The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is the first legally binding international anti-corruption instrument. The UNCAC was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, on 31 October 2003. The convention was signed by 140 countries. It was to come into force 90 days after the thirtieth country ratifies it. Ecuador on 15 Sep 2005 became the thirtieth country to ratify the Convention and hence the convention came into force on Dec 14, 2005. As of date the convention has 140 signatories and 151 parties to it.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), a UN agency monitors the convention.
The purposes of this Convention are:
- To promote and strengthen measures to prevent and combat corruption more efficiently and effectively
- To promote, facilitate and support international cooperation and technical assistance in the prevention of and fight against corruption, including in asset recovery
- To promote integrity, accountability and proper management of public affairs and public property.
Highlights of the Convention: The convention seeks to combat corruption through a milti-pronged approach.
The convention recognises the need to prevent corruption and Chapter 2 is devoted to various preventive measures to be taken by the State parties. The following may be listed as the preventive measures called upon by the convention:
The preventive measures are directed at both public and private sector.
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 Convention calls upon countries to criminalise not only bribery and embezzlement of public funds but also trading in influence and concealment and laundering of the proceeds of corruption.
The Convention calls upon the countries to offer mutual legal assistance in their fight against corruption notably in the following fields
- Taking evidence or statements from persons
- Executing searches and seizures, and freezing
- Providing information, evidentiary items and expert evaluations
- Providing originals or certified copies of relevant documents and records, including government, bank, financial, corporate or business records
- Identifying or tracing proceeds of crime, property, instrumentalities or other things for evidentiary purposes
- Facilitating the voluntary appearance of persons in the requesting State Party
- The recovery of assets
- Extraditing of offenders
Asset-recovery is a fundamental principle of the convention. This is a particularly important issue for many developing countries where high-level corruption has plundered the national wealth, and where resources are badly needed for reconstruction and the rehabilitation of societies under new governments. Reaching agreement on this chapter has involved intensive negotiations, as the needs of countries seeking the illicit assets had to be reconciled with the legal and procedural safeguards of the countries whose assistance is sought.
India signed the convention on 09 Dec 2005 and ratified it on 01 May 2011.