About the UNCAC

The UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in brief

Adopted by the UN General Assembly: 31 October 2003
Entered into force: 14 December 2005
Number of states parties: 188 (as of August 2021)
Eligible members: All countries and regional economic organisations
Secretariat: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

The UNCAC has eight chapters and 71 articles.

Chapter I: General provisions

The first Chapter highlights the three main goals of the Convention, namely:

  • to promote and strengthen measures to prevent and combat corruption more efficiently and effectively;
  • to promote, facilitate and support international cooperation and technical assistance in the prevention of and fight against corruption, including in asset recovery;
  • to promote integrity, accountability and proper management of public affairs and public property.

Chapter I is followed by the four chapters containing substantive provisions.

Chapter II: Preventive measures

Chapter II covers of a set of preventive measures aimed at hindering corruption in the public and private sectors. Provisions call on countries to:

  • Develop and implement effective, coordinated anti-corruption policies that promote the participation of society (Article 5);
  • Establish an independent anti-corruption body (Article 6);
  • Enhance transparency, efficiency and use objective criteria in the recruitment, hiring, retention, promotion and retirement of public officials (Article 7.1);
  • Enhance transparency in the funding of electoral campaigns and political parties (Article 7.3);
  • Apply codes of conduct for the performance of public functions (Article 8.2);
  • Establish measures and systems aimed at facilitating the reporting of corruption by public officials to appropriate authorities (Article 8.4);
  • Promote the establishment of assets declaration systems for public officials (Article 8.5);
  • Establish appropriate procurement as well as public finance management systems based on transparency, competition, and objective criteria (Article 9);
  • Promote access to information concerning the work of the public administration (Article 10(a) and (b)) and enhance transparency through public reporting (Article 10(c));
  • Promote integrity in the judiciary (Article 11);
  • Enhance ethics, integrity, and transparency in the private sector through the adoption of accounting and auditing standards and the establishment of penalties at civil, administrative and criminal levels (Article 12);
  • Article 13 mandates states parties to ensure participation of civil society and non-governmental organisations in the prevention of and fight against corruption. It refers to the need for measures ensuring public access to information and participation in educational programmes;
  • Establish regulatory and supervisory regimes aimed at preventing money-laundering (Article 14).

Chapter III: Criminalisation and law enforcement

The Convention requires that countries criminalize – or consider criminalising – different corruption-related offences, namely:

  • Bribery of national public officials (Article 15);
  • Bribery of foreign public officials and officials of international organisations (Article 16);
  • Embezzlement, misappropriation or other diversions of property by a public official (Article 17);
  • Trading in influence (Article 18);
  • Abuse of functions (Article 19);
  • Illicit enrichment (Article 20);
  • Bribery in the private sector (Article 21);
  • Embezzlement of property in the private sector (Article 22)
  • Money laundering (Article 23);
  • Concealment (Article 24);
  • Obstruction of justice (Article 25).

In addition, the Convention calls on States Parties to take appropriate measures aimed at protecting corruption witnesses, experts, victims (Article 32) and reporting persons (whistleblowers, Article 33) from retaliation.

Chapter IV: International cooperation

By addressing the cross-border nature of corruption, Chapter IV lays down standards for mutual legal assistance in investigations, prosecutions, and judicial offences, seeking to enhance legal and technical mutual assistance between states parties and to facilitate extraditions of wanted persons.

Chapter V: Asset recovery

This addresses prevention and detection of transfers of the proceeds of crime and measures for their recovery, with an emphasis on international cooperation.
Two further chapters cover agreed steps to enhance the impact of the convention.

Chapter VI: Technical assistance and information exchange

Chapter VI calls on states parties to develop or improve specific training programmes for personnel responsible for preventing and combating corruption. States parties should also consider affording one another the widest measure of technical assistance, especially for developing countries, as well as voluntary mechanisms to provide financial assistance to developing and transition countries.

Chapter VII: Mechanisms for implementation

Article 63 of the Convention establishes the Conference of the States Parties (CoSP). These bi-annual meetings seek to help improve the capacity of and cooperation between States Parties in achieving the objectives set forth in the Convention. The CoSP also seeks to promote the Convention’s implementation.

In addition, the Conference of States Parties’ mandate includes:

  • facilitating the exchange of information among States Parties on patterns and trends in corruption, and on successful practices for preventing and combating it;
  • strengthening cooperation with relevant international and regional organisations and mechanisms and non-governmental organisations;
  • periodically reviewing the implementation of the Convention by its States parties.

The UNCAC concludes with Chapter VIII: Final provisions

The last section of UNCAC is dedicated to calling upon States to take all the necessary legislative and administrative measures, in accordance with fundamental principles of domestic laws, to ensure the implementation of the obligations deriving from the Convention.

The topics covered here include provisions on entry into force, the ratification process and amendments to the text of the convention.

UNCAC documents

Useful links and other sources

A global civil society network promoting the implementation and monitoring of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC)