Op-Ed / / 04.15.21

Just Security Op-ed: Fighting the ‘International Thief Thief’ with Global Magnitsky Sanctions

Note: This op-ed originally appeared in Just Security and was written by Brad Brooks-Rubin, General Counsel at The SentryThis article is the second of a Just Security mini-series adapted from recent testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission regarding the reauthorization of the Global Magnitsky Act on March 24, 2021. All articles in the series can be found here, and the testimony of Brad Brooks-Rubin can be found here.


In his day, the late, great Nigerian musician and Afrobeat innovator Fela Kuti was, among many other things, an anti-corruption and human rights activist. Not unlike Sergei Magnitsky, Fela fought back against corruption and suffered terribly at the hands of the State. And now, decades after Fela decried “International Thief Thief,” his son Femi is singing “You Can’t Fight Corruption With Corruption” on a new album.

This generational continuity underscores the persistent nature of corruption. Too often, the United States and its allies have fought corruption in contradictory and counterproductive ways, allowing problems to fester and metastasize. In recent years, however, the international community in general – and the United States in particular – has become more targeted in this fight. The sanctions regime under the Global Magnitsky Act (or “GloMag”) represents one of the most important tools – and to be clear, GloMag is a tool, not a policy or strategy in itself – in the global fight against corruption and human rights abuses. For the purposes of this article, GloMag refers to targeted sanctions imposed by the U.S. Treasury or State Department in response to serious human rights abuse or acts of corruption…

Click here to read the full op-ed.