Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity II: Final Declaration
The Hague, May 28-31, 2001
Defeating Corruption Through Integrity, Transparency and Accountability
We, Ministers and government representatives, have met in The Hague at the Global Forum II on 31 May 2001 with the aim of preventing and combating corruption and promoting integrity in government and in society.
We are all deeply concerned about the spread of corruption, which is a virus capable of crippling government, discrediting public institutions and private corporations and having a devastating impact on the human rights of populations, and thus undermining society and its development, affecting in particular the poor.
We are determined to prevent and combat all forms of corruption.
We are convinced that examples should be set: by governments in ensuring the integrity of their officials; by political parties in promoting transparency in their financing; and by the private sector in applying high standards of accountability.
We are convinced that safeguarding integrity is not only a matter of enacting correct laws and establishing an independent, effective and efficient judiciary, but may also require in some cases changes in attitude and in long-standing practices.
We are aware that corruption cannot prosper in the full light of openness. Transparency and impartial forms of public control as well as cooperation by the private sector are of the utmost importance. Independent and investigative media have a vital role to play.
We recognize our responsibility to adopt policies aimed at reducing or eradicating corrupt practices at the national and international level.
We welcome the United Nations General Assembly's decision to begin the elaboration of an effective international legal instrument against corruption. This will support our national efforts against corruption and strengthen our ability to co-operate in the fight against corruption at the international level.
We have adopted the following report of the deliberations at the Global Forum II:
1. For four days participants at the Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity II have explored the best ways of realizing their commonly held objectives, i.e. putting an end to corruptive practices and further developing systems based on good governance and integrity. Participants included Ministers of a number of different Departments and senior officials as well as representatives of other state bodies, representing 142 countries. A number of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations were also present.
2. In their search for common solutions, participants greatly benefited from the results of the Global Forum I, hosted by the United States of America and held in Washington DC on 24-26 February 1999. The "Guiding Principles for Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity among Justice and Security Officials" proved to be a source of inspiration. Participants have also taken note with interest of the results reached during the regional preparatory conferences of Central and East European Countries on Fighting Corruption, held in Bucharest on 30-31 March 2000 and on 29-30 March 2001, the meeting of the Legal Sector of the Southern African Development Community held in Lusaka on 28 July 2000 and the Conference of ECOWAS Ministers of Justice on "Collaborating against Corruption" held in Accra on 21-22 May 2001 as well as of the work of the tenth session of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice held in Vienna from 8-17 May 2001.
3. Participants have not attempted to prescribe specific solutions to corruption, but envisage offering one another guidance and assistance in developing effective and appropriate national and international means to best achieve specific public integrity ends, respecting the national sovereignty of every country.
4. The multi disciplinary approach of Global Forum II was welcomed by participants: it reflects the many-faceted nature of corruption as a dangerous phenomenon and therefore the need for involvement of society at large.
5. Participants have taken note of the chairpersons' reports on each of the five workshops, i.e. on Integrity and Governance, on Law Enforcement, on Customs, on Corruption, Transition and Development and on Government and the Business Sector, as summarized by them in paragraphs 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. The reports, as annexed for information to this Declaration, offer valuable contributions to the study and exchange of 'best practices' in the fight against corruption and safeguarding of integrity.
6. The chairperson of the workshop on Governance and Integrity summarized the discussions held under his guidance as follows. Integrity in administration is crucial to the achievement of good governance and demands the continuing commitment of leadership at the political and at all official levels. It is considered important that Governments adopt and sustain integrated programs to promote integrity in public administration. Raising confidence in anticorruption measures can be achieved by involving citizens, business and the independent media in their formulation and implementation. A legal framework is necessary to obtain the rule of law in administrations, in order to guarantee disclosure and transparency and also to prescribe the conditions for political financing. The establishment of independent bodies to oversee, to control and to enforce the integrity of public administration and to ensure the systematic reporting and auditing of political funds should be considered.
