Combating Corruption Through International Law in Africa: A Comparative Analysis

58 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2008 Last revised: 19 Jul 2010

See all articles by Thomas R. Snider

Thomas R. Snider

Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Won Kidane

Villanova University


"Little did we suspect," remarked Nelson Mandela, "that our own people, when they get that chance, would be as corrupt as the apartheid regime. That is one of the things that has really hurt us." Africa is the only continent that has grown poorer over the last three decades. The causes of Africa's existing predicaments are complete; however, there is no argument that deep-rooted corruption is one of the most serious contemporary developmental challenges facing the continent. Mr. Adama Dieng, who the Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the precursor of the African Union (AU), entrusted with the task of studying the legal, political, and economic implications of corruption in Africa, stated in his 2004 report that "corruption and impunity are antithetical to the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights and the enemy of the principle of good governance." Cognizant of this fact, the AU adopted the Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AU Corruption Convention). Foremost among its objectives is promoting development through renting, detecting, and punishing acts of corruption. By no means unique, the AU Corruption Convention is the latest in a series of international efforts to combat corruption through international law. Although the very adoption and entry into force of the AU Corruption Convention is a significant step, its real impact will depend on several crucial considerations, including clarity of the substantive obligations imposed, conformity of the newly adopted norms with existing legal and human rights obligations, proper municipal implementation of these norms, good governance, proper monitoring, and robust international enforcement.

This Article makes a timely effort to evaluate the recently adopted AU Corruption Convention in light of existing international legal norms relating to corruption, which will inevitably inform and shape its future progress. More particularly, this Article endeavors to characterize the AU Corruption Convention's approach to combating corruption and discern lessons regarding interpretation, implementation, and enforcement from other pre-existing instruments.

Keywords: Africa corruption, corruption convention, Foreign Corrupt Practice Act, AU Corruption, OAS Corruption, International Law on Corruption, UN Corruption

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Snider, Thomas R. and Kidane, Won, Combating Corruption Through International Law in Africa: A Comparative Analysis. Cornell International Law Journal, Vol. 40, No. 691, 2007, Available at SSRN:

Thomas R. Snider

Greenberg Traurig, LLP ( email )

2101 L Street, NW
Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20037
United States

Won Kidane (Contact Author)

Villanova University ( email )

Villanova, PA 19085
United States

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