Special Issues


The ICRNetwork currently prepares two Special Issues to be published in Crime, Law and Social Change in 2017.

The Role of Law in Curbing Corruption

edited by Annika Engelbert and Ina Kubbe

It is undisputed that law is an indispensable element of the fight against corruption as it defines the boundaries of interaction among – potentially corrupt – individuals or organizations, and provides remedies in case these rules are breached. Law determines what is allowed and what is not; this implies, in return, that unethical acts cannot be labelled as corrupt as long as they are not prohibited by law. From a legal point of view, it is therefore a matter of special importance to define and examine formal rules.

Yet, the codification of anti-corruption norms poses several problems. First, corruption is a global phenomenon that occurs beyond national jurisdictions. It is therefore necessary to establish a set of international anti-corruption norms that provide a framework for transnational cooperation and prosecution – a norm-building process heavily influenced by the interests of governments and international organizations alike. Second, law is not the only norm governing human behavior. According to the principle of law and intrinsic motivation, legal norms that contradict informal norms are severely limited in their effectiveness. Third, despite many attempts to define corruption, there is no precise judicial term for it. Instead, penal codes typically list statutory offenses that are considered to be particular manifestations of corruption. 

Corruption and the Impact of Democracy

edited by Ina Kubbe and Annika Engelbert

Corruption – broadly defined as the misuse of public office for private gains – costs every country a large amount of financial, political and social resources every year. Research on the causes, consequences and combat strategies of corruption are manifold and very revealing. Previous studies indicate, for example, that well-established democracies show lower levels of corruption than authoritarian regimes or young democracies. At the same time, high levels of corruption undermine democracy. By diverting rare resources from disadvantaged people, it damages the rule of law, social justice and lowers the trust of citizens in political institutions and processes.

The reciprocal democracy-corruption nexus has already been analyzed in several studies and is nowadays well-established. Democracy does not guarantee clean and transparent governance at all and democratic systems are still fighting against corruption, even in countries that are often seen as free of corruption. Yet, frequent scandals like in the United Kingdom, Iceland or Spain illustrate that corruption is a serious problem in nearly every state in the world. This Special Issue focuses on the role of institutions within democracies in curbing corruption, the interrelation between democratic values and corrupt behavior, and the importance of corruption in democratization processes in post-conflict states.