15 SEPTEMBER 2005 L/T/4389
CONVENTION AGAINST CORRUPTION RATIFIED BY 30TH STATE, WILL ENTER INTO FORCE 14 DECEMBER 2005
“The Convention against Corruption is a victory for millions of ordinary citizens around the world”, says Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, UNODC. “People forced to pay bribes for basic services, or victimized by extortion, or forced to live in poverty because corrupt leaders are plundering the country’s natural resources have a chance to live better lives. The fact that the Convention has moved from concept to virtual completion with record speed -— in less than two years -— tells you corrupt leaders are out of time.”
He adds, “The asset recovery mechanism, in particular, promises enormous rewards for countries whose treasures and treasuries have been looted by corrupt officials. This Convention finally gives nations the legal tools they need to transform their economies. Imagine a situation wherein recovered funds could be redeployed and used for development. Africa, for example, has lost billions to corruption.”
The United Nations cites corruption as a major impediment to development in poor countries and regions, as well as a chronic barrier to the realization of goals outlined in the Millennium Declaration. The principles articulated in the Convention require Member States to construct compatible and concrete legislation to counter corruption. States parties are also required to establish criminal and other offences to cover a wide range of acts of corruption, including corruption in the private sector. The Convention is also remarkable in its call for significantly increased cooperation between States and mutual assistance, especially in the area of money-laundering.
“The Convention against Corruption means that laundered money and stolen assets that used to disappear across national borders must now be reported by the ‘host’ Government. There is a collective responsibility now, worldwide, to track stolen money, to share intelligence, to help rightful owners recover assets, and to eliminate any chance to hide behind bank secrecy laws”, says Costa.
The Convention also addresses the prevention of corruption: it obliges States parties, as far as their own domestic laws allow, to promote the involvement of civil society -— of non-governmental and community-based organizations, for example -— in the campaign against corruption. Recommended tools include public information activities and education programmes that focus on the consequences of corruption, and methods to combat the threat.
So far, the Convention, signed by 129 Member States, has received the following ratifications in alphabetical order: Algeria, Belarus, Benin, Brazil, Croatia, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, France, Honduras, Hungary, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Namibia, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uganda, and the United Republic of Tanzania. More signatures and ratifications are expected in the next few days during the ongoing United Nations Summit in New York.
The entry into force of the Convention will also enable the convening of the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention within one year of the treaty’s implementation mechanism. Although the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime served as a both a catalyst and an inspiration for the Convention against Corruption, the latter instrument is more far-ranging, providing States not only with a review body, but also with a forum to provide appropriate technical assistance to overcome these barriers.
For more information, contact Kathleen Millar, Deputy Spokesperson, UNODC, tel.: (43+1) 26060 5629; e-mail: Kathleen.Millar@unvienna.org.
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