For information only - not an official document

14 December 2019

States gather in Abu Dhabi to keep the spotlight on corruption

The eighth session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption in Abu Dhabi (16-20 December 2019)

ABU DHABI, 14 December (UN Information Service) - More than 1,300 participants are expected in the United Arab Emirates this month for one of the largest anti-corruption gatherings in the world. The eighth session of the Conference of the States Parties (COSP8) to the United Nations Convention against Corruption will be held in Abu Dhabi from 16 to 20 December 2019.

The United Nations Convention against Corruption is the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument. Adopted sixteen years ago, the Convention has reached almost universal adherence, having been ratified by 186 parties. 

Every two years, the parties to the Convention meet to review the implementation of the Convention and to discuss how States can better tackle corruption. Among the topics to be discussed at the eighth session are prevention, asset recovery and international cooperation, as well as the preparations for the special session of the General Assembly against corruption, to be held in 2021. 

The United Nations Convention against Corruption

The Convention came into force in December 2005 and has been ratified by most United Nations Member States. The newest States parties are Samoa, Equatorial Guinea and Chad in 2018.

The Convention covers many different acts of corruption, such as bribery, trading in influence, abuse of functions, as well as various acts of corruption in the private sector. Under the Convention, States are legally obliged to prevent and criminalize corruption; to promote international cooperation; to recover and return stolen assets; and to improve technical assistance and information exchange in both the private and public sectors.

Criminalization of corruption

The Convention requires States to criminalize a wide range of acts of corruption, including not only classic acts of corruption such as bribery and the embezzlement of public funds, but also trading in influence and the concealment and laundering of the proceeds of corruption. Private sector corruption is also covered.

Preventing corruption

Effective measures to prevent corruption are vital to ensure public trust, the effectiveness of institutions and sustainable development. The entire chapter II of the Convention is dedicated to preventing corruption with measures directed at both the public and private sectors, ranging from the establishment of anti-corruption bodies to enhanced transparency in the financing of election campaigns and political parties. States should promote efficient and transparent recruitment based on merit, as well as codes of conduct for public officials together with requirements for their financial and conflict of interest disclosures, and the establishment of appropriate disciplinary measures for public officials who do not adhere to these measures. Preventing corruption also requires the involvement of society as a whole, including non-governmental and community-based organizations.

International cooperation

States are bound by the Convention to afford one another the widest range of mutual legal assistance in investigations, prosecutions and judicial proceedings. In doing so, States have agreed to cooperate with one another, in a variety of criminal matters related to corruption and are required to undertake measures which will support the tracing, freezing, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of corruption.

Asset recovery

As a fundamental principle of the Convention, States parties agreed to the recovery of assets and the return of such assets to their country of origin. The mandatory return of assets to their country of origin in the case of the embezzlement of public funds was a novelty at the time of the adoption of the Convention, and some progress can be seen in the form of successful returns of assets on the basis of the Convention.

While corruption is a global phenomenon, asset recovery is particularly important for many developing countries where national wealth has been decimated by corruption and where resources are badly needed for the financing of sustainable development. Effective asset recovery supports efforts to redress the worst effects of corruption while also sending a message to corrupt officials that there will be no place to hide their illicit assets.

How the Convention works

Through the Convention's Implementation Review Mechanism, States parties have agreed to participate in a process which assesses how they are living up to their obligations under the Convention. This peer review process aims to identify good practices and challenges in national anti-corruption laws, processes and institutional frameworks. The executive summaries of the reviews are published as official United Nations documents in its six official languages. So far more than 169 States parties have been reviewed under the first cycle and 30 States under the second cycle.

Other events in Abu Dhabi

On the margins of the Conference in Abu Dhabi, there will be various special events taking place on a range of topics, including safeguarding sport from corruption, transnational bribery, corruption as a major obstacle to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), corruption linked to wildlife, fisheries and forestry crime and exploring the gender dimensions of corruption.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's action against corruption

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) supports States in the implementation of the Convention and provides technical assistance and training. Together with the World Bank, UNODC has established the joint Stolen Assets Recovery (StAR) Initiative which aims to facilitate the systematic and timely recovery and return of assets stolen through acts of corruption. UNODC also actively contributes to the implementation of the 10 th principle of the UN Global Compact, which states that 'Business should work against corruption in any form, including bribery and extortion'.

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Further information for the media:

Conference website of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC):

Conference website of the Host Country:

Link to conference webcast:

For further information please contact:

Sonya Yee,
Speechwriter and Spokesperson, UNODC
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-4990
Email: sonya.yee[at]


Anne Thomas,
Information Officer, UN Information Service
Mobile: (+971) 54997-8506
Email: anne.thomas[at]

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