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La promozione della cultura dell'integrità aziendale: il programma di lavoro del Ministero degli Affari Esteri L'intervista ad Afredo Durante Mangoni, Ministro plenipotenziario e Coordinatore delle Attività internazionali Anti-corruzione del MAECI

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Q. Corruption in business threatens the integrity of markets and fair competition, distorts resource allocation, and undermines public trust. Italy has recently devoted significant efforts to tackle the problem, broadening the scope and punishment of corruption offences.

Minister Durante Mangoni, being the Coordinator for anticorruption at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, may you outline the position of the Italian Government on business integrity for the G7 Presidency?

A. In its work plan, the Italian Presidency is envisaging to agree with partners on the promotion of a full-fledged culture of integrity, by leveraging G7 common values and high standards. An effective public integrity system pairs with the mobilization of collective multi-stakeholder efforts. Together they can spur inclusive growth and sustainable development, assure fair and efficient resource allocation - for example in public procurement and delivery of quality services - stimulate competition and investment and foster innovation. Curbing bribery of public officials and promoting responsible business conduct are crucial to enable a level playing field for companies and to create equitable market conditions for business development, competition and innovation. Private sector has a fundamental role to play, along with professionals, academia and civil society, to affirm integrity values and standards in their interactions with the public sector and with each other. The Presidency therefore aims at defining G7 key messages on supporting legally-shaped economic environments based on whole-of-society integrity systems. This objective is vital not only for sustainable growth: without it, tax loyalty and democratic processes become endangered. A weak culture of integrity creates a vacuum filled by policy capture and corruption.

Q. The fight against corruption is specifically mentioned in the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations as one of the targets of the Goal 16 “Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies”. As the SDGs call to action for business, this commitment represents an opportunity for the private sector to leverage its collective effort to steer and amplify national anti-corruption policies.

How is the Italian Government fostering ethical and responsible business conducts and encouraging self-regulation by business ?

A. Italy has built up several tools to inspire best integrity practices in business and foster effective compliance. The most relevant is our regime on the liability of legal persons (Decree 231/2001) that recommends companies to adopt and implement adequate organizational models to tackle corruption and manage the risk of unlawful behaviors, rewarding them via an exemption from corporate liability. Important emerging economies inspire their laws to this model. I can also recall further instruments: MoUs co-signed by public authorities and trade associations; compliance rating; incentives (mostly reputational ones) for firms which adopt standards overpassing those required by law when compete for public contracts; the discipline on whistleblower protection (rules applicable to the private sector to be finalized by the Senate). Recently, Italy implemented EU legislation on the disclosure of non-financial statement (social and environmental information, respect of human rights, integrity measures) which is instrumental to encourage self-regulation and responsible conducts by business. Let me also mention the activity of the Italian National Contact Point of the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises: it has been the first NCP among G7 countries to have implemented, last September, a peer-review as requested by the G7 Elmau Summit in order to strengthen governmental action to support responsible business conduct. Last but not the least, Italy is one of the first countries at UN level to have adopted last December a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights. I believe that all these accomplishments are consistent with the cross cutting character of SDG Goal 16.

Q. Fighting corruption within the private sector requires a systematic organization to ensure that integrity becomes part of the corporate culture at all levels. Imposing severe sanctions often proves inadequate, especially among SMEs – which often lack in resources to fully comply with anti-corruption requirements – while the promotion of integrity awareness within companies appears more effective.

How is the Italian Government acting in this regard?

A. The Italian experience favors a policy approach focused on integrity’s value dissemination within companies, which proves more productive than a solely repressive option.
Italian SMEs have traditionally meant a “silent social responsibility and integrity”, more visible due to their capillary presence at local level. This feature has spawn societal and environmental values in small industrial districts and can be also assessed in terms of welfare.
In the same vein, since more than a decade the Government has privileged the adoption of codes of ethics by the business. It has promoted initiatives to support the formal emersion of the (almost genetic) proclivity of Italian SMEs towards CSR: in 2003, acting as EU Presidency, Italy spearheaded the adoption of a CSR tool-kit for SMEs to help them in the self-certification of CSR activities; since last year, the Foreign Ministry has encouraged the Global Compact Network Italy to spread among its business members the new availability for SMEs of the Global Compact Express Communication on Progress allowing them to adhere to the UN GC fulfilling minimum requirements.
Next actions should accompany the evolving trends of business models, from the compliance to “doing good”. The reputational advantage is also a competitive advantage. A company investing in compliance and integrity not only prevents malfaisance but saves money, as well as spans benefits throughout the community.
Due diligence and audit functions detect business practices which are unlawful but cause a waste of resources too. Therefore, in Italy and elsewhere Governments should encourage businesses to adopt a widened concept of responsibility, looking at the supply chains, at the stakeholders and also at the size of companies. The implementation of anticorruption laws and regulations has to consider various indexes according to the company dimension. A one size organizational model does not fit all.
On the other hand, corrupt practices in SMEs are not detectable looking only at the organizational model.

