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Steps forward for fight against global corruption
The first global anti-corruption convention was finalized on October 1, 2003, by delegates at talks in Vienna opening the way to more effective cooperation in prosecuting crooked public officials and recovering stolen assets spirited abroad.

The text must now go to the United Nations' General Assembly, which is expected to rubber-stamp the final draft, ahead of a signing ceremony in Mexico in early December. It will come into force after 30 countries have ratified its provisions into national law, a process that could take two years or more.

The convention's highlight is ground-breaking provisions to facilitate the return of assets stolen by officials or leaders in one country and transferred to another - a subject that had engendered "quite a battle between the developed and developing world", Mr. Peter Rooke, who sits on the advisory board of the anti-graft watchdog Transparency International, said. The final provisions on the return of assets ran to between five and six pages, which will now have to be examined closely to assess their impact.

Tough decisions on how the agreement should be monitored had been deferred to a future conference of state parties - suggesting that was a battle anti-corruption campaigners would need to fight another day.

Earlier this week the UN announced the entry into force of its convention on fighting international organized crime, adopted in 2000 to combat money laundering, organized crime and human trafficking.

However, most of the countries that had ratified the convention were developing nations. Only two European Union members, France and Spain, had ratified it, while the US, which signed in 2000, had not.

Financial Times
By Mark Turner at the United Nations
FT.com site; Oct 01, 2003

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