The United Nations General Assembly today approved the first internationally negotiated treaty against corruption, which includes a clause saying governments had to repatriate any stolen assets bought under their jurisdiction.
The treaty will be opened for signature at a High-level Political Signing Conference from 9 to 11 December in Merida, Mexico, and will enter into force - or become a part of international law - 90 days after the thirtieth country deposits its instrument of ratification.
In taking this action and setting the stage for national and international efforts to fight the scourge of corruption, the United Nations had witnessed a momentous day in its history, the acting chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee charged with negotiating the convention, Jordanian Ambassador Muhyieddeen Touq, told a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York.
A large number of countries had participated in the negotiations and it should be easily ratified, said Mr. Touq, who is ambassador to Austria.
He said he believed the Convention would inspire the start of a fight against corruption, making the world more liveable and contributing to global economic development and good governance.
Joining Ambassador Touq at the briefing was Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, who said, "The convention has teeth."
It had strong language, many binding paragraphs and dealt with law enforcement and criminal justice, as well as prevention and technical assistance, he said.
The provision on repatriating stolen or illegally appropriated assets was a major breakthrough that would act as a deterrent for potential perpetrators, Mr. Costa noted. Other new elements covered the funding of political parties and electoral processes and the use of electronic methods for investigations and asset recovery.
Asked if the convention would apply retroactively, Mr. Costa said it would not, but it would be immediately binding as soon as it was ratified. The United Nations would assist countries that needed help in arranging their ratification and creating or reworking domestic legislation.