficking. It will also detail a new bill taking action to address these challenges, Oleksandr’s Act, which is dedicated to the Ukrainian children who have suffered during this war. Panel 1: Beth Van Schaack, U.S. Ambassador at Large for Global Criminal Justice Cindy Dyer, U.S. Ambassador at Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Panel 2: Andriy Kostin, Prosecutor General of Ukraine Sebastian Stachowski, CEO of Lion Environmental, former Volunteer Coordinator for the Polish Red Cross, Subcarpathian Region Mykola Kuleba, Director, Save Ukraine and former Presidential Commissioner for Human Rights Dr. James S. Gordon, M.D., The Center for Mind-Body Medicine   Other witnesses may be added.

Russia's Alpine Assets: Money Laundering and Sanctions Evasion in Switzerland

Switzerland has for years been a primary destination for Russian money laundering and, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a weak link in Western sanctions enforcement. This Helsinki Commission hearing examined Switzerland’s poor track record of rooting out dirty Russian money and examined potential paths forward for U.S. policymakers in persuading Switzerland to uphold its commitments to its democratic partners. Bill Browder, head of the Magnitsky Global Justice Campaign, outlined his own experiences with Swiss officials undermining investigations into the money laundering cases linked to Sergei Magnitsky’s discovery of over $230 million in tax fraud by Russian officials. Browder traced Swiss officials’ attempts to direct corruption by Russian money, stating that Switzerland “wants to be seen as doing something while in reality doing nothing” to continue profiting off of Russian assets. Since the Swiss legal and regulatory systems have both failed to show a commitment to effective oversight of Russian money, Browder asked commissioners and other government officials to consider targeted sanctions under the Magnitsky Act against Swiss officials involved in quashing the investigations in question, including the sitting Prosecutor General. Drew Sullivan, co-founder and publisher of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), testified that Swiss financial regulators prioritize the interests of the Swiss banking sector over true oversight and legal compliance, emphasizing that a fair audit of Swiss banks would show what his organization estimates is over $400 billion in illegal money, much of which is linked to Russia. Mr. Sullivan urged U.S. and EU policymakers to exercise their regulatory jurisdiction over dollar- and euro-denominated accounts to force Swiss banks into compliance with stronger transparency regulations. He views severe pressure from other democratic governments as the only way to ensure more responsible Swiss financial regulation. Olena Tregub, secretary general of the Ukrainian civil society organization the Independent Defense Anti-Corruption Committee (NAKO), underlined Switzerland’s hypocritical narrative of neutrality given that Switzerland is the leading European country in terms of dual-use weapons components found in Russian arms. Additionally, Switzerland’s lax sanctions enforcement has allowed the country to become a safe haven for Russian money despite Switzerland nominally joining EU sanctions regimes against Russia. Tregub advocated for a U.S.-led multilateral working group, including Switzerland, to prevent the export of dual-use technologies to Russia as well as additional pressure on Switzerland to enforce European sanctions it has already agreed to. Commissioners thanked witnesses for bringing visibility to Switzerland’s need for improvement in these areas and questioned them on what the most effective U.S. responses would be, as well as how likely they think their proposed solutions are to be implemented.

Hearing: Supporting a Democratic and Secure Moldova

Wednesday, July 12, 2023 2:00 pm Cannon House Office Building, Room 210 Live stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jm-R6rfQbCo In recent years, Moldova has enacted numerous reforms under current Moldovan President Maia Sandu to strengthen its democratic institutions, combat corruption and kleptocracy, and integrate with the European Union. In 2022, the European Union granted Moldova “Candidate” status in its EU bid alongside Ukraine. Moldova’s many accomplishments are made all the more remarkable given the ongoing destabilizing effects of Russia’s illegal war on Ukraine and the Putin regime’s efforts to undermine Moldova’s security, economy, and political processes. Nonetheless, Moldova’s government and people have doggedly pursued a liberal democratic path, and have opened their country to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens who have transited or found refuge in the country in the wake of Russia’s brutal war.   The hearing will feature a discussion with senior U.S. and Moldovan parliamentary leadership to explore how the United States can continue to support Moldova in its democratic reform agenda, continue its anti-corruption efforts, and achieve durable security for itself and the region.  The following witnesses are scheduled to testify: Panel 1:  Dan Bischof, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Panel 2: Igor Grosu, President of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova Doina Gherman, Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova Ambassador (ret.) William Hill, Global Fellow at the Wilson Center Other witnesses may be added.

Chairman Wilson and RM Cohen Mark Third Annual Counter-Kleptocracy Month

WASHINGTON—Today, Helsinki Commission Chairman Joe Wilson and Ranking Member Steve Cohen, Co-Chairmen of the Counter-Kleptocracy Caucus, marked the third annual Counter-Kleptocracy Month. “Foreign corruption and kleptocracy is the main reason that we face a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine today. It is the way that the Islamic Republic of Iran sustains itself. It is the way that the Chinese Communist Party exerts its influence around the world. We need to ensure that western enablers and anonymous financial mechanisms are not providing our adversaries access to our systems and the ability to undermine democracy from within.” As with previous Counter-Kleptocracy Months, Caucus members plan to introduce multiple bipartisan bills to counter foreign corruption and kleptocracy. The work of the Caucus in the last Congress led to the passage of legislation to enable the transfer of recovered oligarch assets to Ukraine as well as an expansion of the anti-money laundering statute of limitations. The Caucus held multiple events and developed and introduced multiple bills to stem the influence of foreign corruption and kleptocracy. The Caucus recognizes the leadership of former Congressman Tom Malinowski, who founded the Caucus. We thank him for his work to close the corrupt loopholes that enable foreign influence to enter our system.

