Combating corruption with upcoming ISO anti-bribery standard

Today, 9 December, is International Anti-Corruption Day, and an opportunity to raise awareness to the damage it causes. Systemic bribery, among other things, lowers economic growth and discourages investment. It goes hand in hand with poverty and social inequality. But, most importantly, it is very difficult to eradicate.

According to World Bank estimates, more than USD 1 trillion (or 3 % of the world GDP) is paid annually in bribes. In many cases, it is tolerated as a necessary part of “getting business done” or “circumventing bureaucratic red tape”.

Break the corruption chain” is this year’s theme, chosen by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The event has been observed annually since the passage of the United Nations Convention against Corruption on 31 October 2003.

Economic evil

According to a Transparency International study, 27 % of the 3 000 business people surveyed reported that they had lost business due to bribery by their competitors. What’s more, damage caused by bribery to countries, organizations and individuals:

  • Lowers economic growth
  • Discourages investment
  • Marginalizes and restricts global markets
  • Erodes support for economic aid
  • Puts a heavy economic burden on the poor
  • Lowers the standard of living of the people

Anti-bribery management systems

The future ISO 37001 standard will take account of internationally recognized good anti-bribery practice. It can apply to all organizations, regardless of type, size and nature of business or activity, whether they operate in the public, private or voluntary not-for-profit sectors.

The standard will help establish that an organization has implemented reasonable and proportionate measures designed to prevent bribery. What’s more, for ease of use, it is being developed in a similar format to other management systems standards such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.

“This is a significant step in fighting bribery at a global level,” says Alain Casanovas, partner at KPMG Spain, one of the biggest global audit, tax and advisory firms. “Today’s current anti-bribery framework will be significantly strengthened by the first real international requirements standard for establishing a complete anti-bribery management system. Once the future ISO 37001 is in place, as a compilation of international best practice in anti-bribery, companies will be able to apply uniform measures to prevent and detect bribery, irrespective of the countries in which they operate.”