Public Corruption: a Comparative Analysis of International Corruption Conventions and United States Law

73 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2002

See all articles by Peter J. Henning

Peter J. Henning

Wayne State University Law School


The Article compares United States law with three international conventions designed to strengthen significantly domestic laws against public corruption among the signatory nations. It undertakes a detailed analysis of the three conventions adopted by the European Union, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Organization of American States, and reviews how the conventions seek to define what constitutes corruption. The Article discusses how the three conventions use bribery as the paradigm form of corruption, without considering fully other forms of corruption involving misuse of authority resulting in personal enrichment. The Article then looks at United States law, noting that while federal law on the topic is not entirely consistent and contains no single provision on corruption, the United States has developed a strong anti-corruption law that provides the means to address different forms of corruption. Among the issues that American law deals with that are largely ignored by the international conventions are: (1) whether gratuities that do not meet the requirements of a bribe should also be punished as corrupt; (2) the role of campaign contributions in anti-corruption law; and, (3) how the federal mail fraud statute, which prohibits fraud depriving another of the right of honest services, should be adopted by countries seeking to expand their corruption law. The Article argues that American law can provide good examples for the international effort to define and punish corruption.

Keywords: criminal law, corruption, international organizations

JEL Classification: K14, K33, K42

Suggested Citation

Henning, Peter J., Public Corruption: a Comparative Analysis of International Corruption Conventions and United States Law. Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Peter J. Henning (Contact Author)

Wayne State University Law School ( email )

471 West Palmer Ave.
Detroit, MI 48202
United States

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