Skip to content


Harry Cassin
Publisher and Editor

Andy Spalding
Senior Editor

Jessica Tillipman
Senior Editor

Bill Steinman
Senior Editor

Richard L. Cassin
Editor at Large

Elizabeth K. Spahn
Editor Emeritus

Cody Worthington
Contributing Editor

Julie DiMauro
Contributing Editor

Thomas Fox
Contributing Editor

Marc Alain Bohn
Contributing Editor

Bill Waite
Contributing Editor

Russell A. Stamets
Contributing Editor

Richard Bistrong
Contributing Editor

Eric Carlson
Contributing Editor

Is Freedom From Corruption a Human Right? (Part 1 of 3)

Is freedom from corruption a human right? That is, should we understand it as one? The world does not now think of corruption that way. Major international anti-corruption conventions, such as the OECD Convention Against Bribery or UN Convention Against Corruption, do not frame corruption as a rights violation.  Neither do the human rights instruments, such as UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the two International Covenants, include corruption among their lists of internationally recognized rights. 

The world does of course recognize that corruption can be a means by which other rights are violated. Think of the right to due process, or representation, or basic human services. No controversy there. But I want to ask a deeper question: should we think of corruption not merely as a means of violating other rights, but as an independent, free-standing human right?

In this white paper written for the Brookings Institution, Matthew Murray (presently with the U.S. Department of Commerce) and I argue that we should indeed think of freedom from corruption in this way: as a right that all persons have, irrespective of culture of or social position, one that governments can violate but cannot take away.

And we think it’s far more than an academic discussion. It matters for how we understand the relationship between corruption and the status quo. It changes the way we think about, and respond to, systemic corruption, particularly in those places where corruption is so prevalent that citizens can’t imagine life ever being otherwise. So too can it change the way we understand the purposes of enforcing anti-corruption laws, including and especially the FCPA.

The next post will show how freedom from corruption is regarded as a fundamental right, or its equivalent, in systems of social thought the world over. In the third and final post, I’ll explain why it matters.


Andy Spalding is a Senior Editor of the FCPA Blog and Assistant Professor at the University of Richmond School of Law.

Share this post



  1. I do believe that freedom of corruption is strongly related to fundamental human rights, as long as corruption would have corrosive effects on societies, also it undermines democracy and the rule of law, it distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish, corruption causes poverty and it feeds inequality and injustice, it is pure violations of human rights.
    Corruption would diverting funds for development, undermining Governments ability to provide basic services, also it discourage foreign aid and investment.
    Corruption would steal money from General Budget, and General Budget is citizens money that comes from taxes, and must be protect as a fundamental right. Those money must be expended in the right and proper way.

  2. I fully agree about Ramzi Nyzha comment!

    And here are my comments on what's going on in the financial market:

    Comment number one:

    Financial Terrorism – The global threat

    Secrecy has been the catalyst feeding Financial Terrorism.
    The Offshore and Lux leaks was a shock to many politician
    demanding to end bank secrecy rules.

    A. Offshore leaks on April 2013 (c. 130,000 customers)
    Source 1:
    Source 2:

    B. Lux leaks on November 2014 (c. 500 corporates/companies)
    Source 3:
    Source 4:

    China's leader Xi Jinping campaign for "0-tolerance on
    corruption" and U.S. leader Barack Obama campaign against
    "0-tolerance on tax refugees" will be beneficial for the
    global economy and will improve drastically the extreme poverty.

    China, U.S. and the EU leaders are facing big challenges
    on the "war" against global "Financial Terrorism".

    The wealth accumulation by the "micronity" (= 1% or less of the
    top wealthy individuals) has reached the climax.
    How many of them are involved on corruption and tax avoidance?
    How many trillions of assets has been hided in tax heavens?
    How many billions has been laundered by the "bansters"?
    Why corporate transfer price schemes are aloud?
    How to tax "bitcoin" businesses?

    Why the "tax refugees" doesn't focus on "social spending" instead
    of wasting their money on high priced "brand" vanity products?

    The recent Offshore & Lux leaks shows clearly the involvement of the
    "4 BIG" audit corporations (PwC, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and KPMG)
    on tax consulting services for "tax refugees". The 4 BIG revenues
    on tax consulting on 2014 account 22% of they revenues.
    I call these services TAS&S = Tax Avoidance Schemes & Services.

    Source 5:

    Finally in the "UN Global Compact – 10 Principles" is stated:

    Principle 10:
    Businesses should work against all forms of corruption, including
    extortion and bribery.

    Why "Any form of tax evasion is strictly prohibited."
    is missing in this principle?

    Now it's time to update it.

    Mario Hakulinen
    world citizen

    Comment number two:

    The real "financial terrorism saga" is starting!

    The past three leaks (Offshore leak, Lux leak and Swiss bank leak) has
    finally open the eyes of politician all over the world and
    reactions has been resolutely to fight against any kind of secrecy
    involved in the financial markets supporting financial terrorism. USA
    and France has been in this issue very active.

    When the banking sector has been put in order with "transparency" rules
    it's time to open the eyes on who has been mastering tax
    evasion schemes. These "large scale" process needs the participation of
    accountants, lawyers and the the "Four Big" who sell services
    for tax evasion purposes. As we know "tax evasion" is a crime and all
    the parts involved on tax evasion schemes are accomplice.
    So the big question is when IRS and EU authorities, in the name of 'fairness", start to sue in court these players asking high punishment like revoking
    attorney, company or corporate license plus high fines and jail sentences.

    "Money Mafia's" should be the right term to be used on modern banking
    activities that has been protected by secrecy!
    The only "vaccine" for secrecy is called transparency. In North Europe the tax
    authorities has been used for decades the "Public disclosure of personal income
    tax filings" of all tax payers. This data can be published on the media after
    the end of a fiscal year. This method is also a good tool to emphasize the
    transparency on taxing.

    The financial terrorism is a big treat to a global economy.

    Mario Hakulinen
    World citizen

Comments are closed for this article!