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Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption

 

The United Nations Convention against Corruption is the only legally binding global instrument on countering corruption. The Convention against Corruption's far-reaching approach and geographical coverage make it a unique tool for developing a comprehensive response to a global problem.

Its purpose is to:

  • Promote and strengthen measures to prevent and combat corruption more efficiently and effectively.
  • Promote, facilitate and support international cooperation and technical assistance in the prevention of and fight against corruption, including in asset recovery.
  • Promote integrity, accountability and proper management of public affairs and public property.

The vast majority of Member States are States parties to the Convention against Corruption. States parties must prevent and combat corruption through a range of policies and practices, including legislative ones.

The main areas of the Convention against Corruption

  • Prevention: an entire chapter of the Convention is dedicated to prevention, with measures directed at both the public and private sectors.
  • Criminalization and law enforcement: countries are required to establish criminal and other offences to cover a wide range of acts of corruption, if these are not already crimes under domestic law.
  • International cooperation: countries are bound to render specific forms of mutual legal assistance in gathering and transferring evidence for use in court to extradite offenders.
  • Asset recovery: there is a specific chapter on asset recovery, aimed at returning assets to their rightful owners, including countries from which they had been taken illicitly.
  • Technical assistance and information exchange: there are measures to promote technical assistance and the exchange of data and other relevant information between States parties.

Functions of the Conference

The objective of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption is to improve the capacity of and cooperation between States parties to achieve the objectives set forth in the Convention.

Among the activities, procedures and methods of the Conference, the following are established in the Convention (article 63(4)):

  • Facilitating activities by States parties, including encouraging the mobilization of voluntary contributions.
  • Facilitating the exchange of information among States parties on patterns and trends in corruption and on successful practices for preventing and combating it, and for the return of proceeds of crime through, inter alia, the publication of relevant information.
  • Cooperating with relevant international and regional organizations, and mechanisms and non-governmental organizations.
  • Making appropriate use of relevant information produced by other international and regional mechanisms for combating and preventing corruption in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of work.
  • Reviewing periodically the implementation of the Convention by its States parties.
  • Making recommendations to improve the Convention and its implementation.
  • Taking note of the technical assistance requirements of States parties with regard to the implementation of the Convention and recommending any action it may deem necessary in this respect.

Unique characteristics

The Conference is the largest and most widely represented discussion forum on corruption within the United Nations. It is the ideal format for anyone who would like to carry out a Model United Nations entirely focused on corruption issues.

One distinct feature of the Conference is the mandate to create intergovernmental working groups to deal with specific issues under the Convention against Corruption. Agenda items considered in these groups and in the Conference are technical in nature, which leads to quite substantive discussions and recommendations.

Attendance

Conference attendees comprise participants and observers. Their status is governed by the rules of procedure for the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

Aside from the States parties, a number of observers attend the conference including:

  • The signatories and non-signatories;
  • The United Nations Secretariat (along with programmes and funds of the United Nations, and the centres and institutes that are part of the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice network);
  • International organizations;
  • Non-governmental organizations.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime acts as the secretariat of the Conference.

States parties

States parties are those that have ratified or acceded to the Convention.

Rule 12 of the rules of procedure for the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption says that each State party participating in a session may be represented by one representative, who may be accompanied by alternate representatives and advisers as the State party may require.

As of 15 July 2017, the Convention against Corruption had 182 parties. The list of States parties to the Convention can be found here.

Observer States

The Conference may be attended by States that are not States parties to Convention against Corruption. However, these States do not have the same rights as the States parties.

States that have signed the Convention against Corruption but have not ratified it have the following rights (according to rule 14 of the rules of procedure for the Conference):

  • To attend meetings of the Conference.
  • To deliver statements.
  • To receive documentation.
  • To submit their views in writing.
  • To participate in the deliberative process.

States that have neither signed nor ratified the Convention may also take part, but with limited rights. According to rule 15 of the rules of procedure, they can:

  • Attend plenary meetings of the Conference.
  • Deliver statements.
  • Receive documentation.
  • Submit their views.

A list of possible observer States can be found here.

Observer non-governmental organizations

Non-governmental organizations having consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and those that do not have such status can apply to be observers, in accordance with rule 17 of the rules of procedure for the Conference.

They cannot take part in the adoption of decisions on substantive and procedural matters, but can attend the plenary meetings, make oral statements, provide written reports and receive the documentation.

Outcome documents

The Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption has the following outcome documents:

  • Decisions: conference decisions deal with procedural matters.
  • Resolutions: resolutions address technical matters within the scope of Convention against Corruption. The rules of procedure express that States parties must make every effort to adopt resolutions by consensus. To date, all resolutions have been adopted by consensus at the Conference, despite rules for voting procedures also existing. When no consensus is reached, the text is either amended or withdrawn.
  • Report: conference reports contain summaries of the deliberations.

The outcome documents from previous conferences can be found here.

Structure and flow of debate

The work of the Conference is governed by the rules of procedure for the Conference. The structure of the work of the Conference is outlined as follows:

  • All States parties to the Convention against Corruption are invited to participate in the Conference, which holds a session every two years in a city chosen by the host country.
  • The provisional agenda, which includes organizational and substantive matters, is usually approved at the previous session.
  • The first activity of the Conference at one of its sessions is to adopt the agenda, after the election of officers, in line with the principle of geographical rotation.
  • There is a general discussion, during which time is allowed for States to make statements on matters of a general nature that are related to the implementation of the Convention against Corruption and that may be of interest to the Conference.
  • Deliberations afterwards include the review of the implementation of the Convention and other substantive issues.
  • Action by the Conference includes the consideration and adoption of resolutions after a statement on the financial implications of such adoption.
  • Informal consultations on the resolutions are usually held in parallel throughout the event, without interpretation.

Topic for discussion

 

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