The United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) entered into force in 2005. In his Foreword, Secretary-General Kofi A. Annan wrote:
Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish. This evil phenomenon is found in all countries—big and small, rich and poor—but it is in the developing world that its effects are most destructive. Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining a Government’s ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice and discouraging foreign aid and investment. Corruption is a key element in economic underperformance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development.
I am therefore very happy that we now have a new instrument to address this scourge at the global level.
The Convention, subsequently signed by all member states, established a Conference of the States Parties to the Convention to improve the capacity of and cooperation between States Parties to achieve the objectives set forth in the Convention and to promote and review its implementation.
Full text of the Convention can be downloaded here.