Secretary Clinton’s Remarks with Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota at the Open Government Partnership High-Level Meeting
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, and welcome to the State Department. As you might tell from Under Secretary Otero’s remarks and those of you who were part of the meetings yesterday, we are very enthusiastic about this initiative. We believe this new global effort to improve governance, accelerate economic growth, and empower citizens worldwide is exactly what we should all be doing together in the 21st century. I particularly want to thank my colleague, the foreign minister, the minister of external affairs, Minister Patriota from Brazil, and also Minister Hage, who has been, along with Maria, really spearheading our efforts. And this has been a great pleasure to work so closely with Brazil because Brazil has been a leader in taking significant strides to make the work of its government more open and accessible to its people, and we are very proud to be serving with Brazil as the first co-chairs of this Open Government Partnership.
I also know that we have a number of high-level representatives from the countries represented here, and it is a great pleasure to have you with us as we prepare for the formal launch of the Open Government Partnership in New York in September. I’m also delighted that civil society is represented, because we know that we need a partnership between government and civil society and particularly representatives from the business community and NGOs. What you are doing to create economic opportunity, to hold governments accountable, to make sure they are open and transparent, is exactly the kind of work that we want to explore with you.
I think we can say without fear of contradiction that there is an undeniable connection between how a government operates and whether its people flourish. When a government invites its people to participate, when it is open as to how it makes decisions and allocates resources, when it administers justice equally and transparently, and when it takes a firm stance against corruption of all kinds, that government is, in the modern world, far more likely to succeed in designing and implementing effective policies and services. It is also more likely to harness the talents of its own people and to benefit from their ideas and experiences, and it is also more likely to succeed investing its resources where they are most likely to have the best return.
And so for us, as we look at many of the countries represented here today and see the progress that your countries, your governments, and your people have made, we do draw conclusions that we think are legitimate and credible. Because when a government hides its work from public view, hands out jobs and money to political cronies, administers unequal justice, looks away as corrupt bureaucrats and businessmen enrich themselves at the people’s expense, that government is failing its citizens. And it is failing to create an environment in which the best ideas are embraced and the most talented people have a chance to contribute. And it is also denying people often access to education, health care, electricity, or a justice system and a market economy that work for them.
And most importantly, that government is failing to earn and hold the trust of its people. And that lack of trust, in a world of instantaneous communication, means that the very fabric of society begins to fray and the foundation of governmental legitimacy begins to crumble.
As we have seen with the protests that have broken out around our world this year, when people are kept away from participating in the work of their governments or the actions of their leaders, when they have no idea how decisions are made or tax revenues are spent, when they have no voice in the political process, eventually they will say, “Enough.” And it might have been possible in the past – and by the past I mean 20 years ago, not so long ago – for governments to just refuse to be transparent because there were monopolies on sources of information and channels to people. But that is no longer the case.
And we’ve also seen the correlation between openness in government and success in the economic sphere. Countries committed to defending transparency and fighting corruption are often more attractive to entrepreneurs. And if you can create small and medium size businesses, you have a broader base for economic activity. At a time when global competition for trade and investment is fierce, openness is not just good for governance, it is also good for a sustainable growth in GDP.
I think we have a real opportunity here to tackle both openness in government and openness in the economy, and to look at the correlation between the two. Governments that have not gained the trust of their people struggle to generate the tax revenues necessary to fund sustainable development progress. I go around the world bragging on Brazil, so I’ll do it again here. But what Brazil has done over the last 25 years is remarkable, because it expanded its tax base, increased its revenues as a percentage of GDP, and then did not enrich a small elite, but spread those resources broadly among the Brazilian people in an effort that has lifted so many out of poverty while at the same time enhancing the even stronger establishment of democratic institutions and positive results.
I spoke about this at the OECD 50th anniversary in Paris in May, and I feel so strongly about it because we have such good examples in Latin America, in Africa, in Asia, and elsewhere.
In the coming weeks, I will issue policy guidance instructing every diplomat and every development officer at the State Department and USAID to elevate the fight against corruption as a focus of their work with other countries. We will also be establishing an innovation fund to create incentives and boost political support for transparency, anti-corruption efforts, and tax reform. And we will launch a pilot project to support a small number of countries in their efforts to make comprehensive, integrated reforms in all three areas.
The Open Government Partnership complements this work by representing a new global effort to do exactly that: promote transparency, fight corruption, and energize civic engagement. This is a partnership on three levels. First, it is a partnership among governments. We all face common challenges. We have a great deal to learn from each other, and so this is a two-way conversation where we are all sharing ideas and learning. Second, it is a partnership with civil society. And third, it is a partnership with the private sector.
