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Arbitrary Power, Arbitrary Interference and the Abuse of Power: Corruption, Natural Rights and Human Rights

Responsible Leadership and Ethical Decision-Making

ISBN: 978-1-78714-416-3, eISBN: 978-1-78714-415-6

ISSN: 1529-2096

Publication date: 16 May 2017

Abstract

What is the relationship between human rights and corruption? This question can take different forms, including moral, legal, socio-political and economic variants. This paper focuses on two key moral questions, asking whether corruption can violate or impact on people’s natural rights (on the one hand) or human rights (on the other). In answer, I aim to establish a strong conceptual link between (a) corruption’s ‘abuse of entrusted power’; (b) the ‘arbitrary power’ targeted by natural rights theorists like John Locke and the broader republican tradition and (c) the ‘arbitrary interference’ with protected freedoms prohibited by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I argue that the deep thematic links between systemic corruption and violations of human rights are stronger than have hitherto been recognized. In the twenty-first century, corruption should be recognized as a ‘standard threat’ (in Shue’s sense) to human flourishing and protected freedoms, vindicating the human right to freedom from systemic corruption.

Keywords

Citation

Breakey, H. (2017), "Arbitrary Power, Arbitrary Interference and the Abuse of Power: Corruption, Natural Rights and Human Rights", Responsible Leadership and Ethical Decision-Making (Research in Ethical Issues in Organizations, Vol. 17), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 125-145. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1529-209620170000017013

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017 Emerald Publishing Limited