Working Paper 29: Recovering assets in support of the SDGs – from soft to hard assets for development

This Working Paper aims to contribute to the international policy dialogue on the link between asset recovery and countries’ pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals.

It contends that supporting countries in recovering stolen assets and promoting sustainable development are mutually reinforcing. It also aims to correct the false reputation of asset recovery as a very technical legalistic field of development cooperation, and to generate broader understanding of the far-reaching role that asset recovery can play to foster development.

The paper argues that helping countries recover stolen assets, anchored in target 16.4 of the SDGs, can mobilise important resources to finance development or poverty reduction efforts. 

In addition, it explores how asset recovery plays a critical role in strengthening some of the key foundations of sustainable development, such as the rule of law and strong, transparent and accountable institutions. 

Combining “hard assets” in terms of actual assets recovered and the “soft assets” that are needed to do so effectively, ranging from the capacity of law enforcement institutions to the political will to fight criminal networks, provides a powerful foundation for sustainable development.

About this Working Paper

This paper is part of the Basel Institute on Governance Working Paper Series, ISSN: 2624-9650.

It was drafted by the International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) Secretariat and has received inputs from representatives of the UK’s Department for International Development, the Swiss Development Cooperation, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, and the governments of Liechtenstein and the Bailiwick of Jersey.

It was discussed with the above representatives at the meeting of ICAR core donors on 28 November 2018 in St Helier, Jersey. It also benefitted from discussions at the International Expert Meeting on the Return of Stolen Assets, “Addis II”, in May 2019.

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Working Paper 29 cover page
Date published
Basel Institute on Governance