International Anti-Corruption Academy

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International Anti-Corruption Academy
Formation 8 March 2011
Legal status International Organization
Headquarters Laxenburg, Austria
71 Parties, 53 Signatories

The International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA) is based in Laxenburg (Vienna), Austria. It is an international organization and a post-secondary educational institution, established under international law. IACA seeks to overcome shortcomings in knowledge and practice in the field of anti-corruption, and empower professionals for the challenges of tomorrow. It has an alumni network [2] of anti-corruption and compliance professionals in 152 countries and jurisdictions and has been mentioned in eight UN resolutions since 2009[1]. Its constituency currently includes 68 UN Member States and three international organizations. Four countries from the Western Europe and Others Group are Member States. [2]

The Academy has been subject of increased criticism over recent years for its lack of transparency and accountability over its finances and management, as well as academic accreditation and financial contributions from countries with poor human rights and anti-corruption records. Staff turnover has been high and reviews on websites likes Glassdoor are profoundly critical of the organization's leadership and overall direction. [3][4]


IACA was created by INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), and the Republic of Austria. It was set up on the basis of a multilateral treatythe Agreement for the Establishment of the International Anti-Corruption Academy as an International Organization. IACA was inaugurated during the conference "From Vision to Reality", in the Viennese Hofburg in September 2010. More than 1,000 delegates were present, representing over 120 UN member states, as well as international organizations, and the public and private sector. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was the guest of honour. During this conference, 35 UN member states and one international organization signed the IACA agreement. By the end of 2010, it had been signed by 51 UN member states and two international organizations, and on 8 March 2011 IACA was established as an international organization.[5] IACA holds observer status with the United Nations General Assembly,[6] the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC),[7] the Council of Europe's Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO),[8] and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The founding group who set up the IACA were clear about its role as a practical training institution specifically for working practitioners, such as investigators and prosecutors, whose enhanced knowledge and expertise would have a trickle-down effect back home. Executive director of UNODC at the time, Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, highlighted the proposed practical benefits of the academy,[9] particularly the training of experts working in anti-corruption agencies and financial intelligence units. INTERPOL Secretary-General Ronald K. Noble added that the academy was intended to "play a central role in enabling police and prosecutors worldwide to investigate and prosecute corruption".[10] The UK Minister for International Development supported the initiative since it would "provide professional training and technical expertise to individuals and teams tasked with combating the scourge of corruption in both developed and developing countries" through a focus on UNCAC's four pillars of prevention, criminalisation, international cooperation, and asset recovery.[11].

Training, education, and organisation[edit]

The core of IACA's current educational activities is its MA in anti-corruption studies (MACS). For this it has an agreement with the Austrian government allowing it to act as a post-secondary educational institution providing university-level courses.

In October 2017 it will launch, at the request of its major funder Siemens, a master's programme in anti-corruption, compliance, and collective action for the private sector. [3]. Its first director has already resigned. [12]

IACA's first and only work plan, for 2014 - 2016, envisaged a plethora of roles and initiatives. These included statistical collection and analysis; acting as an evaluator of anti-corruption training; adviser on anti-corruption strategies; technical assistance for states; in-depth, specialist research; defining international quality standards and benchmarks; organising joint donor conferences; publishing an international e-journal; providing e-learning, a BA degree and a PhD programme; providing alumni services; and delivering think tank activities.[13]

A few of these have been achieved. Currently IACA offers an eight-day annual Summer Academy and has delivered two Regional Summer Academies in Argentina and Uganda. It offers open trainings in areas including local governance and procurement and facilitates tailor-made programmes upon request from a number of national organisations and companies. These have included the Thai National Anti-Corruption Commission, the Saudi Arabian National Anti-Corruption Commission, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) member states, co-sponsored by the Russian Federation, and Siemens. It has Memoranda of Understanding with a number of international institutions, including the Vienna-based Organization for Security & Co-operation in Europe (OSCE),[14] the World Bank, and the Organization of American States (OAS).

Campus in Laxenburg


The organization is governed by its Board of Governors. Its other four organs are the Assembly of Parties, Dean, International Senior Advisory Board, and International Academic Advisory Board. UNODC and the Republic of Austria are each entitled to appoint one member of the Board of Governors[15].

Course accreditation[edit]

The academic courses run by the Academy are based on the Bologna process which lays down standards to ensure the compatibility and quality of education across Europe. Those standards require accreditation by the countries’ education ministries and quality assurance provided by countries’ educational standards agencies. Education provided by the Academy are said to be analogous to the Bologna process standards but not formally accredited or reviewed by any external agency, nor by the relevant Austrian organisations. This issue was brought to the attention of the Dean by IACA's chief legal officer, according to an Austrian newspaper familiar with the matter. However, no action has been taken ever since.

