AIRE Centre and RAI – Regional cooperation as a cornerstone of effective combat against organized crime and corruption
The AIRE Centre Western Balkans Programme and Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) joined forces to expand and improve the capacities of regional judiciaries and institutions to combat corruption and organized crime in the Western Balkans, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, and Romania through strengthening regional cooperation in asset recovery. With support from the UK government, RAI and the AIRE Centre developed the Regional Asset Recovery Network, which operates in collaboration with judicial institutions, decision-makers, asset recovery professionals and academics.
The AIRE Centre is a non-governmental organisation that promotes awareness of European law rights and provides support for victims of human rights violations. A team of international lawyers provides information, support and advice on European Union and Council of Europe legal standards. It has particular experience in litigation before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and has participated in over 150 cases. For twenty years now, the AIRE Centre has built an unparalleled reputation in the Western Balkans, operating at all levels of the region’s justice systems. It works in close cooperation with ministries of justice, judicial training centres and constitutional and supreme courts to lead, support and assist long term rule of law development and reform projects. The AIRE Centre also cooperates with the NGO sector across the region to help foster legal reform and respect for fundamental rights. The foundation of all its work has always been to ensure that everyone can practically and effectively enjoy their legal rights. In practice this has meant promoting and facilitating the proper implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights, assisting the process of European integration by strengthening the rule of law and ensuring the full recognition of human rights, and encouraging cooperation amongst judges and legal professionals across the region.
The Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) is an intergovernmental regional organisation, whose mission is to lead regional cooperation to support anti-corruption efforts by providing a common platform for discussions through sharing knowledge and best practice. RAI acts as a regional hub through which governments in the region can combine their efforts to help curb corruption in Southeast Europe. RAI has nine member states: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia, while Georgia, Poland, and Slovenia are observers.
RAI serves as a concrete and visible demonstration of the commitment of its member countries to the continuing, concerted and coordinated fight against corruption in Southeast Europe. RAI has built a common regional platform for discussions among governments and civil society and has efficiently addressed its mission through tailor-made training, peer-to-peer learning and exchange of modern knowledge products, innovative communication tools, and sharing good practices in a multidisciplinary setting.
About the Network
The Regional Asset Recovery Network (AR Network) ensures that communication, dialogue and cooperation in the region can continue to grow, helping to embed relevant international standards.
The AR Network is a space for committed professionals and experts in the field to strengthen links and collaboration. The goal is to advance partnerships and encourage a regional approach to asset recovery. The AR Network creates a setting in which dialogue and cooperation in the region can continue to grow, helping to implement and embed relevant international standards throughout the region.
Crime knows no borders. However, the institutions that fight crime are limited by borders and jurisdictions. In this difference lies many of the key challenges that institutions face in their mission to fight impunity. Since 2018, the AIRE Centre (AIRE) and the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) have delivered a regional project to strengthen the capacity of key institutions to effectively implement asset recovery measures, with a focus on fostering regional cooperation in asset recovery cases. The project has already led to significant improvements in the skills and capacity of jurisdictions across Southeast Europe to implement effective asset recovery regimes. It is now vital that we continue to develop these skills and embed best practice in dealing with asset recovery cases to ensure the project’s benefits endure for years to come.
It is clear that cross-border cooperation is essential for anti-corruption measures. The objective of the AR Network is, therefore, to create a broad network of judges, prosecutors, representatives of the Asset Management Agencies, academics and other professionals to strengthen regional cooperation in the confiscation of the proceeds of crime. The AR Network is intended to enhance communication and collaboration between professionals in the region, ultimately leading to an increase in international cooperation in asset recovery cases and the integration and alignment of international standards and best practice in this context. It will, therefore, form a central part of capacity-building programs.
The Network will enable members to identify and share best practice, problem-solving techniques, and lessons learned. A success story in Northern Macedonia, for example, can inspire experts in Montenegro to advocate for changes to their national legislation to help replicate such success across the border. Similarly, examples of effective asset recovery mechanisms in Bosnia and Herzegovina can serve as a helpful guide for practitioners in Serbia.
The countries in the region are not only close geographically, they each, also, share similar challenges, underpinned by shared social, political and historical causes. As a result, knowledge and experience gained in one jurisdiction can very easily serve to assist another.
Fostering regional and international cooperation in the asset-recovery process is crucial on the path to the effective implementation of asset recovery measures. Working collaboratively is the most efficient manner by which to monitor the effective implementation of asset recovery measures in the region. Informed by experiences from across the region, the Network will be an essential tool to promote the harmonization of standards and practice.
Whilst it is clear that jurisdictions across the region share similar challenges, it is also important to take account of and to seek to increase understanding of the differences between national systems across the region. Each training session, meeting, and event also provides, therefore, an opportunity for members to inform each other about the specifics of their national systems.
Finally, through the promotion of success stories, the Network can and must bring the topic of asset recovery closer to the public. Only with wider public support will the mission to effectively implement asset recovery measures be achieved. With greater understanding of anti-crime mechanisms, the AR Network can continue to grow both in membership and in reach. It will, thereby, serve its key aim; to bring people together to learn from each other and enjoy the mutual benefits that result from adopting a collaborative approach.
The platform also features a member-only zone. Via this zone, members are able to request and receive support from the Platform administrators.
The zone provides information about the network members, as well as other services, including event registration.
If you are already a member, access the zone HERE.
If you wish to apply for the AR network membership, please write to us.