The piece is about a diplomatic effort to create a body that operates similarly to the International Criminal Court, but would focus on enforcing a global anti-corruption regime.
Put another way, if a country refused to crack down on corruption within its own physical or virtual borders, the violators could be pursued at the IACC.
And if enough powerful states participated, the court could have real teeth.
I suspect that Glavin’s claims of Canadian leadership are exaggerated.
Certainly, former Liberal cabinet ministers Lloyd Axworthy and Allan Rock have endorsed the court on behalf of the World Refugee and Migration Council, as has the former Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay as part of Integrity Initiatives International, but it looks to me that they have come to the idea fairly recently.
The initiative appears to have begun with an American judge, Mark L. Wolf, who proposed such a court in 2012 and later published the most comprehensive argument in favour of an IACC through the Brookings Institute in 2014.
No matter whose idea it is, it’s one that any Canadian government should be able to get behind.
Back in 2014, Wolf estimated that:
“$1 trillion is paid in bribes annually, and the cost of all forms of corruption is more than 5% of global GDP. An estimated $8.4 trillion was lost in developing regions due to illicit financial flows between 2000 and 2009, which is ten times more than those regions received in foreign aid.”
The arguments against the initiative are predictable, and legitimate.
For one, an IACC will only work with sufficient international support, and too many global leaders benefit directly from the corruption that plagues their countries.
Moreover, the cost of standing up a new global body would be steep, and those funds might be used more efficiently to fight corruption at its source.
Nonetheless, this particular cause should resonate with Canadians who prefer that Ottawa derive its foreign policy from our national interests.
International corruption comprises our foreign aid program and enriches our adversaries. An end to it would also strengthen the as yet still weak anti-money laundering regime that exists here at home.
We have the diplomatic capacity within Global Affairs Canada to contribute constructively to this cause, and with Axworthy, Rock, and MacKay visibly onside, there appears to be potential to approach the issue in a non-partisan manner.
To be clear, I’m not calling for the type of Canadian leadership that Glavin celebrates. That would be presumptuous, particularly given this country’s remarkably disappointing record on money laundering and tax havens to date.
But I do hope that Canadians with an interest in foreign policy track the IACC negotiations, and that those with influence ask our government about it regularly.
Combatting global corruption is a cost-effective way of promoting and defending the liberal international order that continues to serve Canada’s national interests.
For a general background on money laundering in Canada, take a look at some of the work coming out of the Financial Transactions and Report Analysis Centre. The most recent Canadian legislation can be found here.
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