On 24 June 2004, during the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit it was announced that the UN Global Compact henceforth includes a tenth principle against corruption. This was adopted after extensive consultations and all participants yielded overwhelming expressions of support, sending a strong worldwide signal that the private sector shares responsibility for the challenges of eliminating corruption. It also demonstrated a new willingness in the business community to play its part in the fight against corruption.
With the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in Merida, Mexico in December 2003, an important global tool to fight corruption was introduced. The Convention is the underlying legal instrument for the 10th principle against corruption and entered into force on 14 December 2005.
The adoption of the tenth principle commits UN Global Compact participants not only to avoid bribery, extortion and other forms of corruption, but also to develop policies and concrete programs to address corruption. Companies are challenged to join governments, UN agencies and civil society to realize a more transparent global economy.
Corruption can take many forms that vary in degree from the minor use of influence to institutionalized bribery. Transparency International's definition of corruption is "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain". This can mean not only financial gain but also non-financial advantages.
The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises define extortion in the following way: "The solicitation of bribes is the act of asking or enticing another to commit bribery. It becomes extortion when this demand is accompanied by threats that endanger the personal integrity or the life of the private actors involved."
Transparency International's Business Principles for Countering Bribery define "bribery" in the following way: "Bribery: An offer or receipt of any gift, loan, fee, reward or other advantage to or from any person as an inducement to do something which is dishonest, illegal or a breach of trust, in the conduct of the enterprise's business."
The UN Global Compact suggests to participants to consider the following three elements when fighting corruption and implementing the 10th principle.