In order to combat bribery and all the
trouble it can bring, many nations have implemented anti–bribery laws, either for their own internal business
practices or for foreign business practices. The success of these laws is under
some contention, as some sources believe that anti–bribery laws are slowly but surely leading to a reduction
in the damage wrought by bribery in the world, while others believe that the anti–bribery laws so far have not done all that much to combat
bribery, whether because the laws themselves are anemic or because the
enforcement of those laws is not strong enough to make a genuine difference.
The United States has played a major role in
the overall anti–bribery struggle, having been one of the
first nations to incorporate a law against foreign bribery in
business practices. Of course, when it did first implement the Foreign Corrupt
Practices Act in 1977, America met with pleas from a number of its businesses
as to how the law was actually hurting them.
No longer could American
businesses legally bribe foreign officials for more work, but other nations’
businesses were more than capable of doing just that without facing penalty of
law. As a result, American businesses were not able to compete with those
To rectify the problem and push America’s trading partners towards adopting
their own anti–bribery stance, America began to push the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to act, and in 1997, it
did. The OECD passed an anti-bribery convention, disallowing bribery of foreign
officials, and other nations have passed similar laws since.
But the problem remains that America is one
of the strongest enforcers of such bribery laws, while other nations’ support
has been weak at best. Some of those countries that have been weak in their
enforcement of anti–bribery laws include the United Kingdom,
France, and Italy.
Many claim that the problem is not improving, but is in fact
growing worse as a result of the failure of these attempts to stem the tide of
bribery. Furthermore, the imbalance between more regulated American companies
and less regulated companies from other nations remains and continues to hinder
American companies economically.
The United Nations has passed its own anti–bribery convention in 2005, which should hopefully
bolster the strength of the overall movement towards more and stronger bribery
laws. But most of the responsibility for enacting strong anti–bribery laws lies with member nations themselves, as
opposed to any international body. Unless these member nations can both create
such laws and then enforce them, the overall problem of bribery will likely
Even with strong anti–bribery laws, bribery will remain, to some extent, as it
has in the United States. But the major strides in anti–bribery regulation that are necessary for truly moving
towards a reduction in the detrimental effect of bribery upon the world’s
economy still remain to be taken.