An International Anti-Public Corruption Court: Is There a Need for an International Tribunal Combatting Public Corruption?
A brief discussion concerning the potential benefit, need, limitations, and impact of an international anti-public/political corruption tribunal.
By: Ian L. Courts
For many today, politics, government, and corruption are synonymous. Most people feel that there is some level of corruption that is “normal” or “expected” within political and governmental sectors. This public ambivalence to corrupt governmental activities is evident in two American examples one on the federal level, and the second in one of the country's largest cities. Both of these examples, in addition to the global pervasiveness of public corruption, evidence the need for an international anti-public corruption tribunal. However, would an anti-public corruption tribunal be met with the same political obstacles the present International Criminal Court faces?
Federal Example: President Trump & Corruption
President Trump’s presidency was marred by rumors of corruption, and actual corruption i.e. Russian Collusion to serious violations of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Regarding Russian Collusion, it was claimed that President Trump colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election in his favor. Though the Special Counsel created by the U.S. Congress did not find sufficient evidence that President Trump committed collusion, it did find that he potentially obstructed justice by trying to influence and actively impede the Special Counsel’s investigation.  Additionally, President Trump is cited to have violated the Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution by receiving millions from foreign governments while in office. These millions came from the use of his hotels by foreign dignitaries, and the Trump Organization benefitting from President Trump’s office.
Largely, President Trump’s public corruption has gone unchecked, despite his two political impeachments, and numerous investigations — he has not been held criminally culpable for his actions by a U.S. domestic court. President Trump’s avoidance of legal culpability has led many to argue for the need for an international tribunal to combat public corruption.
Municipal Example: Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, Philadelphia
In Philadelphia, the city where the United States Constitution was signed, and the Declaration of Independence drafted, public corruption by political officials is rampant. Most notably, the recent prosecution of Kenyatta Johnson, a member of the Philadelphia City Council, has divided the city but also raised another salient example of public corruption. Councilman Kenyatta Johnson was charged with corruption and accepting bribes in exchange for political favor.  Councilman Johnson and his wife were alleged to have routinely accepted bribes for the issuances of permits, and other government contracts that needed council approval. This type of quid pro quo is largely commonplace throughout American cities, and towns but is especially prevalent in Philadelphia where the city council holds significant power over industrial and economic development. 
However, similar to President’s Trump obfuscation of criminal accountability, Councilman Johnson's trial resulted in a mistrial by a hung jury. There is present debate among city leaders, and activities about whether another trial should proceed against Council Johnson, or whether the city should move on. Moreover, the mistrial of Councilman Johnson in light of the evidence against him demonstrates the difficulty domestic American courts have in combating corrupt political officials.
The Potential Impact and Limitations of an International Anti-Public Corruption Tribunal
Many have argued that the mandate of the International Criminal Court should be expanded to include public corruption. While others argue that expanding the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to include public corruption would highly politicize the court. However, considering the pervasiveness of public corruption, and our domestic institutions' inability to combat it, maybe the global community needs a tribunal and prosecutor to investigate and prosecute politically corrupt individuals. However, while creating an international anti-corruption tribunal may present a strong more signal that corruption will not be tolerated, it may fail to fulfill its mandate because of the political nature of public corruption and international crime. The International Criminal Court has largely faced obstacles in combating international crime, which leads one to similarly deduce that an anti-corruption court would fall to the same limitations and political forces. Moreover, the hesitance of domestic states to give up their political officials to an international tribunal would create serious administrative and investigation obstacles for any potential anti-corruption court. Under the current world order, the feasibility of an international anti-corruption court is highly questionable — domestic states must be willing to check their own nativist fears for the interests of global justice.
Overall, for many people the phrase “government is corrupt business” is a reality; yet this bleak reality does not have to remain, international criminal law could provide an innovative avenue to combat public corruption. However, whether an anti-corruption tribunal could work effectively, is a serious question that needs to be debated and considered.
 Wike, Richard. Silver, Laura. Schumacher, Shannon. Connaughton, Aidan. “Many in U.S.; Western Europe Say Their Political System Needs Major Reform-Americans are more likely to say politicians are corrupt” PewResearch.org (2021) https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2021/03/31/many-in-us-western-europe-say-their-political-system-needs-major-reform/
 Approximately 5 percent of the World’s GDP contributes to public corruption. See McCarthy, Leonard. “A Voice Against Corruption” World Bank Blogs.(2013). https://blogs.worldbank.org/voices/voice-against-corruption
 Temple-West, Patrick. “Evidence in Plain Sight of Trump Collusion with Russia, Schiff Says” Congress-Politico (2019) https://www.politico.com/story/2019/02/17/trump-russia-collusion-adam-schiff-1173434
 Rhan, Will. “10 Times Trump May Have Obstructed Justice, According to Mueller” CBS News (2019) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/obstruction-of-justice-10-times-trump-may-have-obstructed-justice-mueller-report/
 Lezra, Gabe. “Profiting off the Presidency: Trump’s Violations of the Emoluments Clauses” Expert-Forum, American Constitution Society (2019). https://www.acslaw.org/expertforum/profiting-off-the-presidency-trumps-violations-of-the-emoluments-clauses/
 Roebuck, Jeremy. Brennan, Chris. “Feds Charge Philly City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson with Using His Office to enrich Himself and His Wife” The Philadelphia Inquirer (2020) https://www.inquirer.com/news/kenyatta-johnson-indictment-city-council-dawn-chavous-charged-universal-companies-kenny-gamble-20200129.html
 Fiorillo, Victor. “The Utterly Ridiculous History of Corrupt (and Allegedly Corrupt) Philly Politicians” The Philadelphia Magazine (2021). https://www.phillymag.com/news/2021/11/15/bobby-henon-johnny-doc-sentencing/
 CBS News “Mistrial in Case of City Councilman Charged with Corruption” (2022) https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/mistrial-in-case-of-city-councilman-charged-with-corruption/3212030/
 Alter, Karen. Sorensen, Juliet. “Let Nations, Not the World, Prosecute Corruption” U.S. News & World Report Opinion (2014) https://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2014/04/30/dont-add-corruption-to-the-international-criminal-courts-mandate