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01 Oct 1999
IOC News


Athens, 1 October 1999 - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) released its September 24 letter informing the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that it would like to be governed by the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. The text of the letter is attached.
Secretary General
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
Château de la Muette
2, rue André-Pascal
75775 PARIS Cedex 16

Lausanne, 24th September 1999
Ref. No 1766 /06/crg
Dear Mr Secretary General,
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is an International non-governmental organization having its Headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, since 1915. According to its articles (see Olympic Charter enclosed), it is an Association governed by private law, in particular by articles 60 and followings of the Swiss Civil Code. Although the IOC is no a governmental organization, the Swiss Federal Council granted it certain privileges, in particular in administrative and fiscal areas. You will also find attached a short note detailing the situation of the IOC.
In the context of the reforms currently under preparation, the IOC would like to be governed by the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. I would thus be particular obliged if you could indicate to me the steps to take to that effect.
I remain of course at your entire disposal for any additional information
Thanking you in advance for your attention to the present letter.
Yours sincerely,
François CARRARD

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recently experienced problems which have led it to react quickly, on the one hand by taking measures in respect of some of its members, and also by undertaking a process of reform. This is currently under way, and has already led to modifications to the Olympic Charter, ratified by the 109th IOC Session in Seoul on 17th June 1999. Thus, for example, the new rule 25 of the Charter (see attached document) charges an IOC Ethics Commission with developing and updating a framework of ethical principles, including a Code of Ethics, based on the values and principles enshrined in the Olympic Charter. The commission is also competent to investigate complaints raised in relation to the non-respect of ethical principles, including breaches of the Code of Ethics, and if necessary proposes sanctions to the IOC Executive Board.
In this context, the IOC was most interested to note the work undertaken by the OECD in combating international corruption, and in particular the adoption on 17th December 1997 of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. Recommendations have come from various sides, particularly the United States, to the effect that the IOC’s members be considered as officials of a “public international organization” in the meaning of article 1, paragraph 4, letter a of the aforesaid Convention. The corruption of an IOC member could then constitute a criminal offence pursuant to the legislation of the states which are parties to the Convention.

Of course, the IOC is aware that the OECD Convention covers international business transactions and is aimed at states, and that the majority of those which have ratified it have merely included in their criminal legislation the definition of an international organization which appears in the commentaries adopted by the Negotiating Conference on 21st November 1997, viz.: “any international organization formed by states, governments, or other public international organizations...”. However, it is accepted that article 1 of the Convention establishes a standard to be met by parties, but does not require them to utilize its precise terms in defining the offence under their domestic laws. Moreover, while Rule 19 of the Olympic Charter confers upon the IOC the legal status of international non-governmental organization, the Swiss Federal Council, after acknowledging in 1981 the IOC’s specific nature as an “international institution”, accepted in the attached order of 23rd June 1999 that “the universal role of the IOC in an important area of international relations”, its reputation, and the cooperation agreements which it has concluded with intergovernmental organizations “show elements of international legal personality”.
Lausanne, 24th September 1999

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