Building Integrity (BI) legal framework consists of a series of laws, rules, regulations and other resources that define corruption, regulate anti-corruption procedures and promote building integrity in the public sector. This legal framework includes national and international tools. The latter can take the form of Conventions, Agreements, Recommendations, and Best Practices. Some of these international standards are security sector-sector specific. All BI regulations addressed to the public sector apply to security and defence. International organisations play a vital role in the development and promotion of international BI standards.

What Legal Framework and International Standards?

The legal framework for BI includes national and international anti-corruption legislation that may be addressed to the public sector in general or to the security sector in particular. These tools do not necessarily have the nature of a legally binding document.

  • UN Convention Against Corruption

The UN Convention against Corruption requires countries to establish criminal and other offences to cover a wide range of acts of corruption, if these are not already crimes under domestic law. In some cases, states are legally obliged to establish offences; in other cases, in order to take into account differences in domestic law, they are required to consider doing so. The Convention goes beyond previous instruments of this kind, criminalizing not only basic forms of corruption such as bribery and the embezzlement of public funds, but also trading in influence and the concealment and laundering of the proceeds of corruption. Offences committed in support of corruption, including money-laundering and obstructing justice, are also dealt with. Convention offences also deal with the problematic areas of private-sector corruption.[1]

  • UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime

The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime is the main international instrument in the fight against transnational organized crime. The Convention is supplemented by three Protocols, which target specific areas and manifestations of organized crime: the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children; the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air; and the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition.

The Convention represents a major step forward in the fight against transnational organized crime and signifies the recognition by Member States of the seriousness of the problems posed by it, as well as the need to foster and enhance close international cooperation in order to tackle those problems. States that ratify this instrument commit themselves to taking a series of measures against transnational organized crime, including the creation of domestic criminal offences (participation in an organized criminal group, money laundering, corruption and obstruction of justice); the adoption of new and sweeping frameworks for extradition, mutual legal assistance and law enforcement cooperation; and the promotion of  training and technical assistance for building or upgrading the necessary capacity of national authorities.[2]

  • UN General Assembly and International Committee of the Red Cross, Montreux Document on Pertinent International Legal Obligations and Good practices for States Related to Operations of Private Military and Security Companies During Armed Conflict.

The Montreux Document aims to recall certain existing international legal obligations of States regarding private military and security companies. The statements are drawn from various international humanitarian and human rights agreements and customary international law. This document does not create legal obligations. Each State is responsible for complying with the obligations it has undertaken pursuant to international agreements to which it is a party, subject to any reservations, understandings and declarations made, and to customary international law. [3]

  • Resolution 51/59 UN General Assembly: International Code of Conduct for Public Officials
  • Council of Europe Recommendation Rec (2000)10

The main requirements to the conduct of individuals in public service are outlined in the UN Convention against Corruption. However, both UN and the Council of Europe have adopted further model codes of conduct: UN Resolution 51/59 and CoE Recommendation Rec (2000)10. These codes identify general principles of integrity for public officials and address specific issues such as conflicts of interest, the misuse of confidential information and the acceptance of gifts and hospitality. The UN Code of Conduct stipulates that public officials shall perform their duties and functions efficiently, effectively and with integrity, and shall at all times seek to ensure that public resources for which they are responsible are administered in the most effective and efficient manner.

  • Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption

The Criminal Law Convention on Corruption aims at the co-ordinated criminalisation of a large number of corrupt practices. It also provides for complementary criminal law measures and for improved international co-operation in the prosecution of corruption offences. The Convention is open to the accession of non-member States. Its implementation will be monitored by the “Group of States against Corruption – GRECO”, which was launched in May 1999 with the objective of monitoring the compliance with Council of Europe’s anti-corruption standards. As soon as they ratify it, States which do not already belong to GRECO will automatically become members. The Convention is wide-ranging in scope, and complements existing legal instruments.

States are required to provide for effective and dissuasive sanctions and measures, including deprivation of liberty that can lead to extradition. Legal entities will also be liable for offences committed to benefit them, and will be subject to effective criminal or non-criminal sanctions, including monetary sanctions.

