Since the private sector and the poor. It forces

 

Since ancient times corruption has existed as one of
the most widespread and worst forms of behaving. Even though corruption has a
long history and is a phenomenon that has always been as parallel with mankind,
it seems difficult to arrive at a common definition of it. The researches show
that the main sectors which are mostly hurt by corruption above all are: women,
children, minorities, migrant workers, persons with disabilities, refuges,
prisoners and those who are poor. From the other side human rights are defined
as basic moral guaranties that people in all countries and cultures have simply
because they are people. In other words human rights are the rights of an
individual simply because he is a human being. The research question of this
paper is: Is there any relationship or linkage between corruption and human
rights? The researches show that there is a linkage between both these
phenomena, for instance corruption violates the enhancement of human rights.
Another linkage between corruption and human rights is that corruption affects
the nature of freedom, human dignity and equality. So the corruption violates
the foundation of human rights. At the end of the paper, at the conclusion and
discussion part some mechanisms are proposed in order to combat corruption.
These anti-corruption mechanisms are essential to overcome the problems of
corruption and the violations of human rights.

 

 

 

 

Key Words: Corruption,
Human rights, Linkage, Violation, Anti-Corruption mechanisms

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Introduction

 

Power tends to
corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. There is no worse heresy than
that the office sanctifies the holder of it.1

 

                                                                                                                       
Lord Acton (1834-1902)

                                    

Since
ancient times corruption has existed as one of the most widespread and worst
forms of behaving. Even though corruption has a long history and is a
phenomenon that has always been as parallel with mankind, it seems difficult to
arrive at a common definition of it. However corruption Is a situation where
money, discrimination and arbitrariness takes place.  In today society people are judged not by
what they are but what they have and from whom they belong. 2 Corruption is one of the
greatest changes of the world and the worst action of it is hurting
particularly the private sector and the poor. It forces the private sector to
engage in rent-seeking activities rather than competitive activities. 3  If we would take into consideration the main
sectors which are mostly hurt by corruption the researches show that above all
it hurts women, children, minorities, migrant workers, persons with
disabilities, refuges, prisoners and those who are poor.

Corruption
does not have any relation with equality therefore it prevents the realization
of human rights and freedom. In order to look for any link between corruption
and human rights the research question of this paper is: Is there any
relationship between corruption and human rights?

This
paper is divided into four sections. The first section explains the concepts of
corruption by discussing its definition, forms and consequences. Then in the
second section the definition and nature of human rights are discussed. The
third section explores the link between corruption and human rights. Finally in
the last section there is the discussion.

                                                                                                                                                       

 

Literature review

 

The definition of corruption

The term “corruption”
comes from the Latin word corruptio
which means “moral decay, wicked behaviour, putridity or rottenness”.4  Literature has recognized corruption since
ancient times that continuous even nowadays in both developed and under
developed countries. With other words it can be said that even though
corruption is the world spread problem it does not have any universal
definition.

As mentioned above
corruption has a lack on its definition but in a way or another it can be
defined in some ways.5  Usually corruption is defined as ‘an illegal
act that involves the abuse of a public trust or office for some private
benefit’, or ‘the misuse of public office for private gain.’6
Such definition has two limitations in the current understanding of corruption.
It only deals with corruption in the public sector while excluding corruption
in the private sector and only covers the recipients of proceeds of corruption
while it also covers the act of giving.7
Transparency International (TI) defines corruption as ‘misuse of entrusted
power for private gain’8
. The TI’s definition is similar with the usual definition except it includes
private sector corruption. The World Bank (WB) defined corruption as ‘an abuse
of public authority for the purpose of acquiring personal gain’.

Defining corruption is
not easy to do but for the purpose of this paper, corruption is defined as a
misuse of power for private benefits against the rights of the others.

