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date: 27 January 2021

International Organization and Crime, and Corruptionlocked

  • Frank G. MadsenFrank G. MadsenDepartment of Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge


The intersection of international organization and crime and corruption has been garnering increasing interest from international studies scholars and practitioners. An international organization can be defined, following the International Law Commission, as an “organization established by a treaty or other instrument governed by international law and possessing its own international legal personality.” International organizations generally have States as members, but often other entities can also apply for membership. They both make international law and are governed by it. Yet, the decision-making process of international organizations is often less a question of law than one of political judgment. Meanwhile, corruption is a form of dishonest or unethical conduct by a person, or an institution, entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire personal benefit. Corruption may include many activities including bribery and embezzlement, though it may also involve practices that are legal in many countries. Government, or 'political', corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain. Strangely, the most important contribution to the field of organized crime did not come from criminology, legal studies, or international studies, but from philosophy. Recognizing both criminal law and international relations as the exercise of power, Michel Foucault introduced radically new thinking in the area of societal control in relation to the study of organized crime.

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