The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is directly involved in a series of Legal Diplomacy actions, which precede and strengthen traditional judicial and police cooperation and complement economic diplomacy.
This initiative is implemented through systematic action to promote regulatory harmonisation and technical assistance to support legally oriented socio-economic environments for sustainable growth.
The promotion of our regulatory models, legal institutions and good practices in every bilateral and multilateral forum, and the dissemination of the meritorious activities carried out by the democratic institutions for preventing and combating all forms of illegality – also with respect to other national realities, in line with Goal No. 16 of the SDGs – has given Italy a naturally prominent position on the global stage in recent years.
Within this framework, with its broad political, diplomatic and technical-legal scope, the concrete activities of Legal Diplomacy are particularly focused on:
- the internationalisation of Italian models to combat Mafia, corruption and money laundering;
- the promotion and guidance of technical assistance programmes in the field of justice and security, aimed at training, strengthening institutions and modernising regulatory frameworks, in response to a growing demand from various countries and international organisations for Italian expertise.
In this context, the innovative practice of the Inter-Institutional Anti-Corruption Coordination Unit, set up at the Foreign Ministry – in which more than twenty central institutions of the country participate – is decisive.
This Unit aims to ensure coherence of Italian positions in the different multilateral delegations active in this area (UN, EU, G7, G20, OECD, CoE etc.) and to constantly dialogue with the private sector and civil society.
Concretely, the results achieved by this Unit made the above-mentioned coordinated modus operandi be recognised as a best practice in the second UNCAC Report on Italy in 2019.
Also the technical assistance activity has been recognised as best practice by both the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG) and the European Union.
Legal diplomacy initiatives have contributed to reducing the gap between the reality of our institutions and system and the way they are described abroad.
Criticism levelled at the fact of measuring corruption based only on perception indices has proved to be decisive in this respect. The innovative modus operandi has triggered a cultural revolution and has given rise to a new vision that is officially recognised at multilateral level. By promoting better knowledge of the phenomenon and the best prevention and counteraction mechanisms, Italy contributes to strengthening the global Rule of Law.
Legal diplomacy also accompanies the action of our enterprises abroad, promoting their integrity as a distinguishing factor, emphasising the link between reputational advantage and competitive advantage of economic activities and enhancing good practices of public-private-civil society collaboration in a multi-stakeholder perspective.
The macroeconomic effects of such an activity also affect the attractiveness of the system for foreign investment.
On the occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day declared by the United Nations, the Foreign Ministry organises an event dedicated to it with the participation of the main competent Authorities.
The Foreign Ministry promotes the Italian Business Integrity Day, which has allowed to convey the message of Italy’s commitment to an integrated and multidisciplinary fight against corruption also in the private sector.
Role and results achieved in global fora
The Foreign Ministry actively participates as lead partner in the work of the G20, G7 and the United Nations, also collaborating with the anti-corruption activities of the OECD.
In particular, it leads the activities of the delegation to the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG).
In this framework, Italy has promoted a holistic approach to the corruption phenomenon, as it stands today, highlighting its connections with organised crime and money laundering, also in view of a modern implementation of the principles of corporate responsibility and compliance.
In particular, by shifting from defensive positions on the subject to a structured action of a technical nature and innovative and transformative vision, Italy has first acquired a prominent role in the field of global anti-corruption initiatives and, later, a real guidance role recognised by the like-minded countries, by the Presidencies of the informal Forums and by the Secretariats of the competent international organisations.
- chaired the OECD Conference on International Corruption (Paris, 16 March 2016);
- raised – thanks to ANAC’s role – its profile on the prevention side and the development of cooperation with the OECD, OLAF and the EIB. ANAC, inter alia, concluded bilateral technical agreements with corresponding authorities in other countries;
Within the G20, Italy has actively participated in the work of the ACWG that has been operational since 2010. Within this forum:
- co-chairing the Working Group with Australia, in 2014 Italy led the definition and adoption of the G20 High Level Principles on Beneficial Ownership Transparency (BOT) to protect the integrity and transparency of economic actors;
- under the Presidency of Turkey and the United States, in 2015 Italy co-drafted the G20 Principles for Promoting Integrity in Public Procurement;
- during the Chinese Presidency, also in the light of the Panama Papers affair, in 2016 Italy set out the basics of the national asset recovery system and shared its experience in the field of anti-corruption technical assistance (capacity building), thus obtaining recognition for it as an official standard in the Global Forum;
- in 2017, Italy set out the main features of the legal regime on the liability of legal persons (Legislative Decree No. 231/2001), providing input for the adoption of the G20 High Level Principles on the Liability of Legal Persons for Corruption. It also submitted a report on the connections between organised crime and corruption, in view of possible ACWG action resulting in the adoption of the High Level Principles on Corruption related to Organised Crime in 2021 under the Italian Presidency.