Helsinki Commission Chairman and Ranking Member Introduce Bill to Confiscate Russian Assets

Today, Helsinki Commission Chairman Representative Joe Wilson (SC-02) and Ranking Member Representative Steve Cohen (TN-09) introduced the bipartisan Rebuilding Economic Prosperity and Opportunity (REPO) for Ukrainians Act in the House of Representatives, alongside Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-10), Rep. Thomas Kean Jr. (NJ-21), Rep. Mike Quigley (IL-05), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), and Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH-09). The legislation has also been introduced in the Senate by Commissioner Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and Senator Jim Risch (ID). The bill authorizes the administration to confiscate Russian assets in the United States for Ukrainian reconstruction and calls on international allies to create a confiscation mechanism for assets stored in other countries.   “Russia will foot the bill for its brutal war in Ukraine. We will use war criminal Putin’s own money to rebuild what he has ripped away from the Ukrainian people. It is common sense that Putin be the one to rebuild what he has destroyed,” said Chairman Joe Wilson.   “Russia must be held accountable for its brutal and unprovoked war. This legislation will ensure that every cent of Russian money in western systems is made available to the Ukrainian people to remedy the horrific acts that Russia has inflicted upon them. It is a matter of basic justice that the perpetrator pays for their crimes,” said Ranking Member Steve Cohen.  [View the legislation text by clicking the PDF icon above]


WASHINGTON—Yesterday, members of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, Chairman Representative Joe Wilson (SC-02), Ranking Member Representative Steve Cohen (TN-09) and Commissioner Representative Victoria Spartz (IN-05) sent a letter to President Biden, requesting he grants the transfer of MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) to Ukraine.  In the letter, Commissioners thank the Administration for its beginning steps on getting F-16s to Ukrainian defenders and emphasize the importance of ATACMS on targeting Russian frontlines in occupied Ukraine as well as pushing back Russian supply chain systems which fuel their genocidal war. During the Commissioners’ recent trip to Ukraine and meeting with President Zelensky, ATACMS were requested for an immediate battlefield advantage. These powerful weapons could provide the advantage Ukraine needs to secure its freedom, and the only remaining hurdle to their delivery is the President’s approval.      The letter reads:    Dear President Biden,    We urge you to send the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) to Ukraine. From the very beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine requested ATACMS to defend and reclaim their homes in the face of the Kremlin’s genocidal war of conquest. This powerful weapon system would go a long way to ensuring full Ukrainian victory now, while helping deter future Russian threats against Ukraine, the wider region, and Europe as a whole.  We thank the administration for beginning the process of getting F-16s to Ukraine, as these jet fighters will make a huge difference toward achieving full Ukrainian victory. On our recent trip to Ukraine, we heard how the Ukrainian army is holding its own against Russia in all areas except the sky. But long-range missiles are also necessary for victory. ATACMS would make an immediate battlefield difference for Ukraine. With an effective range of nearly 200 miles, virtually all major Russian units, naval assets, and strategic infrastructure in occupied Ukrainian territory would be within reach of precision strikes. This would not only help Ukraine degrade or destroy Russian weapons of war used to murder Ukrainian defenders and civilians but would also push Russian units and supply chains further from the front, dramatically complicating sustainment and their ability to continue prosecuting this genocidal war. The fewer supplies and arms that reach Russian forces, the less capable they are of holding Ukrainian territory and killing its people. ATACMS will save Ukrainian lives.  Unlike many other weapons which require extensive training and long logistical chains, ATACMS are fired from widely used and available M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System(HIMARS) platform and could be fielded immediately. This is critical in Ukraine where time is of the essence. Ukraine must win as quickly as possible to prevent the needless loss of anymore courageous Ukrainians and to end the war in the only sustainable way: Ukrainian victory.  Now that the United Kingdom has delivered Storm Shadow cruise missiles, there is no reason to withhold ATACMS from Ukraine. We must trust the Ukrainians to use our long-range missiles responsibly, just as our British allies have. The Ukrainians have shown repeatedly that they will use every weapon system responsibly and to maximum effect.  Ukraine can win the war this year if the United States and our democratic allies transfer all weapons necessary. A defeat or even a military stalemate against Russia’s genocidal invasion would be a catastrophe for our national security and guarantee renewed Russian attacks on Ukraine and broader aggression in Europe. Once Ukraine has achieved victory on its terms, ATACMS, along with other long-range and advanced weapons, will be a primary means of deterring and constraining future Russian aggression. Russian forces will not be able to stage for a future invasion, or threaten the Black Sea region at will, under the shadow of Ukrainian long-range capabilities.  We understand that there are concerns the United States does not have enough ATACMS to send to Ukraine. However, many democratic allies also possess ATACMS and forming an international coalition for the transfer of ATACMS, much like has been done with jets and tanks, could help alleviate these concerns. Moreover, the point of these weapons is to protect U.S. national security and the security of our allies, which Ukraine is currently doing alone. The transfer of our ATACMS is logical and urgent under these circumstances.  Now that the decision has been made to send F-16s, now is the time to commit to Ukraine’s full victory and deliver all the tools needed. Nearly every weapon system requested by Ukraine has been delivered after intense pressure. Let us not wait for another pressure campaign to deliver ATACMS. In the spirit of proactivity, deterrence, and mindful of the innocent Ukrainian lives lost the longer Russia is allowed to continue its war, we urge your administration to send these war-winning weapons to Ukraine immediately.  [Click on the PDF icon above to view the full letter]


