Business Against Corruption


The UN Global Compact just released a new publication, featuring case studies of business initiatives aimed at eradicating corrupt behavior.

Issues addressed in the publication include:

  • the implications of the UN Convention against Corruption,
  • the correlation between corruption, development and governance,
  • the implementation of anti-bribery programs,
  • selection criteria for agents and consultants,
  • how to handle facilitation payments and gifts,
  • corruption in partnership projects,
  • whistle-blowing and external reporting on corruption,
  • collective action against corruption, and
  • engaging in national and regional initiatives against corruption.

I would particularly call your attention to examples of two programs supported by CIPE for quite some time which are highlighted in the report.  One is the initiative by TRACE to promote ethical practices in business by eliminating corrupt behavior in business transactions through anti-bribery due diligence and compliance training for commercial intermediaries.  Another is the Business Principles for Countering Bribery developed by Transparency International with CIPE’s support.  The Business Principles is an outstanding initiative that highlights just how successful the internal measures against corruption companies voluntarily put in place can be.  The publication also features CIPE’s piece on the importance of taking an institutional approach to combating corruption, which allows associations, think tanks, and chambers of commerce to identify the root sources of corruption, design concrete reform proposals, and reach out to policymakers to improve the legal and regulatory environment.  The World Bank’s Doing Business database, for example, provides a clear picture of how overregulation contributes to high levels of informality and corruption – check out page xii in the 2004 report.

The institutional nature of corruption means one thing – you can’t blame just one party, be that companies, government officials, or society.  Similarly, no one party can successfully curb corruption without input from others involved in the complex web of corruption.  As Georg Kell, who heads the UN Global Compact initiative, notes in the foreword,

As the Global Compact is mainly focused on changing business behaviour in order to create an inclusive global marketplace, this first volume of case stories on the 10th principle focuses predominantly on company actions.  At the same time, we recognize that the private sector cannot solve the problem of corruption alone. But companies can support the fight by making a leadership commitment to “zero-tolerance” and the implementation of anti-corruption programs throughout their own operations. However, isolated actions by a company are not always sufficient.  Ideally, this book will also further the understanding of how companies can act collectively to curb corruption and create a level playing field. We believe that the Global Compact can provide a useful platform to this end.