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Canada and 19 others yet to ban foreign bribery

 InDepth News 09 August 2019

Despite the agreement of legally binding standards designed to reduce bribery and tackle corruption, many countries have yet to implement them into their own statutes. According to experts such anti-corruption legislation must be enacted in order to best confront the global recession. (1736 Words) - By Erna Wolf


Countries representing more than half of world exports have taken appropriate action in the last six years to combat corruption and enforced a ban on foreign bribery. But 20 countries have yet to put into effect the convention. These include Canada, according to a new report by Transparency International (TI).


The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention establishes legally binding standards to criminalise bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions and provides for a host of related measures that make this effective.


It is the first and only international anti-corruption instrument focused on the 'supply side' of the bribery transaction. The 32 OECD member countries and seven non-member countries -- Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Estonia, Israel, and South Africa -- have adopted this Convention.


TI's report shows that seven of the 36 countries evaluated are actively enforcing the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention to which they are party. These countries -- Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States -- represent approximately 30 per cent of world exports.


The increase from four to seven actively enforcing countries since TI's 2009 report is seen as "a very positive development". The 2010 TI report also shows moderate enforcement in nine other countries -- Argentina, Belgium, Finland, France, Japan, South Korea, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden -- which account for 21 per cent of exports.


The 20 countries with little or no enforcement represent about 15 per cent of world exports. These are: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa and Turkey


Denmark, Italy and the United Kingdom have advanced from moderate to active enforcement. Argentina has advanced to moderate enforcement.


Canada, a member of the Group of 8 industrialised nations, has little or no enforcement.


In the six years since TI began reviewing implementation of the OECD ban on foreign bribery, enforcement has doubled from eight to sixteen countries. That represents important progress. "However, it is disturbing that 20 countries still show little or no enforcement," says the report authored by Fritz Heimann and Gillian Dell.


They add: "The difficult economic environment is no excuse for OECD governments to ignore their collective commitment to stop foreign bribery. To the contrary, cleaning up foreign bribery must be regarded as a key part of the reforms needed to overcome the worldwide recession."


The report points out that one-third of world exports come from countries that are not party to the OECD Convention. "The increasingly important role played by China, India and Russia in the global economy cannot be ignored. As their share of world trade is growing, it is essential that these countries play by the same rules as other major exporters."


TI urges the OECD to expedite its ongoing efforts for additional governments to join the convention.


The report emphasizes that, in order to make real gains in the fight against foreign bribery, the OECD must exert high-level political pressure on countries lagging behind, coupled with "peer pressure from the leaders of countries that are actively enforcing the convention".


Noting that the last few years have seen a substantial increase in the number of foreign bribery cases that have been resolved by negotiated settlements, the report says: "While settlements can avoid the long delays, high costs and unpredictable outcomes of litigation, it is essential that settlements be accompanied by full transparency."


TI urges OECD governments to adopt procedures for independent judicial reviews, the publication of settlement terms, evidence, and other measures to ensure satisfactory punishment of guilty corporations and individuals.


The 2010 Progress Report on the OECD Anti-bribery Convention is the sixth in a yearly series and examines the enforcement performance of 36 of the 38 countries that have ratified the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.


It is based on information provided by TI experts and includes detailed case studies of prominent foreign bribery cases involving multinational companies. The 2010 report also covers country performance in areas such as the adequacy of laws and systems, the requirements and enforcement of export credit agencies, and access to information on foreign bribery cases.




This is particularly important because corruption has a strong presence in the lives of disadvantaged groups of a society. They face it in the struggle for resources, justice or in a simple visit to a health care centre. Often, they find that their protest against corruption goes unheard or is met with force.


TI's global and national surveys confirm how little faith is placed in politicians, public administrations and the police in addressing corruption. The lack of trust that comes with corruption has a lasting impact, undermining participation in democratic processes and increasing social and economic exclusion.


In fact, the UN Devlopment Programme (UNDP) says: In Kibera, Kenya, one of the world's largest slums, water costs three times more than in Manhattan or London


According to Transparency, international and domestic investment to increase living standards and lift people out of poverty, have limited impact when fundamental failures in governance remain unaddressed.


But with increased democratisation around the world, there are more venues for the disadvantaged to be heard, to have choices and the means for sanctioning corruption. "There is more pressure than before to fulfil promises, more demands to participate in decisions and demands for corruption to be punished."