WASHINGTON—From May 1st to May 7th, Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) led a bipartisan U.S. delegation to Germany, Poland, and Ukraine to coordinate support for Ukraine and examine current wartime challenges. The delegation consulted with high-ranking government officials and civil society actors regarding ongoing military and humanitarian responses to the Russian invasion. Chairman Wilson was joined on the delegation by Helsinki Commission Ranking Member Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09) and Commissioner Victoria Spartz (IN-05). “Friends of democracy are inspired by courageous Ukrainians capably supported by our appreciated western allies, like Germany and Poland, in the global competition between democracies with rule of law opposing authoritarians with rule of gun. “Ukraine must win this war against Russia’s brutal aggression — there is no alternative. Ukraine must be restored to its internationally recognized 1991 borders and integrated into NATO and other Euro-Atlantic institutions. The United States must work with its allies and partners to ensure that the leaders of the Russian Federation are held accountable. “Despite promises after World War II of ‘never again,’ today, in 2023, Russia is committing the very crimes that the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg was created to address: the crime of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. As in Nuremberg, we must bring to justice the perpetrators of the genocide being carried out in Ukraine – including war criminal Putin himself,” said Chairman Wilson and Ranking Member Cohen. In Germany, the delegation met with high-level defense and foreign affairs officials to discuss Germany’s partnership in ensuring Ukrainian victory. In Berlin, the Commissioners met with National Security Advisor Jens Ploetner, Ministry of Foreign Affairs State Secretary Andreas Michaelis, and Ministry of Justice State Secretary Dr. Angelika Schlunck who provided assurances of sustained support for Ukraine. In a visit to the Nuremburg Palace of Justice, site of the Nuremberg trials, the delegation drew obvious parallels to accountability for Russia’s criminal aggression against Ukraine. After visiting Nuremberg, Lieutenant General Andrew Rohling welcomed the delegation to the 7th Army Grafenwoehr Training Area where Ukrainian troops are being trained. In Ukraine, the delegation visited Bucha and Kyiv joined by U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation Michael Carpenter and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink. In Bucha, survivors testified to mass murder of civilians by Russian soldiers and the delegation paid homage to the victims. In Kyiv, the delegation met with Ukrainian children who had been taken to Russia and Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine as part of a Russian effort to erase their identity and forcibly assimilate them. Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov highlighted Ukraine’s military needs and mechanisms of accountability for international assistance. The delegation met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who expressed the urgent need for F-16 fighter aircraft to defend his people and keep open sea-lanes for Ukrainian wheat vital to feeding Europe, Africa, and the world. President Zelenskyy expressed his deep gratitude to the United States for supporting Ukraine’s fight for freedom. In Poland, the delegation visited Rzeszów where Colonel Matt Braman and Colonel Kendall Clark briefed on the activities of the 10th Mountain Division. The delegation also met with the Polish border service and non-governmental organizations working near the border to prevent Ukrainian refugees from falling victim to human traffickers. Warsaw was the concluding stop for consultations with U.S. Ambassador Mark Brzezinski, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Arkadiusz Mularczyk and OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Director Matteo Mecacci. The delegation thanked Poland for supporting Ukraine and welcoming millions of Ukrainians who have fled Russian terror.


The Putin regime has long used the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) to consolidate its power at home and abroad. Under the leadership of Patriarch Kirill, the ROC has explicitly endorsed Russia’s war on Ukraine, even blessing weapons for the invasion. Churches under the mantle of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) had long been viewed as actual or potential surveillance and influence outposts for the Putin regime, directly contributing to the official establishment of the independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine in 2019. Additionally, the Putin regime has exported its widespread internal persecution of non-ROC-affiliated Christians to the territories it occupies in Ukraine. This hearing will assess Putin’s political control over ROC institutions and the implications for Ukraine’s religious and political culture. Relatedly, panelists will speak to harassment and denial of religious freedoms in territories occupied by Russia. Witnesses will also testify to how religious institutions, churches, and individual Christians have supported Ukraine in wartime and the future of church-state relations within Ukraine. His Beatitude Epiphaniy, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, will give opening remarks. Related information: Witness Biographies


