International conventions



> Global conventions
> Africa
> The Americas
> Europe


What purposes do international anti-corruption conventions serve?

International anti-corruption conventions play a key role in the global fight for integrity by:

  • bringing the fight against corruption to the political forefront
  • setting legally binding standards and principles by which signatory states can be held to account
  • fostering both the domestic action and international co-operation needed to tackle the many facets of corruption

What do these conventions provide for?

Although they may be similar in substance, conventions can vary considerably depending on their signatories and specific obligations. Regarding their geographic scope, some aspire to a global coverage, while others have a regional focus. They may provide for different types of obligations, whether it is concrete recommendations for action along with sophisticated review processes, or more general political commitments as a basis for specific steps to be taken.

Where does CleanGovBiz fit in?

The CleanGovBiz Toolkit is being developed on the basis of the important standards embodied in international conventions to help put these standards into practice. In order to “walk the talk” of these conventions, the Toolkit proposes concrete priority measures, guidance on their implementation and examples of good practices in the multiple policy areas concerned. These conventions have been signed and ratified by states which in turn provides the necessary political legitimacy for applying the CleanGovBiz guidance.

Global Conventions


Adopted: 31 Oct 2003

Entry into force: 14 Dec 2005

Signatory countries: 154
(as of Dec 2011)



The UNCAC is an international treaty aspiring to universal participation that bans corruption and obliges signatory states to take a large variety of measures to fight it. Signatory countries commit to prevent and criminalise corruption, to openly co-operate with one another in cases of cross-border corruption activities and to return stolen assets to countries of origin. Under the UNCAC review mechanism, compliance is reviewed through a process involving country self-assessments, a country visit, and the drafting of a review report submitted to the country under review for approval. The UNCAC is the most comprehensive anti-corruption treatyin existence today, both in terms of geographical coverage and issues addressed.


Adopted: 17 Dec 1997

Entry into force: 15 Feb 1999

Signatory countries: All OECD countries plus Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria and South Africa (as of 2012)



The OECD Convention is the first and only international anti-corruption instrument focused on the ‘supply side’ of the bribery transaction. It establishes legally binding standards to criminalise bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions and provides for related measures, such as rigorous country monitoring and extensive follow-up mechanisms, to ensure effective implementation.


Adopted: 15 Nov 2000

Entry into force: 29 Sept 2003


The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime recognises combating corruption, among other issues, as an integral part in the fight against transnational organized crime. It requires signatory countries to take measures to prevent and criminalize corruption as well as to curb money-laundering. It further provides for a broad framework reinforcing international cooperation on these matters.




Adopted: 11 July 2003

Entry into force: 2006

Ratification status: 31 countries (as of 2012)

AU website

Text of the Convention


The AU Convention is a comprehensive regional treaty criminalising the multiple facets of corruption and requiring signatory states to prevent, detect, punish and eradicate corruption and related offences in the public and private sector. Moreover, it lays out a framework for international cooperation and mutual legal assistance to effectively combat corruption and recover stolen assets. The Convention provides for a follow-up mechanism on progress made by each state party.


Adopted: 14 August 2001

Entry into force: 2005

Ratification status: 8 countries (as of 2012)




The South African Development Community Protocol is the first sub- regional treaty to fight corruption in Africa. Similar to the later AU Convention it obliges state parties to prevent, detect, punish and eradicate corruption in the public and private sector and to cooperate internationally. It also establishes a committee consisting of state parties to oversee the implementation of the protocol. Little progress has been made in implementation since the Protocol entered in force in 2005.


Adopted: 21 Dec 2001

Entry into force: forthcoming


Text of the Protocol (pdf)


The Economic Community of West African States Protocol is a sub-regional treaty to reinforce the fight against corruption in West Africa. Adopted in 2001 it still has not entered into force due to a lack of ratifications.


The Americas


Adopted: 29 March 1996

Entry into force: 6 March 1997

Ratification status: 33 countries (as of 2012)


The Organization of American States’ (OAS) Inter American Convention against Corruption was as at the time of its adoption the first international anti-corruption treaty. It establishes a set of preventive measures, provides for the criminalization of certain acts of corruption and contains a series of provisions to strengthen the cooperation between its States Parties in areas such as mutual legal assistance and technical cooperation, extradition and identification, or asset recovery. In 2002 a Follow-Up Mechanism for its Implementation (MESICIC) was instituted.




Adopted: 27 Jan 1999

Entry into force: 2002

Ratification status: 43 countries (as of 2012)



The Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention aims at co-ordinating the criminalisation of a large number of corrupt practices. It also provides for complementary criminal law measures and improved international co-operation in the prosecution of corruption offences. The treaty monitors compliance of States through a process of mutual evaluation and peer pressure in a specialised body, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).


Adopted: 4 Nov 1999

Entry into force: 2003

Ratification status: 34 countries (as of 2012)


The Council of Europe Civil Law Convention is the first attempt to define common international rules in the field of civil law and corruption in an international treaty. Contracting Parties are required to provide compensation for persons who have suffered damage as a result of acts of corruption. Its implementation will be monitored by the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).


Adopted: 26 May 1997

Entry into force: 28 Sept 2005

Ratification: Open to all EU countries



This European Union Convention is designed to fight corruption involving European officials or national officials of Member States of the European Union. Member State must ensure that any act of passive or active corruption by officials is a punishable criminal offence. In serious cases penalties should include deprivation of liberty and extradition. Moreover, heads of businesses are to be declared criminally liable for active corruption by a person under their authority acting on behalf of the business entity. The establishment of an evaluation mechanism regarding anti-corruption efforts in EU member states is currently debated.


Adopted: 26 Jul 1995

Entry into force: 17 Oct 2002

Ratification: Open to all EU countries



The Convention on the Protection of the European Communities’ Financial Interests and its protocols are aimed at creating a common legal basis for the criminal-law protection of the European Communities' financial interests. Fraud affecting both expenditure and revenue must be punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties including custodial sentences that can give raise to extradition.




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