Covenants with Broken Swords: Corruption and law enforcement in governance of the commons
Insights of how corruption hampers law enforcement in governance of common-pool resources are currently limited. This article develops our understanding of this process through interviews with enforcement officials in South African fisheries. First, it outlines how inspectors become “blind and corrupt”: They receive bribes from fishermen in the form of finance, food, or friend-ship, which they pay back through inadequate enforcement, information-sharing, or involvement. Second, it shows that widespread corruption increases the costs of remaining honest: Inspectors face a dilemma related to corruption in the judiciary, making the writing of fines useless because these disappear from bribery among clerks and judges in the enforcement chain. Moreover, they face a dilemma of corruption in their organization, where substation managers and actors in top management are engaged in bribery, sending signals that corruption has small consequences. The article concludes by discussing how corruption distorts regulations and the implications for governing the commons.
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