The United Nations Convention against Corruption

The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) came into force in mid-December 2005. It is the most comprehensive anti-corruption convention, both in scope of State Parties and provisions. It covers a wide range of offences, including domestic and foreign bribery, embezzlement, trading in influence, as well as the concealment and laundering of the proceeds of corruption. Furthermore, it contains provisions covering the detection and sanctioning of corruption, as well as the promotion of transparency and technical assistance.

The UNCAC requires State Parties to establish measures to prevent and discourage public sector corruption, as well as legal provisions to criminalise public sector corruption.

The UNCAC also contains several provisions comparable with the OECD Convention. In contrast to the OECD Convention, however, the UNCAC contains provisions on prevention and criminalisation of private sector bribery, including the promise and solicitation of bribes. The problem with regard to these provisions is that they only recommend that State Parties consider implementing measures to impose proportionate and dissuasive civil, administrative or criminal penalties, and consider passing related criminal legislation.

One of the main weaknesses of the UNCAC was the lack of an implementation review mechanism to evaluate signatory members’ degree of implementation of the Convention. In November 2009 however, the Conference of the State Parties to the UNCAC agreed on such a mechanism, although only on a voluntary base. The Conference established that the review mechanisms will run in 2 phases of 5 years each and that each phase will cover specific and limited issues and articles of the UNCAC.  The review requires the volunteering country to compile a self-assessment checklist, which are then evaluated by a team of experts from other signatory countries. The results of the review are consolidated in a country report which highlights accomplishments as well as challenges. The country report is drafted by the review team, but then finalised in collaboration with the country under review, which also has the ultimate decision as to publish the report or not.


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