What is Common African Position on Asset Recovery Adopted by African Union?

© AP Photo / Michel EulerThe doors of King Glele 'palace, from Benin 19th century, are pictured at the Quai Branly–Jacques Chirac museum, Monday, Oct. 25, 2021 in Paris
The doors of King Glele 'palace, from Benin 19th century, are pictured at the Quai Branly–Jacques Chirac museum, Monday, Oct. 25, 2021 in Paris - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 01.12.2023
On Friday, the African Union reportedly adopted the Common Africa Position on Asset Recovery (CAPAR) aimed at returning assets to the continent. Sputnik Africa explains the nature of the mechanism, and the steps it envisages, and why it is crucial for the continent's development.
The main objective of the Common African Position on Asset Recovery is to identify and return African resources and artifacts unlawfully appropriated by foreign states, according to an African Union report.
CAPAR has four main pillars:
Asset detection, with the critical role of the media and civil society;
Asset repatriation, using innovative legal, policy and technical solutions;
Asset management for the common good of citizens in line with Africa's development agenda;
Collaboration and partnership, emphasizing the key role of international cooperation in curbing illicit financial flows.
African nations have emphasized the issue's importance, stating that the loss of vital resources due to illegal outflows has been depriving the continent of the opportunity to use these assets for development and improving people's lives.
"Africa has suffered terrible setbacks due to the illicit outflow of funds and the consignment of African assets to foreign jurisdictions. The recovery and return of African assets is therefore a top priority for the continent as such recovered assets can be applied towards Africa’s development agenda," the AU report on CAPAR read.
Specifically, the AU report found that Africa lost up to $1.8 trillion between 1970 and 2008 alone, continuing to lose significant financial resources, estimated at up to $150 billion annually, to illicit financial flows.
"The report notes that Africa’s capital stock would have expanded by more than 60% if funds leaving Africa illicitly had remained on the continent, GDP per capita would be up to 15% more," the AU said.
African slaves. Photograph on Gullah culture at Boone Hall Plantation. - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 22.09.2023
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Asset recovery addresses areas such as abusive transfer pricing of resources, trade misinvoicing, tax evasion, aggressive tax avoidance, double taxation, and crimes related to money laundering, smuggling, human trafficking and abuse of authority.

"It is now possible for stolen money from Africa and stashed in the foreign banks to be recovered," Charity Nchimunya, the executive secretary of the AU Advisory Board Against Corruption (AUBC), told the local media.

The other component of the mechanism involves developing a regional list of African artifacts, which should, inter alia, identify the various African works of art exported from Africa before, during and after colonization, along with the countries to which the artifacts were exported.
As the AUBC Chairperson Seynabou Ndiaye Diakhate told the local media that some assets were smuggled abroad by leaders, their relatives or accomplices, and other influential people in the member countries.
"If many countries are cooperative eventually much of the stolen treasures will be recovered and restored back to the states where they were looted," she said.
Artifacts, including the skulls of Tanzanian chiefs allegedly hanged by German colonial over a century ago, and later allegedly exported to Germany, forcing the descendants of the murdered to seek the return of the remnants to their homeland, illustrate these challenges.
Skulls in detail at Kutná Hora - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 29.10.2023
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In neighboring Kenya, some artifacts removed by the British colonial authorities are also "shrines and things of value to certain peoples," Macharia Munene, a professor of history and international relations at the US International University in Kenya's Nairobi, told Sputnik Africa in October, urging the need for their return.
The issue of illicit asset transfers has been on the African Union's agenda since at least 2015, when the 24th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The declaration also directed the African Union Commission, with the support of member states, to launch a diplomatic and public information campaign for the return of illicitly exported assets.