Advocacy

As compared to awareness raising, advocacy strategies are more targeted. They have the ultimate aim of persuading certain public or private institutions to undertake specific actions. Consequently, when launching advocacy campaigns, CSOs should have a clearly defined, and a realistically achievable objective.

Advocacy needed in both requesting and requested states

The need for advocacy is likely to be applicable in requesting and requested states, and is often aimed at similar objectives in the two concerned jurisdictions. For example the reform of public policy on asset recovery specific issues, including the reform of legislation and institutions involved in the asset recovery process, will be a potential target in both countries, though the exact content of that advocacy campaign will likely differ.

For example, in relation to prevention CSOs in requested jurisdictions are likely to target the private sector, first and foremost the financial industry, and at enhanced regulatory action by public agencies to enhance supervision of these private sector institutions

On the other hand in requesting jurisdictions such efforts aimed at enhancing prevention would target gaps and loopholes in the public sector primarily, such as advocating for better conflict of interest regulations. In both requesting and requested states CSOs will be keen on ensuring a great degree of transparency and accountability in relation to the asset recovery process, and they will want a highly proactive attitude of local law enforcement in relation to investigating stolen assets, in requesting countries through a criminal investigation into the underlying crime, and in requested countries through an investigation into money laundering. Importantly, when it comes to the return of stolen assets, a close collaboration in advocacy work between CSOs in requesting and requested countries is actually recommended, as their interests are likely to converge. CSO advocacy work in this area will aim at engaging an early dialogue on the potential end-use of returned assets, at a participatory process to determine this end-use, and at potential civil society participation in either the use of returned assets or the monitoring of this use. Close collaboration and coordination between CSOs from requesting and requested jurisdictions will help advance these issues constructively and could help overcome potential reluctance between requested and requesting jurisdictions to engage in a dialogue on this matter.

Forms of Advocacy include

  • influencing political will
  • promoting reform in public policy
  • strengthening government accountability with regards to asset recovery and related issues
  • demanding stronger prevention mechanisms, including from the private sector

Methods

Objective: Public policy reform

Method of engagement

Campaign and lobby government for asset recovery related legislative, institutional and policy reform

Possible actions

  • Develop and maintain contact with stakeholders driving legislative and public policy reform processes, such as key ministries, members of parliament and members and leaders of concerned parliamentary sub-committees
  • Lobby state institutions and semi-state organizations (e.g. professional associations representing enablers) on addressing system weaknesses that allow assets to be stolen.
  • Develop case based studies that draw out the underlying systems weaknesses that led to the assets to be lost, with a view to make the need for policy reform more easily accessible.
  • Engage with media, academia and other CSOs to align reform demands, generate a broad coalition and increase the number of advocacy channels.
  • Capitalize on political changes for opportunities to affect policy changes.
  • Actively following the concerned country’s legislative reform schedule to conduct timely advocacy campaigns.
  • Identify and partner with potential champions for legislative initiatives as an avenue to propose provisions dealing with the asset recovery process

Best practices to increase success and mitigate risk

  • Identify specific expectations and goals to be achieved within your reach of capabilities.
  • Develop a core message of your work and adapt it to different audiences.
  • Present information and resources only from reliable sources to establish credibility.
  • Consider approaching third parties to independently assess the benefits of the proposed changes, in order to increase their appeal.
  • Identify the constraints in conveying your message to key decision makers (if you cannot lobby direct decision makers, lobby those who have influence over direct decision makers).

Resources

CSO example 1: Association Tunisienne pour la Transparence Financière – ATTF

ATTF was created with the aim of accelerating the judicial and administrative efforts to recuperate the assets stolen by the former Tunisian President Ben Ali and his entourage. ATTF specifically aims to:

  • Put pressure on governments and financial institutions to accelerate asset recovery efforts and hold them accountable for progress in these efforts
  • Assist the Tunisian Government in these efforts through targeted citizen actions and by mobilizing other NGOs to support asset recovery efforts
  • Lobby government to enhance laws and strengthen institutions that allow to more effectively prevent corruption in Tunisia in the future
  • Contribute to raising awareness and educating youth, who represent the future economic and social actors that will shape this democracy, about rule of law and integrity issues as well as the threat that corruption poses for the Tunisian society’s fundamental values.

