International initiatives


Rationale | Key considerations | Policy practices | Resources |

10.9. Is the government a party to international initiatives aimed at fighting corruption and improving public sector integrity? What mechanisms are in place to ensure timely and effective implementation of anti-corruption conventions? Do these mechanisms monitor the application and enforcement of the anti-corruption laws implementing the conventions?

Rationale for the question

Corruption cannot be addressed at the domestic level alone. Only concerted, internationally coordinated action can contribute meaningfully to stamping it out. Governments have consequently adopted a number of international and regional anti-corruption instruments. Although these instruments may have different focuses, they generally aim at ensuring a holistic approach that encompasses preventive measures as well as repressive provisions to fight domestic and foreign corruption. Moreover, they contain provisions regarding mutual legal assistance, which facilitate detecting, investigating and sanctioning corruption.


Related PFI questions:
International initiatives and agreements reappear throughout the PFI. See, for example, the following:
Questions 1.5 – 1.8 on investment agreements and instruments
Question 3.3 on international trade agreements
Question 7.6 on international principles of responsible business conduct


Related PFI questions:

Question 2.1 on an investment climate strategy
Question 6.1 on a regulatory framework for corporate governance


Policy practices to scrutinise

The PFI user should consider what treaties and other initiatives on anti-corruption and integrity it is party to, as well as the mechanisms to ensure effective implementation and compliance with them. Question 10.8 addressed the issue of mechanisms to assess the performance of laws and regulations on anti-corruption and integrity. The current question also considers review mechanisms, but in the context of assessing the application and enforcement of laws and regulations which implement treaties on anti-corruption to which the PFI user is a party. While there will be an overlap between these two questions, the assessment criteria listed below are more specific than those identified for Question 10.8.

The PFI user should examine the following criteria and indicators:

  • Party status to international and applicable regional initiatives on anti-corruption and public sector integrity requires identification of conventions and related initiatives. Anti-corruption and integrity initiatives can include documents or procedures established under treaties or more informal but equally useful guidelines established by entities interested in combating corruption and promoting public sector integrity. The PFI user should regularly review international developments on the subject and consider adherence.

  • Indicators of effective implementation can include domestic cases (from the time of allegation through to acquittal or conviction and sentencing) that fall within the scope of the requirements of treaties to which the PFI user is a party. Where domestic bribery cases have not fallen within these parameters, this may be because such cases did not arise, the laws and regulations under which the conventions are implemented were not sufficient, or undue discretion was applied at the political or prosecutorial level. Judicial decisions or comments on anti-corruption law and practice may likewise be useful indicators of implementation and application, such as the suitability of offence provisions or the means by which institutions charged with applying treaty obligations are operating. If, for example, prosecutions often fail to establish certain elements of anti-corruption and integrity offences, this might reflect either inadequate legislation or poor investigative practices. Analysis of the patterns of sentencing for corruption cases might also be useful in determining whether the PFI user’s anti-corruption framework implements requirements, such as in the OECD Convention, for effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties.

  • External indicators of performance are also useful. An awareness of international rankings and reasons for these can be helpful, including the various tools developed by Transparency International and other non-governmental organisations.

  • A common element of international and regional conventions and other initiatives on anti-corruption involves co-operation between States. Given the transnational nature of bribery of foreign public officials and the susceptibility of international transactions to corruption, consultation and co-operation with appropriate authorities in other countries, whether spontaneously or upon request, is important. The PFI user should examine the compatibility of existing agreements and arrangements for mutual international legal assistance and consider entering into new agreements if necessary. The Agreed Common Elements of Criminal Legislation and Related Action (Annex to the Revised Recommendations of the OECD Council, adopted 23 May 1997) can facilitate cooperation, including extradition, since it is only through the existence of common elements in the criminal legislation of both States involved that requests for extradition can proceed, or legal assistance rendered.

    Internal procedures must exist to allow for mutual legal assistance and extradition, including on how government departments are to respond to mutual legal assistance requests or the conditions under which the courts will issue a rendition order in the context of an extradition request. Consideration of reasons for failed requests for rendition or legal assistance can provide useful indicators of inadequacies in such procedures or in the law including, for example, evidentiary thresholds required before assistance or extradition can be granted.

  • Monitoring the application and enforcement of anti-corruption law and practice can be achieved internally (see PFI question 10.8) and externally. The OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, for example, provides for systematic follow-up to monitor and promote the full implementation of the Convention. This is put in place through a system of peer reviews, through which examination teams (comprising examiners from two States parties) undertake a review of another State party’s law and practice to determine the level of compliance with the Convention and what steps should be taken to achieve full or better compliance. Mutual evaluations can therefore be very useful in learning from others’ experiences and suggestions. The Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) undertakes similar evaluations.


  • Treaties on anti-corruption include: the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials; the United Nations Convention against Corruption; the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption; the Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (and its Additional Protocol); and the Inter-America Convention against Corruption. Each of these treaties adopts different procedures for implementation and review. The OECD Convention, for example, undertakes periodic peer reviews and is accompanied by commentaries and recommendations on the Convention.

  • Further initiatives on anti-corruption include: the United Nations Global Programme against Corruption (undertaking technical assistance, international coordination, and policy development and research); the World Bank Public Sector Governance Programme (which has a thematic group on anti-corruption); the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Governance and Anticorruption Action Plan, together with the joint ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia-Pacific; the OECD Development Assistance Sub-Committee on Governance; various research and advisory papers by the International Monetary Fund on corruption and its impact, including How Corruption in Public Investment Hurts Growth; and the World Trade Organization Working Group on Transparency.


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