UNODC Supports Integrated Financing for Sustainable Development in Uzbekistan Through Promotion of Recovery and Social Reuse of Confiscated Criminal Assets

While the 2030 deadline to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is coming closer, funding needs for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda remain huge. A development finance assessment conducted by the United Nations found that Uzbekistan needs an additional 6 billion USD per year to achieve the SDGs.

Public financing alone is not sufficient to address this funding gap. Both public and private, as well as domestic and external resources are needed to finance Uzbekistan’s national development priorities. These have been articulated in the country’s 2022-2026 Development Strategy, which sets out ambitious objectives, such as halving poverty and raising GDP for Uzbekistan to become an upper-middle income country. Increasing access to pre-school and tertiary education, improving the quality and coverage of social protection, transitioning to a green economy, enhancing public service delivery and governance, and building a more just and equitable society are other key targets.

With support from the Joint SDG Fund, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) partnered with UNDP, UNICEF and WHO during the past 2 years to support the establishment of an integrated national financing framework for the attainment of the SDGs in Uzbekistan. Within the framework of this joint UN program, UNODC assisted national authorities in building capacity and mechanisms to recover proceeds of crime and stolen assets, as a means of mobilizing resources for growth in a transparent and accountable manner.  

As a starting point, in 2021, UNODC completed a study which analyzed the relevant regulatory and policy framework, as well as the existing capacity of key national partners to manage and dispose of frozen, seized and confiscated assets. UNODC presented a related report to national stakeholders and discussed key recommendations, which focused on the need to establish an asset management body, unit or other coordination mechanism and create a central database of seized assets.

In 2022, UNODC continued advocating for the development of standard processes and organizational structures for Uzbek authorities to effectively deliver their functions on asset management. For this purpose, the General Prosecutor’s Office (GPO) established an expert working group consisting of 15 officials from the GPO, its Enforcement Bureau, the Law Enforcement Academy, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Finance and other relevant stakeholders.

UNODC facilitated biweekly consultations for the working group with 2 international experts. A virtual roundtable in April 2022 focused on the agencies involved in the interim management phase when assets are first impounded. During this phase, the aim is to preserve or increase the value of assets pending a final confiscation determination. A second virtual roundtable in May covered the post confiscation phase, which involves enforcement of judgements and the final (re)allocation of confiscated property. This phase is about realizing maximum value for seized assets and effectively executing court orders of compensation or conversion into state property, whilst ensuring that the confiscated property ends up in the State budget or for specified social purposes.

Two in-person missions with related workshops in August and October 2022 followed the virtual consultations to further share international good practices from such countries as the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and South Africa. This resulted in two analytical papers with key recommendations to improve the cost effectiveness of the asset management and disposal system, suggested standard operating procedures for asset managers, and proposed pathways for strengthening the coordination role of the GPO’s Enforcement Bureau or a separate asset management office. A concluding online meeting in December 2022 assisted the working group to review the expert recommendations as part of the drafting process for a new law on asset recovery and management.

The joint UN program under the SDG Fund has resulted in the design of an integrated sustainable development financing system, which will help the Government of Uzbekistan mobilize private and public financing for sustainable development and align existing financing policies with its medium and long-term national development priorities. With the policy advice provided on asset management, the country is now in a position to strengthen its interagency coordination and data collection on seized and confiscated assets.

Further expert advice to support the legislative process is planned in 2023. It is envisaged that confiscated assets could be used not only to compensate victims of crime, but also to cover the asset recovery and management system, and fund social, educational and other initiatives. In this manner, the proposed asset management system will help leverage additional resources for financing SDGs in Uzbekistan during the years to come.


Management and Disposal of Seized and Confiscated Assets in Uzbekistan

Technical paper on Standard Operating Procedures in the matter of frozen and confiscated assets in Uzbekistan