Visit ATTF on Facebook

CSO example 2: Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)

EIPR's aim is to strengthen and protect human rights and freedom through research, advocacy and litigation. After the Arab Spring, their Economic and Social Justice unit focus has widened to include the topic of asset recovery and its links to human rights and freedom. Since then EIPR regularly publishes information packages for the media with updates on efforts to recover stolen assets. EIPR has also published an informative report titled "Can we recover our stolen assets?" and a joint report with the British NGO the Corner House that looked into Gamal Mubarak's assets in tax havens. Both reports were launched at the occasion of an open discussion event. In order to improve the quality of media reports on Asset Recovery, EIPR has also been  training economics journalists in Egyptian newspapers on AR-related issues. Most recently, EIPR filed a lawsuit before an administrative court against the government, requiring it to have better disclosure of information on the reconciliation deals it is having with members of the former regime accused of embezzlement of public assets.
More information at:

CSO example 3: Global Witness campaign on beneficial ownership

Global Witness, along with other groups, has been campaigning against hidden company ownership and advocating for a publicly available beneficial ownership registry for the purpose of identifying the true owner of a corporation. By engaging key stakeholders and governments, the campaign has successfully placed this issue on the political agenda of key international forums and governments, most notably at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland. GW commissioned a cost benefit analysis to examine the costs associated with establishing a public registry, which helped to persuade the UK government that such a register would not place undue burdens on business, nor would it be unduly expensive for the government.
More information at: https://www.globalwitness.org/campaigns/corruption/hidden-%20company-ownership

CSO example 4: FLARE NETWORK - Italy

FLARE NETWORK, founded in 2008, is a network of civil society organisations committed to the social fight against transnational organised crime and the social re- use of confiscated assets. FLARE has been conducting studies and conferences with the aim of proposing a European Directive concerning the confiscation of criminal assets and their re-use for social purposes, based on the Italian experience and its legislation. In order to achieve this objective, FLARE has organized scientific committees and roundtable discussions bringing key stakeholders together from academia, CSOs, members of the European institutions and representatives from Italy. As a result of their efforts a proposal for a Directive on the confiscation of criminal assets has been discussed at the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament.
More information at: http://www.flarenetwork.org/home/home_page.htm

Objective: More tracing and recovery of stolen assets

Method of engagement

Campaign and lobby government to pursue the recovery of stolen assets as a priority

Possible actions

  • Monitor law enforcement action
  • Monitor the institutions responsible for the asset recovery process
  • Coordinate and develop practical collaboration with CSOs in other countries concerned by cases to apply pressure in all concerned jurisdictions

Best practices to increase success and mitigate risk

  • Review internal and external reports of the institutions responsible for the asset recovery process to monitor progress in cases and identify weaknesses in policies or practices that require reform.
  • Maintain a network of potential partners in advocacy campaigns.

Resource

CSO example 1: Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) and Global Witness campaigns – Malaysia (Sarawak)

The Stop Timber Corruption campaign has built up pressure to put a stop to timber corruption in Sarawak. BMF launched a worldwide online petition and is monitoring high value state contracts on dam and rain forest deals in Sarawak. As a result of evidence produced by the NGO Global Witness (see video link below), the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency has initiated investigations into a number of suspects.
More information at: http://www.stop-timber-corruption.org
Global Witness video: http://www.globalwitness.org/insideshadowstate/

CSO example 2: Global Witness campaign – Equatorial Guinea

As early as 2003 Global Witness helped to expose how the Obiang regime had stashed millions of dollars in accounts at the prestigious Riggs bank in Washington, DC. Since then, Global Witness has repeatedly raised questions about how Equatorial Guinea’s natural resource wealth is managed and about the relationship between the regime and its bankers. Global Witnesses’ investigations have exposed how the President’s son and then government minister (and currently Second Vice President), Teodorin Obiang, has spent millions of dollars on sustaining a playboy lifestyle in Europe and the U.S. while reportedly earning a government salary of only a few thousand dollars a month.
More information at: http://www.globalwitness.org/campaigns/corruption/oil-gas- and-mining/equatorial-guinea