The fight against corruption has spread worldwide, resulting in the establishment of a large number of anti-corruption institutions. The diversity of their strategies and the general lack of up-to-date information prompted the French Anti-Corruption Agency (“AFA”), in partnership with Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (“GRECO”), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”), and the Network of Corruption Prevention Authorities (“NCPA”) to launch a global mapping of these national anti-corruption authorities (“ACAs”).
A first analysis report was published on 14 May 2020 and announces a framework for effective cooperation of Anti-Corruption Agencies around the world, the responsibility of which falls under the responsibility of the NCPA chaired by the AFA1.
I. An international taskforce launched to identify areas of collaboration between ACAs
Before the creation of this international taskforce, previous attempts to gather information and to connect these institutions have been already undertaken.
In 2010, the World Bank, in cooperation with the European Commission, the United Nation Office of Drugs and Crime and the US State Department, created a virtual platform, the “Anti-Corruption Authorities Initiative”, in order to provide the staff, practitioners of the ACAs and international actors with the opportunity to connect and learn about each other’s experiences. The first step of this initiative was to establish a diagnostic survey that collected factual and structural information on each participating Anti-Corruption Authority2. Since 2010, 60 countries have submitted their surveys, the last one being Botswana in 20153.
The second effort was the “Network for Integrity initiative” created by several institutions that have decided to join in order to develop an international culture of integrity and to facilitate the exchange of information and best practices among members. To date, the ‘Network for Integrity’ includes 14 institutions from 14 different countries on 4 continents4. Although the council of Europe lists the European national Anti-Corruption Authorities in Europe, no further information is disclosed however5.
Therefore, before the creation of the above-mentioned taskforce, no comprehensive source of information on ACAs was available.
To remedy the lack of cooperation between ACAs at the operational level and in view of the failures of the previous initiatives, the AFA, the Italian National Anti-Corruption Authority and the Serbian Anti-Corruption Agency decided to launch the NCPA6. The GRECO and the OECD then came to strengthen the forces to create the aforementioned ACAs’ global mapping. The project finally involved 171 national authorities committed to the fight against corruption from 114 countries7.
The purpose is to gather information to understand ACAs’ specific needs and to identify areas of collaboration between ACAs. Charles Duchaine, AFA’s Director and 2020 President of the NCPA Network, states that “[b]y learning from each other’s experience and joining our efforts, our goal is to prevent corruption more effectively, and to promote a global culture of integrity”8.
II. The outcome of the global mapping reveals common trends and an urge to develop an international network of Anti-Corruption Agencies
The first phase of the mapping was an online survey focusing on the missions and prerogatives of anti-corruption bodies sent worldwide9. The findings indicate that ACAs share similar prerogatives around the world. Indeed, a clear majority of the ACAs oversee the implementation of anti-corruption policies within their countries and are usually in charge of translating international standards into national actions. Besides, ACAs provides a comprehensive assessment of a state’s compliance situation regarding international standards. However, it appeared that the supervisory role differs from one ACA to another. Indeed, only 63% of these institutions are authorized to conduct investigations and/or criminal proceedings and only less than half of the latter have sanctioning powers10.
However, the main conclusion of the report is the willingness of ACAs to develop the network with their foreign counterparts and to share best practices.
It has therefore been decided that the NCPA will be in charge to develop cooperation between the ACAs and will create a dynamic center to connect ACAs around the world. The AFA which chairs the NCPA will thus be responsible for this implementation. Through its role in this international project, the signature of several cooperation protocols around the world with many ACAS11, the AFA clearly shows its willingness to appear more and more as a major player in global cooperation in the fight against corruption. In fact, it is already one of the main points of contact of the ACAs12. It is therefore highly likely that the AFA will carry some influence in the upcoming harmonization of ACAs best practices.