Chapter V of the Convention: Asset Recovery

Articles 51-59

A unique feature of the Convention in comparison to other international instruments, including the Organized Crime Convention, is that, according to article 46, subparagraphs 3 (j) and (k), mutual legal assistance is to be afforded for the identification, tracing, freezing and recovery of proceeds of crime for the purpose of returning them to their legitimate owners, in accordance with chapter V of the Convention (Asset recovery).

UNODC's work in the area of asset recovery aims at encouraging and facilitating systematic and timely return of assets stolen through acts of corruption, under the framework of the Convention.

Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR)

Together with the World Bank Group, UNODC has established an innovative partnership, the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative. StAR supports international efforts to end safe havens for corrupt funds. StAR works with developing countries and financial centers to prevent the laundering of the proceeds of corruption and to facilitate more systematic and timely return of stolen assets.

Text of the Convention
See pages 42-48
Management of frozen, seized and confiscated assets

The management of frozen, seized and confiscated assets pending return or final disposal is an important aspect of successful anti-corruption enforcement measures and an important step for the successful recovery and disposal of stolen assets. Article 31, paragraph 3, of the United Nations Convention against Corruption requires States Parties to adopt, in accordance with their domestic law, such legislative and other measures as may be necessary to regulate the administration by the competent authorities of frozen, seized or confiscated property.

In 2017, UNODC published a study entitled Effective Management and Disposal of Seized and Confiscated Assets which presents the experience of 64 countries in the management and disposal of seized and confiscated assets. In addition, UNODC is working on the development of non-binding guidelines on the management of frozen, seized and confiscated assets.

Find further information on UNODC’s work in this regard here.

Asset Returns

Through the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), States Parties have for the first time agreed on a comprehensive set of rules governing asset recovery. Chapter V of the Convention establishes:

“The return of assets […] is a fundamental principle of this Convention, and States Parties shall afford one another the widest measure of cooperation and assistance in this regard.” (article 51)

The Convention also establishes for the first time that proceeds of embezzlement should be returned to the country of origin upon confiscation, whereas for the proceeds of other offences, a differentiating regime has been adopted taking into account damages, prior ownership and victims (article 57).

Based on these obligations and commitments, UNODC, also through the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative, works with States Parties to build their capacity to successfully identify and freeze or seize assets, obtain confiscation orders and return the assets to the requesting States in accordance with the Convention.

Asset Recovery and sustainable development: The Addis Process

Co-hosted by the Governments of Ethiopia and Switzerland, the Addis process brings together asset recovery practitioners and Financing for Development experts from around the globe to discuss innovative solutions around asset management, asset return and the use of returned assets for sustainable development. Experts discuss best practices and challenges associated with asset return and look at specific cases in order to better understand the various components and legal frameworks that contribute in this process.

Thus far there has been Addis I and Addis II in this process.


Conference of the States Parties and its Working Groups

Special session of the General Assembly against corruption 2021

G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group

StAR Initiative 

StAR has produced a number of important publications on asset recovery topics, including analytical studies and guidance for practitioners, which are compiled in its Resource Library. See in particular for:


Article 51 - General Provision

Article 52 - Prevention and detection of transfers of proceeds of crime                      

Article 53 - Measures for direct recovery of property

Article 54 - Mechanisms for recovery through international cooperation in confiscation

Article 55 - International cooperation for purposes of confiscation

Article 56 - Special Cooperation

Article 57 - Return and disposal of assets

Article 58 - Financial Intelligence Unit

Article 59 - Bilateral and multilateral agreements and arrangements

A number of multilateral agreements/arrangements have been concluded that provide obligations for States to cooperate with one another in the area of asset recovery. Relevant StAR publications include:

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