AML/ATF Update
June 2020 Charity & NFP Law Update
Published on June 25, 2020

By Terrance S. Carter, Nancy E. Claridge and Sean S. Carter

New OECD Public Integrity Handbook

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) published its OECD Public Integrity Handbook (the “Handbook”) on May 20, 2020. The Handbook provides a whole-of-society risk-based approach to inform public officials, companies, civil society organisations and individuals.

By way of background, the Handbook complements the OECD Recommendation on Public Integrity (the “Recommendation”), adopted in 2017 as a strategy against corruption. The Recommendation provided a set of thirteen principles for public integrity in three categories or “pillars”, namely: system, culture, and accountability. From a system perspective, the relevant principles include the adoption of standards and a strategy for their implementation; from a culture perspective, the guiding principle is having a whole-of-society approach; and from an accountability perspective, the principles highlight the importance of risk management and oversight.

The Handbook explains that the “whole-of-society” approach to public integrity requires companies, civil society organisations and individuals to ensure that their engagement with the public sector respects the shared ethical norms, principles and values of society. For civil society organisations, such as charities and NFPs, this would include ensuring that they adhere to standards of public integrity when acting as a service provider or advocating for policy issues.

In this regard, the Handbook states that civil society organisations play a critical role in promoting the public good and, as recipients of certain benefits such as tax exempt status and access to public contracts, are expected by government, business and the general public to act in alignment with their mission, to show integrity and display the highest standards of ethical conduct. As such, violations of public integrity can have a negative impact not only on the organization itself, but on the legitimacy of the entire sector.

Charities and NFPs engaged in public policy advocacy or receiving grants or funds from a federal or provincial government or agency, operating in Canada and/or abroad, should consider including the Recommendation and the Handbook as part of their governance policies.

Read the June 2020 Charity & NFP Law Update