Closing Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, delivered at the OECD Integrity Week
Paris, France, 19 March 2014
(As prepared for delivery)
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,
Judging by the number of organisations that are represented in today’s Forum and the calibre of our speakers, we can see that there is a strong momentum to the worldwide fight against corruption.
I am especially delighted by the presence today of leading bearers of the international anti-corruption fight, such as the United Nations, the the G20, the World Bank, Transparency International, the World Economic Forum, the International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA) and the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), among others. Some of you have come a long way to join this meeting with our experts on anti-corruption from both the OECD Secretariat and national authorities. We’re very thankful for your input and your support to this initiative.
Today, you have discussed the different tools, instruments and initiatives that you are putting in place to tackle corruption. You have also talked about ways in which your different organisations are working together and about options for further strengthening this collaboration. Such actions will reinforce our common fight against corruption.
The stakes, as you know, are very high. Corruption undermines trust in policy, it erodes the quality of public administration, and it distorts incentives, taking its toll on investment and growth. Corruption also locks in privilege and inequality, and it can be a factor of oppression. In short, we must stop it!
Empowering the peer review mechanism of the Convention
Let me give you one example of how we could step up our fight against corruption: Transparency International calls the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, the “gold standard” of monitoring corruption of public officials in international business transactions. The strength of the Convention stems from the OECD Working Group on Bribery, which oversees a rigorous, three-phase peer-review monitoring system.
The Convention has had tremendous success in spurring countries to take legislative action, making it a crime for their nationals and their companies to pay bribes to public officials abroad. And countries are investigating corruption cases. There are over 300 ongoing investigations into alleged acts of foreign bribery in 24 Parties to the Convention.
But, as you know, not many of these investigations will end up in prosecution. For this reason, in 2010, we started the Phase 3 of the monitoring of the Convention, which is now close to completion. In addition to reviewing progress on the recommendations of the previous phases, this phase provides an opportunity to review enforcement efforts and results.
It is in the peer review mechanism of the implementation and enforcement phase that we mostly need your help. Our reports can highlight problems, but we cannot solve them alone. The work of the different national stakeholders, industry bodies, trade unions and NGOs, as well as other international organisations, is essential to raise public awareness about the problem, detect wrongdoing and alert the relevant authorities.
Strengthening our monitoring of public sector integrity
But ultimately, we all depend on national magistrates, police, tax and other authorities for applying the law fairly and to apply dissuasive sanctions to wrongdoers. Hence, a similar international collaboration is needed to address the other side of the corruption equation, strengthening the ability of national authorities to prevent corruption and sanction it effectively when it occurs.
The public sector integrity initiative that you heard about today has produced many principles and standards such as the Principles for Transparency and Integrity in Lobbying, the Principles for Enhancing Integrity in Public Procurement and the Guidelines for Managing Conflict of Interest in the Public Service.
We have also launched the Public Sector Integrity Reviews, which like the Convention, are based on a peer review mechanism that helps monitor compliance with OECD principles. Since they were launched in 2012, we have carried out three major reviews, of Italy, Brazil and Tunisia, which have provided strategic proposals for the governments of these countries to enhance their integrity framework. We have also carried out peer reviews on specific risk areas, for example the procurement review of the US, Colombia and the ongoing one in Korea, as well as reviews of the health and energy sectors in Mexico.
Among other achievements, our work on public sector integrity has contributed to ensuring that most countries today have procedures for public servants to report misconduct, which was not the case a few years ago. And we are also monitoring the performance of the public sector along this and other dimensions in our flagship publication Government at a Glance.
Again, collaboration with the different stakeholders is essential to ensure a successful monitoring of the implementation of our recommendations. Our efforts will be more effective if we manage to better coordinate our actions and drive change where it is most needed.
Extending the anti-corruption net
Collaboration with other fora is of greatest need in the case of non-OECD countries. We are working very closely with the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group, co-chaired by Australia and Italy, in particular on foreign bribery and public sector integrity. We are also continuing our analysis for the G20 on the impact of corruption on economic growth and we stand ready to help the G20 foster their important dialogue with the private sector and civil society. We are also very much looking forward to working with Stefano Mogini – who is here today - and his team in the Italian co-chairmanship, to organise the Fourth High-Level Conference on Anticorruption in June in Rome.
Our work also extends to other partner countries whom we can help to address what is sometimes an endemic problem of corruption. Countries that have not reached our Committees are invited to participate in an Integrity Scan, as was done last year for Tunisia and is currently planned in Vietnam, as mentioned earlier by the Deputy Inspector General of the Government Inspectorate of Vietnam, Mr Tran Duc Luong.
The Integrity Scan is a first entry point towards closer collaboration with the OECD on anti-corruption issues. It draws together the different anti-corruption tools of the OECD and other international organisations to support reform efforts in partner countries.
We are also extending our work on corruption to different sectors. The 13th edition of our Global Forum on Competition last month focused on “fighting corruption and promoting competition”. On Thursday, we will be hosting a seminar on water governance – including an initial discussion on new principles - and another one on integrity in sports and major events. At the First High Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation that will take place in Mexico in April, we will be focusing on combatting illicit financial flows.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
We have made good progress in the fight against corruption, but it is time to step up the pressure. We must work together to better identify and monitor corruption, to garner public support, and to help national authorities to improve their mechanisms to prevent and sanction corruption.
The excellent discussion and forward-thinking that took place in the last session with our friends from Transparency International, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, the G20 anti-corruption working group and the Swiss Office of the Attorney General is very encouraging. We heard some promising and very practical initiatives to enhance our cooperation, such as better information sharing, active collaboration in country reviews, and joint efforts to raise awareness and to provide technical assistance and capacity building for practitioners. We should continue this discussion beyond this meeting, but we should also make this event a recurrent one so that we can reflect on progress made.
We must also close ranks with intermediaries such as lawyers, accountants, auditors and risk rating agencies and promote their role as independent advisors and whistleblowers. This morning’s discussion highlighted how much progress has been made by these stakeholders in ensuring better monitoring of corruption, but it has also reminded us that they are themselves sometimes mired in conflicts of interest. Among other actions, ensuring an effective monitoring and sanctioning of their professional codes of conduct is a prerequisite for better surveillance.
Dear friends, today’s meeting has above all reminded us of how much stronger we can be when we act in unison. As we proceed in our common endeavour to root out corruption from our societies, let us remember the words of the great French novelist Alexandre Dumas: Tous pour un et un pour tous! (All for one and one for all!).
Thank you for your attention.
And now, let me show one example of our cooperation “in action”, with the signature of an MOU with the Basel Institute of Governance.