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Emerging Trends in Asset Recovery

Gretta Fenner-Zinkernagel, Charles Monteith and Pedro Gomes Pereira

Street protests in the ‘Arab Spring’ countries have illustrated that public demand for recovering stolen assets has grown exponentially, as have expectations by concerned populations and governments. From a topic discussed in expert forums, it has thus become a topic of the people. The question is: Have practitioners and policy makers delivered on these expectations?
Clearly, since the ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) ten years ago, much progress has been made in streamlining respective legal and institutional frameworks. On the other hand, we also find that practical successes on the ground remain few and far apart, and largely limited to a handful of countries.
This book asks why and, through the voice of renowned practitioners from a broad range of affected countries, analyses challenges that remain, identifies new stumbling blocks that have cropped up, and discusses practical solutions that are being tested with a view to overcoming these.
The book is published by the Basel Institute on Governance’s International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR).

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Emerging trends, good practice Part 1: Overarching themes DIMITRI VLASSIS, DOROTHEE GOTTWALD AND JI WON PARK1 Chapter V of UNCAC: Five years on experiences, obstacles and reforms on asset recovery Background The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), and particularly its Chapter V, has seen unprecedented progress in the past years. In 2005, the dynamics of the negotiations of Chapter V of the Convention brought about a landmark agreement. For the first time, the return of assets to the countries of origin was stated as a funda- mental principle (article 51 of the Convention), and the unconditional return of proceeds of embezzlement to the States of origin was made an obligation for all State Parties (article 57 paragraph 3 of the Con- vention). When the Basel Institute on Governance published one of the first books on the market on recovering stolen assets in 2008,2 there were only a few (yet famous) asset recovery cases. Countries had only emerging experience in the area and the new legal frame- work was so recent that it had hardly been used. This paper takes stock of the progress achieved since. On one hand, this paper shows how the policy discourse on asset recovery has advanced. Intense discussions in intergovernmental fora have brought about a number of resolutions and recommendations, especially in the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention (‘the Conference of the States Parties’) and its Open-ended Intergov- ernmental Working Group on Asset Recovery (‘the Asset Recovery Working Group’). In 2008,...

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