In my last post I discussed Transparency International’s proposal for an “ASEAN Integrity Community” (AIC) to promote and harmonize effective anticorruption policies in the Southeast Asian region. The proposed AIC would be part of the formal ASEAN framework but would not impose additional legal obligations on member states. This got me thinking a bit more about whether it would be a good idea to push for a more robust international anticorruption convention, either in ASEAN or in the Asia-Pacific region more generally. (I’m not alone in having at least entertained this idea: the Thai National Anti-Corruption Commission has apparently been developing, and occasionally floating, a proposal for an ASEAN Anti-Corruption Convention.) After all, in addition to the two main global anticorruption conventions—the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention—there are also a number of regional anticorruption conventions, including the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, the League of Arab States Anti-Corruption Convention, the Council of Europe’s Civil and Criminal Law Conventions on Corruption, and the European Union’s Convention against Corruption involving Officials. Indeed, the Asia-Pacific region is one of the few regions in the world (along with South Asia, Central Asia, and a handful of others) that lacks a regional anticorruption convention of some kind. Is there a case for creating such a regional instrument in the Asia-Pacific (or, more narrowly, in ASEAN)?
I think, upon further reflection and discussions with people who have much more expertise than I do, that the answer is probably no. But nevertheless I thought it would be worth at least floating the idea, if only to stimulate further discussions. Continue reading