TI is partnering with other civil society organisations and disadvantaged populations to ensure that corruption is overcome and local needs are prioritised. It is the main victims of corruption, those already disadvantaged and excluded, that have the greatest stake in fighting corruption.


TI's Development Pacts work to achieve just this. These voluntary agreements allow TI Chapters to work with committed public officials that are keen to demonstrate their integrity and deliver on promises.


The Pacts are based on local priorities, be it service delivery, infrastructure or greater participation in local planning. They bring together local politicians, public officials, service providers, service recipients and other citizens, who agree on a joint roadmap to prevent corruption and ensure tangible results.


The agreement is especially relevant to political representatives because their time in office is directly dependent on individual votes. The Pact offers them a means to providing credible evidence of their commitment to disadvantaged constituencies. At the same time, the Pact offers an opportunity to re-engage the general public disillusioned with political leadership.


The report says:"Based on the notion of a social contract, the pacts are used to ensure a just and fair society combined with the premise of a private sector contract that presumes clear deliverables and timelines. Development Pacts introduce greater contractual specificity, incentives and sanctions into the relationship between those that entrust power to the government and those that exercise it on their behalf."




Disadvantaged populations, social movements and civil society increasingly demonstrate their power to shape public debates and influence the outcomes of elections. In engaging with Government, TI Chapters work closely with development NGOs, community level organisations, women's movements, youth volunteers, and media.


The pacts provide a win-win situation for all parties. In addition to receiving improved services, citizens find that their needs are listened to and respected. An atmosphere of transparency and accountability allows the work of well-performing politicians and officials to be recognised, while problems can be quickly identified. Cutting corruption out of the chain is shown to be to everyone's benefit.


Development Pacts

-Focus anti-corruption efforts on local development priorities

-Ensure greater inclusiveness and a transparent mediation of interests - preventing private gain at public cost

-Contribute to political competition based on concrete issues and

- Augment existing efforts towards development effectiveness and social accountability.


TI chapters and contact groups in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ghana, India, Liberia, Uganda and Zambia are currently at the forefront of experimenting with Development Pacts. TI chapters in South Asia are approaching the Pacts as a regional effort.




Bangladesh: A TI Bangladesh survey revealed that 53.4 per cent of households which had come into contact with local government bodies reported experiencing some form of corruption. In response, the chapter introduced the pacts at 18 local institutions.


The results have been dramatic, says TI. In participating schools incidences of bribery have stopped, the distribution of scholarships and text books is fair and transparent, the number of students dropping out has decreased, enrolment has increased and examination results have improved.


At the local government level, the quality of services provided has improved and humanitarian relief, pensions and birth/death certificates are now issued according to legal procedure.


The TI Bangladesh chapter has pioneered the Integrity Pledge, which builds on Development Pacts and has succeeded in committing entire local government bodies to greater integrity in decision-making on public service delivery.


India: When TI India's surveys showed that poor rural households reported paying significant bribes each year to access free government services, the chapter started a grassroots initiative to help 8,000 rural families living in poverty access direly needed public services and state welfare schemes.


They began by raising awareness among the families, local politicians, officials and civil society groups, about local governance processes, right to information legislation and the citizen's charter. The Development Pact is building on these efforts in a number of states, including challenging ones such as Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh where TI India can build on its existing engagement.


Africa: As part of a 'Poverty & Corruption in Africa' Project, TI chapters in Ghana, Liberia, Uganda and Zambia are working through local organizations to identify and engage committed public officials on the Development Pacts.


Using existing efforts in Government and the political leadership, concepts such as the 'social contracts'and borrowing ideas from neighbouring countries such as Kenya, TI Chapters are developing strategies to make the Pacts a tool of choice of political and administrative representatives.


Civil society organizations that have been approached for a closer partnership on the Pacts see its advantage in the greater responsiveness to local priorities during budget preparation. TI Chapters are equipping local communities with video cameras and training to produce short films on the conditions they face -- concrete evidence on which to base their demands for better services.


These videos also intend to accompany and support the dialogue between public officials and local communities. Through them, communities can easily demonstrate and widely disseminate the direct benefits of engaging public officials along with the development outcomes that can be expected when all parties act with integrity.


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Originally published by InDepth News. ©

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