WASHINGTON— Yesterday, Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) and Ranking Member Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09) introduced the Ukraine Victory Resolution in the House of Representatives. Commissioners Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC), introduced the resolution in the Senate. The resolution affirms that it is the policy of the United States to see Ukraine victorious against the Russian invasion, holds that the peace brought by victory must be secured by integrating Ukraine into NATO, and declares that the United States must work with its allies and partners to secure reparations, reconstruction, justice for Russian war crimes, and accountability for Russian leaders.  “Ukrainian victory is the only path to peace. We must ensure that Ukraine is well-armed and outfitted so that the upcoming counteroffensive can meet expectations and Ukraine can win the war as quickly as possible. Ukrainian victory is good for U.S. national security and economic stability, denies Putin any reward for its invasion, and deters China and Iran. Ukraine’s existence depends on victory,” said Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson.  “Ukrainian victory is also critical for the United States. Ukraine is preventing an incursion into NATO and demonstrating to autocrats that borders cannot be changed by force alone—a fundamental underpinning of the peaceful international system. The Ukrainian fight is our common fight. There is no alternative to victory,” said Ranking Member Rep. Steve Cohen.  “Ukraine will win the war—and win the peace—if America continues its steadfast support as this resolution strongly states,” said Senator Blumenthal. “True victory means stopping Russia’s murderous assault, imposing accountability for crimes against humanity, and rebuilding Ukraine at Russia’s expense. To our NATO allies as well as Ukraine, our message must be that we’ll have your back in this fight for freedom and democracy—yours and ours together,” said Commissioner Sen. Richard Blumenthal.  “This bipartisan, bicameral resolution says what we all know to be true – that Ukrainian victory is in the best interest of every democracy on earth,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “Putin’s brutal war seeks to steal Ukraine’s land and its future.  The United States and our allies have played, and should continue to play, a leading role in securing everything Ukraine needs to achieve victory and rebuild.  I join my colleagues in sending a clear message to the people of Ukraine: we are with you to victory,” said Commissioner Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.  “I enthusiastically support the concept of victory for Ukraine, which is possible with aggressive Western help, particularly in the area of weapons. The Russian army has been dealt a severe blow. It is now time to go all in for victory for Ukraine. That means continuing to provide them the weapons they need to repel the Russian invaders, labeling Putin’s Russia a state sponsor of terrorism and lending our voice to holding Putin and his cronies accountable for war crimes committed on an industrial scale. Victory for Ukraine is possible, but we have to be all in,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham.  Ukraine regained its independence in 1991 after three centuries of Moscow’s imperial rule. In 1994, the United States encouraged Ukraine to abandon its arsenal of nuclear weapons, the third largest in the world at the time, in exchange for security assurances in the Budapest Memorandum. The Ukrainians have had two revolutions since independence, the 2004 Orange Revolution and the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, demonstrating their commitment to shared ideals of democracy and freedom and their desire for Euro-Atlantic integration.  In 2008, at the Bucharest NATO Summit, NATO states declared, “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agree today that these countries will become members of NATO.” Russia initially invaded Ukraine in 2014 and massively escalated its invasion in 2022.  In 2022, the UN General Assembly called on member states to create a mechanism for reparations to be paid to Ukraine. In 2023, the United States issued a finding that Russian officials have committed crimes against humanity.  Original cosponsors of the resolution in the House of Representatives also include: Mike Lawler (NY-17), Richard Hudson (NC-09), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Mike Quigley (IL-05), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Bill Pascrell (NJ-08), Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27), Brendan Boyle (PA-02), Lloyd Doggett (TX-37), Deborah Ross (NC-02), Jim Costa (CA-21), David Trone (MD-06), Joe Morelle (NY-25), Susan Wild (PA-07), and Marcy Kaptur (OH-09).  Click on the PDF icon above to view the resolution.

Helsinki Commissioners re-introduce Ukrainian Genocide Resolution in the House and Senate

Today, Helsinki Commission Ranking Member Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09), Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02), Commissioners Rep. Marc Veasey (TX-33), Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-09), Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (MO-05) along with Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Lloyd Doggett (TX-37), Bill Keating (MA-09), Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Mike Quigley (IL-05), Bill Pascrell (NJ-09), André Carson (IN-07), Brendan Boyle (PA-02), introduced a resolution condemning Russian actions in Ukraine as a genocide under applicable international laws in the 118th Congress.   The resolution was also re-introduced in the U.S. Senate on February 16th by Helsinki Commission Co-Chair Senator Ben Cardin (MD) and Senator Jim Risch (ID). Commissioners Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Sen. Thom Tillis (NC), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT) as well as Senators Lindsey Graham (SC), Michael Crapo (ID), Tim Kaine (VA), Rick Scott (FL), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Joe Manchin (WV), John Barrasso (WY), Patty Murray (WA), Marco Rubio (FL), and Todd Young (IN) joined Sens. Cardin and Risch as original co-sponsors.    The resolution calls on the United States, along with NATO and EU allies, to support the government of Ukraine, support tribunals and investigations on Russian war crimes, use the Global Magnitsky sanctions on those responsible, and describes the substantial and significant evidence of Russia’s systemic actions to eliminate Ukrainians. The Commission applauds this vital resolution to hold Russia accountable for their atrocities.   For more information click here. The resolution was first introduced in the 117th Congress in the House of Representatives by Helsinki Commission Ranking Member Rep. Steve Cohen and Chairman Joe Wilson, along with Commissioners Marc Veasey, Richard Hudson, and Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick and Marcy Kaptur, along with companion legislation in the Senate by Helsinki Commission Co-Chair Sen. Ben Cardin and Sen. Jim Risch. 

U.S. Delegation to the OSCE PA presents Joint Statement on Russia’s War in Ukraine

WASHINGTON— Today, the U.S. Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE PA) endorsed the “Joint Statement of Action on the One-Year Anniversary of Russia’s War Against Ukraine and the International Legal Order,” which was endorsed by the OSCE PA Bureau and published today at the conclusion of the 2023 OSCE PA Winter Meeting. Members of the U.S. Delegation include Head of Delegation and Helsinki Commission Co-Chair Sen. Ben Cardin (MD), Helsinki Commission Chair Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02), Ranking Member Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09), Commissioners Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-09), and Rep. Marc Veasey (TX-33). Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) and Rep. Lloyd Doggett (TX-37) also participated in the delegation.    Following a dedicated debate marking the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Assembly issued the statement to condemn Russia’s years-long clear, gross, and uncorrected violations of its commitments under the 1975 Helsinki Final Act and subsequent OSCE commitments.   Click here to read the Joint Statement  