We envision the Open Government Partnership as a network of support for those leaders and citizens working to bring more transparency and accountability to governments worldwide. This can be a lonely, sometimes even dangerous, task. But through this partnership, we hope to change that.
We also want to use this to build a network for disseminating successful innovations. Now, often ideas that work in one place can work in other places, and we need a better system for sharing best practices.
Look again at what Brazil has done. Brazil’s transparency portal, which gives every citizen an internet connection and therefore the chance to see how their government money is being spent, is an extraordinary innovation and one that we really admire. Or Indonesia’s development program, which allocates blocks of funding to villages and then invites villagers to join in deciding where the money should go, so it’s not just people sitting in government building in Jakarta, but it’s people on the ground looking at their own needs. Or the citizen monitoring websites that have been launched in both Kenya and Chile to publish the voting records of elected officials and the platforms of political parties to give citizens a channel for sharing their views, both positive and negative, with their leaders.
Now, some of these innovations were made possible by new connection technologies. Mobile phones, SMS messaging, social networks – these are 21st century tools. And we have a unique opportunity to put those 21st century tools to work on behalf of 21st century governance. So that is the promise that is represented by this Open Government Partnership.
Now the hard part starts: to translate that promise into reality; to sign on to the principles of this Open Government Declaration; to make concrete commitments to do more to ensure openness and accountability within our governments and societies; and then to do the difficult, but I believe very rewarding, work of fulfilling those commitments in the months ahead.
We have two months until we meet again in September for the official launch. The United States will join with Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, and the United Kingdom in announcing our own open government commitments at that time. And I would invite all of you to join us and signal your commitment with us on the margins of the UN General Assembly. We should send a clear message to the world that this community of nations coming together voluntarily – as Minister Hage reminds us, this is truly an open partnership for open government, no one is coerced or required to be here. But because we have come together, let us look for ways that we can send a message about what we are willing to do to get results.
I have been greatly privileged to meet with many leaders around the world over a number of years and particularly in the last two and a half years as Secretary of State. And oftentimes leaders are struggling to get the political support they need to make the hard decisions. I think that this Open Government Partnership can help support leaders who are trying to do the right things.
I met with a president of a country who’d been trying so hard to raise the tax revenues of his country. And basically, the rich of his country refused to pay anything for schools, for hospitals, for infrastructure. They just said no. And this president is trying so hard because he knows that he will never be able to lift his people out of poverty, put them on the right track, give them opportunities, have an open opportunity society, unless he can deliver results.
Well, I’m hoping that we will be able to take this message to the very business people in his country who may not fully grasp how important it is for their own self-interest to help make these investments in a better life in the future for their fellow citizens.
So let’s be creative, let’s be innovative, and let’s look for the way we can deliver results within our own countries, and through this partnership, encourage, motivate, facilitate others to do as well. I’m very proud to be working with you, and now it is my great pleasure to introduce Brazil’s Minister of External Affairs Antonio Patriota. (Applause.)
FOREIGN MINISTER PATRIOTA: Thank you. Let me start by thanking the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a good friend, for making me a part of this today, and I’m very proud to be here in Washington with Jorge Hage Sobrinho, who has been a true leader in Brazil in what concerns open government, transparency. He is minister of state, head of the office of the comptroller general. Greetings to my other good friends here in this room, and I see many friendly faces – ministers of state, heads of delegation, Ambassador Mauro Vieira of Brazil, Ms. Samantha Power, Under Secretary Maria Otero, members of the steering committee, representatives of invited countries.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is a true pleasure to be in Washington together with my colleague, Minister Jorge Hage, and I thank the U.S. Government for hosting this event. I am honored to address with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this meeting of the Open Government Partnership, a joint effort that can become useful in our shared commitment to improved and more transparent governance. We are fulfilling aspirations expressed last March in the joint communiqué by President Dilma Rousseff and Barack Obama issued on the occasion of President Obama’s visit to Brazil.
The Brazilian-North American co-presidency of the OGP group is an illustration of a bilateral relationship that grows deeper and becomes instrumental to stimulate and promote dialogue on issues related to global governance. The Open Government Partnership seeks to contribute to national efforts in governmental transparency through international cooperation. The idea is for countries to share experiences on transparency with a view to enhancing efficiency in the use of public resources, stimulating innovation, and improving the quality of public services offered to our societies at large.
