Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Latin American Studies Program


Lindsay Mayka

Second Advisor

Kenneth Rodman


When is the institutionalization of anti-corruption bodies possible in Latin America? Central America’s Cold War era internal conflicts destabilized the Northern Triangle’s governments and greatly weakened judicial institutions. The legacy of these conflicts led to the creation of parallel corrupt networks that infiltrated state institutions and perpetuated impunity and violence. However, in Guatemala, the institutionalization of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala, CICIG) has improved the country’s ability to prosecute high-level corruption against the threat of powerful and corrupt state actors. A comparative analysis of the tenures of CICIG’s three commissioners reveals that a high level of institutionalization in anti-corruption bodies is possible when the institutions’ leaders activate four “design principles”. CICIG’s Commissioners developed effective investigative practices within the organization, infused it with the value needed to build working relationships with in-country judicial institutions, and adapted the institution to protect its autonomy and legitimacy from external threats.


Latin America, Guatemala, Corruption, Institution Building, CICIG, Leadership