New policy paper demonstrates the impact of corruption on internationally protected human rights
June 5, 2018
- Corruption has major negative implications, both direct and indirect, for the enjoyment of human rights and the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals’ ‘leaving no one behind’
- Findings from new policy paper presented in Geneva on 22 May provides policymakers and other stakeholders with an empirical basis to tackle corruption from a human rights perspective
Corruption is fundamentally incompatible with the full enjoyment of human rights, according to a new policy paper1 written by the Universal Rights Group (URG), financial investigations expert Angela Barkhouse, and Kroll, the leading global provider of risk mitigation and investigative services. The paper, Corruption: A Human Rights Impact Assessment, partially funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), shows that corruption, especially grand corruption, has major negative implications, both direct and indirect, for the enjoyment of human rights and the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDG) call that ‘no one [should be] left behind.’
The paper is based on the Barkhouse-Kroll-URG statistical analysis project2 initiated in 2016, which sought to compare and correlate levels of corruption in 175 different UN member states (as measured by Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index – CPI) with levels of enjoyment of rights, including economic, social and cultural rights, the right to development, and civil and political rights in those same countries (as measured by applying and analysing multiple human rights impact indicators as defined by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights). The results of this computer modelling were published in the policy paper which, for the first time, aims to empirically measure and demonstrate the impacts of corruption on internationally protected human rights.
Marc Limon, an author of the report and Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group, explained:
“Corruption represents one of the most important and most intractable obstacles to the full enjoyment of human rights, and by extension, to the realisation of the SDGs. The international human rights community must therefore play its full and proper role in addressing this obstacle.”
The paper was launched at a panel event in Geneva on 22 May, which was chaired by Saïd Ahouga, Minister, Permanent Mission of Morocco to the UN. Also on the panel were Marc Limon, Executive Director URG; Charlotte Marres, Researcher URG; Patrick Mutzenberg, Director at the Centre for Civil and Political Rights; and Julian Braithwaite, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the UN. Speakers and attendees highlighted the novel approach taken to understanding the connections between corruption and human rights. The paper and the analysis provide a new and important empirical basis for policymakers and other stakeholders to give renewed thought to what the UN, especially the international human rights system, should do to meet this challenge – to promote and protect human rights in the face of corruption, to provide remedy and redress to victims, and to hold the perpetrators of human rights violations caused by corruption to account.
Hugo Hoyland, Senior Associate in Kroll’s Investigations and Disputes practice said:
“Our work has sought to quantify the link between corruption and human rights, a link that many know exists, but could not show empirically. By demonstrating clear correlations between corruption and each of the seven universal human rights presented in our report, we seek to challenge the way corruption is discussed. People often speak of the ‘negative impacts’ of corruption on human rights, or of corruption ‘undermining’ human rights. The correlations presented in our report add further credence to the case that corruption, especially grand or political corruption, can in many cases be viewed as a human rights violation.”
Angela Barkhouse, an author of the report added:
"Where clear links between acts of corruption and human rights obligations can be established, those responsible should be made accountable. Where individual liability cannot be established, or if a perverse functional immunity exists, human rights mechanisms can assist in addressing issues of accountability and victim compensation. I hope this paper will assist in identifying paradigmatic cases, through the use of expertise in human rights, anti-corruption and forensic accounting, which will demonstrate the financial link from the wrongdoing to the violation of the human right so that the perception of impunity can be eroded."
Notes to editors:
1This report was authored by Angela Barkhouse and Marc Limon, with assistance from Hugo Hoyland of Kroll, as part one of a wider project being undertaken jointly by Marc Limon of the Universal Rights Group and Angela Barkhouse on 'Combatting and preventing corruption: the key to unlocking the full enjoyment of human rights and the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.' The project has been funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, URG and Kroll, with additional support from the Government of Argentina.
2 The data analysis was conducted by Kroll using data analysis software comparing and correlating levels of corruption in 175 different UN member states with levels of the enjoyment of basic human rights – especially economic, social and cultural rights, and the rights to development in those same countries. Levels of corruption were measured using Transparency International’s CPI Index.
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About The Universal Rights Group:
The Universal Rights Group (URG) is a small, independent think tank dedicated to analysing and strengthening global human rights policy. It is the only such institution in Geneva and the only think tank in the world focused exclusively on human rights. The goal of the organisation is to support and strengthen policy-making and policy-implementation in the international human rights system by providing rigorous yet accessible, timely and policy-relevant research, analysis and recommendations. For more information visit www.universal-rights.org
Kroll is the leading global provider of risk solutions. For more than 45 years, Kroll has helped clients make confident risk management decisions about people, assets, operations and security through a wide range of investigations, cyber security, due diligence and compliance, physical and operational security, and data and information management services. For more information, visit www.kroll.com.
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