The Convention also incorporates provisions concerning aiding and abetting, immunity, criteria for determining the jurisdiction of states, liability of legal persons, the setting up of specialised anti-corruption bodies, protection of persons collaborating with investigating or prosecuting authorities, gathering of evidence and confiscation of proceeds. It provides for enhanced international co-operation (mutual assistance, extradition and the provision of information) in the investigation and prosecution of corruption offences.[4]

  • Council of Europe Civil Law Convention on Corruption

The Council of Europe Civil Law Convention on Corruption is the first attempt to define common international rules in the field of civil law and corruption. In particular, it requires states to provide legal remedies, including compensation for damages, for persons who have suffered damage as a result of acts of corruption.

The Convention provides for monitoring by GRECO, the Group of States against Corruption.[5]

  • Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of Proceeds of Crime

The aim of this Convention is to facilitate international co-operation and mutual assistance in investigating crime and tracking down, seizing and confiscating the proceeds thereof. The Convention is intended to assist States in attaining a similar degree of efficiency even in the absence of full legislative harmony.

Parties undertake in particular measures:

  • to criminalise the laundering of the proceeds of crime;
  • to confiscate instrumentalities and proceeds (or property the value of which corresponds to such proceeds)

For the purposes of international co-operation, the Convention provides for:

  • forms of investigative assistance (for example, assistance in procuring evidence, transfer of information to another State without a request, adoption of common investigative techniques, lifting of bank secrecy etc.);
  • provisional measures: freezing of bank accounts, seizure of property to prevent its removal;
  • measures to confiscate the proceeds of crime: enforcement by the requested State of a confiscation order made abroad, institution by the requested State, of domestic proceedings leading to confiscation at the request of another State[6]
  • Council of Europe Resolution (97) 24 on the twenty guiding principles for the fight against corruption.

The Council of Europe’s twenty guiding principles to fight corruption aim to promote a dynamic process for effectively preventing and combating corruption. Guiding principles include raising public awareness, improving investigation and prosecution procedures, promoting specialization of persons or bodies in charge of fighting corruption as well as increasing international cooperation.[7]

  • Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents
  • Council of Europe Recommendation Rec (2002)2[8]

This Convention is the first binding international legal instrument to recognise a general right of access to official documents held by public authorities. Transparency of public authorities is a key feature of good governance and an indicator of whether or not a society is genuinely democratic and pluralist. The right of access to official documents is also essential to the self-development of people and to the exercise of fundamental human rights. It also strengthens public authorities’ legitimacy in the eyes of the public, and its confidence in them.

This Convention lays down a right of access to official documents. Limitations on this right are only permitted in order to protect certain interests like national security, defence or privacy.

The Convention sets forth the minimum standards to be applied in the processing of requests for access to official documents (forms of and charges for access to official documents), review procedure and complementary measures and it has the flexibility required to allow national laws to build on this foundation and provide even greater access to official documents. A Group of Specialists on Access to Official Documents will monitor the implementation of this Convention by the Parties.[9]

  • EU Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of member states of the EU.

This European Union Convention is designed to fight corruption involving European officials or national officials of Member States of the European Union. Member State must ensure that any act of passive or active corruption by officials is a punishable criminal offence. In serious cases penalties should include deprivation of liberty and extradition. Moreover, heads of businesses are to be declared criminally liable for active corruption by a person under their authority acting on behalf of the business entity.[10]

  • EU Convention on the protection of the European Communities’ Financial Interests

The Convention on the Protection of the European Communities’ Financial Interests and its protocols are aimed at creating a common legal basis for the criminal-law protection of the European Communities’ financial interests. Fraud affecting both expenditure and revenue must be punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties including custodial sentences that can give raise to extradition.[11]

  • European Convention on Extradition

The European Convention on Extradition provides for the extradition between Parties of persons wanted for criminal proceedings or for the carrying out of a sentence. The Convention does not apply to political or military offences and any Party may refuse to extradite its own citizens to a foreign country.

With regard to fiscal offences (taxes, duties, customs) extradition may only be granted if the Parties have decided so in respect of any such offence or category of offences. Extradition may also be refused if the person claimed risks the death penalty under the law of the requesting State.[12]

  • OSCE Code of Conduct of Politico-Military Aspects of Security

The Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security, adopted by the OSCE in December 1994, is one of the most innovative normative documents in the area of security. For the first time, a politically-binding multilateral instrument established a set of rules regulating the role and use of armed and other security forces both at the domestic and international levels, and both in peacetime and in times of conflict. The Code is unique in that it not only reaffirmed existing inter-state and intra-state norms, but established new ones.

The OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security came into effect as a politically binding document on 1 January 1995. The key objective of the Code of Conduct is to govern the role of armed forces in democratic societies. The Code of Conduct provides important guidance for structuring the domestic security sector, safeguarding the rights of armed forces personnel and taking into account legitimate security concerns of other states. The code deals with inter-state as well as intra-state norms on democratic control of the armed and security forces and with the implementation of International Humanitarian Law provisions reflecting the growing awareness of interdependency within a globalizing world and the indivisibility of security. It was also the first multilateral instrument encompassing norms and principles to regulate and control, both, at internal and international levels, the armed forces and the Security Sector at large, central areas of sovereignty and state power.[13]

  • OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Officials in international Business Transactions,1997
  • OECD Recommendation for further Combating Foreign Bribery, 2009
  • OECD Good Practice Guidance on Internal Controls, Ethics, and Compliance, 2010

The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention establishes legally binding standards to criminalise bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions and provides for a host of related measures that make this effective. It is the first and only international anti-corruption instrument focused on the ‘supply side’ of the bribery transaction.[14]

The OECD Recommendation for further Combating Foreign Bribery, adopted in 2009, asks Member countries to encourage companies to develop and adopt adequate internal controls, ethics and compliance programmes or measures for the purpose of preventing and detecting foreign bribery. In support of this provision, the OECD issued good practice guidance on internal controls, ethics, and compliance.[15]

  • OECD Best Practices for Budgetary Transparency, 2002

The “OECD Best Practices for Budget Transparency” are designed as a reference tool for governments to use in order to increase the degree of budget transparency in their respective countries.

The best practices are divided into three parts:

Part 1 lists the principal budget reports that governments should produce and their general content.

Part 2 describes specific disclosures to be contained in the reports, including both financial and non-financial performance information.

Part 3 highlights practices for ensuring the quality and integrity of the reports.

The OECD best practices are based on different countries’ experiences in each area and are organised around specific reports for presentational reasons. Different countries will have different reporting regimes and may have different areas of emphasis for transparency.

Since 2015, the OECD Best Practices have been embodied and updated within the Recommendation on Budgetary Governance, which provides a comprehensive, integrated set of guidance on budget formulation, management and its links with other aspects of good public governance.[16]

  • International Monetary Fund: Code of Good Practices on Fiscal Transparency[17]

The Code identifies a set of principles and practices to help governments provide a clear picture of the structure and finances of government. It sets guidelines for states’ budgeting processes. It clarifies the roles and responsibilities of financial accountability institutions as well as the requirements for openness, transparency and integrity of those in charge of budgeting of public funds.

  • Inter-American Convention Against Corruption

The purposes of the Convention are:

  • To promote and strengthen the development by each of the States Parties of the mechanisms needed to prevent, detect, punish and eradicate corruption.
  • To promote, facilitate and regulate cooperation among the States Parties to ensure the effectiveness of the measures and actions to prevent, detect, punish and eradicate corruption in the performance of public functions and acts of corruption specifically related to such performance.

This Convention establishes a set of preventive measures; provides for the criminalization of certain acts of corruption, including transnational bribery and illicit enrichment; and contains a series of provisions to strengthen the cooperation between its States Parties in areas such as mutual legal assistance and technical cooperation, extradition and identification, tracing, freezing, seizure and forfeiture of property or proceeds obtained, derived from or used in the commission of acts of corruption, among others.[18]

  • African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption

The AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption provides a comprehensive framework and covers a range of criminal offences including bribery (domestic or foreign), diversion of property by public officials, trading in influence, illicit enrichment, money laundering and concealment of property. It calls for measures on prevention, criminalisation, regional cooperation, mutual legal assistance and recovery of assets. It covers both public sector and private sector corruption, both supply and demand side. It is unique in containing mandatory provisions with respect to private-to-private corruption and on transparency in political party funding. It has not yet attained the number of ratifications required for entry into force. Other strong points of the AU Convention are mandatory requirements of declaration of assets by designated public officials and restrictions on immunity for public officials (Art. 7) The AU Convention also gives particular attention to the need for the media to have access to information (Art. 12)