Steadfast Support for Ukraine: United States Delegation Hosts Ukrainian and Partner Country Parliamentarians on the Margins of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly

WASHINGTON – Today, the United States Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE PA), led by Senator Ben Cardin (MD), met with Mykyta Poturaiev, Ukraine’s Head of Delegation and additional representatives of the Ukrainian Rada in Vienna, Austria, along with the Heads of Delegation of Canada, Estonia, France, Latvia, Poland, and the United Kingdom. On the eve of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the parliamentary leaders in attendance pledged their sustained and steadfast support for Ukraine to counter Russian aggression:  “We will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes to restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over its 1991 borders. A year after Russia’s unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine, we recommit to combining our efforts to redress this injustice and hold Russia to account for its crimes, including by seeking its suspension from the Parliamentary Assembly (PA). We further urge the PA to host annual sessions and meetings in OSCE participating States prepared to block the participation of Russia’s representatives. We will not allow Russia’s reprehensible propaganda to go unchallenged at the OSCE PA or any other international forum. The world must hold Russia accountable for its aggression and for the war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide it is committing against the people of Ukraine. All of us are committed to the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine and seek restitution from Russia to this end.  “To the people of Ukraine: as you suffer Russia’s attacks on your cities and fight the aggressor in the battlefield, know that you are never alone in your courageous struggle for a secure and democratic future. As missiles rain down and the lights go out, and as you mourn all those you have lost, we mourn with you and share your fight for Ukrainian victory. You have our admiration and above all, our gratitude, as we remain resolutely at your side in solidarity and partnership.”  Joining U.S. Head of DelegationSenator Ben Cardin were delegation members Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02), Ranking Member Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09), Commissioners Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-09), Rep. Marc Veasey (TX-33), and Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) and Lloyd Doggett (TX-37).  The Ukrainian delegation consisted of Mr. Mykyta Poturaiev, Head of Delegation; Mr. Artur Gerasymov, Deputy Head of Delegation, Mr. Pavlo Frolov, Ms. Irina Gerashchenko, Ms. Evgeniia Kravchuk, and Ms. Nataliia Pipa.  Heads of delegations present included Dr. Hedy Fry (Canada), Mr. Sven Sester (Estonia), Mr. Didier Paris (France), Mr. Rihards Kols (Latvia), Ms. Barbara Bartuś (Poland), and Sir John Whittingdale (United Kingdom). 

Helsinki Commissioners Urge Austria to Deny Visas to Russian Delegation Ahead of OSCE PA Winter Meeting

WASHINGTON – Helsinki Commission leadership, Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson, Co-Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin, and Rep. Steve Cohen, on February 10, sent a letter to Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Schallenberg to reconsider granting visas to the Russian delegation to the Winter Meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, taking place in Vienna next week. The Winter Meeting will coincide with the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, February 24th, 2022, and is set to be the first in-person gathering of the Parliamentary Assembly with Russian and Belarusian participation since the start of the war. The United States and European Union have sanctioned every member of the Russian delegation for having explicitly endorsed Vladimir Putin's war of aggression on Ukraine and his claim to have annexed vast swathes of Ukrainian territory.     Read the letter in PDF form above.

Helsinki Commissioners Announce Re-Introduction of HARM Act

Today, Helsinki Commissioners Steve Cohen, Joe Wilson, Marc Veasey,  Richard Hudson, Ruben Gallego and Brian Fitzpatrick along with Representatives Ted Lieu, Maria Salazar and Marcy Kaptur, re-introduced the Holding Accountable Russian Mercenaries (HARM) Act in the House of Representatives, bipartisan legislation that would require the Secretary of State to designate the Russian-based mercenary Wagner Group as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO).  The Commission applauds this vital piece of legislation to hold Wagner accountable for the terror it inflicts in Ukraine and elsewhere.  For more information click here.   The HARM Act was first introduced in the last Congress by Helsinki Commission Chair Sen. Ben Cardin (MD) and Ranking Member Roger Wicker (MI), along with companion legislation in the House of Representatives led by Reps. Steve Cohen and Joe Wilson, Richard Hudson, and Marc Veasey.

Helsinki Commissioners Announce Re-introduction of Combatting Global Corruption Act

On Tuesday, Helsinki Commissioners Rep. Steve Cohen, Rep. Joe Wilson, and Senator Ben Cardin re-introduced the Combatting Global Corruption Act in both the House and Senate, along with Rep. Bill Keating, Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar and Senator Todd Young. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation formally designates combatting global corruption as a key U.S. national security concern. It would require the State Department to identify corruption in countries around the world and publicly rank their levels of corruption in a three-tiered system. For more information click here. The Combatting Global Corruption Act was first introduced in the 117th Congress. Commission Chairman Senator Ben Cardin and Senator Todd Young introduced the Act in the Senate, along with companion legislation in the House of Representatives, led by Rep. Tom Malinowski and Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar. Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Steve Cohen, Commissioner Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver, Rep. Dan Crenshaw and Rep. Dean Phillips are original co-sponsors of the legislation. 

