On May 25, the French Anti-Corruption Agency (AFA), in partnership with the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the OECD, and the international Network of Corruption Prevention Authorities (NCPA), issued a report that provided global mapping of anti-corruption authorities (ACAs) around the world. ACAs have long been an object of anti-corruption efforts around the world; Article 6 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) provides that States Parties should ensure the existence of one or more bodies that prevent corruption, and other regional conventions have similarly advocated the need for anti-corruption oversight and prevention bodies.
The report was based on data provided by 171 national authorities from 114 countries and territories, including ACAs from every geographic region of the world. It has two principal aims: “helping anti-corruption practitioners to better understand ACAs’ characteristics and needs”; and “identify[ing] common trends and challenges, and to explore concrete avenues for cooperation between, and with, ACAs.”
The report’s main conclusions included the following topics:
- Diversity of Anti-Corruption Institutional Arrangements: The report stated that “[t]here is no universally accepted model for shaping national integrity systems, but the centralized single-agency approach to the anti-corruption mandate seems to be predominant.” Of the responding authorities, 74 percent (84 of 114 countries) were responses from a single authority.
- GRECO Membership and Adoption of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention: 43 percent of respondents were from GRECO Member States, and 48 percent were from countries that adopted the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.
- ACAs’ Power to Investigate and Prosecute: 63 percent (108) of responding ACAs responded that they were authorized to conduct investigations and/or criminal proceedings, and 79 authorities reported that they could pursue legal persons. The report, however, also said that the survey indicated “ACAs are more used to investigate and prosecute individuals for corruption than companies,” which might indicate a need “to further enforce the responsibility of legal persons for corruption in accordance with Article 2 of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.”
- Availability of Sanctions Mechanisms: Fewer than half (48 percent) of responding ACAs reported that they have sanction mechanisms, and those mechanisms in 56 ACAs were mainly administrative.
- Prevalence of National Anti-Corruption Strategies: A clear majority (89 percent) of respondents reported that they were involved in the creation and execution of a national strategy on anti-corruption.
- Asset and Interest Declarations: 39 percent of respondents (66 of 171) stated that their organizations were in charge of managing asset and/or interest declarations of senior public officials, but ACAs did not seem to be primarily responsible for their management.
- Obligations to Establish Codes of Conduct: 75 percent reported that their countries had an obligation to establish a code of conduct. 73 percent (125) stated that that obligation extended to the public sector, but only 17 percent (29) reported that that that obligation extended to the private sector (mostly companies).
- Risk Mapping: The survey showed “that, in comparison with codes of conduct, risk mapping is not such a widespread practice at the international level.” 56 percent said that risk mapping was an obligation in their countries, and only 12.8 percent (22) said that this obligation was applicable to both the public and private sectors, mainly to companies.
- ACAs’ Major Expectations Toward NCPA: Nearly all respondents (165 of 171) indicated that they expect more exchange of best practices between peers, and 69 percent (118) expressed interest in strengthening the exchange of operational information.
- International Directory of ACAs: 83 percent of ACA respondents stated that they wished to share their contact details with other ACAs.
Note: This report is encouraging for anti-corruption observers, to the extent it shows a significant measure of national-level commitment by numerous countries to establishing and maintaining anti-corruption authorities. At the same time, it indicates that many countries that signed the UNCAC or regional anti-corruption conventions still have some distance to go in implementing anti-corruption prevention or oversight bodies with genuine authority, as well as anti-corruption preventive measures. As that slowness to delegate such authority to national and subnational authorities is not likely to end soon, the ACA directory mentioned in the report may be the most promising means in the immediate future for fostering closer cooperation and good-practices and information exchanges between ACAs in multiple countries.