6 August 2001


VIENNA, 3 August (UN Information Service) -- UN member countries have decided to forge a new, legally binding international convention against corruption. Representatives of 95 States agreed on Friday the terms of reference for such a convention, as set forth in a draft resolution to be submitted to the General Assembly later this year. The group met here last week.

The approved draft would have the Assembly voice concern about the seriousness of the problems posed by corruption "which may endanger the stability and security of societies, undermine the values of democracy and morality and jeopardize social, economic and political development".

The Assembly would also authorize a specially established committee to complete a draft convention by the end of 2003. The treaty, as envisaged, would address many aspects of the problem, including preventive measures, criminalisation, sanctions and remedies. The drafters would be asked to consider provisions on jurisdiction, seizures, protection of witnesses, transfer of illicitly obtained funds abroad, return of such funds and a range of international cooperation measures.

While a number of multilateral arrangements and non-binding international declarations are already in place no such comprehensive instrument with force of international law presently exists.

"It is tempting to say that corruption is simply part of the landscape of human society", the Executive Director of the Vienna-based UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention told participants. In opening remarks on Monday, Pino Arlacchi pointed out that amounts involved in recent cases were at levels that "defy imagination". He cited one case in which a head of state had stolen as much as $5 billion and another in which 17 per cent of the national budget went to pay the salary of the leader.

He said the meeting’s success in finding a formula that could lead to an international convention "will move us one important step further in the dynamic process which has changed corruption from the secret that everyone knew about to the public enemy that we are determined to defeat".

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