- In 2020, Italy co-chaired the Working Group.
In 2021, Italy held the Presidency of the G20, and obtained – in the Anti-Corruption Track – the adoption of many substantial and important deliverables to combat corruption.
The High Level Principles on Corruption related to Organized Crime complement a significant policy document, consistent with the holistic approach to corruption and the will to effectively pursue and prevent the new and more sophisticated forms of corruption, which is an instrument for criminal organisations to infiltrate into the economy and public administration.
The document marks the members’ acquired awareness of the relevance of the threat on a global level, thus overcoming the approach to “Mafia” as a local and regional issue, thus contributing to a reconsideration of Italy as an anti-Mafia model, i.e. of a special regulatory and institutional statute for combating organised crime, rather than as a country characterised by the pervasiveness of criminal groups.
- The High Level Principles for Combating Corruption in Sport [the example of an approach for new areas at risk of corruption] are the natural development of the efforts made by Italy in the last two Conferences of the States Parties to the Merida Convention (UNCAC), where Italy had achieved the adoption of two Resolutions on the same subject (7/8 and 8/4).
- Also the third set of High Level Principles for preventing and combating corruption in emergencies is particularly impactful. The document emphasises the increased risk of corruption during crises and suggests, on the one hand, consciously and concretely tackling the behaviour of bribers and bribed in the emergency and recovery phases, with a view to ensuring adequate levels of integrity and transparency in procurement, without affecting the speed of procedures, and, on the other hand, fostering international cooperation and information exchange. We need to emphasise that a fundamental role should be given to non-governmental actors in decision-making processes (civil society, private sector, media and academia), according to the principle of maximum inclusion, also accepted by China and Russia.
- The G20 Anti-Corruption Accountability Report for 2021, dedicated to private sector integrity, accountability of legal entities and transparency of beneficial owners of companies and assets, was also adopted.
- The core business of the Italian Presidency was the topic of measuring corruption. Knowing a phenomenon requires, first of all, a reliable qualitative-quantitative measurement. Correctly understanding a criminal phenomenon makes it possible to better calibrate the prevention and repression system. Making mistakes in the target definition means, on the one hand, to leave the door open to infiltration into the social and economic fabric and, on the other hand, paradoxically, to favour and legitimise interventions that are sometimes excessively restraining for the economy itself.
Overestimating the criminal phenomenon of corruption can certainly be detrimental to the image of a socio-economic system and highly penalising for its institutions.
If we portray a country as corrupt, we alienate the community from Governance; we delegitimise the Public Administration apparatus; we cast suspicions on the economy and its actors; in a nutshell, we affect the development prospects of an entire national community.
It is for this reason that, when discussing ratings and rankings, comparing national systems in classifications, we need to be cautious and scientifically unexceptionable: thinking otherwise runs the risk of distorting macroeconomic frameworks and contaminating the global Rule of Law itself.
Under the Italian G20 Presidency, the Compendium of Good Practices on the Measurement of Corruption was officially endorsed, aimed at collecting the most reliable detection and measurement mechanisms, capable of better grasping the phenomenon and understanding the so-called “liquid” corruption, as well as its multiple dimensions and socio-economic impact, through methods and indicators that are more reliable than the merely perception ones.
- Particular importance was also attached by the Forum to the fight against foreign bribery, with ample mention of the topic in the Leaders’ Statement itself. The ultimate goal of this chapter of the annual work is to promote the adherence of all G20 countries to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention (“with a view to the possible adherence of all G20 countries to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention”, reads the Communiqué). It should be noted, however, that while after Saudi Arabia, even Indonesia has recently given signs of moving closer to the 1997 OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, China and India still remain far behind.
- Finally, the Action Plan for the 2022-2024 period, which bears an Italian mark, was adopted, allowing our ideas and priorities to serve as a guide and track for the next three G20 Presidencies as well, thus ensuring the maintenance of the Forum’s operational standards for the next three years, for zero tolerance of corruption in the public and private sectors and the strengthening of the Rule of Law, with greater involvement of civil society, the business sector, the media and academia in these processes.
