Preventing corruption in sport through good governance and enhancing cooperation between criminal justice authorities and sports organisations were the focus of the discussions at the Annual General Conference of the International Partnership against Corruption in Sport (IPACS) this week. The event, which brought together over 100 IPACS partner representatives, including from governments, sports organisations, intergovernmental organisations and experts from the IPACS Task Forces, was held on 12 September in a hybrid format at the headquarters of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna, Austria.

With a view to consolidating and further strengthening the prevention work stream, the IPACS partners welcomed the decision by the Steering Committee in May to merge the three IPACS Task Forces. These had been created to prevent corruption risks in procurement (1), and in the selection of major sports events (2), plus to promote good governance principles (3). This merger brings together the vast expertise of the IPACS partners in these three important yet related fields, facilitates synergies and will further increase IPACS’ efficiency and pragmatism. The newly combined “Task Force on the Promotion of Good Governance to Prevent Corruption in Sport” will actively raise awareness of, disseminate and promote the prevention tools developed by the three Task Forces within the IPACS stakeholders’ networks. These tools include IPACS Good practice examples for managing Conflicts of Interest in sports organisations, Guidelines on Procurement of major international sports events-related infrastructure and services, and the IPACS Sport Governance Benchmark & Guidelines. In addition, the new Task Force will effectively communicate IPACS’ work in the area of prevention and good governance, and thereby increase IPACS’ visibility within both governments and the sports movement. Click here to read the Terms of Reference.

The Conference was also an opportunity to highlight a new UNODC initiative, whereby the existing UNODC Global Operational Network of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities (GlobE Network) will serve as a basis to enhance cooperation and direct, informal contact between frontline practitioners of the relevant sports bodies, including sports integrity entities, anti-corruption authorities and competent law enforcement authorities, in criminal, civil or administrative corruption proceedings. This initiative will also look to provide the knowledge, resources and tools needed to track, investigate and prosecute cases of cross-border corruption in a sports context, including access to a secure communications channels.

Shervin Majlessi, the UNODC Officer-in-Charge, Corruption and Economic Crime Branch, Division for Treaty Affairs, noted that “IPACS is a valuable mechanism which allows governments, sports organisations and intergovernmental organisations, and other related stakeholders, to play a proactive part in the fight against the multi-faceted threat that corruption poses to sport.”

The meeting also provided an opportunity for stakeholders to present and learn from the latest best practice, cross-sector cooperation and innovative approaches in the fight against corruption in sport.

Pâquerette Girard Zappelli, the IOC’s Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, said during the meeting: “Today marks the sixth annual meeting of IPACS. The partnership can be proud of the real progress achieved in its short time of existence; this would not have been possible without the help of all the organisations involved, including our Task Forces’ experts, the partners and observers, as well as the Steering Committee, who all contribute with their time and invaluable knowledge.” She added: “As a result of this common dedication, the IPACS’ efforts were praised in December last year by the UN General Assembly in its Resolution ‘Sport as an enabler of sustainable development’, in which IPACS is specifically recognised as the appropriate initiative.”

Finally, the participants were updated on the IPACS roadmap and related communications activities.

Read the IPACS factsheet.

Click here to consult the full agenda.

The National Olympic Committee of Italy (CONI) will host the next IPACS Annual General Conference, in Rome in 2024.