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It is undeniable that corruption has negative consequences for real people. While the international community as a whole has long focused on prosecution and confiscation of proceeds of crime, the reparation of damages exists as a general principle of law in all legal systems. In both common law and civil law systems, it is understood as the remediation of a harm originating from an unlawful conduct in order to re-establish the situation that would have existed had the harm not occurred. While the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) requires States parties to take measures to grant standing to “entities or persons who have suffered damage as a result of an act of corruption”, the reparation of damages to victims of corruption is often overlooked.  


This represents a substantial gap in the application of international legal principles, and more importantly, it begs the question of whether justice is truly being served. To answer this question the publication has analyzed the responses received from 56 jurisdictions in reply to two questionnaires concerning countries’ legislation and their implementation. It was conducted by the UNODC and the Asset Recovery Committee of the International Bar Association. The analysis also relied on existing research concerning the recovery of damages for corruption and the comparative law literature on torts and civil liabilities and criminal procedures, as well as the outcomes of the UNCAC’s country reviews conducted under its Implementation Review Mechanism. This publication focuses on addressing questions of compensation relating to cases of grand corruption. The significant sums involved in such cases, as well as their complexity, mean that the possibility for recovery in such cases merits particular attention. Moreover, this publication focuses on existing legal avenues.  


This publication aims to provide an overview of the existing international legal framework, and to start the debate on important questions, such as what are the avenues for reparation, who are victims, how to define their legal standing and how to establish damages. In doing so, the publication has identified a number of measures to explore in order to properly promote the reparation of victims of corruption.   

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Victims of Corruption: Back for Payback
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