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The United Nations Convention against Corruption


Preventing and combating corruption requires a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach. Based on recognition of this fact, Member States negotiated the  United Nations Convention against Corruption(UNCAC), which covers five main areas:  prevention, criminalization and law enforcement measures, international cooperation, asset recovery, and   technical assistance and information exchange.

As the sole, legally binding universal instrument against corruption, the Convention holds great potential as a framework for the prevention of, and fight against corruption. Furthermore, as the backbone for national and international anti-corruption initiatives, it promotes the implementation and application of   common standards and best-practices. 

While the letter of the Convention is legally binding on countries that have ratified or acceded to it, its values and state-of-the-art principles are indeed applicable to the widest spectrum of society. In the area of asset recovery, in particular, the UNCAC has charted an entirely new course in international law. Since the adoption of the UNCAC by the General Assembly on 31 October 2003, 164 States Parties (including the European Union) have ratified or acceded to the Convention (status as of December 2012). The common goal is to reach universal adherence to the Convention, which is an achievable aim, in view of the large number of ratifications and accessions received over a short period of time.

In the meantime, implementing the UNCAC presents significant challenges for many countries. Much work needs to be done to achieve effective, practical application of the provisions of the UNCAC and thus achieve an  effective global regime against corruption based on the fundamental principles of the rule of law. The challenge of "breathing life" into these provisions of the Convention is to ensure the effective interface of law, investigation and prosecution in both the developing and the developed world. Member States need to be able to rely on policy guidance and technical assistance for the effective implementation of the Convention, particularly its innovative provisions.


Convention highlights


Chapeter 2: Prevention

Corruption can be prosecuted after the fact, but first and foremost, it requires prevention. An entire chapter of the Convention is dedicated to prevention, with measures directed at both the public and private sectors. These include model preventive policies, such as the establishment of anticorruption bodies and enhanced transparency in the financing of election campaigns and political parties. States must endeavour to ensure that their public services are subject to safeguards.  [Read More]

Chapter 3: Criminalization

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. In some cases, States are legally obliged to establish offences; in other cases, in order to take into account differences in domestic law, they are required to consider doing so. The Convention goes beyond previous instruments of this kind, criminalizing not only basic forms of corruption.  [Read More]

Chapter 4: International cooperation

Countries agreed to cooperate with one another in every aspect of the fight against corruption, including prevention, investigation, and the prosecution of offenders. Countries are bound by the Convention to render specific forms of mutual legal assistance in gathering and transferring evidence for use in court. [Read More]

Chapter 5: Asset recovery

In a major breakthrough, countries agreed on asset-recovery, which is stated explicitly as 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. [Read More]


Mechanism for the Review of Implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption 

At its third session, held in Doha from 9 to 13 November 2009. the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption adopted resolution 3/1, entitled "Review mechanism". In that resolution, the Conference recalled article 63 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, especially paragraph 7, according to which the Conference should establish, if it deemed it necessary, any appropriate mechanism or body to assist in the effective implementation of the Convention.

In the same resolution, the Conference adopted, subject to the provisions of the present resolution, the terms of reference of the Mechanism for the Review of Implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.  [Read More | Link to Documents]