STATEMENT BY EMBASSADOR THOMAS STELZER
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF
As representative of
the host country for the Ad Hoc Committee that negotiated the United Nations
Convention against Corruption, I have the special honor to commend our hosts,
the United States of Mexico and the City of
It is most
appropriate that the signing conference takes place in
This signing conference also augurs well for the Convention to become a global instrument, providing the legal framework to efficiently combat corruption, considered the single most limiting obstacle to investment in developing economies and, since it reflects a flagrant disregard for the rule of law, human rights and democratic practices, also for the prosperity and well-being of societies. Since corruption disrupts every aspect of societies, hurting the poor disproportionately, the Convention against Corruption is, clearly and undisputedly, a treaty for the people. Hence, for becoming a useful tool, universality of the Convention must not only mean adherence by a large number of states, but, at the same time, support by civil society.
At this point, I would also like to commend the Vienna-based Office on Drugs and Crime for its contributions to the Convention. Facilitating the successful negotiation process for the Convention against Corruption, the ODC fulfilled its mandate, which is nothing less than to fight the "uncivil elements" in our societies. Together with the battle against illicit drugs, organized crime and international terrorism, combating corruption, wherever and whenever, preconditions sound economic performance, poverty alleviation, and sustainable development and, as the final goal, provides for human security.
The Convention we are celebrating at this Conference, offers a strong legal framework to efficiently fighting corruption. Its comprehensive set of standards, measures and rules make it a potentially landmark instrument, complementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which just entered into force. The negotiated text calls for the criminalization of the most
prevalent manifestations of corruption in both public and private sector, including bribery and the embezzlement of public funds as well as the laundering of the proceeds of corruption and obstruction of justice. The Convention also establishes a framework for cooperation among states to prevent, investigate and prosecute offenders as well as to return the proceeds of corruption. International cooperation is the backbone of the Convention, because it will leave offenders with no safe haven to escape to. In a most dramatic breakthrough the Ad Hoc Committee agreed on the returning of assets obtained through corruption to the country from which these assets had been stolen. Asset recovery had been one of the most contentious issues of the negotiation process and generally regarded as the main indicator for the quality of the Convention. With agreeing on asset recovery as a fundamental principle of the Convention, the Ad Hoc Committee has also introduced a convincing preventive measure: It is a strong message to those ready or tempted to betray the public trust, to large scale thieves and potential kleptocrats that stolen assets can no longer be stored abroad safely. Plundering the national wealth is no longer a viable private pension scheme for some shameless individuals in power because now we have a potent legal instrument to return those assets to the country which they belong to.
Of course, as the common denominator of the often diverse interests of 129 negotiating countries, the Convention against Corruption sometimes employs, necessarily I would say, ambiguous language and some provisions are left vague or undetermined. Whereas Chapter VII on mechanisms for implementation, the negotiations of which I had the honor to chair, does go beyond the provisions of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, it defers the establishment of a concrete supplemental review mechanism as well as an appropriate implementation process to the Conference of States Parties.
It is appropriate to celebrate the opening for signatures of the Convention against Corruption as a great cooperative achievement reflecting global consensus on the need to fight corruption. It is prudent to say that we have agreed on a legal instrument providing an excellent framework for each country to fight corruption effectively.