“Corruption is an insidious plague […] It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to human rights violations, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish.”
So begins the Preamble to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 58/4 of 31 October 2003 and entered into force on 14 December 2005.
The UNCAC, which establishes a global legal framework to prevent, detect and punish corruption and promote international cooperation, represents the first legally binding instrument in this field, widely ratified by 190 member states, with only three countries remaining outside: the Syrian Arab Republic, Eritrea and North Korea.
This framework introduces a comprehensive set of rules, measures and regulations that can be applied by all countries to strengthen their legal and regulatory regimes to combat corruption and is based on the four fundamental pillars of prevention, criminalization and law enforcement, international cooperation and asset recovery.
In addition, by virtue of resolution 3/1 of 13 November 2009 of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, this framework also has a “Mechanism for the Review of Implementation of the Convention” (MEA), a three-stage process overseen by an open-ended intergovernmental group of States Parties known as the Implementation Review Group (IRG).
Spain, which ratified the Convention in 2006, has been subject to review on two occasions. The first wasin 2011, during the first review cycle (2010-2015) dedicated to criminalization and law enforcement and Chapter IV on international cooperation. The second in May of this year in the framework of the second review cycle dedicated to the analysis of the implementation of Preventive Measures, and Policies and Practices for the Prevention of Corruption, and Asset Recovery. The report of this visit will be published in 2024.
Meanwhile, it is worth noting that Spain has dropped two consecutive years in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) published by Transparency International Spain. Its score in 2022 was 60/100. Even so, according to the organization “this reflects that a level of factors that affect the proper functioning of democratic institutions and raise the risk of corruption remains latent”. Moreover, according to Eurobarometer, in Spain corruption remains a common problem for 89% of Spaniards, while in Europe it is 68%.
This week, from December 11 to 15, the tenth session of the Conference of the States Parties to the UNCAC will focus on the review of the implementation of the Convention, asset recovery, international cooperation, prevention and technical assistance.