As delegates convened in Vienna today to resume negotiations on an international treaty against corruption, a senior United Nations official cited recent data showing a correlation between the accuracy of a country's accounting and the absence of graft.
"International statistics aside, we are all familiar with the fact that the national wealth of a number of countries was destroyed - in some instances, plainly stolen - by corrupt leaders, leaving future generations struggle in despair," Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP), said in an opening address to the Ad Hoc Committee for the Negotiation of a UN Convention against Corruption.
"It is not surprising, therefore, that fighting corruption has become a priority in most countries," he added. "It is a condition for good governance and rule of law, which in turn are the foundation of sustainable development."
The second session of the Ad Hoc Committee, which is scheduled to run until 28 June, is expected to finish the first reading of the draft text of the Convention. During its deliberations, the Committee will examine the issues of sanctions, confiscation, international cooperation, asset recovery, technical assistance, preventing the transfer of funds of illicit origin, and monitoring of the Convention.
The Committee will also discuss other aspects of corruption, including protection for "whistle-blowers" and victims, compensation for damages, extradition, mutual legal assistance and bank secrecy.
Meanwhile, a one-day technical workshop on asset recovery will take place during the session, going through a hypothetical case study involving the transfer of millions of dollars abroad by a former president who was forced from office. Participants will consider the difficulties of identifying the location of funds or assets of illicit origin and will look at issues relating to the return of such funds, such as how to identify the beneficiaries.
At its first session earlier this year, the Committee made good progress on the first reading of the draft convention, covering issues such as whether the convention would contain a standard definition of "public official," or leave it to national law, how to define corruption and whether the new pact would cover private sector corruption.