During my second week at DT Global, I began working on the two international development projects I will be focused on this summer. One project has a focus on tackling corruption across governments, private actors, and borders, while the other is focused on the rule of law in a specified country. To begin my work, I researched corruption in the sphere of international development, and found that many international development actors, along with the Biden Administration, are seeking to combat transnational corruption to ensure transparency and accountability of governments. In response to the Biden Administration’s call to action to fight against corruption, and corruption’s hindrance to inclusive and sustainable development due to transnationalism and global supply chains, USAID has created an anti-corruption task force. The goal of the task force is to create international development programs that involve civil society and citizens in identifying corruption at the local level to garner collaborative and tailored approaches to combating corruption with the end result being a government its citizens can trust.
Throughout my research on corruption and my research on the rule of law, the extent of corruption’s effect on judicial systems and the resulting inequities in access and application of justice was a reoccurring theme. Corruption in government often results in judiciaries that are not independent institutions, but rather subject to political systems and actors. Additionally, countries that lack independent judicial infrastructure often rely on customary, traditional forms of justice, whose implementers are prone to accept bribes in return for judicial decisions. As corruption seeps into judicial systems and the rule of law, the least well-off and the most marginalized individuals suffer. Unable to afford access to formal institutions of justice or bribe customary judicial magistrates, rights go ignored and unprotected.
While it is important to recognize the effect of corruption and the effects it has on the rule of law in countries in which international development programs are implemented, it is important to recognize the vast extent of corruption, its transnational character, and that it occurs everywhere. It is important to recognize when judicial institutions are not independent, and are affected by politics and political actors, rather than the rule of law. And it is important to recognize when it is time to combat the corruption of governments and institutions to ensure the rights of all individuals are recognized and protected.