On 9 August 2021, CourtHeath attended the 6th Annual Australian Dialogue on Bribery and Corruption. Co-hosted by the Global Compact Network Australia and Allens, the online event offered an invaluable opportunity for stakeholders including Australian businesses, government and academics to hear national and international leaders in anti-bribery and corruption, compliance and governance, discuss the importance of responsible business conduct though integrated risk management.
In the first of our two-part series, we provide an outline of the 2021 Dialogue as well as an overview of the keynote presentation and discussion.
Building on 2020’s examination of the intersections between anti-bribery and corruption and human rights agendas, this year’s Dialogue offered participants a range of practical insights into implementing a holistic approach to risk.
The event featured a range of Australian and international industry experts, including James Anderson (The World Bank), Serena Lillywhite (Transparency International Australia), David Lines (QBE Insurance Group), and Ben Rix (NAB), who provided a robust and insightful discussion, with key take-aways including:
Opening the 2021 Dialogue was the keynote address, Crystalising ESG obligations – the convergence of anti-corruption and other due diligence obligations, presented by Jonathan Drimmer, Partner in the Litigation Department of Paul Hastings, and former Chair of the Global Compact Canada. Facilitated by Anita Ramasastry, Professor of Law, University of Washington, Drimmer offered important insights into the complex link between human rights and corruption, which should be treated, like two sides of one coin.
According to Drimmer, companies need to address human rights and corruption holistically, which can be done through integrating and sharing frameworks in:
These frameworks and policies should reference both human rights and anti-corruption management systems. Companies are encouraged to integrate civil society tools into these frameworks and policies, by accessing UN protocols, whether it be the Global Compact or the UN Sustainable Development Goals. But this can be complex, as human rights require a different expertise than anti-corruption: they have “different norms, precedence and considerations.”
Drimmer went on to say that although they have “overlapping but different philosophical premises, they require different types of training, particularly around higher risk issues that you’re looking to educate and mitigate in connection to their policies and procedures.” However, they can learn from each other, but you cannot, Drimmer emphasises “simply add human rights to all your anti-corruption processes and just call it a day.”
Importantly, there is enough overlap that makes a holistic approach practical. Partnership and teamwork between companies and civil society is also integral to solve these difficult dilemmas.
In terms of the Australian context of human rights and corruption, Drimmer added: “The best thing for a business is to look around and see what is happening elsewhere.” Considering responsible business through a global lens is fundamental when addressing human rights and anti-corruption.
The keynote discussion concluded that businesses should not wait to see what will happen next with regulations. Responsible business practice is critical and should be addressed now through the sphere of spotlighting human rights and anti-corruption practices. Drimmer acknowledged changes in businesses take time and commitment, but increasingly, responsible business is what the community expects, it is what the UN Global Compact expects, it is what the OECD guidelines expect, so don’t wait for the law to change. “Jump in,” concluded Drimmer.
In part two of our 2021 Dialogue coverage, we will offer an overview of the panel presentations, paying special attention to the interconnectedness of corruption and human rights risks and embedding ethical leadership and a holistic risk and compliance approach.
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A participant in the, CourtHeath seeks to raise awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals and the principles of the Global Compact with business and government organisations in Victoria.
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Written by Wendy Cavenett and Elizabeth Tower
[risk management, corruption, human rights]