There is an international consensus that corruption undermines the democratic process and the legitimacy of government. Anti-corruption strategies are increasingly becoming an integral part of democratization programmes in non-western states. Where there are doubts over the effectiveness of these programmes they have tended to be expressed in relation to the level of social and economic development necessary to ensure a separation between private and public spheres. The experience of extensive international anti-corruption policies in Bosnia provides an opportunity to assess the relationship between anti-corruption initiatives and democratization in the European context. Taking a broad systemic approach to tackling political corruption, it was assumed that international policy in this area could strengthen the authority of democratic political institutions, encourage public participation and rebuild relations of trust within and between communities. This study of the impact of systemic anti-corruption strategies focuses on the effectiveness of these initiatives in meeting democratization goals. The results have been disappointing. The reasons for this may lie in the initial assumptions, not because they assume a higher level of social and economic development than Bosnian society has attained but because they have a narrow reductive view of the political process.