What is the ICN?

The ICN provides competition authorities with a specialized yet informal venue for maintaining regular contacts and addressing practical competition concerns. This allows for a dynamic dialogue that serves to build consensus and convergence towards sound competition policy principles across the global antitrust community.

The ICN is unique as it is the only global body devoted exclusively to competition law enforcement and its members represent national and multinational competition authorities. Members produce work products through their involvement in flexible project-oriented and results-based working groups. Working group members work together largely by internet, telephone, teleseminars, and webinars.

Annual conferences and workshops provide opportunities to discuss working group projects and their implications for enforcement. The ICN does not exercise any rule-making function. Where the ICN reaches consensus on recommendations, or “best practices,” arising from the projects, individual competition authorities decide whether and how to implement the recommendations, through unilateral, bilateral or multilateral arrangements, as appropriate.

For more information about the ICN, including answers to frequently asked questions, see The ICN Factsheet and Key Messages.


The concept for the ICN originated out of recommendations made by the International Competition Policy Advisory Committee (ICPAC), a group formed in 1997. ICPAC was commissioned to address global antitrust problems in the context of economic globalization and focused on issues such as multi-jurisdictional merger review, the interface between trade and competition, and the future direction for cooperation between antitrust agencies. In its final report, issued in February 2000, ICPAC called on the U.S. to explore the creation of a new venue — a “Global Competition Initiative” — where government officials, private firms and non-governmental organisations could consult on antitrust matters. ICPAC recommended that this Global Competition Initiative be directed toward “greater convergence of competition law and analysis, common understanding, and common culture.”

Government officials and members of the antitrust bar recognized that the best way to promote sound and effective antitrust enforcement in the wake of economic globalization was through the establishment of a network of competition authorities and international competition specialists. ICPAC’s recommendation for a Global Competition Initiative was embraced. At a conference in Brussels in September 2000, U.S. and European Commission competition officials expressed their support for the initiative.

Following these endorsements, the International Bar Association convened a meeting of more than 40 of the world’s senior competition officials and practitioners in Ditchley Park, England in early February 2001 to discuss the feasibility of a global antitrust network. The Ditchley Park discussions were positive and forward-looking, and there was great support for the idea of establishing a new organisation directed exclusively at international antitrust enforcement.

On October 25, 2001, top antitrust officials from 14 jurisdictions – Australia, Canada, European Union, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States, and Zambia – launched the ICN at a meeting in New York City.