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A human rights approach to the economic analysis of bureaucratic corruption

Ifediora, John (2009): A human rights approach to the economic analysis of bureaucratic corruption.

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The traditional arena of human rights discourse and practice made little or no allowance for the rapidly growing international phenomenon of bureaucratic corruption.1 In the recent past, states have consistently maintained that bureaucratic corruption, on the basis of the norm of non-intervention, was strictly a domestic issue and thus outside the competence of international bodies2, such as the United Nations. This is no longer the case, for states have now gradually come to grips with the realization that bureaucratic corruption is a debilitating governmental anomaly that admits of no national boundaries, and assaults the social, economic and cultural integrity of all nations, albeit at varying degrees of intensity3. The vast literature on corruption approaches its incidence and effects almost invariably from a political and economic perspective, and rightly conclude that where prevalent, social welfare suffers in terms of anemic economic growth and diminished opportunities4.

A new approach in analyzing the effects of bureaucratic corruption that looks beyond the traditional areas of inquiry is now, more than ever, imperative. It is here argued that the traditional approach is too limited, and fails to recognize the broader social impact of corruption on individuals and collectivities. This work, therefore, adopts a rights-based approach to the analysis of bureaucratic corruption and its effects on fundamental human rights. The thesis here espoused is that bureaucratic corruption, where endemic and sustained, leads to suppressions of human rights through its damaging effects on economic development. It is further posited that when states, cognizant of prevalent corruptive practices, either fail to take preventive measures or tacitly encourage its observance, are derelict in their duties and the obligations assumed as signatories to the United Nations’ International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

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