7. The chairperson of the workshop on Law Enforcement summarized the discussions held under his guidance as follows. Law enforcement institutions are crucial for the struggle against public and private corruption; at the same time the integrity of these institutions is essential for the credibility of that struggle. International instruments such as a United Nations Convention against corruption are important for bridging the gaps between national legal systems, particularly if existing frameworks and experience are taken into account. An international system for returning the funds derived from corruption is important. Technical support is needed to help countries enact legislation and build institutions. No national integrity system is applicable in all countries, but the success of institutions always depends upon the political support and the availability of sufficient resources. Important elements of national and international law enforcement strategies are the combination of adequate criminalization, sufficient powers of investigation, special police units, an independent judiciary and the availability of instruments like selective integrity testing. More national and international research and monitoring on the effectiveness of those strategies and methods are needed.
8. The chairperson of the workshop on Customs summarized the discussions held under his guidance as follows. Due to the strategic role Customs plays in trade and its facilitation, as well as in the collection of government revenue and community protection, participants commit themselves to supporting Customs in its fight against corruption. They acknowledge the fact that national Customs Administrations are taking positive steps to deal with the issue, but that additional government commitment and investment are required to implement comprehensive integrity measures. In this respect, the participants recognize the shared responsibility between Customs and the private sector in addressing the issue of corruption. Therefore they urge the World Customs Organization, regional Customs organizations, national Customs Administrations and the private sector to consider in their future work the various conclusions drawn by the Customs Workshop.
9. The chairperson of the workshop on Corruption, Transition and Development summarized the discussions held under her guidance as follows. Poverty reduction strategies will never be effective when corruption is rampant. Therefore fighting corruption is crucial for reaching development objectives. Anti-corruption efforts must always be an integral part of promoting good governance, including a sound financial system. The opportunities for diminishing corruption were highlighted. A legislative framework to prevent and combat corruption is an essential condition, but implementation capacity and funds are also needed. Fighting corruption requires co-operation and commitment at all levels, from global to local, and at all levels of government and from non-governmental organizations. In addition, nongovernmental, organizations were invited to be more transparent about their goals, results and about their sources of income and expenditure. Public authorities; civil society and the private sector should complement and reinforce one another in making public resource flows more transparent and making data available and trustworthy. Raising awareness of the negative impact of corruption is an important contribution, in which the press can play a major role. Educating youth to make them more aware enables their future involvement.
10. The chairperson of the workshop on Government and the Business sector summarized the discussions held under his guidance as follows. The importance was stressed of support by Governments for voluntary codes of conduct, anti-bribery compliance programs by individual companies, including measures to enable the reporting of corruption. The importance of an appropriate legal framework for proper accounting and auditing standards was also stressed. It was further considered of great importance, since corruption is greatly facilitated by money laundering, to have legislation providing for effective preventive measures to be applied to financial institutions and other intermediaries, including making bribery a predicate offense for money laundering. Effective international co-operation, including with offshore centers, resulting in the return of funds derived from corruption to the country of origin, is considered crucial in combating corruption.
Transparency, integrity policies and other preventive measures
11. The highest possible degree of transparency in all aspects of government is essential to promote integrity and to fight corruption. The media, civil society and the private sector are indispensable partners for government in this endeavor. Governments should adopt, widely publicize and enforce legislation and procedures that provide the public and the media in the best possible way an optimum degree of access to information relevant to fighting corruption.
12. It is evident that national parliaments and local administrations have an important role to play in ensuring high standards of integrity. Financing election activities and political parties should be transparent so as to prevent corruption.
13. Government organization and procedures should be designed in a manner that reduces opportunities for corruption and creates incentives for public integrity. This could be stimulated through the establishment of a comprehensive public sector integrity policy that envisages the management of public services through a merit-based, professional and impartial civil service, with appropriate recruitment and retention systems and codes of conduct governing ethical behavior. Further measures that effectively promote integrity and prevent corruption among public officials can be strategically selected from a broad array of integrity practices.
