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Towards harmonised integrity standards and programmes in the ASEAN business community

ACN’s Project Co-ordinator, Nguyen Thi PhuongThao discusses the business integrity issues facing ASEAN and why harmonising integrity standards and programmes among the business community is key to progress in ASEAN.

On 27 October 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, the ASEAN CSR Network, the Regional Working Group on Business Integrity in ASEAN and partners will convene a consultation and training workshop on harmonising integrity standards and programmes in the region. The workshop is part of the ASEAN Responsible Business Forum taking place from 27 to 29 October 2015, co-organised by the ASEAN CSR Network, the ASEAN Foundation, Oxfam and the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers.

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Systemic corruption in ASEAN needs to be tackled in ASEAN

Corruption has become systemic in ASEAN. It is even said to have become ingrained in the cultural norms and expectations of doing business in ASEAN. As ASEAN tries to capitalise on the opportunities presented by regional integration post-2015, it is important for all stakeholders in ASEAN to meet numerous challenges head-on, with curbing corruption a top priority for all.

Businesses are expected to play an enhanced role in this crusade, yet the diversity of ASEAN itself, with too many fragmented anti-corruption standards and initiatives clouding the landscape, is constraining business from taking a proactive and strong stand in this collective action against corruption. It is now time for the private sector in ASEAN to move towards harmonised integrity standards and programmes aligned with internationally accepted principles and standards.


Harmonisation of business integrity strategies and programmes

At the meeting in Bali in February 2015, the Regional Working Group on Business Integrity in ASEAN identified harmonisation of business integrity strategies and programmes as one of the three priority actions, in addition to advocacy and awareness-raising, and capacity-building. Soon after the Bali meeting, a Framework for Collective Action was developed and adopted by the Regional Working Group during the Strategic Planning Workshop in Bangkok in March 2015 in order to provide a foundation for business-led joint actions against corruption.

Serving as the 4th meeting of the Working Group, the consultation on the morning of 27th October 2015 will provide an opportunity for multi-stakeholder dialogue and enhanced understanding of international anti-corruption frameworks and standards, particularly on how they can contribute towards joint regional action and harmonised strategies and programmes in tackling corruption in the private sector. As an output of the meeting, a joint communiqué will be adopted by the Working Group and submitted to the ASEAN leaders before the 27th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur in November 2015.


Training Workshop on corruption and corporate criminal liability

The consultation will be followed by a training workshop on corruption and corporate criminal liability and related topics co-organized by the ASEAN CSR Network and UN Office on Drugs and Crime in the afternoon.

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Members of the Regional Working Group on Business Integrity in ASEAN and representatives from ASEAN-grown companies and MNCs, governments of ASEAN countries, international organizations such as UN Office on Drugs and Crime, UN Global Compact, UNDP, Transparency International will be present at the workshop.

The Regional Working Group on Business Integrity in ASEAN was established in September 2014 with the objective of promoting business integrity in the region, in line with ASEAN’s goals of building a more sustainable, equitable, and inclusive ASEAN community. This is an initiative by the ASEAN CSR Network and supported by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office through its Prosperity Fund.

For more information, please email thao@asean-csr-network.org