Anti-Corruption Policy: Can International Actors Play a Constructive Role?

31 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2011 Last revised: 14 Oct 2011

Date Written: September 13, 2011


International institutions’ role in controlling corruption is necessarily limited. Nevertheless, well-executed international efforts can benefit ordinary people and may help domestic and global businesses. Efforts to reduce corruption ought to be linked to the ultimate goals of economic development, government legitimacy, and international competitiveness. Given those goals, I show how they may be furthered by international actors as information providers, international facilitators, and domestic project sponsors. As for information, donors should forge strong links between aid projects and information provision so that governments can learn from others’ experiences. At the top of the state, both cross-country benchmarking and investigative reporting should be encouraged along with programs that enhance local capacity. Internationally, the system of dispute resolution should begin to consider corruption and self-dealing. Perhaps a new international institution is needed to highlight these concerns, or perhaps the arbitral regime and domestic courts can become more open to allegations of corruption. Development initiatives need to take a more holistic approach to corruption control. A country’s development agencies should talk to those that promote business, and financial regulators must talk to the police. Fighting corruption is too complex a task to reduce to a simple checklist for international actors. However, my taxonomy allows different actors to see how their own priorities overlap or conflict with others who are also trying to fight corruption throughout the world.

This essay draws heavily from the background papers and off-the-record discussion at a small working conference organized by myself and Paul Carrington at the Rockefeller Foundation’s facility in Bellagio, Italy, in June 2011.

Suggested Citation

Rose-Ackerman, Susan, Anti-Corruption Policy: Can International Actors Play a Constructive Role? (September 13, 2011). Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 440. Available at SSRN:

Susan Rose-Ackerman (Contact Author)

Yale Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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