July 25, 2021

“Fighting corruption through international economic sanctions is a false good idea”

Ln July 6, the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee launched a debate in plenary session of Parliament on the “EU’s global sanctions regime”. [Union européenne] in human rights (EU “Magnitsky law”) ”. The representatives of this commission pleaded for this regime to be extended to the fight against corruption.

What are we talking about ?

States have the power to impose economic retaliatory measures on each other in response to violations of international law or of their essential interests. In addition to these embargoes, which are state-to-state reprisals, there are measures aimed at named persons, such as visa refusals, credit freezes, or trade bans.

This graduated set of economic sanctions, which are in the hands of the politician, offer as many alternatives to war in times of international tension.

Can these sanctions be imposed in response to serious human rights violations? The United States Congress was the first to respond in the affirmative by passing the “Magnitsky Act” in 2012, named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died in detention after investigating a tax fraud case potentially embarrassing for some. Russian powers.

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This law initially targeted only Russia. But its scope was extended in 2016, and the United States has since been able to pronounce economic sanctions in the name of human rights, not only against Russian nationals, but against anyone in the world: it is the “Global Magnitsky Act”.

The damage of corruption to the global economy

In December 2020, the Council of the EU adopted a similar tool for the protection of human rights, by adopting a new European regulation, which has logically been dubbed the EU’s “Magnitsky law”. . But the 2016 US law actually went beyond human rights and also sanctioned those responsible for acts of corruption.

We now understand the main issue of the debate at European level: should we stick to the protection of human rights, as decided by the Council of the EU in December 2020? Or should we, as the British do, align ourselves even more with the United States and add corruption to the European list of grounds for economic sanctions?

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