Standards and guidelines

International standards

United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). United Nations, 2005.  

UNCAC, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2003, includes provisions for asset disclosure and conflict of interest regulations as a way of combating corruption. Article 8(5) of the convention states that “Each state party shall endeavour, where appropriate and in accordance with the fundamental principles of its domestic law, to establish measures and systems requiring public officials to make declarations to appropriate authorities regarding, inter alia, their outside activities, employment, investments, assets and substantial gifts or benefits from which a conflict of interest may result with respect to their functions as public officials.” Article 52(5) further states that, “Each state party shall consider establishing, in accordance with its domestic law, effective financial disclosure systems for appropriate public officials and shall provide for appropriate sanctions for non-compliance.”  

G20 high-level principles on asset disclosures by public officials. 2012.  

These high-level principles are based on the APEC Principles for Financial/Asset Disclosure by Public Officials and are consistent with the UNCAC, the OECD Guidelines for Managing Conflict of Interest in the Public Service and the results of the World Bank and the StAR Initiative analysis on financial disclosures. Recognising the diversity of asset disclosure systems among G20 countries, these principles aim to provide high-level guidance to G20 Members wishing to establish, review, or enhance their legislative and/or administrative standards for asset disclosure of public officials, irrespective of the objectives pursued. Although rather too broad to be of much concrete help, the principles encourage those designing disclosure regimes to ensure they are: (1) fair, (2) transparent, (3) useful, (4) targeted at senior leaders and those in at risk positions, (5) supported with adequate resources and (6) enforceable.

Regional standards

Regional Conventions against Corruption.  

The African Union, Union of Arab States, Organisation of American States and the Council of Europe all have conventions containing provisions on financial declarations by public officials.

The African Union's convention from 2003 states in article 7 that members should "require all or designated public officials to declare their assets at the time of assumption of office during and after their term of office in the public service."

The 2010 Arab convention specifies in article 28 that, "each state party may consider drawing up effective methods for financial statement declaration, in accordance with its domestic legislation, in respect of public employees and set proper penalties for non-compliance."

The Council of Europe Model Code of Conduct for Public Officials from the year 2000 requires, in article 14, that public officials "declare upon appointment, at regular intervals thereafter and whenever any changes occur the nature and extent of those interests."

Finally, the 1996 Inter-American convention stipulates in article 3 that, "Systems for registering the income, assets and liabilities of persons who perform public functions in certain posts as specified by law and, where appropriate, for making such registrations public."  

Model law on the declaration of interests, income, assets and liabilities of persons performing public functions. Organization of American States (OAS), 2013.  

The OAS has prepared a useful model law on interest declaration, which includes both accepted best practice measures and some innovative features. It is seen by some experts as superior to the G20's rather broad High-Level Principles on Asset Disclosure by Public Officials. While its provisions will need to be tailored to suit individual circumstances, the model law functions as a useful reference for those seeking to design or modernise their asset declaration infrastructure.  

The OAS model law advocates that the independent audit agency should be equipped with an adequate budget, qualified personnel, proper facilities and access to relevant technology. Further, such agencies should also be empowered to request any information it deems necessary "from any public agency [national, provincial or municipal] and from any natural or legal person, public or private, all of which are obliged to provide such elements within the time limit established by the competent authority, under penalty of law.” It recommends reputational sanctions for non-compliance with the disclosure regime, such as publishing the names of those officials subjected to disciplinary, administrative or criminal penalties. Finally, it stipulates that the disclosure registry be made publically accessible.  

Financial/asset disclosure in APEC economies: Standards and practices. 14th Anti-Corruption and Transparency Experts’ Working Group Meeting, 2012.   

This document was prepared by the United States Office of Government Ethics and provides a useful overview of eleven international agreements relevant to the Asia-Pacific region which contain provisions related to financial/asset disclosure. The second section of the paper also offers a breakdown of current disclosure practices in 19 of the 21 APEC economies. It categorises disclosure regimes by type, longevity, extent of coverage, types of interest covered, submission requirements, sanctions, public availability and verification processes.

Close search

Responsive versions of the site in progress.