How Corruption Affects Human Rights

Corruption is a major impediment for the enjoyment of human rights and realisation of the sustainable development goals.

Corruption impacts the states’ capacities to provide for its citizens; it undermines public investments in social infrastructures, erodes the rule of law, distorts the functioning of justice systems, interferes with political processes. Furthermore, it affects the delivery of basic goods and services, such as access to education and adequate health care.

The human rights consequences of corruption can be direct and indirect.

The effects are direct when the victim suffers immediately from the corrupt act, such as, when police officers demand a bribe under the threat of arrest or when a judge is swayed by money towards giving an unjust judgement.

The effects are indirect when corruption is part of a chain of events that leads to a human rights violation. For example, when a corrupt procurement process for medical supplies results in insufficient and sub-standard medicines, thus affecting the citizens right to health. Or when a corrupt procurement of earthquake-proof housing leads to the construction of poor-quality buildings, with the consequence that people are injured or killed during seismic activity.

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Morten Koch Andersen

Morten Koch Andersen

Deputy Research Director, Senior Researcher


Morten Koch Andersen holds a PhD in International Development Studies from Roskilde University. His research interests are in the fields of human rights documentation, rule of law practices, public authority, corruption, torture and violence, impunity and discretion, and unequal citizenship.

He specializes in the interdisciplinary study of the nexus between corruption, human rights and development, mainly in South Asia.

The key questions of his research are, the paradoxes and dilemmas in:

  • The interactions between violent political organizations and their members.
  • The effects on impunity on individuals, institutions, and society?
  • The motivational aspects of choice making in corruption.

He has several years of experience as programme manager of development cooperation in relation to prevention of torture and rehabilitation of survivors – during and after violent conflict, and in places of detention. I have worked on institutional and legal reform, establishments of support systems, education of health and legal professionals, and of prison and police authorities. He has managed partnership collaborations in Europe, North, South and West Africa.

Currently, he advises national human rights institutes, anti-corruption institutes and universities on the relationships between corruption and human rights, and their implications for institutions, individuals and societies, in Africa, Asia and Caucasus.

He has previously been guest researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies, senior researcher at the Danish Institute Against Torture. Currently, he is affiliated researcher at the Center for Global Criminology at University of Copenhagen, external lecturer in Global Studies at Roskilde University and teaches at the International Anti-Corruption Academy.

He has worked with the UNODC on the development of educational material on the nexus between human rights and corruption, and developed web-based educational material on corruption and human rights, and violent mobilization for high school education.

For further updates on his research, please refer to his Research profile:

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Addressing Corruption through Research, Collaboration and Education

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