Corruption has become a hot topic in Public International Law in recent years. In particular, its prevention has been the subject of numerous treaties and soft law instruments, and it has been wielded as a defence to both investment treaty claims and commercial contract claims (which in turn raises questions of private international law). Yet the source and theoretical underpinnings of a supposed international norm prohibiting corruption remains opaque. Tribunals and commentators make reference to “international public policy,” but the question remains whether the supposed prohibition of corruption is a rule of international law, and where it features in the hierarchy of norms. We propose to examine (i) the current “state of play” (i.e., the various ways in which international law addresses and reprimands corruption), (ii) whether Public International Law prohibits corruption and, if so, the source and status of that norm; and (iii) what the future of international anti-corruption efforts might look like.


Samantha Rowe is International Counsel, and Ciara Murphy is an associate, in Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s international dispute resolution group.  Their practice focuses on international arbitration and public international law.  They represent both sovereign states and companies in international investment and commercial arbitrations across a range of sectors.  

Ms. Rowe received her B.A. (Hons.) with First Class Honors in English Law and French Law from the University of Oxford, Wadham College, a Certificat Supérieur de Droit Français from the Université de Paris II Panthéon-Assas, and an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from New York University.

Prior to joining Debevoise, Ms Murphy was a law clerk to Judge Greenwood and Judge Yusuf at the International Court of Justice.  She holds an LLB from Trinity College Dublin, an LLM in EU Law from the College of Europe and an LLM in international and comparative legal practice from the University of Michigan.


The PIL Discussion Group hosts a weekly speaker event and light lunch and is a key focal point for PIL@Oxford. Topics involve contemporary and challenging issues in international law. Speakers include distinguished international law practitioners, academics, and legal advisers from around the world.
The group typically meets each Thursday during Oxford terms in The Old Library, All Souls College, with lunch commencing at 12:30. The speaker will commence at 12:45 and speak for about forty minutes, allowing about twenty five minutes for questions and discussion. The meeting should conclude before 2:00. Practitioners, academics and students from within and outside the University of Oxford are all welcome. No RSVP is necessary. Join the PIL Email List to receive information about the PIL Discussion Group meetings, as well as other PIL@Oxford news.
To join the Public International Law Discussion Group email list, which offers details of all events and other relevant information, send a message to: pil-subscribe@maillist.ox.ac.uk . (You do not need to write any text in the body of the message, or even put anything in the Subject: line unless your mailer insists on it.) You will be sent a confirmation request, and once you reply to that, a message confirming your subscription will follow. Alternatively, you can send an email to Jenny Hassan to be added to the PIL mailing list.
Convenors of the Oxford Public International Law Discussion Group are Talita de Souza Dias and Daniel Kaasik.
The discussion group's meetings are part of the programme of the British Branch of the International Law Association and are supported by the Law Faculty and Oxford University Press.