Monday, July 12, 2010

The G-20 On Corruption

Prior to reading this post, you no doubt have already come to your own conclusions about whether declarations released when international political leaders get together are: meaningful and significant, political posturing with little practical significance, or something in between.

Whatever your views, it should be noted that paragraph 40 of the declaration released in connection with the recent G-20 Summit in Toronto (see here) contained this statement:

"We agree that corruption threatens the integrity of markets, undermines fair competition, distorts resource allocation, destroys public trust and undermines the rule of law. We call for the ratification and full implementation by all G-20 members of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and encourage others to do the same. We will fully implement the reviews in accordance with the provisions of UNCAC. Building on the progress made since Pittsburgh to address corruption, we agree to establish a Working Group to make comprehensive recommendations for consideration by Leaders in Korea on how the G-20 could continue to make practical and valuable contributions to international efforts to combat corruption and lead by example, in key areas that include, but are not limited to, adopting and enforcing strong and effective anti-bribery rules, fighting corruption in the public and private sectors, preventing access of corrupt persons to global financial systems, cooperation in visa denial, extradition and asset recovery, and protecting whistleblowers who stand-up against corruption."

The White House released this statement by President Obama on the issue which states, among other things, as follows:

"Preventing and tackling corruption must be a key part of [the G-20's] efforts to shape an international economic architecture that is rules-based and transparent; that promotes trade and fair competition among businesses; and that fosters prosperity and development, by recognizing the fact that corruption, illicit outflows of capital, and their absorption in the global financial system represent impediments to economic growth."

Talking about rules-based, transparent enforcement and establishing a working group to make comprehensive recommendations on how to adopt and enforce strong and effective anti-bribery rules is good.

However, the big picture issue will remain - what level of committment will there be to adopting and enforcing strong and effective anti-bribery rules when doing so threatens a key supplier or vendor of a key product valued by the prosecuting government?


What is the G-20?

As described here, it is "The Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors [...] established in 1999 to bring together systemically important industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy."

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