There are a number of regulatory and legal mechanisms to tackle corruption at both the state and international levels. Although such frameworks are not in themselves solutions to corruption, they are nonetheless a pre-requisite to fighting it. This chapter outlines both coercive mechanisms, including examples of enforcing such mechanisms, and voluntary guidelines, such as Defence Integrity Pacts, arms control codes of conduct, etc. “Best practice” in this regard comes from both national and international regulations. The final section of the chapter presents examples of regulations that facilitate transparency and accountability, and thus the enhancement of integrity in defence.
The first type of these regulations—coercive measures based on law—are not specific to defence nor should they be: corruption is or has to be made illegal no matter in what sector of society it takes place, while the penalty has to be commensurate to the damages incurred from the corrupt activity. Voluntary guidelines, on the other hand, may account for the specifics of the corporate culture of the defence establishment and build on the esprit and the honour of military and defence civilians alike. The regulations to provide transparency and accountability take into account the sensitivities of some of the information on security and defence, and the specific activities of the security and defence sectors.
Corruption harms societal development, infringes on moral norms and impairs social cohesion. There seems to be an agreement that certain political, social or commercial practices are corrupt and in most countries in the world these are considered illegal. But even though the phenomenon of corruption is widely spread in modern society and has a long history, the challenge to provide a common definition, equally accepted in every nation, seems insurmountable. In different frameworks, the international community has preferred to concentrate on the definition of certain forms of corruption, e.g. “illicit payments” (UN), “bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions” (OECD), or “corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union” (EU).
Transparency International defines corruption simply as “the misuse of entrusted power for private benefit.” Although short, this definition contains three essential elements: first, a misuse of power; second, a power that is entrusted, both in the private and in the public sectors; and third, the misuse is for private benefit, i.e. not only to the benefit of the person misusing the power but also to the benefit of members of his or her immediate family and friends.
Definitions, used in the discussion in international fora, are also quite broad. Box 15.1 provides the text of the provisional definition used by the Multidisciplinary Group on Corruption (GMC), established in the framework of the Council of Europe in September 1994, and the rationale for choosing such a broad definition.
Not surprisingly, national definitions of corruption also differ. Box 15.2 presents definitions and approaches to defining corruption offenses in criminal laws of three countries.
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