The examples of how corruption violates human rights are many, personal as well as societal:
It is about the girl who died from appendicitis because the surgeon who refused to operate since the parents could not pay the bribe. It is about the boy who could not get his score card released by the schoolteacher without paying a bribe. It is about the woman who was denied access to justice for refusing the judge sexual services. It is about the man who went to the police station to report a crime only to find himself unjustly detained, accused and extorted before being released.
It is about state systems that are unable to deliver adequate and relevant public services, such as health, education and infrastructure. This, because corruption diverts funds into powerful networks or private hands. It is about a conflation of political and economic interests at the highest levels of society that benefits the resourceful and well-connected. It is about discrimination of the poor, disadvantaged and marginalised, who are at risk of being exposed to corrupt practices and human rights violations in their dealings with public authorities and private actors that denies their voice, participation, and self-determination.
Where Corruption Typically Cccurs
Corruption thrives in societies where there is a concentration of powers in the executive, inadequate or non-existent checks and balances, poor transparency, restricted access to information, weak institutions and dysfunctional systems of oversight and enforcements. Additionally, a controlled media and lack of public trust in state institutions, governance, and politics can also contribute to the prevalence of corruption.
Conversely, corrupt practices appear to be less frequent in societies with a high level of freedom of information, an independent judiciary, effective checks and balances, transparent public decision-making and a vibrant civil society.
Hence, it can be argued the respect for human rights and the rule of law correlates with the level of corruption in society, and that increasing enjoyment of human rights can contribute to the reduction of corruption in society.
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Morten Koch Andersen
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: