Defining corruption

Glossary of International Standards for Criminalisation of Corruption
What exactly is corruption? How are “offering”, “promising” and “giving” a bribe treated under the law? Different countries have different answers to these questions, by definition as well as interpretation. The courts of some countries, for instance, may consider an oral offer of a bribe not as attempted bribery, unless the briber takes further steps.
This new glossary of terms and standards compares definitions from the OECD, the Council of Europe and the UN. Available in English, with forthcoming French and Russian versions, it is the work of the Anti-Corruption Network, an OECD outreach initiative set up in 1998, to help it assess practices to combat bribery among different members, particularly those in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. Broad definitions of corruption may be one reason why prosecutions are so low, the report suggests.The OECD, the Council of Europe and the UN conventions do not define “corruption”, but establish a range of corrupt offences. The OECD Convention establishes the offence of bribery of foreign public officials, while the Council of Europe adds trading in influence and bribing domestic public officials too. In addition, the UN Convention covers embezzlement, misappropriation of property and obstruction of justice. One frequently-cited conundrum is distinguishing illegal trading in influence from legal lobbying. The Council of Europe Convention criminalises trading of “improper influence”, i.e., there must be corrupt intent. The UN Convention only covers peddlers who “abuse” their influence. The glossary notes that international definitions of corruption for policy purposes are common, and cites “abuse of public or private office for personal gain” as a useful example for policy development. References
  • ISBN 9789264027404
OECD Observer N°260, March 2007

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