Eighteenth century France gave us “doux commerce” — a philosophical notion that commerce can make our interactions softer, gentler, and more humane. Might 21st century France now give us “doux compliance?”
France’s path-breaking anti-corruption agency, Agençe Francaise Anticorruption (AFA), recently published the results of a year-long study on how anti-corruption law is implemented around the world. Together with the OECD, GRECO, and the Network of Corruption Prevention Authorities, AFA is mapping the powers and practices of enforcement authorities globally and pioneering an international directory.
AFA sees that as anti-corruption compliance grows more global and multijurisdictional, a global mapping and directory are what the world needs now. The agency recognizes there’s far more to global anti-corruption law than the “famous” anti-corruption laws in the United States, the UK and France that dominate most commentary.
As of December 2019, 171 authorities in 114 countries and territories from all regions of the world had participated in the survey. That alone is a remarkable number, and tells us something about the world in which we now live: anti-corruption law is truly global. Of those 171 countries, 165 expect to exchange best practices between nations.
We might call this the new doux compliance. In the Enlightenment, Montesquieu and Voltaire popularized the idea of “doux commerce” or “gentle commerce” — that commercial relations between nations would tend to be more peaceful, and less violent, than the quests for territorial and religious dominion of the past. If you can’t imagine the United States and China going directly to war with each other today, you get the idea.
AFA now furthers this centuries-old notion, born in its homeland, by leading the effort to map global anti-corruption laws and institutions. The underlying conviction may be that global standards and procedures business will help international business become more ethical and humane, tending to strengthen societies rather than destroy them.
The report also reveals gaps we must collectively fill if global business is to achieve this noble end. Consider this difference between the public and private sectors: three quarters of participants answered that an anti-corruption code of conduct is mandatory in the public sector, while only a small minority confirmed such an obligation for private companies. Similarly, risk mapping is largely mandatory for the public sector but rarely so in the private sector.
This survey is an exciting resource to gain knowledge and understanding on how anti-corruption authorities truly function. For the next steps, the survey will continue with an in-depth analysis of the data to identify challenges, areas that need improvement and how to facilitate cooperation. Hopefully this can lead us towards increased collaboration in anti-corruption efforts on a global scale.
Andy Spalding, pictured above left, is a senior editor of the FCPA Blog. He chairs the Olympic Compliance Task Force. He is Professor at the University of Richmond School of Law (Virginia, USA), a Frequent Visiting Instructor at the International Anti-Corruption Academy in Austria, and Senior Editor of the FCPA Blog.
Esther Ullberg, above right, is a master’s student in business law at Sciences Po Paris specializing in compliance. Currently a research assistant to Professor Andy Spalding, Esther is a former intern at Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP in Paris.