(New Delhi) – Highlighting the far-reaching negative impacts of corruption on business and society at large, the Global Compact Society India on 29-30 June hosted a two-day workshop on the benefits of greater compliance with the Global Compact’s tenth principle.
The tenth principle commits UN Global Compact participants not only to avoid bribery, extortion and other forms of corruption, but also to develop policies and concrete programs to address corruption. The keynote address was delivered by Shashi Tharoor, former UN Undersecretary-General and current Minister of State for External Affairs in the Government of India.
The recent adoption of international instruments like the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) has provided a framework for governments around the world to act on the issue. It is now widely recognized that companies can support this by making a leadership commitment to “ zero tolerance” on corruption and through implementation of anti-corruption programs in their own operations. However, isolated action at the company level is not sufficient; the ability to develop mechanisms for collective action is crucial for any real impact. In light of the recent high-profile failures in corporate governance in India, such collective self-regulatory codes of ethics could also pre-empt statutory regulatory authorities to foster a pragmatic regulatory regime that could bring strict control of unethical practices while addressing the genuine concerns of the industry.
The developing world is beginning to recognize the exciting outcomes of-anti corruption measures in the corporate sectors, and especially the efforts made in Brazil and Nigeria are well publicized. Noteworthy steps taken in India include the adoption of Transparency International’s Integrity Pact (due to exemplary efforts of the Central Vigilance Commission), and the provisions of the Right to Information Act 2005, which mandate even private sector entities to publicly disclose certain types of information. Reluctance among Indian companies to admit the existence of large-scale problems is still significantly high, even though the country’s position (19th out of 22 countries) at the bottom of Transparency International’s Bribe Payers Index is one alarming indicator of global perceptions of the Indian corporate world.
Concerted action on the issue is crucial to achieve good governance, sustainable development, and to fully reap the benefits of a free market and a liberalized trade regime.
“We applaud the Global Compact Society India and its partners for this effort,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact.“ Just a few years ago, businesses in India and elsewhere were unwilling to embrace the tenth principle, claiming that corruption was a systemic issue. Now, Indian companies are emerging as leaders in advancing the anti-corruption agenda and adopting zero-tolerance policies.”
“We are also very happy to see Minister Tharoor’s participation, who, as the UN’s chief communicator, coined the term ‘Global Compact’,” Mr. Kell added.