The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is the most comprehensive anti-corruption convention, entering into force in December 2005. It covers a wide-range of corruption offences, including domestic and foreign bribery, embezzlement, trading in influence and money laundering. The UNCAC provisions obligate State Parties to take a number of public and private anti-corruption measures:
Countries are obligated to take anti-corruption measures in public and private sectors. These can include establishing anti-corruption bodies and enhancing transparency in political financing. States must take measures to ensure public services are subject to safeguards that promote transparency, efficiency and merit-based recruitment. Public servants should be subject to codes of conduct, financial disclosures and disciplinary measures. Transparency and accountability in public finance must be promoted, and specific anti-corruption requirements, especially in the judiciary and in public procurement, must be established. Countries are called to promote the involvement of civil society, to promote awareness of corruption and to promote practices aimed at preventing corruption.
Countries are required to establish a wide range of criminal offences, including basic forms of corruption (like bribery and embezzlement), trading in influence and the concealment and laundering of the proceeds of corruption. The UNCAC offences deal with public and private-sector corruption.
Countries agree to cooperate with one another in every aspect of the fight against corruption and are required to give mutual legal assistance in gathering information for use in court. Countries are also required to undertake measures to support the tracing, freezing, seizure and confiscation of corrupt assets.
Asset recovery is a fundamental principle of the UNCAC that requires the needs of countries seeking illicit assets to be reconciled with the legal safeguards of the countries whose assistance is sought. Provisions specify how cooperation and assistance will be rendered and aim to return assets to the country of origin. Effective asset-recovery provisions send the message that there is no place to hide illicit assets.