Saving Ukraine's Children

Ukraine’s children are suffering serious injury and trauma due to Russia’s genocidal war on Ukraine. Almost two-thirds of the country’s children have been displaced. Thousands have been injured and, although UNICEF has said more than 1,000 children have been killed, that number is likely much higher as there is no reliable way to verify how many civilians have been killed in the most decimated areas of Ukraine, like Mariupol, where, for example, Russian forces bombed a theater housing hundreds of civilians despite clear markings that children were present. And in addition to its immediate danger, the effects of war on children could have lasting consequences. Many Ukrainian children have witnessed unimaginable violence, including the murders of their own parents or family members. They have had to endure the stress of almost constant bombardment, in fear for their safety. Others have experienced hunger, cold, and weeks spent hiding in wet, frigid basements without daylight or fresh air and without sanitation or healthcare. Disruptions to education may never be fully recovered. Ukrainian children are also being forcibly taken to Russia and put up for adoption into Russian families in an apparent effort to assimilate them, a practice that genocide scholar Timothy Snyder has said could be considered genocide under the 1948 Genocide Convention. The U.S. State Department has said Russian authorities have deliberately separated Ukrainian children from their parents during so-called “filtration” procedures and abducted others from orphanages before putting them up for adoption inside Russia and estimated that the number may be as high as 260,000. Unaccompanied minors are also vulnerable to falling prey to human trafficking.

No Safe Haven: Launching the US-Europe Coalition on Russia Sanctions

Since February 24, 2022, Western countries have imposed sanctions against Russian officials, businessmen, and public figures who support Russian aggression against Ukraine by financial or political means. Personal sanctions have been effective in creating tension between Putin’s proponents and continuing to help Ukraine fight for its independence. The biggest issue of personal sanctions policy is desynchronization among the countries imposing them. For example, when the United States enacts sanctions against politicians, public officials, and businessmen who support Russia’s war, the European Union and the United Kingdom do not. A similar dysfunction occurs when the European Union and Great Britain enforce sanctions on individuals without equal participation from the United States. The unity of the West in imposing sanctions on those driving Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine is essential for Ukrainian victory. This public briefing united seven legislators from the United States, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland. The panelists will announce the creation of the US-Europe Coalition on Russia Sanctions, which will synchronize the sanctions policy between the European Union, Ukraine, and the USA.

Human Rights Careers

5 Essays About Corruption

Internationally, there is no legal definition of corruption, but it includes bribery, illegal profit, abuse of power, embezzlement, and more. Corrupt activities are illegal, so they are discreet and done in secrecy. Depending on how deep the corruption goes, there may be many people aware of what’s going on, but they choose to do nothing because they’ve been bribed or they’re afraid of retaliation. Any system can become corrupt. Here are five essays that explore where corruption exists, its effects, and how it can be addressed.

Learn more about anti-corruption in a free course .

Corruption in Global Health: The Open Secret

Dr. Patricia J. Garcia The Lancet (2019)

In this published lecture, Dr. Garcia uses her experience as a researcher, public health worker, and Minister of Health to draw attention to corruption in health systems. She explores the extent of the problem, its origins, and what’s happening in the present day. Additional topics include ideas on how to address the problem and why players like policymakers and researchers need to think about corruption as a disease. Dr. Garcia states that corruption is one of the most significant barriers to global universal health coverage.

Dr. Garcia is the former Minister of Health of Peru and a leader in global health. She also works as a professor and researcher/trainer in global health, STI/HIV, HPV, medical informatics, and reproductive health. She’s the first Peruvian to be appointed as a member to the United States National Academy of Medicine

‘Are women leaders less corrupt? No, but they shake things up”

Stella Dawson Reuters (2012)

This piece takes a closer look at the idea that more women in power will mean less corruption. Reality is more complicated than that. Women are not less vulnerable to corruption in terms of their resistance to greed, but there is a link between more female politicians and less corruption. The reason appears to be that women are simply more likely to achieve more power in democratic, open systems that are less tolerant of corruption. A better gender balance also means more effective problem-solving. This piece goes on to give some examples of lower corruption in systems with more women and the complexities. While this particular essay is old, newer research still supports that more women in power is linked to better ethics and lower corruption levels into systems, though women are not inherently less corrupt.

Stella Dawson left Reuters in 2015, where she worked as a global editor for economics and markets. At the Thomson Reuters Foundation and 100Reporters, she headed a network of reporters focusing on corruption issues. Dawson has been featured as a commentator for BBC, CNB, C-Span, and public radio.

“Transparency isn’t the solution to corruption – here’s why”

David Riverios Garcia One Young World

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Many believe that corruption can be solved with transparency, but in this piece, Garcia explains why that isn’t the case. He writes that governments have exploited new technology (like open data platforms and government-monitoring acts) to appear like they care about corruption, but, in Garcia’s words, “transparency means nothing without accountability.” Garcia focuses on corruption in Latin America, including Paraguay where Garcia is originally from. He describes his background as a young anti-corruption activist, what he’s learned, and what he considers the real solution to corruption.

At the time of this essay’s publication, David Riverios Garcia was an Open Young World Ambassador. He ran a large-scale anti-corruption campaign (reAccion Paraguay), stopping corruption among local high school authorities. He’s also worked on poverty relief and education reform. The Ministry of Education recognized him for his achievements and in 2009, he was selected by the US Department of State as one of 10 Paraguayan Youth Ambassadors.

“What the World Could Teach America About Policing”

Yasmeen Serhan The Atlantic (2020)

The American police system has faced significant challenges with public trust for decades. In 2020, those issues have erupted and the country is at a tipping point. Corruption is rampant through the system. What can be done? In this piece, the author gives examples of how other countries have managed reform. These reforms include first dismantling the existing system, then providing better training. Once that system is off the ground, there needs to be oversight. Looking at other places in the world that have successfully made radical changes is essential for real change in the United States.

Atlantic staff writer Yasmeen Serhan is based in London.

