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Creating an anti-corruption norm in Africa: Critical reflections on legal instrumentalization for development

  • Paul D. Ocheje EMAIL logo


This article reflects critically on the instrumental value of law in the anti-corruption struggle in Africa. Three questions are central to this reflection: (a) Is the instrumental use of law to achieve a developmental purpose, such as anti-corruption, defensible in theory and practice? (b) Is law necessary to, and/or adequate for, the creation of an anti-corruption norm? (c) Why do the developing countries perform so poorly in the fight against corruption in comparison with their wealthier, industrialized counterparts? While the article defends the instrumentalization of law in this regard, it argues that the African normative context of corruption throws up peculiar challenges. The article suggests that these challenges must be confronted in order to liberate the full potential of law in the struggle against corruption.


This is a revised version of a paper delivered at the 2016 Law and Development Conference held at Buenos Aires, Argentina (October 21–22). I am grateful to the Law and Development Institute and the facilitators of this conference, Professor Y.S. Lee of the institute and Professor Stephanie de Moerloose of University Austral, Buenos Aires, for the opportunity. Many thanks for all the comments by participants and my colleagues at the University of Windsor Law School, which helped to sharpen my arguments and perspectives at various points in this article. I would also like to acknowledge the generous financial assistance of the University of Windsor through the Academic Development Travel Grant program, as well as the supplementary assistance provided by Chris Waters, Dean of the University of Windsor Law School, which made my trip to Argentina possible and comfortable. To the best of my knowledge, all of the information provided in this article is accurate at the date of submission, but any errors are my responsibility and mine alone.


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Published Online: 2017-7-29
Published in Print: 2017-9-26

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