The SAI is responsible for detecting fraud and financial corruption and auditing public funds and auditees funds in accordance with Article (2) of Federal Law No. (8) of 2011 on restructure of SAI. Based on this role and pursuant to the directives of H.H. President of the UAE, the SAI was assigned to follow up UNCAC implementation.
Significantly, UNCAC was adopted by the General Assembly under its Resolution No. (58/4) dated 31st October 2003. The convention entered into force on 14th December 2005. On 30th January 2006, the UAE ratified the convention under Federal Law No. (8) of 2006 on the UNCAC.
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During the same period, the SAI examined the convention, its implementation mechanism and appendices and compared it to the national legislations to determine their compatibility with the convention requirements. Under a resolution by H.E. President of SAI, experts team was formed in the UAE to follow up UNCAC implementation. The team members include many entities which are SAI, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Public Prosecution in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The role of the SAI does not stop with the UNCAC follow up but also the supervision of its implementation and proposal of improving legislations in the UAE so that they conform to the UNCAC requirements and provisions. One of the key roles of the SAI in the convention is to follow up the review process by responding to the comprehensive self-assessment checklist, country review and addressing the findings stated in the country review report.
The SAI makes use of every possibility to follow up the UNCAC implementation; and spares no effort to support the two reviews participated by the UAE by qualification and training of specialized employees to assign the corruption file to them whether domestically or internationally. To achieve that, it was decided in the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption which was held in Panama in 2013 that the UAE hosts the eighth conference of the convention in 2019.
Main Chapters of Convention
The convention consists of eight chapters including what is related to general provisions, technical assistance, implementation mechanism and final provisions. The following are the chapters that include the substantive provisions:
United Nations Convention Against Corruption:
1- Preventive Measures:
UNCAC focuses on developing comprehensive preventive policies that enhance accountability and transparency. It recognizes the importance of preventing corruption and dedicate chapter II for this issue in addition to mentioning the measures oriented towards both public and private sectors.
The preventive measures include having independent bodies that are responsible for fighting corruption and supervising the implementation of anti-corruption policies; developing code of conduct for public officials and enhancing transparency in the funding of election campaigns and political parties.
The convention encourages states to seek bringing recruitment and promotion procedures under objective criteria such as merit, equity and aptitude to ensure that public service is subject to efficiency and transparency principles. The convention also invites states parties to enhance transparency and accountability in public management issues and develop certain preventive requirements and conditions especially in the fields of critical importance in public sector such as judicial authorities, public procurements and public funds management.
2- Criminalization & Enforcement:
The UNCAC includes a comprehensive set of mandatory and optional criminalization provisions. The third chapter covers a wide set of corruption acts. Moreover, the convention presents a program not only to coordinate the substantive national provisions, but also to ensure achieving the minimum deterrence by certain provisions on the prosecution, adjudication and sanctions on issues related to corruptions.
The convention requires the states parties to criminalize the corruption in its internal legislations by mentioning these acts such as bribery and theft of public fund, beside practices related to abuse of authority, trading in influence, concealment and laundering of the proceeds of corruption acts, as well as the crimes committed to support corruption including money laundry and obstruction of justice.
This chapter also stipulates to protect informants, witnesses, victims and experts with mentioning the necessary measures and guarantees of protecting people who inform –in good faith- the competent authorities of any facts related to acts of corruption.
3- International cooperation:
Under Chapter IIII of the Convention, the State Parties shall assist each other in combating the corruption. This Chapter states the standards of mutual legal assistance. The cooperation comes as a form of extradition, mutual legal assistance, transfer of judgements and criminal proceedings and cooperation in the area of law enforcement. This also encourages cooperation in administrative and civil matters. Member states shall, in accordance with this chapter, take the necessary measures which support tracing, freezing, seizure and confiscation of proceeds of corruption.
4- Asset Recovery:
Chapter V is a fundamental principle of the convention, as recovery of the assets derived from the acts of corruption is a critical matter, especially for developing countries where corruption rates are increasing.
The Convention includes substantive provisions that set certain measures and mechanisms for cooperating in order to recover assets while maintaining the flexibility in recovery procedures that might be justifiable under special circumstances. These provisions may support the efforts of countries to address the impact of corruption by sending a message to those responsible for corruption acts that there will be no place to hide their illicit assets under the international cooperation based on corruption proceeds recovery.
Bodies and Working Groups in the Convention:
- Conference of States Parties:
The Conference of the States Parties was established under Article No. 63 of the Convention that aims at improving the ability and cooperation of States Parties to achieve the objectives stated in Article 1 of the Convention. This is in addition to encouraging those States to implementing and reviewing the convention. The Conference sessions are held once every two years.
Furthermore, the rules of procedures of the Conference of the States Parties identifies the rules and provisions that control its activities and working methods to achieve the objectives stated in the Convention. The Secretariat shall assist the Conference to carry out those activities and take the measure necessary to hold the Conference sessions.
(Rules of procedure for the conference of the states parties)
The Conference of the States Parties established a number of sub- entities in the form of intergovernmental open-ended groups of representatives from all state parties. In accordance to paragraph 7 of Article No. 63 in the convention, this aims at providing the conference with advices and recommendations to assist it in conducting it task.
1- Implementation Review Group :
The group on review usually meets twice a year. The group takes the responsibility of supervising the convention implementation review to identify challenges and good practices and take into consideration the technical assistance requirements to ensure the effective implementation of the convention.
The mechanism of implementation review which was approved in 2009 identifies the provisions and stages of reviews on which country review reports are issued.
(Mechanism for the Review of Implementation of the UNCAC).
The review process consists of two sessions each for five years as follows:
- The first session (2010-2015): review the State Parties to the convention implementation of Chapter 3 on criminalization and law enforcement and Chapter 4 on national cooperation.
- The second session (2015-2020) review the State Parties to the convention implementation of Chapter 2 on preventive measures and Chapter 5 on asset recovery.
It is worth mentioning that the review of UAE was completed during the first session in 2013.
The review results showed that the convention concerned experts commended the legal system used in the UAE in accordance with the provisions stated in the convention. This was mentioned in the UAE review report.
(Excutive summary of the UAE review)
2- Corruption Prevention Group:-
In accordance to Paragraph No. 7 of Article No. 63 of UNCAC, the Conference of the States parties decided to establish the open-ended Intergovernmental working group to provide the conference with advices and recommendations to fulfill its mandate of preventing corruption.
The group holds meetings once a year. The meetings focus on discussing Chapter 2&3 of the convention and providing recommendations thereon to the conference of the state parties to enhance its implementation more effectively.
3- International cooperation Group
In 2011, the conference adopted the meetings that were held by the open-ended intergovernmental group to advise and assist in extradition and mutual legal assistance between the state parties. The group meetings also aim at developing the accumulated knowledge in the area of the International cooperation and facilitating the exchange of knowledge between states by identifying challenges and exchanging information about the good practices applicable in enhancing abilities at the national level in cooperation with the relevant national entities.
The group meetings are held once a year as Chapter 4 of the convention is discussed and recommendations are provided to the conference to implement them effectively.
4- Asset Recovery Group
In its first session in 2006, the Conference of the States Parties approved establishing the open-ended intergovernmental group concerned in asset recovery. This group provides the Conference with advice and assistance to fulfill its mandate of returning the proceeds of corruption acts. The conference always encourages the group to continue its efforts in that regard.
The group holds it meetings once a year, discusses Chapter 5 of the convention and provides recommendations thereon to the Conference of the State parties to enhance its implementation.