“$2.6 Trillion Is Lost to Corruption Every Year — And It Hurts the Poor the Most”

Joe McCarthy Global Citizen (2018)

This short piece is a good introduction to just how significant the effects of corruption are. Schools, hospitals, and other essential services suffer, while the poorest and most vulnerable society carry the heaviest burdens. Because of corruption, these services don’t get the funding they need. Cycles of corruption erode citizens’ trust in systems and powerful government entities. What can be done to end the cycle?

Joe McCarthy is a staff writer for Global Citizen. He writes about global events and environmental issues.

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Research Proposal on Corruption

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Corruption is the term which means the act when the representatives of the government of the country and other officials use their position, rights, opportunities and status in order to gain profit which does not meet the laws of the country and moral values. Corruption is also a synonym of bribery. The brightest example of such act is when an official gets a bribe in order to permit some illegal action.

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This study provides an analysis of the possible forms of corruption and the main problems facing higher education (both the staff and organisations) which lead to corrupt behaviour, and the characteristics of these problems and conditions under which they occur. The goal is to identify the main manifestations of corrupt behaviour in higher education and to launch a discussion within the academic community, law enforcement agencies, among students, civil society organisations and other organisations in order to make a contribution to supressing corruption and to identify ways in which the academic community can help. Bosnia and Herzegovina has introduced a majority of the necessary legal instruments and has created most of institutions responsible for prevention and suppression of corruption. The Education Ministries have completed, though with some delays, the process of harmonising the sub-national higher education laws with the Framework Law on Higher Education in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The analysis of 12 higher education laws in BiH shows that they do not contain a precise definition of anti-corruption actions, although they contain legal provisions which protect integrity of providers of higher education. Higher education institutions have codes of ethics treating the issue of corruption. The results of implementation of primary and secondary legislation are not satisfactory in BiH and the mechanisms that could be used to enhance integrity of higher education institutions and improve their performance are ignored. The systemic problems in higher education institutions founded by the government are not addressed efficiently enough, while the institutions responsible for supervision and control lack will and ability for enforcement of the rules. We use a broad definition of corruption as every “abuse of power for personal gain” from international legal instruments, notably, the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the legal instruments of the Council of Europe for prevention of corruption. In addition, the study analyses numerous questions about perception of corruption in higher education. The analysis of the quantitative research places an emphasis on the issues treating public perception of corruption in higher education, corrupt activities in higher education institutions and the expressed will and manners of combating corruption in higher education institutions. The analysis is focusing mainly on the future and it presents the measures to build integrity and reduce corruption in the education sector and identifies the problems which require more attention


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Corruption in Russia: Causes and Consequences Essay

Introduction, causes of corruption, effects of corruption in russia, works cited.

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As Boylan (1-2) argues, corruption is one of the prime causes of Russia’s political, economic and, social problems, because of the rampant involvement of most government officials in corruption. As he further adds, although the government has put down measures to contain the practice, for example, the adoption of the 1997 anti-graft legislation, such efforts have achieved little, as corruption has become a normal practice in the Russian bureaucracy.

One thing that makes the whole scenario worse is the fact that, the same law enforcing officials mandated with the duty of safeguarding the Russian citizenry’s rights, have collaborated with corrupt groups to terrorize the same citizens they took oath to protect. Therefore, as a result of these “gangs” sharing their gains with law enforcing agents, the economic security of most business persons is at stake hence, the common practice of businesspersons also offering bribes to receive protection.

For example, in 1999, over 5.7% of the total annual earnings of the Russian government were bribes. The same has been the trend over subsequent years, because of the increasing corruption index. Although most research findings showed a decline of revenues received from bribe tax by 0.3% from the previous 1.4% in 2006, the corruption index has risen over the recent years, as currently the Russia corruption syndicates contribute over 300 billion annually (Roaf 1-3).

In addition, as media reports indicate, the extortion of money from innocent citizens in Russia has developed into a recognized institution, because the practice is not only common in business world, but also the practice is spreading into learning institutions, military recruiting agencies, and learning institutions. Because of such uncontrolled corruption levels, organizations that have failed to comply with the new corruption standards have been forced to go into liquidation and there is increased lack of media freedom.

In addition, because of the clear connection between corruption and increased crime, security standards have declined in Russia, because of the ever-increasing net of criminal gangs, which evade the long arms of the law, because of the nature of bribes that they offer (Feifer 1). Considering these effects resulting from the escalating levels of corruption in Russia, corruption is one of the primary impediments on Russia’s political and economic stability and democracy.

Historically, the falling of communism opened doors to the economic market restructuring of Russia’s economic structures. In the process of that transition, criminal organizations rose into power as most business operators sought ways of protecting their wealth. One of such groups was the Russian Mafia, a criminal gang that controls a bigger section of Russia’s black market.

In addition, back then, Russia lacked a strong police force to combat criminal gangs hence, giving way to increasing cases of insecurity, money laundering and corruption, as this was the only way of protecting one’s acquired wealth (Glenny 10-33). Although incoming and outgoing governments have put up measures to combat these practices, these historically inherited behavioral norms have been the hardest to eliminate from the streets and public offices in Russia.

The corruption net in Russia is very wide, as it involves both government officials and most powerful business stakeholders, who control the biggest ratio of Russia’s economy. Although most individuals assume that corruption is a historical heritage in Russia, as Roaf (2-4) argues, this problem has persisted, because the government of Russia has failed to enact strong legislation to combat the vice.

