19 September 2005
Convention against Corruption Powerful Tool for Countries Victimized by Corrupt Leaders and Officials
Ecuador Becomes Thirtieth Nation to Ratify Treaty, Triggering Entry into Force
(Re-issued as received.)
NEW YORK, 15 September -- Today, Ecuador deposited the 30th ratification to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, triggering the process by which, at the end of ninety days, the treaty enters into force. The Convention is the first global instrument designed to assist Member States fight corruption in both the public and private sectors, and given the inclusion of a mechanism that allows countries to recover billions in stolen assets, is considered a landmark achievement. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the custodian of the Convention against Corruption, shepherded the treaty from its inception in December 2003 to ratification less than two years later.
"The Convention against Corruption is a victory for millions of ordinary citizens around the world," says Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, UNODC. "People forced to pay bribes for basic services, or victimized by extortion, or forced to live in poverty because corrupt leaders are plundering the country's natural resources have a chance to live better lives. The fact that the Convention has moved from concept to virtual completion with record speed -- in less than two years -- tells you corrupt leaders are out of time"'.
He adds, "Asset recovery, in particular, promises rewards for countries whose treasures and treasuries have been looted by corrupt officials. This Convention finally gives Nations the legal tools they need to transform their economies. Imagine a situation wherein recovered funds could be redeployed and used for development. Africa, for example, has lost billions to corruption."
The United Nations cites corruption as a major impediment to development in poor countries and regions, as well as a chronic barrier to the realization of goals outlined in the Millennium Declaration. The principles articulated in the Millennium Convention require Member States to construct compatible and concrete legislation to counter corruption. States Parties are also required to establish criminal and other offences to cover a wide range of acts of corruption, including corruption in the private sector. The Convention is also remarkable in its call for significantly increased cooperation between States and mutual assistance, especially in the area of money laundering.
"The Convention against Corruption means that laundered money and stolen assets that used to disappear across national borders can no longer go unnoticed by the "host" government. There is a collective responsibility now, worldwide, to track stolen money, to share intelligence, to help rightful owners recover assets, and to eliminate any chance to hide behind bank secrecy laws," says Costa.
So far, the Convention, signed by 129 Member States, has received the following ratifications in alphabetical order:
Algeria, Belarus, Benin, Brazil, Croatia, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, France, Honduras, Hungary, Jordan, Kenya, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Namibia, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania.
The entry into force of the Convention will also enable the convening of the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention within one year of the treaty's implementation mechanism. Although the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime served as a both a catalyst and an inspiration for the Convention against Corruption, the latter instrument is more far-ranging, providing States not only with a review body, but also with a forum to provide appropriate technical assistance to overcome these barriers.
For more information, contact:
Deputy Spokesperson, UNODC
(43+1) 26060 5629
UNODC Representative, and Chief of New York Liaison Office
Department of Public Information
(212) 963-0499; cell: (201) 953-5670