14. Parallel to the foregoing, the adoption of a private sector integrity policy is necessary. This policy should envisage, in particular, effective measures that discourage the misuse of legal persons for purposes of corruption and related offences. In this respect participants consider appropriate the further exploration of the ability of governments to exclude legal persons convicted of corruption offences from entitlement to public benefits or aid, and the ability to identify persons convicted of corruption offences and disqualify them from acting as directors of legal persons.
15. Finally, participants endorse efforts to create a supportive and safe environment for citizens, civil servants and employees who report corrupt practices, and to establish, where appropriate, reliable and impartial institutions to handle these reports.
Criminal law and enforcement
16. Participants stress the need for including in national criminal law clear definitions of conduct that is to be considered to constitute corruption offences, as well as a precise description of a public official. They expect the comprehensive report of the Secretary General of the United Nations on "Existing international legal instruments, recommendations and other documents addressing corruption" (E/CN.15/2001/3) to be an inspiration for national legislators and others.
17. Furthermore participants deem it essential to provide for a broad scope of corruption offences in national legislation, including, as necessary, foreign and international corruption.
18. Participants recognize the need for governments to make available adequate resources for investigation and prosecution of conception offences as well as for international cooperation in corruption cases.
Assistance and cooperation
19. Participants are convinced that rendering one another assistance through the exchange of their experiences and best practices will improve the effectiveness of anti-corruption strategies, both national and international. Participants also note the importance of support to civil society organizations in their fight against corruption.
20. Participants commend the quality of the surveys made available by the United Nations Center for International Crime Prevention in Vienna within the framework of the Global Program against Corruption.
21. Participants consider improvement of law enforcement cooperation and mutual legal assistance necessary. Possible avenues are intensifying existing exchange of operational information and rendering technical and other types of assistance, identifying lacunae and developing new methods and techniques. Where necessary, creating an adequate legal basis for new activities should be considered. Consideration could be given also to ways and means to facilitate the matching of requests for and offers of expertise.
22. They are deeply conscious of the need to improve cooperation relating to the returning of funds derived from acts of corruption. They welcome the relevant recommendations forwarded by the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice at its Tenth Session, held in Vienna from 8-17 May 2001.
23. Participants recognize the importance of monitoring mechanisms. They pay tribute to the efforts undertaken in the context of the OECD, the Council of Europe/GRECO, the European Union, the Baltic Sea States' Task Force on Organized Crime, and the Stability Pact Anti-Corruption Initiative. The value of other regional, sub-regional or national mechanisms is recognized. States of the regions concerned, which do not yet participate in such mechanisms, are invited to consider joining these.
24. Participants welcome the announcements made by the Pan African Ministers of Civil Service and the Global Coalition fox Africa concerning the development of an additional monitoring mechanism and by the World Customs Organization concerning the development of a peer review and monitoring process. Participants also welcome the information that the States Parties to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption plan shortly to approve a follow-up mechanism to analyze their progress in implementing that Convention.
25. Furthermore, participants take note with appreciation of the initiative of Romania, Lithuania and Poland mutually to evaluate the effectiveness of their anti-corruption strategies.
26. Further improvement could be reached when the secretariats of the existing monitoring mechanisms would seek more ways for effective co-operation.
The way forward
27. Global Forum II welcomes the initiative of the Republic of Korea to host Global Forum III in 2003, which will provide continuity to the exchange of views world-wide, based on the principle of the equality of States.
28. Global Forum II emphasizes the importance of the decision taken by the General Assembly of the United Nations, embodied in Resolution 55/61 of 4 December 2000, to start the elaboration of an effective international legal instrument against corruption, independent of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Global Forum II invites participants in these negotiations to take into account the results of the Global Forum process.
29. Global Forum II reiterates the need for involvement of civil society, the private sector and the media in developing and implementing effective national and international anti-corruption strategies. It recognizes the unique nature of the International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC), which brings together individuals from all segments of society. The Xth IACC, to be held in Prague, in October 2001, will provide an opportunity for civil society, the private sector and government officials to develop a wider set of recommendations for action. The XIth IACC will be held in the Republic of Korea in 2003.