South-Eastern European jurisdictions collaborate to bolster regional Asset Recovery policy level efforts

7-8 July 2022, Vienna, Austria: High-level representatives of South-Eastern European Governments, Ministries of Justice, Prosecution offices, Asset Recovery, and Asset Management Agencies, and other stakeholders participated in the Regional Meeting on Policy Level Efforts in Asset Recovery organized by UNODC to discuss the most recent regional trends, measures, and best practices in policy formulation, coordination, implementation, monitoring, and assessment pertaining to asset recovery.

The jurisdictions in South-Eastern Europe have each made progress in strengthening their policies and most of them have strategies or are in process of developing strategies to address corruption and recovery of assets. The next step is the translation of the strategies to specific actions – adoption and implementation of action plans and introduction of monitoring tools which will enable corrective actions during the policy cycle.

During the meeting, delegation representatives reflected on the current state of asset recovery policy development in their respective jurisdictions and described their efforts in overcoming the challenges and obstacles to the asset recovery process. The representatives of Western Balkan jurisdictions evaluated focused legislative actions in the area of asset recovery and introduced amendments to the respective Criminal Codes and Criminal Procedure Codes. In an effort to improve regional cooperation, the meeting served as an opportunity to present and exchange best practices in international cooperation and mutual legal assistance for the purposes of asset recovery cases.

Stemming from the identified action points from the meeting, UNODC will continue supporting the Western Balkans jurisdictions at the local level and further providing platforms to ensure that the local findings and actions are being addressed at the policy level regionally with the aim to enhance the overall effectiveness of the asset recovery efforts in the region.

The Regional Meeting was held under the auspices of the project "From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery" as part of the UNODC Regional Programme for South-Eastern Europe and with the generous support of the Government of the United Kingdom. The project focuses, among others, on increasing international cooperation and the exchange of information in order to enhance asset recovery processes in the Western Balkans.

This activity contributes to SDG Target 16.4 to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.