The United Nations Convention against Corruption is the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument, which has been ratified by 186 parties.
Every two years, the parties to the Convention meet to review the implementation of the Convention and to discuss how States can better tackle corruption.
The eighth session of the Conference of the States Parties was held in Abu Dhabi on Dec. 14, 2019 with discussion topics including prevention, asset recovery and international cooperation.
Requirements of States under the Convention
Under the Convention, States are legally obliged to:
- Criminalise corruption – including bribery, embezzlement, money laundering and trading in influence.
- Prevent corruption – includes the establishment of anti-corruption bodies and codes of conduct for public officials.
- Promote international cooperation – providing mutual legal assistance in investigations, prosecutions and judicial proceedings.
- Recover and return stolen assets – holding corrupt officials accountable and helping developing countries to progress.
- Improve technical assistance and information exchange – in both the private and public sectors.
Implementation Review Mechanism
Through the Convention’s Implementation Review Mechanism, States parties participate in a peer review process which assesses how effectively they are fulfilling their obligations under the Convention. The aim is to identify best practices and key challenges relating to national anti-corruption laws, processes and institutional frameworks.
The first review cycle (2010-2015) covered the chapters of the Convention on criminalisation and law enforcement, and on international cooperation. The second cycle of reviews started in 2015 and covers the chapters on preventive measures and asset recovery.
The review process
A State is reviewed by one State party from the same region and another State party from anywhere in the world. The review includes recommendations and best practices for the State to adopt.
The reviewed State then uses this feedback to strengthen their national anti-corruption efforts and better implement the provisions of the Convention.
Significant change being generated
The Convention is having a real impact on the global fight against corruption, facilitated through the Implementation Review Mechanism.
The reviews have helped States take steps to strengthen their anti-corruption frameworks, including:
- Creating new, independent anti-corruption authorities.
- Engaging the private sector and civil society.
- Signing new mutual legal assistance treaties.
- Introducing new criminal offences such as for money laundering, trading in influence and obstruction of justice.
- Setting up regional platforms to address technical assistance needs.
This momentum also acts as a powerful motivator for other States to ratify or accede to the Convention and join the global fight against corruption.
The United Nations Convention against Corruption and its Implementation Review Mechanism are helping to strengthen national anti-corruption frameworks, thereby strengthening the global fight against corruption.