International efforts to combat corruption can be understood as being a largely U.S. driven response to a series of scandals during the 1970s, such as the Watergate scandal in 1972, and perhaps more relevantly to the development of international treaties, the Lockheed scandal in the late 1970s. Indeed, Schroth (2003, p. 87) goes as far as to state that “any discussion of international measures against corruption and bribery must begin with the United States”. There is considerable merit in evaluating the growth in international treaties through this particular theoretical lens. Indeed, prior to the corruption eruption in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was limited international attention paid to dealing with corruption through international treaties, albeit with a notable exception. Following a series of scandals regarding the conduct of U.S. business internationally (most notably the Lockheed Scandal), there was a push within the U.S. to clamp down on corruption. This push culminated in the adoption of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, which sought to heavily penalise U.S. firms who were engaging in corruption overseas (Stessens, 2001, p. 896; Perlman and Sykes, 2017). Indeed, Kidane and Snider (2007, p. 696) go as far as to refer to the Watergate scandal as sine qua non in efforts to address corruption through policy interventions and it serves as the genesis for later U.S. intentions to advance international treaty and convention efforts to tackle corruption as the de jure approach emphasised by the U.S. through the UN and other international organisations. Some even see the first UN treaty aimed at cracking down on corruption as a way in which to level the playing field for U.S. business. However, the International Agreement on Illicit Payments ultimately failed to be adopted in 1979 (Perlman and Sykes, 2017; Stessens, 2001) and it was not until the “corruption eruption” and the period from the mid-1990s onwards that international attempts to combat corruption through treaties and conventions again regained steam, with a swathe of international conventions being signed, ratified, and enforced (Cole, 2015, p. 60).
Since the development of the first international anti-corruption convention, the Inter-American Corruption Convention (IACC) back in 1996, there existed a period of considerable growth in the usage of conventions to advance the structural changes necessary to reduce corruption internationally. We can see this clearly in the work of Guerzovich (2012, p. 20), where it is stated that, while international conventions such as IACC and indeed the UNCAC may struggle to be effective in absolute terms, they can be an effective way to perform certain functions, particularly in relation to the “long-term institutionalization of the agenda at country level”. That conventions and treaties signify a more concerted effort to institutionalise anti-corruption efforts, serves as an important point when one seeks to understand the direction in which the “corruption eruption” of the time was going. Indeed, Guerzovich (2012, p. 20) states that “[t]he message is simple: Conventions are here to stay”. Given the increase in international attention paid to corruption during this period and more specifically the rise in the volume of conventions focused on tackling corruption (as can be seen in Table 1), it is important to note that advocates were wary of the shortfalls and challenges of conventions and treaties, and held consistent in the belief that such conventions serve as a roadmap and not the end of the road in the fight against corruption. To this end, Guerzovich (2012, p. 20) goes on to state that “[t]here are strong reasons to suspect that working through anti-corruption conventions is not and will not be an option for advocates, but a structural given in the foreseeable future. Conventions have become a shared substantive roadmap for state and non-state actors in this field”. We can see this growth in the volume of international anti-corruption conventions in Table 1 below.
|Convention||Date of Adoption||Date Entered into Force|
|Convention On The Protection Of The EC Financial Interests||26 Jul 1995||17 Oct 2002|
|OAS Inter-American Convention Against Corruption||29 March 1996||6 March 1997|
|EU Convention Against Corruption Involving Officials||26 May 1997||28 Sept 2005|
|OECD Anti-Bribery Convention|
|17 Dec 1997||15 Feb 1999|
|COE Criminal Law Convention On Corruption||27 Jan 1999||1 July 2002|
|COE Civil Law Convention On Corruption||4 Nov 1999||1 Nov 2003|
|United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime||15 Nov 2000||29 Sept 2003|
|SADC Protocol Against Corruption|
|14 August 2001||6 July 2005|
|ECOWAS Protocol On The Fight Against Corruption||21 Dec 2001|
|African Union Convention On Preventing And Combating Corruption||11 July 2003||5 Aug 2006|
|United Nations Convention Against Corruption||31 Oct 2003||14 Dec 2005|
Table 1: International Anti-Corruption Conventions and Treaties.
Indeed, the growth in international treaties, which were focused on reducing the level of corruption, was in part inspired by the need for international enforcement cooperation (Snider and Kidane, 2007, p. 739). Due to the changing nature of corruption, in that it more commonly consisted of the conduct or indeed omissions in two or more countries or with people from two or more countries, domestic policy was not seen as such an effective control with regards corruption. There was a greater requirement that, for enforcement of ambitious policy to be effective, it needed to be formalised through the development of international treaties to more effectively institutionalise this co-operation amongst countries (Snider and Kidane, 2007, p. 739). Indeed, it was during this period of the considerable expansion of international treaty and convention efforts that scholars began to speak more of the existence of international anti-corruption regimes (Rosenvinge, 2009, p. 785), in which a growing web of international treaties covered the complex nature in which states and firms must operate and comply. It is through this theoretical lens that we can begin to evaluate the broader effectiveness of international treaties and conventions and, indeed, examine the motivations surrounding ratification, in general, and early ratification, in particular.
 Something which is absolutely indispensable or essential