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Efforts to end illicit financial flows to be examined by UN Independent Expert during visit to Switzerland

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GENEVA (22 September 2017) – The United Nations Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights,  Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, will visit Switzerland from 25 September to 4 October to examine efforts by the country to curb illicit financial flows, such as tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.

“Switzerland is an important international financial centre, with a banking industry and a hub for global commodities trading. The State and the financial sector must play an important role in curbing the adverse human rights impacts of illicit financial flows,” said Mr. Bohoslavsky.

“My aim is to identify good practices and determine whether there are potential gaps to be addressed. In recent years, Switzerland has frozen a significant amount of stolen assets that corrupt political elites have hidden in the country. Among them are foreign leaders who have carried out human rights abuses. It has also passed legislation to ensure that such assets are returned to the countries concerned.”

“I want to understand the challenges involved in identifying and returning such funds to the people from whom they have been stolen. This visit forms part of a series I have undertaken this year with a similar focus, including to Tunisia and Panama,” he added.
The visit also provides an opportunity to study how human rights have been incorporated into development financing, international investment agreements and development cooperation, and to identify the challenges Switzerland faces in these fields.

The Independent Expert is visiting Switzerland at the invitation of the authorities and will travel to Bern, Basel, Geneva and Zurich. He will meet senior State officials, including representatives of various Federal Departments, members of Parliament, and other public institutions. He will also hold meetings with leaders in the banking, financial and trading sectors, as well as those from civil society and academic experts.

A press conference to share Mr. Bohoslavsky’s preliminary findings will be held on Tuesday 4 October at 10:30 am, at the Hotel Bern, Zeughausgasse 9, 3011 Bern. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists. Interpretation English-German will be available during the press conference.

Mr. Bohoslavsky will present his findings and recommendations in a comprehensive report to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2018.


Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky (Argentina) was appointed as Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and human rights by the United Nations Human Rights Council on 8 May 2014.  Before, he worked as a Sovereign Debt Expert for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) where he coordinated an Expert Group on Responsible Sovereign Lending and Borrowing. His mandate covers all countries and has most recently been renewed by Human Rights Council resolution 34/3.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page: Switzerland

For more information and media requests please contact:
Frédérique Bourque (+41 22 917 9946) and Gunnar Theissen (+41 22 917 9321) or write to ieforeigndebt@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Bryan Wilson (+41 22 917 9826 / mediaconsultant2@ohchr.org)

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