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Combating Corruption Through Education


Professor Juliet Sorensen (Northwestern University School of Law) and Northwestern Law students Michelle Kennedy and Cassandra Myers are attending the Sixth Conference of the State Parties (CoSP) to the United Nations Convention against Corruption in St. Petersburg, Russia. For more on the opening of the Conference, see here and hereOver the next few days, FCPA Professor will be publishing various posts regarding the proceedings.  

This post is from Michelle Kennedy.

The Anti-Corruption Academic Initiative (“ACAD”) is a collaborative academic project that aims to produce support tools for academic institutions in order to encourage the teaching of anti-corruption issues through several disciplines. On Wednesday, the ACAD Initiative organized a panel discussion that highlighted the importance of using education to combat corruption. The ACAD, which provides its teaching materials free of charge online, has held meetings around the world to bring together professors who have experience in teaching anti-corruption with those have not to discuss lessons learned and provide support.

The panelists expressed the view that the role of academia is central in the fight against corruption. Through his teaching, Professor Nikos Passas at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University aims to give meaning to what effective implementation of the UNCAC looks like and to explore sustainable anti-corruption measures. He highlighted the need for educators at the university level to build sustainable initiatives in five central categories. The first is capacity building, which includes a deep awareness of anti-corruption issues and the policy measures necessary to address them. The second is the sustainability of anti-corruption, which requires that educators go beyond the law in order to create a culture of integrity. The third encompasses the understanding of the unique context in which corruption exists, which can be strengthened by including civil society in the discussion. The fourth is the independence of the educators and their ability to be transparent in order to provide pragmatic, realistic expectations rather than overpromising and underperforming. The final category of necessary initiatives is the sharing of results through communication and publication. Professor Gerry Ferguson of the University of Victoria Law in Canada has aided in this initiative by providing a free e-text book entitled Global Corruption: Law, Theory and Practice, available online at the ACAD Initiative website.

In addition to these priorities in anti-corruption education, Professor Speedy Rice of Washington and Lee University School of Law emphasized that teaching must go beyond the formal classroom setting. He connects students in his classroom with students from around the world via video conferencing to enhance the anti-corruption discussion. He has also brought a group of his students to countries in the developing world such as Liberia, where they design and implement anti-corruption workshop programs and interact with community members.

Professor Ligia Maura Costa, who teaches MBA students in Brazil, said that as an educator she is actually thankful for the recent corruption scandals in her country, like that of FIFA, because it shows her students that there are real consequences for violating the UNCAC. She emphasizes to her MBA students that it is possible to earn sustainable profits for a corporation without accepting or making bribes. Moreover, engaging in corruption will cause long-term damage to a company’s reputation and to one’s career that will far outweigh any short-tern benefits of engaging in corrupt practices.

In looking to the future, the ACAD envisions a continued integrated approach to the study of corruption. Corruption issues cannot be divorced from the issues of organized crime, drug trafficking, and international human rights. Because there have been qualitative reports of a significant increase in curricula that includes anti-corruption teachings across disciplines, the ACAD appears to be moving forward in achieving this integrated approach.

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