Explanation of Position for the Adoption of the Promotion of International Cooperation to Combat Illicit Financial Flows and Strengthen Good Practices

Nicholas Hill
Deputy U.S. Representative to ECOSOC
New York, New York
November 23, 2021

Explanation of Position for the Adoption of the Promotion of International Cooperation to Combat Illicit Financial Flows and Strengthen Good Practices on Assets Return to Foster Sustainable Development Resolution


The United States firmly believes that combating money laundering, terrorist and proliferation financing, corruption, and other related forms of criminal activity is essential to our common security and economic prosperity. The United States strongly supports the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and particularly its emphasis on issues such as transparency, rule of law, and inclusive and sustainable economic growth – hall issues that are relevant to this resolution. However, the language in this resolution undermines our ability to work constructively to address these challenges.

The United States must disassociate from OP3. The UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is the first global instrument to address the recovery, including confiscation, and return of the proceeds of crime. The UNCAC Conference of States Parties serves as the UN’s lead body promoting anti-corruption and related anti-crime policy, and is the appropriate venue for relevant experts to consider issues addressing the recovery and return of the proceeds of these crimes. This resolution undermines the UNCAC Conference of States Parties’ role in leading discussion at the global level and overstates the role of the UNCAC as a general tool of asset recovery and return. The expertise on asset recovery lies in Vienna, and the UNCAC review mechanism addresses implementation of the UNCAC. Calls for a new report by the UNGA Secretary General are inappropriate.

As well, we remain concerned about the endorsement of the High-level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for Achieving the 2030 Agenda panel report as this document was not adopted by consensus by all member states and is not a UN document. Further, the report and the recommendations therein do not appear to be consistent with existing obligations of the UNCAC, which is the relevant anti-corruption framework, or global standards such as those set forth in the Financial Action Task Force standards, which provide an international framework for anti-money laundering measures.

Additionally, we reiterate longstanding concerns that language in this resolution undermines our ability to work together constructively to address money laundering, corruption, and other related crimes. We encourage Member States to reconsider allowing this discussion to continue in the General Assembly.

The resolution is not sufficiently clear about what specific underlying illegal activities are in question and the role Member States have in preventing, investigating, and prosecuting the underlying criminal acts that yield the proceeds of crime.

Furthermore, transparency and accountability are critical to sustainable development. Yet the resolution places too much attention on the return of confiscated proceeds of crime and fails to include the importance of transparency and accountability in ensuring that recovered assets benefit those harmed by acts of corruption. In this regard, we do not believe that asset recovery should be coupled so directly with sustainable development. While these issues may be linked in some cases, this resolution implies that they must necessarily be connected, when the focus should remain on law enforcement and fighting impunity.

We refer you to our general statement delivered on November 18 regarding our positions with respect to the term illicit financial flows and the 2030 Agenda.

Thank you.