20. April 2017

The Lausanne Seminars

The Lausanne Process consists of seminars (Lausanne seminars) addressed to practitioners in the field of asset recovery. Switzerland has been hosting them regularly since 2001. Experience has shown that close cooperation between the countries involved, particularly at the judicial level, that is at the stage of mutual legal assistance, is of key importance for the successful restitution of such funds. The Lausanne seminars are intended to transfer practical knowledge and to help strengthen international cooperation and coordination between requesting and requested states.

Noting that through the first seven Lausanne seminars, a number of recurring themes has emerged, participants of the Lausanne VIII seminar in 2014 (90 experts from 30 countries and from several international organizations) consolidated this accumulated knowledge in the form of ten Guidelines for efficient asset recovery. This process was facilitated by Switzerland in collaboration with the International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) of the Basel Institute on Governance and with the support of the World Bank/UNODC Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR).

The Guidelines for the Efficient Recovery of Stolen Assets are a set of international good practices intended to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of requesting and requested states in the asset recovery process. They encourage a spirit of partnership as well as a strategic and pro-active approach to asset recovery.

The Guidelines can be broadly divided into different stages of the asset recovery process:

  1. Intelligence and pre-investigation activities (GL 1/2);
  2. Investigation (GL 3/5/7/8);
  3. Communication (GL 6); 
  4. International cooperation (GL 4/9/10).

The initial mandate to develop the Guidelines stems from the UN General Assembly and the Conference of States Parties to the UNCAC (COSP) in 2013. The mandate was extended by the COSP and the UN General Assembly in 2015 and 2016, respectively, for the purpose of supplementing those Guidelines with a step-by-step guide to the procedural steps to be taken by the countries concerned in a case involving politically exposed persons’ assets. The first part of the guide was drafted at the Lausanne IX seminar (2016)

The main goal of the Lausanne X seminar, which took place from 27 February to 1 March 2017 in Lausanne/Switzerland, was to complete the step-by-step guide by elaborating the procedural steps (steps for action) for the remaining Guidelines. Experts from over 30 jurisdictions and international organizations, among them Prosecutors, anti-corruption and legal experts as well as policymakers, had the opportunity to feed their knowledge and practical expertise into the drafting of the second part of the step-by-step guide.

The discussions were characterized by a high degree of interaction and dynamism. Due to their constructive inputs, the experts contributed substantively to consolidating the guidelines into a step-by-step guide. The high-quality level of the participants enabled not only a profound exchange of experiences but also provided the opportunity to discuss new and innovative approaches to asset recovery.

The Guide will be made available to the international asset recovery community and is intended to serve a global working instrument explaining in comprehensible terms what should be done at which stage of the restitution process. The step-by-step guide will be presented to the international community in November 2017, at the COSP to be held in Vienna.

See press release: https://www.admin.ch/gov/en/start/documentation/media-releases.msg-id-65849.html

Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

Directorate of International Law