HSE University Anti-Corruption Portal
UN General Assembly against Corruption Takes Place in New York

From 2 to 4 June 2021, New York saw the first ever UN General Assembly special session against corruption. 

The General Assembly adopted a Political Declaration entitled “Our common commitment to effectively addressing challenges and implementing measures to prevent and combat corruption and strengthen international cooperation” (at the moment of writing the final resolution adopting the Declaration had not been published yet, there was its draft A/S-32/L.1).

The document reiterates the commitment of the States parties to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by resolution 70/1 and achievement of its goals, including Goal 16 “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”.

The Political Declaration also highlights the central role of the UNCAC as the key international agreement on the fight against corruption, and that of the Conference of the States parties as the main international format of cooperation in this area. In addition, the Declaration underlines the growing role of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the need to promote cooperation with it in different areas, in particular, in anti-corruption education.

In terms of content, the Declaration reaffirms the commitment of the States parties to honouring the obligations upon the UNCAC ratification, reiterating the need to introduce (improve) the measures aimed at implementing its main provisions, including those for conflict interest, asset disclosure for anti-corruption purposes, establishment of specialised anti-corruption bodies, criminalization of active and passive bribery, recovery of proceeds of corruption etc.

The document also addresses other issues related to the fight against corruption that are not directly regulated by the UNCAC, but have gained momentum over the last years, such as beneficial ownership transparency (paragraph 16 of the Declaration), detection of channels for concealment, transfer and laundering of unlawful assets (paragraphs 17 to 19), promotion of both formal and informal international cooperation also by establishing networks of law enforcement bodies (paragraphs 32 to 33 and others), non-trial resolutions of corruption cases (paragraph 50), anti-corruption research and education also with the engagement of the International Anti-Corruption Academy (paragraph 66), use of information technologies for the fight against corruption (paragraph 68), safeguarding sport from corruption (paragraph 71), strengthening of statistical framework (paragraph 80) and others. In spite of the fact that the Declaration does not provide for the improvement of the UNCAC by including in it the aforementioned issues, which some experts call for; the inclusion of these topics in the document of this level means that their importance for the fight against corruption at the international level is growing and they are being in fact considered as a part of a universal set of anti-corruption measures.

Besides the adoption of the draft resolution the agenda of the special session included around 40 different side events organised by UN Member States, UNODC and NGOs. 

One of the side events on international cooperation on corruption prevention matters was organised by the Russian Federation and saw the participation of Brazil, China and India, UNODC and the International Anti-Corruption Academy. The practitioners discussed the problems of inter-state cooperation in obtaining information about the assets of officials and their family members transferred abroad, as well as the possibility to seizure and recover the proceeds of corruption offences. Particular attention was paid to the situations where the tracing and recovery of assets without a conviction and mechanisms of mutual legal assistance are rather ineffective. The event was aimed at continuing the discussion of international cooperation in cases of corruption in civil or administrative proceedings, launched in the 8th session of the Conference of the States parties to the UNCAC (in Russian).

Other side events addressed such topics as the use of non-trial resolutions for solving corruption-related cases, recovery of stolen assets using non-conviction based forfeiture, compensation of victims of an act of corruption, gender equality and anti-corruption, anti-corruption education and research and others.

Besides that, on the occasion of the special session the Global Operational Network of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities (GlobE Network) was officially launched. The GlobE Network is designed to become a quick, agile and efficient tool for combating cross-border corruption offences.”

International cooperation

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