The progress came at the sixth session of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Negotiation of a Convention against Corruption in Vienna from 21 July to 9 August. The panel is scheduled to meet again on 22 September to settle several elements of the draft that still need to be elaborated before the treaty is submitted to the UN General Assembly for final approval.”We are very close to an agreement,” said Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). “Indeed, the session achieved major breakthroughs on the most politically sensitive issues: a clear sign that Member States – all of them, rich and poor countries, whether having a history of corruption or not – want this Convention, and they want it very badly.“That gives us grounds for optimism that the negotiations will be successfully completed in September, so the Convention will be presented to the General Assembly this fall, and subsequently to the Ministerial Signing Conference to be held in Merida, Mexico, from 9 to 11 December,” he added.The requirement for Member States to return assets obtained through bribery and embezzlement to the country of origin represents a new fundamental principle in international treaties. In a number of countries, corruption has led to the depletion of national wealth. Some of those countries, whose former dictators have stolen hundreds of millions, or even billions, of dollars, have made a great contribution in the search for new rules, including the Philippines and Nigeria.The agreement on preventive measures includes norms of conduct for public officials, greater transparency based on public access to information on government businesses, and stricter procurement regulations and measures against money laundering.Progress was also made on other outstanding issues, including dual criminality – whether a particular action has to be considered a crime in both countries in order for the latter to cooperate, and differences over the definition of “public official.”Once adopted, the treaty will enhance cooperation between governments and help standardize the way in which individual countries deal with corruption in their national legislation.