The AU Convention provides for a Follow Up Mechanism involving an Advisory Board on Corruption within the African Union which is assigned a range of functions including research and collection of information, advice to governments and regularly reporting to the Executive Council on States Parties’ progress in implementing the Convention drawing on annual reports to the Board by the various countries.[19]

  • INTOSAI International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions

International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI) is a collection of professional standards and best practice guidelines for public sector auditors, officially authorised and endorsed by the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI). The International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions state basic prerequisites for a proper functioning and professional conduct of Supreme Audit Institutions and outline the fundamental principles in auditing of public entities.[20]

  • INTOSAI Lima Declaration of Guidelines on Auditing Precepts.

The Lima declaration, adopted in 1977, outlines standards and norms for independent auditing of governments and governments agencies. It establishes a comprehensive list of issues, goals and norms regulating the audit of public institutions. The chief aim is to call for independent government auditing.

  • INTOSAI Guidelines for Internal Control in the Public Sector.

This document defines a recommended framework for internal control in the public sector and provides a basis against which internal control can be evaluated. The approach applies to all aspects of an organisation’s operation.

The Guidelines consist of three parts:

  • Definition of Internal Control and limitations on internal control effectiveness
  • Components of Internal Control (Control Environment, Risk Assessment, Control Activities, Information and Communications, Monitoring)
  • Roles and Responsibilities[21]
  • INTOSAI Code of Ethics

With the Lima Declaration of Guidelines in Auditing Precepts as its foundation, the INTOSAI Code of Ethics should be seen as a necessary compliment, reinforcing the INTOSAI Auditing Standards issued by the INTOSAI Auditing Standards Committee in 1992. This Code of Ethics is a comprehensive statement of the values and principles which should guide daily work for auditors.

The independence, powers and responsibilities of the public sector auditor place high ethical demands on the Supreme Audit Institutions (SAI) and the staff they employ or engage for audit work. A code of ethics for auditors in the public sector should consider the ethical requirements of civil servants in general and the particular requirements of auditors, including latter’s professional obligations.

Due to national differences of culture, language, and legal and social systems, it is the responsibility of each SAI to develop its own Code of Ethics, which best fits its own environment. Preferably these national Codes of Ethics should clarify the ethical concepts.

The INTOSAI Code of Ethics is intended to constitute a foundation for the national Codes of Ethics. Each SAI has the responsibility to ensure that all its auditors acquaint themselves with the values and principles contained in the national Code of Ethics and act accordingly.[22]

  • ISO 15288 and AAP-48

International Organization for Standardization ISO 15288 and NATO’s AAP-48 are useful tools for building integrity in defence procurement. Defence establishments and parliamentarian committees that see gaps in the process of defence procurement and embark on enhancing its integrity should consider the implementation of the international standard ISO 15288 and the related NATO publication AAP-48. The application of ISO 15288 and AAP-48 provides a common and integrated process framework for systems engineering and project management and allows the integration of project management disciplines and technical processes across the full life cycle and transparent interaction between participating organisations.[23]

  • TI Defence Integrity Pacts

In 1990, Transparency International developed the integrity pact as a tool governments can use to combat corruption at the tendering and contract stage of procurement. TI’s defence team has since adapted this tool to address the specific needs of defence procurement. The Defence Integrity Pact is a contract that binds bidders and buyers to non-bribery pledges on a specific procurement. Defence Integrity Pacts bind all bidders and the government together in a contract to reduce the possibility of corruption occurring prior to, during and after the tender. Usually they include pledges and undertakings by bidders not to offer and accept bribes, as well as pledges and undertakings by the governments including all their consultants and advisers. Bidders agree to withdraw from the tender if there is evidence of breach of the pledge, which may also involve further sanctions such as exclusion from bidding for subsequent contracts.[24]

  • Some examples of national legal framework for BI
    • US Federal Acquisition Regulation[25]
    • The Bribery Act 2010 UK[26]
    • The Criminal Code of Australia and the Bribery of Foreign Officials[27]

Why are they important?

