Common African Position on Asset Recovery (CAPAR)

The African Union Special Declaration on IFFs from Africa, passed in January 2015 called for all financial resources lost through illicit capital flight and IFFs to be identified and returned to Africa to finance the continent’s development agenda. The declaration further directed the African Union Commission, supported by Member States, to mount diplomatic and media campaign for the return of illicitly outflown assets. Subsequently, the Declaration on the African Anti-Corruption Year (Assembly/AU /Decl.1 (XXXI))  from the 31st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government (July 2018) further called for the efficient recovery and return of Africa’s illicitly removed assets with due respect for the sovereignty of its States and their national interests.

In addition to this, the report of H.E. Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and AU Champion on the African Anti-Corruption Year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (February 2019), reiterated the need to develop a common African position on the recovery of African assets hosted in foreign jurisdictions (Assembly/AU/19(XXXII).

In its role as the Member State led by the African Union Champion on Anti-Corruption, the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria presented the CAPAR to African leaders at the 33rd Ordinary Assembly of the African Union held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 10 February 2020. Its unanimous adoption reflected in Assembly/AU/Dec.774 (XXXIII) by the Heads of State and Government of the African Union indicated the continued support of African leaders to the anti-corruption and anti-IFF agenda. The Decision called for the sensitization of African countries, their non-African counterparts and other stakeholders on the CAPAR towards its implementation. Since then, several efforts have been undertaken to position it at national and regional levels.

In response to these calls, and recognizing the efforts of the High-Level Panel; the African Union Champion on Anti-Corruption, H.E Muhammadu Buhari, in his report reiterated the need to develop a CAPAR as a priority in recognition of the adverse impact that the non-recovery and return of IFFs has on the enjoyment of human rights in the source country. Further acknowledging that the efforts and strategies towards the recovery and return of African assets must be situated and contextualized in the broader historical, political, economic and social narrative of Africa (including the theft of African artefacts, slavery and colonization of Africa), the African Union accordingly requested its Commission, African Union Advisory Board on Corruption, African Development Bank, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Coalition for Dialogue on Africa and other stakeholders in the Consortium, to scale up their collaborative work, in partnership with the National Anti-Corruption Agencies.

At the global level, CAPAR has already been discussed and brought forward in various forums by the African Permanent Representatives to the United Nations. This highlights its importance since the implementation of CAPAR is directly related to the work of the High-Level Panel and should accordingly be acknowledged by the United Nations General Assembly as a tool for the concrete implementation of the IFF agenda. 

CAPAR is essentially the bedrock for our continent’s legal instrument and technical framework for negotiating the return of Africa’s assets and funds taken illicitly from the continent and hosted in foreign jurisdictions. It aims to assist African Union Member States to identify, repatriate and effectively manage these assets in a manner that respects their sovereignty. CAPAR was developed on the basis that Illicit financial outflows and the illicit consignment of African assets to foreign jurisdictions have and will continue to undermine Africa’s development goals and aspirations, unless acted against by the global community, as well as the African Union and its Member States. It maintains that all these stakeholders must speak with one voice and act in unity to ensure that Africa’s voice is heard and is fully recognized in efforts to shape the global ecosystem of asset recovery.

As a policy instrument, CAPAR outlines Africa’s priorities for asset recovery and groups them into four pillars:

  • 1.

    The detection and identification of illicitly removed assets
  • 2.

    The recovery and return of illicitly removed assets
  • 3.

    The management of recovered assets
  • 4.

    Cooperation and partnerships to harmonize the process of identification and recovery

The Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA) is an independent, international, Africa-owned forum which identifies and discusses issues related to Africa’s development in
a global context. CoDA is a special, but independent, initiative of the African Union, African Development Bank (AfDB), African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), which promotes open, direct, and inclusive dialogue to further the work of the four institutions, with a view to giving Africa a greater voice on issues relating to peace, security, governance and development.

Established in 2009, CoDA is a policy-oriented platform that brings together various actors (African and international organizations) into African Union intergovernmental conversations in a structured manner through dialogues and debates that articulate ideas of diverse groups, including government leaders, policymakers, civil society,
the private sector, community and faith leaders, media, and youth on specific issues of continental interest.

Since its inception, CoDA has held more than 40 high-level dialogues and consultations on different development issues in Africa and supported implementation
of recommendations of some of the dialogues.

CoDA is headquartered within the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of eminent African and
non-African personalities.

CoDA seeks to play the role of a think-tank and change agent, which takes a proactive stand, and helps define new perspectives on a wide range of issues, including the most sensitive and most controversial. It aims to build strong partnerships and synergies with leading African institutions with the objective of grounding its work on solid evidence and bridging the gap between research and policymaking in Africa.

Addressing the issue of asset recovery and implementing the CAPAR are the reasons the next steps of the African Union ABC and other members of CAPAR Working Group are to actively sensitize national, regional, continental and international stakeholders on CAPAR in view of their full support and adherence to its implementation.

Going forward, CAPAR, which represents Africa’s collective voice on the recovery of its assets will be put forward in all relevant arenas and forums to build coherent and fair action in the repatriation of what is rightfully ours.