17 February 2004
VIENNA, 17 February (UN Information Service) -- The Central African Republic became the 100th Member State to sign the United Nations Convention against Corruption on 11 February 2004. The new international treaty -- worked out through a two-year negotiating process supported by the Vienna-based United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) -- was adopted by the General Assembly in October 2003. At a special signing conference held in Mérida, Mexico, last December, 95 countries signed the new Convention.
The Convention is the first global legally binding instrument in this area. It reflects a clear recognition by Member States of the magnitude of the problem of corruption and the importance of the need to deal with it on a global level. It takes a flexible approach to corruption, looking at it as a fluid concept, not attempting to give a rigid definition but adopting a descriptive approach, covering various forms of corruption that exist now while also enabling countries to address other forms that may emerge.
The treaty is also unique in breaking new ground with its provisions on issues such as asset recovery and prevention. It also contains obligations for Member States to undertake to criminalize certain forms of conduct, such as bribery, embezzlement or money laundering. The Convention calls for international cooperation not just in the field of prevention and asset recovery but also in areas such as extradition and mutual legal assistance. There are also provisions on technical cooperation to strengthen the capacity of developing countries in implementing the treaty provisions.
The Convention will enter into force after thirty countries have ratified it (Kenya is so far the only country having ratified the treaty). Currently UNODC is working with Members States to promote the ratification process. The Office has developed a number of activities in this regard, including the preparation of a legislative guide and the provision of technical assistance to countries either individually or collectively.
Once the Convention enters into force, work will focus on implementation through a Conference of the States Parties, which is a robust implementation mechanism already foreseen by the Convention.
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