 

 

 

 

 

The forms of corruption

Corruption
is manifested in different ways. There are some widespread ways of corruption
which are: petty corruption, grand corruption, active corruption, passive
corruption, political and systematic corruption. Petty corruption is an abuse
of entrusted power by low and mid-level public officials in their interactions
with ordinary people in settings like hospitals, schools etc. Grand corruption
occurs when a high level government official committed acts that distort
policies or the central function of the state. Active corruption refers to
offering or paying money to any person to benefit or gain any services. Passive
corruption is the opposite , it refers to receiving money for any particular
services. Political corruption is the manipulation of policies institutions and
rules. It is about people who abuse their position for their benefits such as
wealth, status and power. Systematic corruption occurs when the major
institutions are dominated continuously by corrupt individuals. 9

 

The Impacts of Corruption

The
impact of corruption is widely spread and it is damaging the wider community. As
Balogun describes it, “depending on its form and gravity, corruption is capable
of rewarding indolence and penalizing hard work, undermining morale and esprit
de corps, compromising a nation’s external security, threatening internal order
and stability, and generally slowing down the pace of economic growth and
sustainable development”.10 Kumar
also notes that corruption affects economic growth, discourages foreign
investment, diverts resources for infrastructure 10 development, health and
other public services, education, and anti-poverty programs.11 Above
all, corruption affects the integrity of the political system and neither
allows for the protection of human rights and the promotion of human freedoms
nor for the development of democracy. 12 It
implies discrimination and injustice and disrespect for human dignity.13

2. Human rights

The Definition of Human Rights

A
huge number of thinkers have been working regarding what human rights are and
how should they be defined and they have concluded in a variety of theories.
Other thinkers know that the definition of human rights is complex and
abstract. 14

Despite
its complexity there are some common definitions. Internet Encyclopedia of
philosophy defines human rights as basic moral guaranties that people in all
countries and cultures have simply because they are people. In other words
human rights are the rights of an individual simply because he is a human
being. According to Amparo
Tomas defined human rights as “universal legal guarantees that belong to all
human beings and that protect individuals and/or groups from actions and
omissions of the State and some non -State actors that affect fundamental human
dignity”. 15 According to Rosenbum
Alan defined human rights as “the legitimate basis for a universal human
community”. By human community he refers that an ideal association of human
persons conceived for the individual and collective benefit of its members. He
further states that such association rooted in democracy is most befitting with
humanity. This definition of human rights affirms the complementarity of
democratic values and human rights.16

Nature of human rights

Human
rights are inherited to every individual. They are not rights that are given,
bought but they belong to individuals because of being so. Human beings exist
and this is something which can’t be changed even if they are exercised or not.
When it comes to human rights it is very crucial to mention the fact that they
are applicable to all people around the world. This means that they are birth
rights regardless race at sex, religion, ethnicity etc. Another important
element in nature of human rights is that they can’t be taken away; no one has
the right to take them away from us. Because of the fact that these rights are
so important they are crucial for our existence, all people need them to live a
good live. So, the violation of these rights leads to a disappointment and bad
way of living. 17

 

3. The link between corruption and
human rights

The
researches have concluded that there is a linkage between human rights and
corruption. When it comes to corruption the main discourse is about the
economic consequences, ignoring the most negative effect which is the violation
of human rights. A number of authors claim the serious political, economic,
social aspects of corruption which logically results in violation of
fundamental freedoms and rights. Corruption is the negative behaviour from
people who work on public or private sector, so the existence of corruption in
that jurisdiction means that the State has failed toward its human rights
obligations. By other words the State has been unable to enforce the human
rights obligations to people living and working in a particular jurisdiction.18

Another
linkage between corruption and human rights is that corruption affects the
nature of freedom, human dignity and equality. So the corruption violates the
foundation of human rights. In the African Union Convention On Preventing and
Combating Corruption, the Council of Europe Criminal Law and Civil Law
Conventions On Corruption makes the linkage between both these phenomena:
”corruption represents a major threat to human rights”. 19 Corruption has a negative
impact on human dignity. The simple reason for that is that it hinders the
proper fulfilment of human rights. So strengthening the enforcement of the
international human rights law regime will have a supportive role for reducing
corruption.20

4. Conclusion

Corruption
is a universal issue which has a direct linkage with human rights. As mentioned
in this paper corruption is definitely a violation of human rights. Preventing
corruption places a role for the realisation of human rights. In order to
flourish the human rights and to combat corruption, anti-corruption, campaigns
and human rights movements have something to share in common. Both these social
elements struggle for the decent life of humans which in its base is dignity
and equality. Such human rights mechanisms would reduce the incidents and would
be a great step forward for the enforcement of human rights. These mentioned
elements bring the anti-corruption and human rights activists together for the
battle against corruption and violence of human rights.

