United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is a seminal framework against corruption, which entered into force in 2005. It is a legally binding international anti-corruption document which requires signatory state parties to implement a number of public and private anti-corruption measures through their laws, institutions, and policies. The text of the United Nations Convention against Corruption was negotiated during seven sessions between January 21, 2002 and October 1, 2003. The Convention was adopted by the General Assembly by Resolution 58/4 of October 31, 2003 and it entered into force on December 14, 2005.
The measures that need to be undertaken are explicitly summed up under the eight chapters and seventy one articles of UNCAC. The Convention covers five main areas: preventive measures, criminalization and law enforcement, international cooperation, asset recovery, and technical assistance and information exchange. Preventive measures entail establishment of anti-corruption bodies, transparency and accountability in matter of public finance, to promote actively the involvement of non-governmental and community-based organizations, as well as other elements of civil society, and to raise public awareness of corruption. Under the areas of criminalization and law enforcement, the Convention requires countries to establish criminal and other offences to cover a wide range of acts of corruption, if these are not already crimes under domestic law. The principle of international cooperation, Countries are bound by the Convention to render specific forms of mutual legal assistance in gathering and transferring evidence for use in court, to extradite offender. Asset Recovery is stated as a fundamental principle of the Convention. This provision holds particular significance for the developing countries of the Global South, where high level corruption has led to glaring inequalities in income distribution.
Non-Aligned Movement has taken cognizance of the adverse effect of corruption and has allayed concerns regarding corruption practices, such as lack of sound international corporate governance, bribery, money laundering and transfer abroad of illegally acquired funds and assets undermine the economic and political stability and security of societies, undermining social justice and endangering the efforts of developing countries for sustainable development. NAM regards UNCAC as the most comprehensive framework for combating corruption.
The 17th NAM Summit Final Outcome Document recognises that the UN Convention against Corruption provides universally accepted norms to prevent and combat corrupt practices, establishes the principle of asset recovery and transfer of assets of illicit origin and mechanism for international cooperation in this regard. The Non-Aligned Movement has welcomed the number of States that have already ratified or acceded to the United Nations Convention against Corruption and in this regard urged all States, that have not yet done so to consider ratifying or acceding to the Convention as a matter of priority, and calls upon all States parties to fully implement the Convention as soon as possible, including through international cooperation as outlined in the Convention.
NAM Member States have been active participants in all the six sessions held so far of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption. NAM Member States have been at the forefront of developing a national corruption strategy and an anti-corruption framework within their legal systems and are at the forefront mutual legal assistance towards prosecution of offenders as well in tracing, freezing, and confiscating the proceeds of corruption.
NAM has, in particular laid great emphasis on the the implementation of the provisions on asset recovery contained in Chapter V of the UN Convention against Corruption, which require States Parties to return assets obtained through corruption.
The Heads of State or Government emphasized that one of the high priorities in the fight against corruption is to ensure the return of illegally acquired assets to the country of origin.
The Heads of State or Government, therefore, urged all States Parties and relevant international organizations, consistent with the principles of the Convention, in particular Chapter V, to strengthen their cooperation at all levels in order to facilitate the quick return of such assets, and to assist requesting States to build human, legal and institutional capacity to facilitate tracing, confiscation and recovery of such assets.
By Dr. Pawan Mathur