The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is a multilateral convention negotiated by members of the United Nations. It is the first global legally binding international anti-corruption instrument. In its 71 Articles divided into 8 Chapters, UNCAC requires that States Parties implement several anti-corruption measures which may affect their laws, institutions and practices. These measures aim at preventing corruption, criminalizing certain conducts, strengthening international law enforcement and judicial cooperation, providing effective legal mechanisms for asset recovery, technical assistance and information exchange, and mechanisms for implementation of the Convention, including the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (CoSP).
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) promotes the convention and its implementation.
UNCAC was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, on 31 October 2003 by Resolution 58/4. It was signed by 140 countries. As of May 2013, there are 166 Parties, including the European Union. The countries with a population of over 1 million that had, as of May 2013, not become parties were:
UNCAC is the most recent of a long series of developments in which experts and politicians have recognized the far-reaching impact of corruption and economic crime that undermine the value of democracy, sustainable development, and rule of law. They have also recognized the need to develop effective measures against corruption at both the domestic and international levels. International action against corruption has progressed from general consideration and declarative statements to legally binding agreements. While at the beginning of the discussion measures were focused relatively narrowly on specific crimes, above all bribery, the understanding of corruption has become broader and so have the measures against it. UNCAC’s comprehensive approach and the mandatory character of many of its provisions give proof of this development. UNCAC deals with forms of corruption that had not been covered by many of the earlier international instruments, such as trading in influence, abuse of function, and various types of corruption in the private sector. A further significant development was the inclusion of a specific chapter dealing with the recovery of stolen assets, a major concern for countries that pursue the assets of former leaders and other officials accused or found to have engaged in corruption.
Other major anti-corruption conventions, such as the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, are restricted to either certain regions of the world or certain manifestations of corruption.