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Jack Smith, Mark Pieth, Guillermo Jorge (2007). The Recovery of Stolen Assets: A Fundamental Principle of the UN Convention against Corruption. Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Brief 2007:2)

Despite hundreds of billions of dollars in aid, the United Nations determined in 2004 that 54 countries had actually become poorer than they were 15 years previously. Most analysts now agree with findings of the World Bank that it is corruption that has been "the single greatest obstacle to economic and social development."To confront this problem, 80 countries have ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), a document of unprecedented scope and application. The Convention has 71 articles addressing numerous tools to combat corruption such as codes of conduct, increased bank scrutiny of "politically exposed persons" and anti-money laundering measures. However, it is the "return of assets" that has been singled out as "a fundamental principle of this Convention". This Brief examines why the return of assets is so critical, the obstacles standing in the way of recovering stolen monies, and what donors can do to make the situation better.