Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



In the past two decades, the organized and systematic theft of a state's wealth and resources by its leaders has reached unprecedented levels in developing and less-developed states. Unlike previous acts of embezzlement by political leaders, this new wave of corruption-referred to as indigenous spoliation--involves billions of dollars and causes widespread social and economic devastation. This Article defines indigenous spoliation and presents some examples of this practice. The author describes the inadequacy of domestic law in dealing with the problem and suggests that international law should provide a remedy. Next, the author proposes a framework for holding persons involved in acts of spoliation individually liable. The author then contends that the international community, through a multilateral treaty, could enforce a prohibition against spoliation by imposing enforcement obligations on individual states. Additionally, the availability of foreign aid and commercial bank credits for developing states could be conditioned on these states proscribing acts of spoliation. The author encourages victim states to change their domestic laws to address spoliation and asserts that indigenous spoliation should be treated as a violation of human rights.