Thus although it offers MA programmes, the Academy lacks the usual formal accreditation as a post-graduate university. Instead, it enjoys privileges owing to an agreement (host country agreement) between IACA and the Republic of Austria that recognizes IACA as a post-graduate institution. In practice, however, the Academy’s academic programmes are only ‘aligned’ with, rather than part of, the Bologna process and academic accreditation or validation by an external governmental or academic agency does not take place. As a result, IACA’s degrees may only be formally recognized in Austria and not in other countries as they are not a part of the formal Bologna process. The relevant provisions are included in IACA’s Headquarters Agreement, announced in the Austrian Federal Law Gazette (BGBl.) III 100/2012 [4]


Funding comes partly from the Siemens Integrity Initiative, a fund set up by Siemens at the instigation of the World Bank after the company's various convictions for global corruption. In the first round the initiative allocated IACA over two million Euros [5] for its summer school and scholarships for students from lesser developing countries for the master's programme. It was also allocated €2.34 million for training on corporate integrity and procurement corruption together with the UNODC. The IACA was the largest recipient of funding in the first round. In the second round, allocated in 2014, IACA was again the largest single recipient, receiving €4.98 million for the Collective Action Masters Programme.

In 2016, to provide greater transparency over its sources of income, IACA published its income from Member States. As of May 2017 the states that have made the largest total contributions to IACA's general budget are Austria (3.6 million euros), Malaysia (701,000 euros), Russian Federation (628,000 euros), USA (326,000 euros), Azerbaijan (209,000 euros), Liechtenstein (114,000 euros), Nigeria (109,000 euro), and South Korea (102,000 euro). [16]

In addition to the Siemens Integrity Initiative funding mentioned above, IACA receives undeclared fees from its trainings and a limited amount of donations-in-kind, such as seconded staff and underwriting of its annual meeting of states parties by, for example, Azerbaijan. These income stems are not declared anywhere and neither are IACA's actual expenditures. [17]

The budget it presents on its website remains a so-called "desired budget" [6], confirmed by the annual meeting of states parties and costing over €13 million. In practice the IACA is significantly underfunded. The chair of the board of governors noted in 2015 that IACA's last two general budgets never received 90 percent of the funding that was unanimously agreed upon. In other words, IACA parties met the budgets for 2014 and 2015 by less than 10 percent. [7].

Media attention[edit]

IACA has received support for its programmes on the widely-read FCPA Blog, and in May 2017 Radio France Internationale broadcast a story about the Academy and its Master in Anti-Corruption Studies (MACS) programme. Its Dean has given interviews to outlets from Denmark [8] to Malaysia [9].

Some media outlets have criticized the management approach and transparency and independence of the organisation. Until 2016, the funding arrangements were opaque and IACA never published any financial statements, management expenditure and expenses, sets of accounts or audit reports since its establishment.

In February 2016, Austrian television show "Bist du Deppert?!" (a show about tax wastage) made a critical feature of the Academy and accused it of being overly expensive and lacking accountability. Earlier on, the popular magazine NEWS published a feature on the academy called 'Castle in the Sky' wherein it reported on the lack of transparency, high staff turnover and its relations with unsavoury regimes, among others[18].

Management and staffing[edit]

The Dean is responsible for day-to-day management of the Academy and its substantive programme, as per the formal IACA Agreement [10], Article IX. This article stipulates that he or she is responsible for, among others, human resource management, finances, and fundraising, all of which were referred to in the NEWS magazine article mentioned above. [19]

Staff turnover and lack of continuity has been a significant negative feature of the Academy’s development. In the second half of 2014 the Academy advertised nearly all its contracted posts, apart from those of senior management (most of whom were not subject to this exercise and remain 100% Austrian or were granted to Austrian officials without any public appointment process).

External Relations[edit]

IACA maintains close relations with its constituency and a range of other partners and stakeholders around the world, including institutions with which it has signed memoranda of understanding. Its relations with Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation were the subject of criticism in February 2016 (Volume 20, Issue 7; 20 February) in the Austrian magazine NEWS. In 2016, Azerbaijan founded its own anti-corruption academy, and has mentioned how all involved are either decision makers or graduates from the IACA.[20]

Future plans[edit]

IACA's future priorities will be outlined in the organization's next Work Programme. In November 2016 the Chair of the Board of Governors publicly announced to the Assembly that the academy's critical financial situation meant that the academy "will not be able to maintain its current level of activities".[21] At the same time the chair asked member states for "concrete proposals and relevant substance areas" to help shape the next Work Programme .[22]


External links[edit]