Combating Corruption Internationally a Top Foreign Policy Priority for Canadians

May 12, 2022 — As Russian oligarchs’ assets are seized worldwide in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, Canada has a clear opportunity to significantly ramp up global anti-corruption efforts with its international partners and allies.

A new report from the World Refugee & Migration Council and the Angus Reid Institute finds tackling international corruption is a priority for Canadians — more so than combatting international terrorism.

One in four Canadians have personally been impacted, and one in three know somebody that has been personally affected by international corruption. Meanwhile, the majority of Canadians view the Canadian Government’s efforts to combat international corruption as less than satisfactory and the overall perception of Canada’s international reputation in decline.

A proposed solution to combating international corruption that appears in the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ mandate letter is the establishment of an International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC). An IACC would strengthen and enforce international anti-corruption laws against corrupt leaders and have the authority to recover, repatriate and repurpose stolen assets to assist those from whom they were stolen.

Seven in ten Canadians support the establishment of an IACC and 80% of those in favor wish for Canada to work with its partners and allies to promote the initiative – the other 20% wish Canada to spearhead the initiative alone.

The WRMC supports the establishment of an IACC to combat international corruption leading to forced displacement. International corruption undermines the rule of law that upholds democracy and rule based order while impeding a governments’ responsibility to protect its population. It also discourages donors from committing to funding efforts to assist forcibly displaced persons as aid that is sent is susceptible to be siphoned off by corrupt leaders. 

An IACC with powers to seize and repurpose stolen assets to assist those forcibly displaced due to their bad governance would be a deterrent to corrupt leaders while providing much needed financing to the growing issue of forced displacement that the current global system is unable to address.

The WRMC has long called for stolen assets found offshore not only to be freezed, but seized and repurposed for the benefit of forcibly displaced persons. These efforts have recently culminated in the Canadian Government’s decision to implement the Council’s recommendation to the Special Economic Measures Act.

This report is an initiative of the WRMC’s Groupe de travail canadien contre la grande corruption.

Quotes: 

In response to the survey Lloyd Axworthy, Chair of the World Refugee & Migration Council, and former Foreign Minister of Canada stated: 

“As seven in ten Canadians support the establishment of an International Anti-Corruption Court, it is evident that the Canadian Government should take a leadership role in this initiative.” 

Allan Rock, Special Advisor to the World Refugee & Migration Council, and former Attorney General of Canada noted:

“Grand corruption remains at the root of many problems around the world, including forced displacement. The International Anti-Corruption Court would seek to seize the assets stolen from the country and repurpose them to assist the population in which they were stolen from including those forcibly displaced.”

Peter Mackay, WRMC Canadian Task Force Against Corruption member and former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs stated:

“Two out of three Canadians believe that backing a global effort to combat international corruption will help bolster Canada’s international reputation. Championing the establishment of an International Anti-Corruption Court makes good Canadian public policy.” 

Media contact:

Jeff Stoub, Director of Communications, World Refugee & Migration Council

E: jeff.stoub@wrmcouncil.org

M: +1 514 466 5333

Philip Jones, Research and Communication Associate, World Refugee & Migration Council

E: philip.jones@wrmcouncil.org

Charts (credit Angus Reid Institute):