At the Closing Ceremony of the 16th IACC, after the reading of the Putrajaya Declaration by two young journalists, we were able to announce the commitment of a number of governments, including Germany, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA, to end impunity. This is a landmark commitment from some of the world’s most powerful governments. We will be watching their progress closely between now and the 17th IACC in Panama next year.
Below are the general commitments that these six governments have made. Some, like the US government, have already added specific goals to each commitment. For example, when it comes to asset recovery, the “FBI will formally launch Asset Recovery Teams at IACC. The goal of these teams will be to investigate allegations of international corruption, particularly as they relate to bribery and theft of foreign government funds.”
The Friends of the IACC, composed of like-minded governments committed to combating corruption, welcome the work of the IACC and recognize the important role played by civil society. With participants from every region of the world convening to share experiences and debate ideas, the IACC is an important element of the growing movement to address corruption globally. As key stakeholders in this movement, the Friends of the IACC reaffirm their continued commitment to pursuing the following actions in an effort to end the scourge of corruption.
- Commitment to Battling Impunity: Ending impunity is an integral part of combating corruption worldwide. Corrupt leaders not only illegally and unjustly enrich themselves, but also erode the public’s trust in the institutions and laws meant to protect citizen interests. Ending impunity requires governments, civil society and the private sector to work together. For their part, governments need to commit to both actions and principles that promote integrity and ensure that those guilty of engaging in corrupt practices are brought to justice.
- Denial of Entry to the corrupt and their proceeds: Ensuring corrupt officials are unable to spend their ill-gotten gains abroad is integral to ending impunity. The Friends of the IACC reaffirm their commitment to developing or maintaining legal frameworks and authority to deny entry to those who engage in corrupt behavior, subject to commitments under international law as well as national laws and procedures.
- Transparency: Consistent with FATF and other standards, we will redouble our efforts to increase the transparency of ownership of companies and other legal vehicles (beneficial ownership).
- Immunity: Corrupt officials often rely on immunities provided under their country’s legal framework in order to escape prosecution for corruption. Addressing the issue of immunities is an important step to ending impunity. The Friends of the IACC therefore pledge to eliminate or minimize the scope of immunities granted to government officials within their home country, in order to ensure that immunities do not create undue obstacles to legitimate prosecution for corruption practices.
- Asset Recovery: The Friends of the IACC reaffirm their commitment to recovery and return of confiscated proceeds of corruption in a transparent and accountable manner ensuring that assets are disposed of to the direct benefit of the citizens of the state harmed by corruption, consistent with the requirements of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) Chapter V. It also includes working with civil society on initiatives aimed at investigating, confiscating, and when possible, returning ill-gotten gains. These commitments are consistent with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development, which has identified asset recovery as a crucial element towards the financing of the 2030 sustainable development agenda, and encourages the international community to develop good practices on asset return.
- Bribery: The Friends of the IACC reaffirm their commitments made under the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and/or UNCAC, to adopt laws to criminalize foreign bribery and effectively enforce them.
- Civil Society: We will continue to underscore the importance of the role of civil society and journalists in combating corruption, in our own countries and abroad. We will seek to ensure they are protected from prosecution or other retaliation which results from their work speaking out against or publishing stories about corruption. Additionally, we will seek to enhance civil society’s role in the implementation of UNCAC and in its mechanisms.
The Friends of the IACC is composed of the governments of:
The Republic of Korea
The United Kingdom
The United States of America