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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: September 2015

7 - International agency and its anticorruption impact


The previous chapter explored the domestic mechanisms of generating normative constraints on behavior. But international factors in controlling corruption should be discussed as well, given the growth of an international anticorruption community and the creation of aid conditionality in this regard. Is the international community able to create serious constraints impacting the national level? The equilibrium pictured in this book is reached – or not reached – there only. Any influence, either on resources or constraints, needs to have a national impact to be defined as such. Can external agency influence this domestic equilibrium – for the worse, but especially for the better?

The international influence on governance of interest in this chapter is not the side effect of international trade or development aid. Deliberate effort is made by the international community to support domestic control of corruption. The fall of the Berlin Wall unleashed an international process without precedent in ambition and depth: the peaceful democratization and transformation of countries by external actors represented by the international community. The lessons of 1989 were well learned and seemed to indicate that sufficient external pressure (in the form of economic and political conditions) combined with domestic agency of sufficient proportions can change political regimes. It worked marvelously in Central Europe and the hope was that an action model had been created that could be applied further to great effect. Compared to this grand drive to change undemocratic political regimes, improving governance might seem a mere addition, a far less ambitious side goal. But while evidence existed that externals can play some role in democratizing a country (Huntington 1993), next to nothing was known about influencing governance from outside. It was largely presumed that some formal institutional transfers in the fields of civil service or the judiciary targeted by donor programming could improve a country's governance. The first serious academic accounts sounded the alarm, however, that areas such as justice and administration reflect closely the existing power equilibrium in a society and with their high transaction costs and high discretion are quite difficult to influence from outside (Carothers 1998; Fukuyama 2004). By transferring institutions, international donors are attempting to change governance orders after having tried – and, to some extent, succeeded – with political regimes.