For example, Russia’s complex tax and custom system does not safeguard citizens from power abusers, who take advantage of weaknesses in the accounting and auditing systems to steal public funds. In addition to such deficits in regulation, the government has also failed adopt effective capital controls to manage the flow of money among its citizenry.

These inadequacies have forced most low-earning government officials to engage in corrupt deals to substantiate their economic deficits. On the other hand, excessive government taxation imposed on citizens has made the scenario worse, as most low-earning employees have to carry the burden of the system.

In addition to weak economic control measures, Russia has a weak legal enforcement system hence, the nature of failures that are clear when it comes to prosecuting crime perpetrators. Majority of crime perpetrators are individuals of the political class and the business elites; hence, considering the influence they have on the government, it becomes very hard to prosecute them, as this may jeopardize the stability of Russia.

In addition to governmental flaws, the civil societal has also failed to defend citizens’ civil rights through monitoring all governmental processes. The fact that there are clear media biases in reporting corruption cases in the government have made the case worse, as most media reports never expose the real corruption level in Russia (Orttung 2-3).

The Russian corruption takes two primary forms namely; stealing of public finances by governmental officials and soliciting of bribes by governmental officials for any service offered. Regardless of the form of corruption, all sectors of the Russian bureaucracy have felt the effects of corruption.

The effects are so damaging to an extent, most foreign investors have been scared to invest more of their funds in Russia. For example, in 2009, IKEA (a Swedish firm that deals with furniture products) announced its intention to terminate its business expansion prospects, because of the unpredictability of Russia’s market structures.

Considering this, corruption has greatly contributed to the declining growth and development levels in Russia, because of the increased inequality in resource and capital finance distribution. Majority of the individuals who benefit from corruption funds are politicians, prominent businesspersons, some criminalized gangs, hence, the common citizen rarely benefits from such proceeds, although they are the main taxpayers (Stott 1).

One prime product of the rising Russia’s corruption levels is abuse of office power by governmental officials. Soliciting of bribes from citizens by governmental officials has become a common practice among all public office bearers in Russia. This has greatly affected the distribution of public finances, as most of these officials have diverted most public finances into personal pockets.

Such diversion of public funds resulting from abuse of office powers has made the Russian government to loose billions of development revenue. For example, annually the Russian government losses billions of dollars to rogue importers who bribe custom officials hence, evading paying tax. As research studies show, although Russia has no mechanisms of accounting for this in its national budget deficit, this is a clear indication of weaknesses in its revenue management systems.

Economically, corruption has reduced the level of both local and international investment levels, as most investors have expressed intentions of withholding or withdrawing their investments from Russia. Russia is one of the Asian countries with the lowest levels of foreign direct investments, as its increased corruption levels have deterred normal business operations.

On the other hand, corruption is one of the primary factors that have deterred the much anticipated for industrial restructuring. There has been many corruption reported cases among most firms participating in this process, as most of them have to bribe their way into getting the contracts hence, perform poorly (Roaf 4-6).

Another detrimental effect of the increasing levels of corruption in Russia is denial of media freedom. Prior to Putin’s media crackdown of 2006, the media played a central role of exposing all governmental corruption scandals. This changed with the confiscating of media rights hence, the current media biased reports of the level of corruptions.

Majority of currently operating media houses in Russia are state managed or are managed by individuals who have strong ties with the government hence, the current controlled flow of information. Going hand in hand with confiscation of media rights is the declining respect of citizen’s fundamental rights.

The government has failed to protect its citizens from the corrupt hands of middlepersons and law enforcing agents who have greatly abused their powers. Over the recent past, more so prior to the 2007-2008 elections, the government took most previously owned private organizations, for example, the Gazpron energy and Yukos oil company.

This largely has denied citizens property ownership rights, as most individuals cannot afford to pay big taxes or bribes demanded by finance officials to sustain their enterprises. In addition to taking away of media and private ownership rights, as Orttung (4-5) argues, corruption is one of the primary causative agents of the increased state insecurity as more criminal gangs have rose into power.

The organized crime gang net in Russia is very extensive to an extent it operates not only in Russia, but also in other international countries, because of the increased corruption levels in Russia’s custom department. Considering this, although the present leadership has put up measures to deal with the situation, still corruption remains one of the biggest problems facing the Russian government (Serio 11-27).

In conclusion, the impacts of corruption are evident in Russia with the current increasing levels of abuse of power by government officials. Therefore, to remedy the problem, there is need for the Russian government to adopt means of reforming its systems of governance, as this is the only way of cleaning its systems from negative impacts of corruption.

In addition, there is need for development of a free civil society, which should go hand in hand with decentralization of power, because of the need to reduce the current abuse of office of power among its officers.

Boylan, S. Organized crime and corruption in Russia: Implications for U.S. and International law . Fordham International Law Journal, 19 (1999). Web.

Feifer, G. Corruption in Russia, part 1: a normal part of everyday life . Radio Free Europe, 2007. Web.

Glenny, M. A journey through the global criminal underworld . New York: Knopf Publishers, 2008. Print.

Orttung, R. Causes and consequences of corruption in Putin’s Russia . Ponar’s Policy Memo, 430 (2006):1. Web.

Roaf, J. Corruption in Russia . International Monetary Fund , 2000. Web.

Serio, J. Investigating the Russian Mafia . Carolina: Carolina Academic Press, 2008. Print.

Stott, Michael. Russia corruption “may force western firms to quit” . Thomson Reuters, 2010. Web.

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