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U.S. Explanation of Vote on the Negative Impact of the Non-Repatriation of Illicit Funds
March 24, 2017

A/HRC/34/L.16/Rev. 1

Explanation of  Vote by the United States of America,
As Delivered by William J. Mozdzierz,
Head of the U.S. Delegation

Human Rights Council 34th session
Geneva, March 24, 2017

Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States regrets that the Human Rights Council has chosen again to make pronouncements in the highly technical areas that include asset recovery, illicit finance, tax revenue generation, sovereign debt, arms control, and organized crime, which we believe lie outside the appropriate scope of the HRC.  We underscore that the Financial Action Task Force is the international standard setter for combating illicit finance.  For the following reasons, we must call a vote and vote “no” on this resolution.

Current General Assembly resolutions on this topic, as well as other recent UN decisions and resolutions, strongly recognize the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) as the groundbreaking and primary binding legal framework for cooperation in asset recovery cases.  To date, there are 181 States Parties to this convention.  Unfortunately, this resolution does not reflect valuable progress made by relevant experts in the UNCAC’s Conference of States Parties and its Open-Ended Intergovernmental Expert Working Group on Asset Recovery to develop and share good practices, promote implementation of the convention and effective asset recovery, and set common goals through recommendations and resolutions.  Instead, for example, this resolution uses outdated and problematic terms and concepts, such as the phrase “repatriation of funds of illicit origin.”  That term is contrary to the provisions of the UNCAC, and expert-level fora elsewhere now use the terms “asset recovery” and “return.”  Similarly, we believe the Independent Expert’s report that this resolution mentions does not contribute constructively to the literature on asset recovery and return.  Other studies, including ones the UN Office on Drugs and Crime/World Bank Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative have completed, cover the complex technical aspects of asset recovery in a manner more in line with the UNCAC and international consensus.  We have also worked elsewhere with many delegations in this room to depoliticize asset recovery, including through the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

With respect to illicit finance, we recognize the work of the FATF and the related efforts made by experts from around the globe on this issue.  This resolution ignores the effective work already underway in other international fora, including the OECD and the UN’s conferences on Financing for Development.

We look forward to working with the UN and other appropriate experts, in Vienna and elsewhere, to address these important issues in appropriate fora.

Thank you, Mr. President.