Corruption and the Arab Spring

A feature in Foreign Affairs details how attempts to repatriate laundered assets by deposed Arab regimes has “highlighted the inadequacy of current international efforts against corruption.” Drawing from Switzerland’s new law to maintain its reputation as a haven for legitimate financial assets, the author argues that “the United States and its allies should capitalize on such reputational sensitivities by promoting mutually enforced anticorruption standards and exposing those countries that fail to cooperate.” The article cites the 2005 United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) as a potential framework for such action. Other obstacles to repatriating funds will remain, including removing corrupt regimes and establishing evidence for illicitly obtaining state funds. A World Bank statistic in the piece estimates that while corrupt regimes steal $20–$40 billion from developing countries each year, only $5 billion has been returned over the past 15 years.