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Anti-corruption

Originally there were only nine Global Compact principles, but during the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit in 2004 it was announced that the UN Global Compact henceforth includes a tenth principle against corruption. This was adopted after extensive consultations and all participants yielded overwhelming expressions of support, sending a strong worldwide signal that the private sector shares responsibility for the challenges of eliminating corruption. It also demonstrated a new willingness in the business community to play its part in the fight against corruption. The UN Convention against Corruption, which was adopted in Merida, Mexico in December 2003, is the underlying legal instrument for the 10th principle against corruption.

The adoption of the tenth principle commits UN Global Compact participants not only to avoid bribery, extortion and other forms of corruption, but also to develop policies and concrete programs to address corruption. Companies are challenged to join governments, UN agencies and civil society to realize a more transparent global economy.

Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

Corruption, defined as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain, can take many forms that vary in degree from the minor use of influence to institutionalized bribery. Corruption poses risk to a company’s reputation and increases exposure to legal, financial and other risks.

OECD defines extortion as: “the solicitation of bribes is the act of asking or enticing another to commit bribery. It becomes extortion when this demand is accompanied by threats that endanger the personal integrity or the life of the private actors involved.” Bribery is defined as”an offer or receipt of any gift, loan, fee, reward or other advantage to or from any person as an inducement to do something which is dishonest, illegal or a breach of trust, in the conduct of the enterprise’s business."

Some suggested steps:

  • Introduce and implement effective zero tolerance policies and programmes, and adopt a company ethics code.
  • Train employees to ensure that an ethical culture is developed within the company and integrated in management systems.
  • Adopt internal reporting procedures.
  • Be accountable and transparent in all company transactions.
  • Cooperate with authorities investigating and prosecuting cases of corruption.
  • Engage in collective business action with industry peers to create a level playing field.

Check with your human resources or other relevant departments to see if any of the following exist:

  • An employee training programme on how to identify bribery and corruption.
  • A code of business conduct and ethics that includes a requirement for employees to review and sign off on the code regularly.
  • An ethics “hotline” for reporting suspected violations (as well as associated use statistics).
  • An investigations procedure that addresses violations, and provides information on results.

Visit the Global Compact web site for recommended tools

Last update: 2009-11-04