Q. Ensuring integrity, especially in the business sector, is crucial for the global competitiveness of our country: its economic attractiveness for foreign investors indisputably depends on the international corruption perception.

What actions are required to improve both the coherence of international ranking of our country, as well as its reputation?

A. Significant steps were taken to improve the Italian anticorruption system, on the prevention side with the new role of ANAC (Autorità Nazionale Anticorruzione) and enhanced law enforcement and judicial measures, like asset freezing and confiscation, to counter corruption. Recent peer-review reports (UNCAC, GRECO) acknowledge these efforts. We are now developing coordination mechanisms to entrench the preparation of those reviews by all actors involved in terms of content and data exposed.
However, we often combat against perceptions of high corruption. The current predominantly perception-based index of corruption is flawed and fails to provide a credible assessment of the real dimension of corruption in specific countries and its time variation. The perception-based measurements not only lack of actual corruption evidence – since they are based on no evidence – nor can provide any information about how corruption is concretely affecting citizens and companies.
In Italy we see the paradox that the more institutions, including the judiciary, counter corruption and expose it, the higher becomes the corruption perception in public opinion. In other words, several inputs of detection (as mandatory prosecution, judiciary totally independent from government, freedom of information leading to resounding exposure of corruption cases by media) may negatively affect the perception insofar they hint that corruption is much widespread than it actually is.
For that reason, the Italian G7 Presidency is keen on encouraging experimental research and statistical surveys on more effective and reliable corruption measurements – both at national and international levels. We are planning a G7 workshop next autumn to address the issue of more reliable indicators for accurate corruption measurement, moving from the present still experimental stage (which characterizes all corruption indicators) to a more scientifically sound and effective measurement able to truly serve the advancement of anticorruption policies.
To manage accurate data is relevant both for developed and developing countries, in order to nourish better governance, to appraise public administration performance and to adjust countermeasures against corruption.
Future anticorruption exercises should develop a jurimetrics approach to assess levels of corruption, accountability of the public sector and the positive effect of anticorruption policies.

Q. The G7 in Taormina will anticipate some of the issues that will be dealt with at the G20 in Germany. ICC and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs are both members of the G20 Anticorruption Working Group which, in its 2017-2018 Action Plan, encourages a truly global dialogue on anti-corruption and the sharing of best practices.

What are the strategies in place to involve the private sector and the civil society to advance the integrity agenda towards implementation?

A. Let me clarify that G20 and G7 are different processes with specific visions and approaches and therefore play distinct roles in shaping international anticorruption strategies. G7 has dealt with anticorruption only since last year, whereas since 2010 the G20 has nurtured a consolidated institutional framework based on the high level AntiCorruption Working Group.
The G20 ACWG has defined high level principles and standards on integrity in the private sector. The OECD has given its contribution to this objective. The German G20 Presidency is currently working on several issues: liability of legal persons; organizing against corruption; risk areas like illegal wildlife and sports.

Nevertheless, the multi-stakeholder vision shall be emphasized in all relevant fora.
Concerted action by institutions, involving public (judiciary included) and private sectors, together with civil society, academy and youth is of paramount importance if we seek an effective preventing, mitigating and repressing strategy against corruption. In the near future, in adherence with the ACWG Action Plan and its Implementation Plan, some policy areas shall be addressed: the relationship between integrity and State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), strategically relevant because of their global operation in critical sectors such as finance, infrastructure and natural resources; the growing nexus between corruption and organized crime; the technical cooperation and training programs in the field of anticorruption, encompassing institution building, law enforcement, capacity building and value dissemination, bearing also in mind that G20 countries may be beneficiaries as well as donors of such assistance.

fotografia del ministro Alfredo Durante Mangoni per il G7 business magazine Alfredo DURANTE MANGONI is Coordinator for Anticorruption at the Italian Foreign Ministry. He deals with legal diplomacy and civil and criminal justice since 2013, when was appointed diplomatic adviser to the Justice Minister. Contributor to reviews on legal affairs. Foreign posts: Moscow, first secretary; Benghazi, consul general; Tokyo as Minister and deputy Head of Mission. In Rome he worked on development cooperation, economic affairs and EU matters (Justice/Home Affairs), deputy Asia director and as adviser to the Labour and Welfare Minister.


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