Guest Announcement: Invitation to Join the Symposium on Supranational Responses to Corruption

Today’s guest post is from Alexandra Manea, Legal Counsel at the World Bank’s Office of Suspension and Debarment, and Jamieson Smith, the World Bank’s Chief Suspension and Debarment Officer.

Across the world, states play a fundamental role in shaping and enforcing the global anticorruption framework and agenda. But what happens when a state is unable to effectively counter corruption within its borders for various reasons? Are there supranational anticorruption mechanisms and remedies that could supplement the state’s response?

Experience shows that over the past two decades both public and private actors have developed supranational tools to tackle the “demand” and “supply” sides of corruption. A few examples include the sanctions systems of certain multilateral development banks, including the World Bank Group, which endeavor to protect development-intended funds from corruption by blacklisting corrupt contractors; the recently established European Public Prosecutor Office, designed to protect the European Union’s finances against corruption by prosecuting corrupt behaviors across EU member states; the exclusion mechanism of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund, the largest sovereign wealth fund with investments in over 9000 companies worldwide, that may divest from companies that engaged in corruption; and international corporations that have implemented robust integrity compliance programs across their affiliates at nationals levels.

To study these and other examples and to devise new opportunities for supranational remedies against corruption, a call for papers was launched last year, and was also published on this blog. We received hundreds of paper proposals from academics and practitioners from across numerous sectors and regions. The selected papers make up a rich agenda for our upcoming symposium, bringing together scholars and professionals from the private sector, international organizations, government, and civil society.  With this background, on behalf of the World Bank’s Office of Suspension and Debarment, the OECD’s Anti-Corruption Division, and the American Society of International Law’s Anti-Corruption Law Interest Group, we would like to invite all GAB followers to join the symposium on Supranational Responses to Corruption, on April 28-29, 2022. The event will be held in a hybrid format with about 30 presenters on site in Vienna, Austria, and hopefully with many of you attending online.

The main objective of the symposium is to study and reflect upon current and prospective anti-corruption efforts that transcend national boundaries or governments. The symposium will take stock of the current supranational anti-corruption mechanisms and standards, assess how to facilitate a multilateral understanding of these efforts, and discuss whether, to what extent, and how supranational anti-corruption institutions can move towards creating regional and/or transnational anti-corruption ecosystems that can effectively combat corruption irrespective of the actions, or lack thereof, of a specific state.

This symposium has been organized with the support of multiple organizations and professionals and we would like to thank them all for their valuable efforts in making this event possible. The International Anti-Corruption Academy, the World Economic Forum – Partnering Against Corruption Initiative, the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, and the OPEC Fund for International Development (event host in Vienna) provided important support.  Special thanks to GAB’s very own Matthew Stephenson, who generously helped us from the early stages through today, with sharpening the symposium’s focus, tailoring the agenda, and giving us the opportunity to invite GAB’s specialized audience to the symposium.

The full agenda is available here. You can register for April 28 here and for April 29 here. We hope to have many of you join the discussions!

Guest Announcement: The World Bank Office of Suspension and Debarment’s Fifth International Debarment Colloquium

Today’s guest post is from Alexandra Manea, Legal Counsel at the World Bank’s Office of Suspension and Debarment.

The World Bank Group (WBG) sanctions system is a critical part of the institution’s multi-faceted anticorruption effort. Comprised of independent decision-makers, the sanctions system investigates allegations of misconduct in WBG-financed projects and, if those allegations are substantiated, can debar culpable companies and individuals from engaging in any WBG -financed activity for a period of time. The impact of a WBG-imposed debarment is amplified through a cross-debarment agreement with other Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), including the African Development Bank Group, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Inter-American Development Bank.

With the unprecedented amount of multilateral financing and public spending going toward crisis aid and recovery efforts, governments and aid agencies can use debarment to ensure that they work only with reliable and ethical business partners. In times of crisis, it is crucial to facilitate knowledge-sharing among stakeholders to increase the impact of connected efforts to fight fraud and corruption.

During a series of webinars over five consecutive weeks starting on September 22 (this coming Tuesday), the WBG’s Office of Suspension and Debarment (OSD) will host the fifth edition of its International Debarment Colloquium series, a flagship event that showcases developments in debarment systems worldwide and examines the various uses of debarment in the procurement and anticorruption contexts. Representatives from multilateral organizations, government, private sector, non-governmental organizations, and academia will discuss: Continue reading

The World Bank’s Office of Suspension and Debarment Is a Model of Transparency–But I Still Want More!

As many readers of this blog are likely aware, the World Bank (and the other multinational development banks) have their own procedures for identifying and sanctioning firms that engage in unethical behavior (corruption, but also fraud, collusion, etc.) in Bank projects.  At the World Bank, responsibility for addressing corruption and other unethical practices by Bank contractors and partners is handled by the Integrity Vice Presidency (INT), which has investigative and quasi-prosecutorial functions, and the Office of Suspension and Debarment (OSD), an independent adjudicative body, as well as the Sanctions Board, an appellate body.

A few weeks ago, the OSD released a comprehensive report on its office’s activities and performance over its first seven years in operation (fiscal years 2007-2013).  It’s a very useful report, and well worth reading.  It includes a clear, succinct summary of the World Bank’s sanctions and procedures (including both their history and current structure), and also–most notably–a great deal of descriptive quantitative data about the OSD’s activities.  In many ways, the report is a model of transparency, allowing observers both inside and outside the Bank to understand the activities of OSD (and, to a lesser extent, INT and the Sanctions Board), and perhaps to identify weaknesses and areas for improvement.

But because no good deed goes unpunished, my main initial reaction to the report is to wish there were even more data provided!  Here are a few open questions that the data in the OSD report does not address, but that OSD might consider providing in future reports:

Continue reading