Trade & investment

CEOs call for greater adherence to UN anti-corruption Convention

  • 7 May 2009

In an unprecedented move, chief executives from some of the world’s leading companies have called on governments to more effectively and robustly implement the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the CEOs threw their support behind the world’s only universal anti-corruption instrument, stating that it “holds the promise of curbing corruption and creates a level playing field for all participants in the global economy.” They praised the Convention, describing it as “an essential instrument in the fight against corruption,” but they underlined the need for the establishment of an implementation review mechanism at the next Conference of States Parties to be held in Doha in November 2009.

“Especially now, in a period of deep financial and economic turmoil, an effective implementation review mechanism is essential. The economic crisis will inevitably place severe strains on worldwide competition, threatening an erosion of ethical standards that will be hard to reverse,” they warned. They cautioned that any further delay in establishing an effective review mechanism (as called for in the Convention) “would damage the credibility of the Convention and its ability to build momentum in overcoming corruption.”

“Business leaders consider it vitally important to rally support for this UN treaty against corruption because it is the only convention with the potential for truly global coverage. The global dimensions of the financial crisis reinforce the importance of this treaty,” said Victor K. Fung, Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Chairman of Li & Fung Group.

The CEOs provided ideas on how the mechanism should work. They highlighted three factors: adequate and dependable long-term funding; country visits with peer reviewers from other countries; and a transparent process with input from the private sector and other stakeholders, and with published reports.

“I deeply appreciate the leadership demonstrated by the corporate community in this critical matter,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in response to the letter from the CEOs. “The business advocacy for an effective review mechanism and the growing number of States adopting and implementing the Convention are evidence of a shared commitment to tackle corruption.”

The letter was written at the invitation of the four global, multi-industry anti-corruption initiatives addressing the corporate sector: the International Chamber of Commerce, Transparency International, the United Nations Global Compact, and the World Economic Forum Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI).

The United Nations Convention against Corruption, adopted in December 2003, has been signed by 140 countries and ratified by 136 to date.

International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

The International Chamber of Commerce is the largest, most representative business organization in the world. Its thousands of member companies in over 130 countries have interests spanning every sector of private enterprise. The ICC Commission on Anti-Corruption, which has been active since 1977, brings together corporate experts in the field of integrity. It has prepared several anti-corruption instruments and promotes self-regulation by enterprises through company codes and compliance programs. The Commission also provides business input into international initiatives to fight corruption.

Transparency International (TI)

Transparency International (TI) is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption. Through more than 90 chapters worldwide and an international secretariat in Berlin, Germany, TI raises awareness of the damaging effects of corruption and works with partners in government, business and civil society to develop and implement effective measures to tackle it.
United Nations Global Compact

The United Nations Global Compact is a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices. As a multi-stakeholder leadership initiative, it seeks to align business strategies and operations with ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption and to catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals. With over 5,100 corporate signatories in more than 130 countries, it is the world’s largest voluntary corporate citizenship initiative.

World Economic Forum Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI)

Hosted by the World Economic Forum since 2004, PACI is a global, business-driven and implementation-oriented anti-corruption initiative with a traceable membership base. The initiative offers companies a global and cross-industry network of senior company representatives, a forum to effectively level the playing field at the individual, industry and at the multi-stakeholder levels, as well as a platform to position zero-tolerance publicly. Today, PACI brings together some 140 companies, including multiple industry leaders.