UN Convention against Corruption gets go-ahead after 30 ratifications

Antonio Maria Costa briefs press

15 September 2005 – The first international treaty against governmental corruption, a major obstacle to development in poor countries, today received the 30th ratification it needs to go into effect with Ecuador's approval during the treaty event of the United Nations World Summit.

The UN Convention against Corruption will enter into force 90 days after today's action, which occurred following Secretary-General Kofi Annan's invitation to world leaders to sign, ratify or accede to a range of treaties during the Summit.

The Convention, which opened for signature in December 2003 and has since been signed by over 100 countries, provides for international cooperation in the return of assets illicitly acquired by corrupt officials, as well as preventive measures to detect the plundering of national wealth as it occurs.

"The costs that corruption takes on development will now be confronted by the robust articles of the Convention," said Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) at a press conference following the Convention's entry into force.

The convention will affect private sector corruption to some extent, since a good amount of such crime involves the bribing of officials, Mr. Costa said. Through provisions on banking transparency and against money laundering, it will also help to fight organized crime.

World leaders today also continued to sign onto the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, which first opened for signature yesterday morning. So far, the terrorism treaty has garnered 44 signatures.

In total, as of yesterday evening, 36 States undertook 54 treaty actions related to 14 treaties. So far, 33 countries have been represented at the Heads of State or Government level.

Today's signings continue an initiative begun at the Millennium Summit in 2000 that has since become an annual event for treaties, for which the Secretary-General is depositary, during the opening of each General Assembly.

The treaties selected this year, rather than focus on any specific aspect of international law as has been the case in the past, reflect what the Secretary-General calls "the central challenge for the twenty-first century – to fashion a new and broader understanding … of what collective security means."

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