13 December 2005
United Nations Convention against Corruption Enters into Force on 14 December
Panel Discussion on Combating Corruption, with UNODC Executive Director Costa and United States Permanent Representative Bolton to take place in New York
VIENNA, 13 December (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Convention against Corruption will enter into force on 14 December 2005.
The Convention, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in October 2003, has been signed by 140 countries and ratified by 38. It is the first legally binding global instrument designed to help Member States fight corruption in both the public and private sectors.
"Time and time again, countries' assets have been looted by corrupt leaders, while in the corporate world, many shareholders have been robbed by corrupt managers," said Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which is the custodian of the Convention. "This Convention demonstrates that Governments are no longer prepared to tolerate a destructive practice which is as old as history and as wide as the globe. It gives nations the legal tools they need to transform their economies," he added.
The Convention rests on four pillars: prevention and criminalization of corruption, international cooperation and asset recovery.
"The tough new provisions on asset recovery represent a major breakthrough," said Mr. Costa. "The fact that nowhere in the world will be exempt from the obligation to return looted assets, and that old excuses such as banking secrecy will no longer be an impediment, will be of major assistance in preventing corruption."
"States are required to return money and other assets obtained through corruption to the country from which they were stolen. This sends a warning to corrupt officials everywhere that they can no longer expect to enjoy the fruits of their crimes by moving stolen assets abroad. It is also a message of hope to millions of people who have grown angry and frustrated at seeing their country's wealth plundered by criminals."
The UNODC Executive Director appealed to all United Nations Member States to ratify the Convention. "This new instrument must be only the beginning of our redoubled efforts to prevent and control corruption. We must all make sure that the momentum that made its negotiation and entry into force possible is not allowed to dissipate," he added.
Implementation, which rests firmly in the hands of Governments, would be a word devoid of meaning if the Convention did not become the global standard that it was intended to be, Mr. Costa said.
UNODC has been assisting countries in developing anti-corruption strategies, implementing prevention measures and establishing the institutions they need to fight corruption effectively.
To mark the entry into force of the Convention, a panel discussion on combating corruption will be held at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 15 December 2005, from 11:00 to 13:00 hours local time in the Trusteeship Council Chamber.
UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa will chair the panel discussion and the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, Ambassador John R. Bolton will be keynote speaker.
Panelists will include Ibrahim Gambari, Under-Secretary-General, UN Department of Political Affairs, Inga-Britt Ahlenius, Under-Secretary-General, UN Office for Internal Oversight Services and John Sullivan, Executive-Director of the Center for International Private Enterprise.
For further information on the Convention please visit:
Chief, Advocacy Section, UNODC
Telephone: +43 1 260 60 5761