Bribery and corruption

Speech to the Development Committee of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund


by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General
Singapore, 18 September 2006

It is a pleasure to find myself among friends and to address you for the first time as the Secretary-General of the OECD.

I would like to begin by highlighting two points from the joint statement that Richard Manning and I have submitted. First, on the aid front, we must reinforce our follow-up to the 2005 Agreements to increase development assistance and to improve its effectiveness.  The focus is on long-term predictable, sustainable, and accountable aid flows. Second, on the trade front, we cannot give up on the Doha agenda.  If we cannot conclude Doha successfully, the risks of renewed protectionism – and the realities of loss of welfare and growth – will soon confront us. 

Closer co-operation among international organisations would do much to advance the rule of law throughout the world. Thus I welcome the World Bank’s governance and anti-corruption strategy which puts these two issues at the centre of the Bank’s mission. This sends a strong signal both to its clients in the developing world and to donor countries who are its major shareholders.   

The OECD has been promoting anti-corruption strategies for more than 15 years. The OECD has developed seminal instruments and we are actively involved in their implementation on a country-by-country basis. Our instruments target both the supply-side as well as the demand side of corruption. These instruments are complementary to the work now undertaken by the World Bank and other international institutions. 

Anti-corruption law enforcement lags behind the rhetoric. According to Transparency International, only 12 of the 36 countries that are signatories of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention actually enforce it rigorously.  

Developing and developed countries alike share the responsibility in fighting corruption.  Bribery, money laundering, tax havens, and counterfeiting all involve illegal activities that operate across borders in our countries. Therefore, working together and joining forces is the key to successfully reducing corruption.

The goals of the OECD in the fight against corruption include:

  1. The application of the range of OECD anti-corruption and governance instruments set out in the “OECD Fights Corruption” brochure, which we have distributed to you today. 
  2. Push for tougher enforcement of the Anti-Bribery Convention and encourage other economies to join the Convention
  3. Encourage more exchanges and peer review learning between OECD and non-OECD countries on how to improve governance systems to prevent corruption in the public sector.
  4. Strongly support greater policy coherence to connect the development agenda with actions within OECD governments to tackle corruption. Interactions between the North and South must be accompanied by greater collaboration with civil society and the private sector and by increased co-operation and co-ordination with the World Bank, Regional Development Banks and other international players
  5. Give strong support for the UN in its efforts to implement UNCAC. We consider UNCAC and our own work at the OECD as complementary and mutually reinforcing.
  6. Strengthen mutual accountability with emerging economies in the global fight against corruption.
  7. Couching our approach to tackling corruption in the wider context of institutional capacity building, good governance and global security.  
  8. Developing an agenda for collective donor action, building on the current work in the DAC, where the World Bank has been making a major contribution.

Many years ago, I said in this Committee that “poverty is the ultimate systemic threat”. It still is. We at the OECD welcome the opportunity to work more closely with the World Bank and the countries and institutions represented here in the pursuit of these goals, which are at the core of our efforts to fight poverty and support developing countries in their search for a higher quality of life. 

Thank you.