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OECD Anti-Bribery Convention: Leading the Fight Against Corruption

 

The draft Consensus of the International Conference on Financing for Development acknowledges that combating corruption is one of the leading actions needed to mobilize domestic financial resources efficiently (cf. paragraph.10). It also proposes to commit to finalize as soon as possible a United Nations convention which would address the problem of corruption in all its aspects (cf. par. 58 bis).

Since 1989, the OECD has played a leading role in the battle against corruption. The OECD's Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions has been signed by 35 countries (1). The objective of this legally binding instrument is to require signatory countries to establish the criminal offence of bribing a foreign public official and to have in place adequate sanctions and reliable means for detecting and enforcing the offence. In addition, each signatory is required to prohibit accounting and auditing practices that facilitate the concealment of foreign bribery.

Is the OECD convention really bringing changes? Yes, thanks to its systematic monitoring and implementation process. Already 31 countries have implemented legislation to comply with the convention. The laws have allowed cases of corruption, which could not have been prosecuted in the past, to start appearing in the courts. Another sign that things are changing is that an increasing number of major companies are adopting compliance structures and programmes.

Although the convention addresses only a limited aspect of the corruption problem, it covers an important gap as it brought to an end an era of mutual finger pointing between countries of the North and the South which inhibited all progress in reducing corruption. Indeed, the offering of bribes in international transactions contributes to legitimising corruption in general and undermines other international and local efforts to strengthen the rule of law. More directly, he convention will help developing countries make the most of their public resources spent through procurement. Finally, the OECD's experience in the drafting and monitoring of an anti-corruption convention will also be beneficial for the UN initiative.

The OECD also works directly with developing and emerging economies through its regional outreach anti-corruption programmes: the Asia Pacific Initiative, the Latin America Initiative, the Stability Pact Anti-Corruption Initiative, the Baltic Initiative and the Anti-Corruption Network for Transition Countries. They have a dual objective: to curb corruption in international transactions through action in non-OECD member countries that are complementary to the convention itself; and, more broadly, to take advantage of the impulse this tool has created to encourage local anti-corruption initiatives.

Examples of the impact of this outreach action include the endorsement by 17 Asian and Pacific governments in November 2001 of a regional action plan to fight corruption; technical assistance to develop a follow-up mechanism for the convention drawn up by the Organization of American States; and the development of anti-corruption programmess by South-East European governments, in co-operation with civil society actors.

For further informaiton journalists should contactthe OECD Anti-Corruption Division, Irène Hors(Tel. [33] 1 45 24 95 82) or Frédéric Wehrle (Tel. [33] 1 45 24 18 55).

For more information: see http://www.oecd.org/daf/nocorruption/.

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1. 30 OECD Member countries, plus Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile and Slovenia. These 35 countries represent collectively over 70% of world exports and over 90% of FDI.

 

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