- In the era of sustainable development and joint efforts to create a global level playing field, of the fight against regulatory havens and promotion of minimum harmonisation of criminal justice systems, the Italian Presidency has worked confidently and strongly for repositioning the country on the global stage in this sector, thus strengthening the process of reversing the narrative on Italy and corruption.
The tangible narrowing of the gap between the reality of our socio-economic system, its reliability and the strength of our institutions and models, as well as their description abroad, is a flattering and encouraging result.
Again in 2021, Italy was asked to contribute to the preparation and holding of the Special Session of the General Assembly against Corruption (UNGASS).
Within the G7 framework, following up on the action carried out by the previous Japanese Presidency, in 2017 Italy promoted the adoption by consensus of “key messages” on integrity in the public sector.
Within the same context, the Italian Presidency organised an innovative workshop on measuring corruption (Rome, 27 October 2017), with a view to more accurately showing the actual corruption levels and tracing the link between corruption and economic and social variables. This was designed to refine prevention and repression interventions and reduce the gap existing between the subjective perception of the corruption phenomenon and the actual reality of the legal system.
Within UNCAC, Italy also promoted the adoption of a Resolution (8/10 2019) on the measurement of corruption, in view of going beyond merely perception indices.
Italy also sponsored the adoption of two Resolutions on corruption in sport (Res. 7/8/2017 and Res. 8/4 2019), with a view to defending the sport values against the growing corruption threat in the sector.
Italy’s capacity building in the field of justice and security
As to justice and security technical assistance, Italy conducts intensive capacity building activities in programmes funded also by the European Union.
Over time the Italian technical assistance methodology has been developed in four specific components;
- A) Capacity Building, i.e. the professional training of judges and police and public administration officials involved in preventing and combating malfeasance. Capacity building has shown its weakness and, in some cases, scarce functionality in the face of institutional and organisational shortcomings in the countries of reference. Consequently, the problem of the need to contribute to the construction or modernisation of the administrative institutional system, based on previous experience, has arisen.
- B) It has therefore had a distinct role from Capability, a real technical assistance activity devoted to Institution Building. Capacity Building and Institution Building must obviously be considered together. Nonetheless, institutional accompanying measures on the organisational level lag behind faced with the shortcomings of local regulatory frameworks, which risk thwarting the efforts devoted to administrative architecture.
- C) Regulatory gaps or delays cannot be bridged by Institution Building: we need to contribute to the modernisation of legislative and regulatory frameworks through a real work on Law Enforcement. In such cases, of course, the modernisation of the regulatory framework must be accompanied by adequate Capacity Building in support of the institutional actors called upon to implement the new rules and by Institution Building of the entities with the relevant competence.
- D) The fourth level of intervention, among those that are the pillars of the Italian methodology, which constitutes a cross-cutting parameter, is Value Dissemination, i.e. the dissemination of the values of lawfulness and justice, through a skilful and authoritative sharing of the culture of legality, which must act both as a driving force and as breeding ground for a change of pace in the fight against organised crime in all its forms.
It is this fourth level of intervention that constitutes one of the new pivots in the multidimensional programme proposal for the future, here illustrated in its essential lines.
The main justice and security technical assistance programmes are coordinated by DGMO and implemented by the Italian-Latin American Institute, which acts as an agency for Italian Ministries and institutions in the sector.
The programmes financed with EU funds are the following:
- EL PAcCTO (June 2017 – December 2022) – Europe-Latin America Assistance Programme against Transnational Organised Crime, for the Rule of Law and Security of Citizens. Italy coordinates the prison system component of the initiative.
- EUROFRONT ((March 2020 – June 2024) – Programme designed to strengthen the operational capabilities of border police forces. The project is developed around 4 pillars: Harmonisation of Regulatory Frameworks (entrusted to Italy); Institutional Strengthening; Improvement of Human Resources Capabilities; Support for Technological Development.
- COPOLAD III (2021 – 2025) – EU regional programme designed to reduce drug supply and demand in 33 beneficiary countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Italy manages international judicial cooperation and anti-money laundering activities.
- EU-funded Ecuador’s Prison Emergency Fund (FPI) to address the crisis that has hit the Andean country in this sector. The Fund provides for interventions in 2 specific sectors (security and prison training).
- The Falcone-Borsellino Programme, funded by Italy, which is a multidimensional Italian initiative launched in 2020 – now in its second edition – to fight organised crime and corruption in Latin American and Caribbean countries.