Seminar: Asset Recovery at the Intersection of International Law on Criminal Justice and Human Rights

According to the World Bank and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, $20–40 billion is stolen from various countries due to corruption each year, yet only $2.6 billion has to date been frozen in so-called “destination” countries, and only $423.5 million has been returned to countries of origin. One of the many challenges in asset recovery is not just in returning stolen assets, but in determining the conditions under which assets should be returned.

The Open Society Foundations, in collaboration with other civil society partners, will host several discussions that will review asset recovery in the context of human rights and anticorruption. We will explore how these legal frameworks could facilitate restitution to victims of corruption, particularly in regards to refining the relationships between asset-holding countries and asset-origin countries. A case study of modalities for the return of assets to Uzbekistan will be explored. 

Please join us for this unique opportunity. This half-day seminar is open to the public and lunch will be served.


Session I: Asset Recovery as an Issue for International Justice—Complementarity of International Laws on Human Rights and Anticorruption  

  • Victims of corruption as an intersectional concept and its articulation in international law
  • Identifying new strategies and concepts to address the issue of corruption before UN Treaty Bodies, particularly the HR and ESCR Committees
  • Complementarity of international laws on human rights and criminal justice in respect to asset recovery

Lunch Break

Session II: Management of Assets Recovery—The Role of Facilitator in Ensuring Human Rights and Rule of Law Accountability

  • The role of asset-holding states and international organizations in ensuring accountability in asset recovery and return
  • Case examples
  • What would make it possible to ensure restitution for victims and what steps must be taken by civil society and by western institutions?


  • Ayuush Bat-Erdene is chief of the Right to Development Section in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
  • Allison Gill is a human rights consultant and an associate of the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights.
  • Alisher Ilkhamov is a program officer for the Eurasia Program at the Open Society Foundations–London.
  • Kristian Lasslett is a senior lecturer in criminology at the University of Ulster and executive board member of the International State Crime Initiative.
  • Richard Messick is the former senior public sector specialist in the Public Sector and Governance Group–World Bank.
  • Patrick Mutzenberg is director of the Centre for Civil and Political Rights, Geneva.
  • Juanita Olaya is chairperson of UNCAC Coalition, Germany.
  • Alex Johnson is the senior policy advisor for Europe and Eurasia at the Open Society Foundations–Washington, D.C.
  • Katherine Wilkins is a program specialist for the Eurasia Program at the Open Society Institute–Budapest.
  • Peter Zalmayev is director of the Eurasia Democracy Initiative.


Please RSVP to Joshua Russell to attend.

Date: March 16, 2018
Time: 9:30 a.m.3:00 p.m.
Ayuush Bat-Erdene, Allison Gill, Alisher Ilkhamov, Alex Johnson, Kristian Lasslett, Richard Messick, Patrick Mutzenberg, Juanita Olaya, Katherine Wilkins, and Peter Zalmayev