1  Microfost ® Encarta ® (2009), © 1993-2008
Microsoft corporation.

2
Criminal law convention on corruption, explanatory report, available at,
(accessed 1 April 2012).

3
S. Becker, ‘To Root Out Corruption, Boot Out Big Government’, 1994, Business
Week, 31 January: 18

4
M. Milic (2001), ‘Endogenous Corruption in Privatized Companies’, Collegium,
Budapest, available at, (accessed 1 April 2012).

5D.
Fantaye (2004), ‘Fighting Corruption and Embezzlement in Third World
Countries’, 68 Journals of Criminal Law, 2004, 171.

6
See international and regional anti-corruption conventions

7Transparency
International (2009), The Anti-Corruption Plain Language Guide, (accessed 1
April 2012).

8
D. Kaufmann, ‘Corruption, Governance and Security: Challenges for the Rich
Countries and the World’, (World Bank Global Competitiveness Report, 2004/5)
available at, 32 (accessed 22 March 2012).

9
Gebeye.B. ?Corruption
and Human Rights: Exploring the Relationships?, pages 8-9.

http://www.du.edu/korbel/hrhw/workingpapers/2012/70-gebeye-2012.pdf

10 Gebeye.B. ?Corruption and
Human Rights: Exploring the Relationships?, pages 9

http://www.du.edu/korbel/hrhw/workingpapers/2012/70-gebeye-2012.pdf

11 Gebeye.B. ?Corruption and
Human Rights: Exploring the Relationships?, pages 9

http://www.du.edu/korbel/hrhw/workingpapers/2012/70-gebeye-2012.pdf

 

12 Gebeye.B. ?Corruption and
Human Rights: Exploring the Relationships?, pages 10

http://www.du.edu/korbel/hrhw/workingpapers/2012/70-gebeye-2012.pdf

 

13
Gebeye.B. ?Corruption and Human Rights: Exploring the Relationships?, pages 10

http://www.du.edu/korbel/hrhw/workingpapers/2012/70-gebeye-2012.pdf

 

14
J. Shestack, The Philosophic Foundation of Human Rights’, op.cit.,202.

15
Amparo Tomas, A Human Rights Based Approach to Development: (Primer for
Development Practitioners, 2005) as quoted by T. Regassa, ‘Making Legal Sense
of Human Rights: The Judicial Role in Protecting Human Rights in Ethiopia’
op.cit., 291.

16
R. Alan (ed) (1980), The Philosophy of Human Rights: International Perspective,
(West Port, Connecticut, Green Wood press, 1987) 4

17
Gebeye.B. ?Corruption
and Human Rights: Exploring the Relationships?, pages 15.

http://www.du.edu/korbel/hrhw/workingpapers/2012/70-gebeye-2012.pdf

 

18
Gebeye.B. ?Corruption
and Human Rights: Exploring the Relationships?, pages 18.

http://www.du.edu/korbel/hrhw/workingpapers/2012/70-gebeye-2012.pdf

 

19
See the Preambles of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating
Corruption; Adopted in Maputo, Mozambique on 11 July 2003, in United Nations
Office in Drugs and Crime, Compendium of International Legal Instruments on
Corruption, 2nd ed, (United Nations, New York, 2005) 116-130; Council of Europe
Criminal Law Convention on Corruption; Adopted at Strasbourg in 1999, in United
Nations Office in Drugs and Crime, 38 op.cit., pp.139-154; and the Council of
Europe Civil Law Convention on Corruption; Adopted at Strasbourg in 1999, in
United Nations Office in Drugs and Crime, op.cit., 131-138

 

20
Gebeye.B. ?Corruption
and Human Rights: Exploring the Relationships?, pages 19.

http://www.du.edu/korbel/hrhw/workingpapers/2012/70-gebeye-2012.pdf

 

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