In 2014, while on holidays, US Federal Judge Mark Wolf wrote a paper outlining his thoughts on how to stamp out grand corruption - where public officials use public resources for their own benefit.
The top item on his shopping list was the establishment of an International Anti-Corruption Court modelled on the highly successful International Criminal Court set up 20 years ago to deal with acts of genocide and war crimes.
Students at Carnegie Mellon University in Australia today heard first-hand how Judge Wolf is travelling the world campaigning for the establishment of an International Anti-Corruption Court. He will be the keynote speaker at the Sixth Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference to be held in Sydney in mid-November.
Judge Wolf told the students that while there is considerable support for his proposal, it is still just a concept.
“We need more people to get behind the idea and to campaign for the establishment of an international court to deal with grand corruption.
“It’s not that laws don’t exist that makes corrupt activities a crime. It’s that the public officials perpetrating the crimes enjoy impunity. Grand corruption flourishes because corrupt public officials control the judicial and law enforcement systems," said Judge Wolf.
Instead of using their positions to enrich the lives of their constituents, corrupt public officials enrich themselves.
Grand corruption is a global issue with billions of dollars funnelled away from health care and education. Estimates suggest monies syphoned from the public purse exceeds foreign aid by a factor of ten. With less money available for public services citizens are paying unnecessarily higher taxes.
Alarmingly, grand corruption correlates with high levels of human rights abuses. The monies ‘lost’ to grand corruption could feed the world 80 times over.
An International Anti-Corruption Court would seek to hold even the highest public official accountable for their crimes. It would provide a mechanism for countries, who are unwilling or unable to prosecute corrupt public officials.