International standards and legal framework for BI establish internationally agreed upon principles for fighting corruption and ensuring good governance in the public sector, and by extension, in the security sector. These international standards are key as they serve as a model to help states strengthen their own legal framework in order to increase transparency, accountability and to ensure good governance in the public sector. They provide governments and members of parliament with a set of guiding principles for developing and reforming national laws, systems and processes. They provide a frame of reference for best practices. They also establish channels for international cooperation in the fight against corruption and organised crime.[28]

How do they work?

As OECD points out, the majority of the above mentioned conventions are not self-executing. They require states to have appropriate legislation and measures in place to implement the conventions. The conventions establish minimum standards that implementing legislation must meet. To implement the conventions, countries must first identify where and how their legislation falls below the standards of the conventions. After identifying the shortcomings in their domestic laws, countries must then rectify those deficiencies.[29]

Who is involved?

The development and implementation of BI legal framework and international standards involves many actors. This includes international organisations and experts who formulate the standards, national authorities who endorse those standards, security sector personnel who implements them, sanctioning bodies who enforce their application, as well as actors involved in the oversight of the overall process. Civil society and parliamentarians are two especially important links of this chain. Civil society raises concerns and awareness about the need to reform national legislation and adapt it to international standards. Members of parliament then take on the task of translating those needs and concerns into a compliant national legal framework.



Council of Europe, 1999, Criminal Law Convention on Corruption. 

Council of Europe, Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the financing of Terrorism.

Council of Europe, Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime

DCAF 2015, International Standards of Financial Oversight in the Security Sector. Toolkit- Legislating for the Security Sector.

European Partners against Corruption, European Contact Point Network against Corruption (2011), Anti-Corruption Authority Standards.

NATO-DCAF, (2010). Building Integrity and Reducing Corruption in Defence: A Compendium of Best Practices

OECD, UNODC, The World Bank, (2013), Anti-corruption ethics and compliance Handbook for Business. 

OECD (2010), Good Practice Guidance on Internal Controls, Ethics and Compliance

OECD (2208) OECD Glossaries. Corruption: A Glossary of International Standards in Criminal Law.

UN Office on Drugs and Crime, United Nations Convention Against Corruption


[1] Source: UN Office on Drugs and Crime, United Nations Convention against Corruption Convention: Highlights.

[2] Source: UNODC, United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols Thereto. 

[3] The Montreux Document. 

[4] Council of Europe, Details of Treaty No 173.

[5] Source: Transparency International Archive  Civil law Convention against Corruption text available at:

[6] Source: Council of Europe, Details of Treaty No 141: Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime. 

[7] Source: OSCE Polis. The full text of the Resolution can be found at:

[8] Council of Europe Recommendation Rec (2000)2 of the Committee of Ministers to Member states on access to official documents.

[9] Source: Council of Europe, Details of Treaty No 205. Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents. 

[10] Source: OECD, International Conventions: Full text available at:

[11] Source: OECD, International Conventions: Full text available at:

[12] Source: OECD, International Conventions: Full text available at:

[13] Source: Swiss Armed Forces- OSCE, 20 Years of OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security. 2014. Available at:

[14] Source: OECD,

[15] OECD, UNODC, World Bank. 2013, Anti-Corruption Ethics and Compliance Handbook for Business. 

[16] Source: OSCE Best Practices on Budget Transparency. 

[17] Full text available at:

[18] Source: Organisation of American States: Full text of the Convention available at:

[19] Source: Transparency International Archive. Available at:  Full text of the Convention can be found at:

[20] Source: INTOSAI, at:

[21] Source: INTOSAI, full text of Guidelines available at:

[22] INTOSAI, available at:

[23] Building Integrity and Reducing Corruption in Defence: a Compendium of Best Practices, p. 77-78.

[24] Building Integrity and Reducing Corruption in Defence: a Compendium of Best Practices, p. 85. Also see: Note 2o. Anti-Corruption/ Integrity Pacts.

[25] US Federal Acquisition Regulation is available at:

[26] The UK Bribery Act of 2010 is available at:

[27] Information about Australia’s anti-corruption policies and efforts to fight foreign bribery can be found at:

[28] Source: DCAF (2015), Toolkit- Legislating for the Security Sector: International Standards of Financial Oversight in the Security Sector.

[29] OECD (2008), OECD Glossaries: Corruption: A Glossary of International Standards in Criminal Law.


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