Will ISO 37001 Anti-Bribery Management System Help Combating Bribery?

Last month, the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) issued a standard for anti-bribery management systems ISO 37001 (unfortunately, only Introduction, Scope and Terms and definitions sections are available for free access). Issuance of the dedicated standard is another form of response to significant issues and concerns the bribery raises worldwide. According to ISO, its anti-bribery standard “is applicable to small, medium and large organizations in all sectors, including public, private and not-for-profit sectors and can be used in conjunction with other management system standards in all jurisdictions”. In addition, ISO acknowledges “law alone is not sufficient to fight corruption and businesses should have a responsibility to proactively contribute to combating bribery”.

Thus, concurrently to other ISO standards, businesses will be able to obtain certification from independent and accredited third parties confirming that their anti-bribery management system meets the established standards. I hope that ISO 37001 will become as popular as, for instance, ISO 9001 standard on quality management systems, and the companies will be willing to adopt this anti-bribery standard and require its implementation from their partners down the supply chain as well.

For us, compliance specialists, this document should become another reference book in addition to FCPA GuideGuidance to UK Bribery ActUnited Nations Guide for Anti-Corruption Policies, as the document reflecting best international standards and good practices of international anti-corruption compliance.  

However, I should stress that ISO standard on anti-bribery is not a “magic pill” or a “silver bullet” against bribery in the organization, and its implementation does not eliminate risk of bribery completely. Its objective is to help the company in implementation of reasonable and proportionate measures for prevention, detection and responding to bribery. Anti-bribery management system should be supporting to the appropriate anti-bribery policies of the organization that, in their turn, should be a component of an overall compliance system of the company. Like the anti-bribery policy of the organization, anti-bribery management system will be most successful in organizations with strong anti-corruption culture.

Similarly to other ISO standards, ISO anti-bribery management system may become an effective instrument for tackling bribery all over the world and, in particular, in developing economies, like Ukraine. I believe that in synergy with international and local anti-bribery legislation and anti-corruption initiatives of the business, anti-bribery management system will create a vigorous environment for preventing and counteracting corruption. In my next post, I am going to elaborate on another very crucial instrument for combating corruption – transparency. And, in the meantime, stay tuned and be compliant!

Photo courtesy PECB