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Conflict of Interest Management: Relation to Anti-Corruption Policies

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Practice Advice on Human Resource Management

Conflict of Interest Management: Relation to Anti-Corruption Policies (OECD)

Summary Advice: The OECD, in a joint project with the EU, advises that policies dealing with conflict of interest should be viewed as part of a broad strategy of policy to prevent and combat corruption.

Main Points: Conflict of interest is not the same as corruption. Sometimes there is conflict of interest where there is no corruption and vice versa. Yet, most of the time, corruption appears where a prior private interest impropriety influenced the performance of the public official. For this reason, the OECD suggests to consider conflict of interest prevention as part of a broader policy to prevent and combat corruption.

Policies aimed at preventing and combating corruption include very different instruments and strategies, which can be roughly grouped into four categories: structure, prevention, detection and investigation, and penalization.

  • Structural framework: Includes political commitment and ethical leadership, as well as strategies and policies designed to avoid significant inequalities, build generalised and inclusive trust, spread good social capital and build a high quality democracy. These strategies and policies would only succeed within a political structure based on free and fair elections, open and accountable government, guaranteed civil and political rights and liberties as well as a democratic society which includes free media with access to different social groups and public accountability for large private corporations.
  • Instruments of prevention: Include an effective legal framework, workable codes of conduct, an efficient system of accountability, a career and merit based civil service, and mechanisms of professional socialization, especially in ethics and democratic values.
  • Instruments of detection and investigation: Including a coordinating body acting as a watchdog, whistle-blower hotlines and whistle-blower protection programmes, and an effective network of specialized public prosecutors as well as a sufficiently specialized judiciary, general inspectors and controllers.
  • Instruments of penalization: including penal laws, disciplinary systems, economic responsibility procedures and administrative sanctions.

 Among the most prominent instruments for prevention and conflict of interest avoidance are: 

  • Restrictions on ancillary employment
  • Declaration of personal and family income, assets.
  • Declaration of gifts.
  • Security and control of access to information.
  • Declaration of private interests relevant to management of contracts, decition-making, participation in preparing or giving policy advice.
  • Restrictions and control of post-employment business or NGO activities, external concurrent appointments.
  • Recusal and routine withdrawal of public officials.
  • Personal and family restrictions on property titles of private companies.
  • Divestment either by sale of business interests or investments or by the establishment of a trust or bling management agreement.

Source: OECD (2007). Conflict of Interest Policies and Practices in Nine EU Member States: A Comparative Review, Sigma - A Joint Initiative of the OECD and the European Union at: (accessed 3 January, 2013).

Page Created By: Khilola B. Zakhidova on 3 January 2013. Updated by Ian Clark on 5 January 2013. The content presented on this page is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases. This material does not necessarily reflect the official view of the publishing organization.


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