- 17 Dec 2019
More than 250 representatives from governments, intergovernmental organisations, international sports organisations and dedicated expert organisations met on 15 December in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to reaffirm the global commitment to tackling corruption in sport.
The General Conference of the International Partnership Against Corruption In Sport (IPACS), organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), was held just ahead of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and attracted more than 50 governments.
John Brandolino, Director for the Division for Treaty Affairs, UNODC, stressed in his opening address the power of sport as well as the repercussions of corruption: “Sport has the power to change perceptions, prejudices and behaviours, as well as the ability to inspire people, and break down racial, political and gender barriers. But sport cannot fulfil this role if it is undermined by corruption”. Brandolino also underlined the importance of IPACS: “Building and developing sustainable partnerships is an essential part of our efforts, and IPACS is the best example of how multilateral cooperation can help counter corruption in sport.”
Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), urged governments to join in the global fight against corruption in sport: “We know we cannot win this fight on our own. We need the support of governments when it comes to anti-corruption legislation and law enforcement. This is why IPACS is so important. It brings together all actors that have a stake in fighting corruption in sport.”
Marin Mrčela, President of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) at the Council of Europe (CoE), said: “When corruption affects sport, it erodes the very values that are at the core of the sports movement: respect, equality, fairness, trust. Together with other strong and competent IPACS organisations and states, GRECO is willing to play a pioneering role in preventing and fighting corruption in sport. This is the only way to prevent the excesses of money outweighing the values of sport.”
The Conference was an opportunity to present the important progress accomplished by IPACS during the last year. Dedicated expert taskforces have worked on a number of issues, ranging from reducing the risk of corruption in procurement relating to sporting events and infrastructure and ensuring integrity in the selection of major sporting events to enhancing compliance with good governance principles and improving cooperation between criminal justice authorities and sports organisations.
Building on OECD standards, IPACS has designed risk assessment tools for the procurement of sports-related infrastructure and contributed to the development of practical guidelines. These guidelines will support and benefit from the expertise of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games Organising Committee and be made available to other future organisers of Olympic Games, Youth Olympic Games and other major sports events. In addition, IPACS is in the process of finalising a study on how to improve the management mechanisms of conflicts of interests within sports organisations. The document, which will be published shortly, makes concrete recommendations and showcases best practice examples from the Olympic and Sports Movement. Regarding good governance in sports organisations, IPACS also agreed to use ASOIF’s indicators as a basis in order to develop a benchmark for sports governance at international and national level.
Jeffrey Schlagenhauf, Deputy Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said about the progress achieved so far: “IPACS has already come a long way in its two years of existence. The Partnership has been able to offer concrete, actionable policy advice in a number of areas where the risk of corruption is particularly elevated.”
Set up in 2017, IPACS is a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at “bringing together international sports organisations, governments, inter-governmental organisations and other relevant stakeholders to strengthen and support efforts to eliminate corruption and promote a culture of good governance in and around sport”. The Partnership has gained recognition at the highest political level, as the world’s leaders committed to collaborating with IPACS in tackling corruption in sport in the G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan 2019-2021.
The initiative is coordinated by the IOC, the OECD, the Council of Europe, UNODC and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and works through expert taskforces, a Steering Committee and high-level meetings like this Conference in Abu Dhabi.