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UN International Anti-Corruption Day

UN International Anti-Corruption Day

2014 marks the 10th anniversary of the fourth pillar of the United Nations Global Compact relating to anti-corruption. Originally built on the three pillars of human rights, labour rights and the environment, companies are encouraged to voluntarily sign up and align their operations and strategies with the ten principles underpinning the four pillars of the Global Compact. With over 10,000 signatories based in more than 140 countries, it is now the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world.

However, it wasn’t until four years after the UN Global Compact was formed that anti-corruption became the fourth pillar. It’s an initiative that firmly places corruption on an economic rather than a political footing. This change in perception is fundamental to how we now view corruption and one which can be traced back to the formation of the World Bank in 1944.

In its most basic role the World Bank set out to alleviate world poverty through development lending. The founding articles stated, however, that the bank was not allowed to interfere with the political situation in countries that were allocated development lending. Primarily seen as a political issue at that point, it meant that the World Bank was unable to consider corruption when lending money.

This changed after 1995 when James Wolfensohn was appointed President of the World Bank. His view was that corruption was not a political issue, it was an economic problem as it distorts free markets. This distortion hinders efforts at driving down world poverty, the World Bank’s prime role. It was only in the late 1990s, therefore, that international development institutes were able to consider corruption at all in their lending decisions.

This major change in thinking meant that corruption became a mainstream economic consideration, whether in development lending or any other type of development initiative. As well as the UN Global Compact initiative, agreements such as the United Nations Convention against Corruption agreed in 2003, are contributing to the global effort to eradicate corruption in all its forms.

How we can play our part – UK initiative

One of the changes discussed in ‘A Focus on Purpose’ is the broader expectation of investors and stakeholders that companies not only focus on profit, but also on purpose and a company’s place in the societal ecosystem. The fact that anti-corruption is now the fourth pillar of the UN Global Compact recognises the link that exists between corruption and related company issues such as human rights, labour rights and the environment.

To highlight these issues and to celebrate UN International Anti-Corruption Day and the 10th anniversary of the UN Global Compact fourth pillar on Anti-Corruption, Mazars hosted an event with key speakers from the UN Global Compact, Transparency International and the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network, who all shared their views on bribery and corruption and put the key issues into context. We firmly believe a collaborative approach will help companies root out systemic corruption so together businesses can operate in an environment for good.

For more information on Mazars’ Anti Bribery and Corruption Breakfast Seminar, please contact helen.maden@mazars.co.uk

Further reading on this topic:
Building a House of Integrity
How ethical is your company?

Howard Shaw. Head of Anti-Bribery & Corruption Services. Mazars UK

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