LAWGENRL 728 - Special Topic: Corruption: Comparative and International

Lecturer biography

Timothy K. Kuhner, associate professor at the Auckland Law School, is known for his critical approaches to the law of democracy. He is the author of Capitalism v. Democracy: Money in Politics and the Free Market Constitution (Stanford University Press, 2014), a book about corruption and money in politics that received acclaim from the Harvard Law Review, Thomas Piketty, Lawrence Lessig, Erwin Chemerinsky, and the Law and Politics Book Review. He is the co-editor of Democracy by the People (Cambridge University Press, 2018), an edited volume on campaign finance reform featuring a number of the world’s leading experts on democratic integrity. He is also the author of many law review articles - such as American Plutocracy, American Kleptocracy and The Corruption of Liberal and Social Democracies - that address the intersection between law, economic inequality, and political inequality.

Professor Kuhner is a member of the United Nation’s Anti-Corruption Academic Initiative and its Group of Experts on Ethics and Integrity under the Education for Justice Initiative. He has spoken about issues of corruption and political finance at major venues across Europe and North America, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Transparency International UK, the Harvard COOP, the Columbia University Bookstore, Common Cause, and the Center for Responsive Politics. Prior to joining the University of Auckland, Kuhner was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of Barcelona, a tenured associate professor at Georgia State University College of Law, and a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He has served as a visiting professor at numerous universities, including Duke Law School and the University of Warsaw.

Course outline

Corruption is one of the most important emerging topics in law and public affairs. It is often cited as a leading cause of rising economic and political inequalities, human rights violations, environmental degradation, and the failure of development programs. To this well-recognised list of corruption’s effects, we may now add the rise of illiberal and authoritarian populism across the world, another stage in liberal democracy’s decline. National governments and international organisations have responded with a variety of anti-corruption initiatives. Motivated by corruption’s serious consequences and its independent intrigue as an area of law, this course offers students the chance to critically engage with a sample of domestic and international approaches to combatting corruption.


Major coverage areas include:

  • Historical perspectives on corruption, including those of the classical era and the Enlightenment
  • The effects of corruption today, as revealed by economic, political, and sociological studies
  • Various approaches to defining and measuring corruption
  • Different manifestations of corruption across contexts, including campaign and party finance, elections, lawmaking, law enforcement, government procurement, banking and finance, business transactions, and international development efforts
  • A sample of domestic anti-corruption laws, including those of New Zealand and the United States
  • A sample of regional anti-corruption initiatives, including the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific
  • The United Nations Convention Against Corruption
  • The strengths and weaknesses of different anti-corruption laws - i.e., the regulatory challenges involved in preventing, exposing, and punishing corruption
  • Future directions for anti-corruption policy and the role of lawyers in the same


Students who successfully completed this course will gain:

  • An awareness of the effects and challenges that corruption poses for contemporary concerns over poverty and development, environmental protection, human rights, capitalism, and democracy
  • An understanding of some of the leading anti-corruption initiatives at domestic, regional and global levels, including key questions of substantive law, institutional design, and international collaboration
  • The ability to assess the strengths and limitations of such bodies of law and institutions - including ones that the student has not encountered before
  • Knowledge of the roles lawyers play in all of the above - including some initial experience applying the legal standards and navigating the legal institutions that seek to prevent and punish corruption-related offenses


90% research essay (6,500 words due by 12pm Thursday 13th December 2018).

10% Presentation and class contribution.

Criteria and marking

Students will be individually assessed on the quality of their contributions and writing with reference to the following criteria:

  • The extent to which the student has identified the important and relevant issues
  • The depth and thoroughness of understanding of the prescribed materials
  • The strength and clarity of the arguments presented
  • The extent to which issues are placed in proper perspective
  • The extent to which the student has displayed a grasp of the theoretical and practical issues

Course details

Semester: Two
Study mode: Intensive
Dates: 4-6 October 2018
Time: 9am-5pm
Location: Room 340
Building 810, Level 3
1-11 Short Street
Value: 15 points

Contact details

Postgraduate Student Adviser
Student Centre
Faculty of Law
Level 2, 1-11 Short St