The OGP is, thus, a process of self-knowledge and mutual support. We do not seek to develop a one-size-fits-all approach or to establish quality labels that might be used as preconditions for cooperation or technical assistance programs. We are here to assist each other as equal partners joined by common objectives. The OGP should be seen as a subsidiary exercise to the efforts being carried out through multilaterally negotiated conventions, especially the United Nations Convention against Corruption. The OGP will not replace or compete with initiatives under UN auspices. Such efforts and mechanisms constitute our priority, in fact. But it can represent a helpful tool to complement UN activity, which retains its central role.
In fact, a number of principles that have been included in the Doha declaration on the mechanism for overseeing the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption apply to our exercise here – transparency, efficiency, non-interference, and impartiality. We will not produce rankings; rather, we will promote the exchange of views and experiences in a spirit of respect for the specific circumstances of each individual country. Our goals are to establish a compendium of best practices, to stimulate the development of mechanisms for promoting transparency, and to create an environment in which countries can evaluate the implementation of voluntary commitments in a technical, neutral, non-adversarial manner.
We need to be able to harmonize the public demand for greater participation and the use of new technological tools with the realities and managerial conditions of participants. On our part, Brazil is actively working domestically and internationally on issues of transparency and on the fight against corruption. Nationally, we have achieved important developments in promoting budgetary transparency, as the Secretary of State was referring to earlier. We have conceived and implemented an online system that makes it possible for any citizen to access relevant data related to government spending.
We have also created what we call the Transparency Portal – or a template – a website dedicated to publicize all federal expenses, including direct expenses and transfers made by the Federal Government through states, municipalities, and citizens. The portal is updated on a daily basis. In the portal, we also hold the national department list, a list with the names of companies sanctioned by the Federal Public Administration for committing misconducts or administrative offenses and tenders in public contracts. We have committed in our OGP action plan to improve the Transparency Portal and to develop new electronic tools of the same nature. Furthermore, we have launched specific portals for the 2014 soccer World Cup event – and I hope that many of you will attend that – and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
The road ahead will demand a continued engagement on the part of our governments on domestic and international fronts. The OGP can prove helpful in tackling the challenges to come. And we share the basic assumption that we all have lessons to learn. In the recent past, we have seen that even highly developed countries may present inadequacies in terms of transparency. The present exercise derives from a growing awareness since 2008 of the global importance of good practices in terms of transparency, governance, ultimately responsibility. With these assumptions in mind, we have initiated last January the development of a methodology that can offer, at the same time, the flexibility required by each state and the necessary systematization of best practices.
The OGP is thus structured into four pillars. The first is the declaration of principles, which will be open to accession at the next United Nations General Assembly. Each country will then present a plan of action with voluntary commitments and timetables. The third pillar is the reporting mechanism on the implementation of the plan of action. And fourthly, it is understood that participants in the OGP will promote the inclusion in the process of civil society as a whole.
Once again, it is important to highlight that commitments will be voluntary even though there are minimum standards to accede to the initiative. Ladies and gentlemen, Brazilian foreign policy is oriented towards the strengthening of multilateralism. We are fully engaged in the consolidation of more inclusive, legitimate, and effective mechanisms of global governance without reproducing asymmetries from the past. In a context where societies all over the world demand more democratic participation, we wish to foster international cooperation and promote economic development with social justice, thereby enhancing prospects for sustainable peace.
By the end of this exercise, we hope to have built an additional space of mutual understanding and cooperation. This is the spirit which gives sense to this Open Government Partnership, and I thank you. (Applause.)
Secretary Clinton’s Remarks With Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguiar Patriota After Their Meeting
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning, everyone. It is indeed a pleasure for me to welcome back my colleague, the Foreign Minister of Brazil, and someone quite familiar to those of us in Washington. And I want to thank you for bringing with you such a stellar, high level team of representatives from across the Brazilian Government for the meetings that we have held these past two days.
And as I think both of our teams from the U.S. and the Brazilian side know, our countries have walked a long, difficult road together. We’ve worked hard to build societies that respect the rights of minorities that believe in free and fair elections, human rights, the rule of law, social inclusion; and the entire hemisphere, indeed the entire world is inspired by Brazil’s incredible rise from an illegitimate military government to a thriving, prosperous democracy. And we look to Brazil as a model for what is possible, not just throughout our hemisphere but indeed globally.
We meet as partners as the Western Hemisphere’s two largest democracies and its two largest economies, and we discussed a full range of bilateral and multilateral issues. Our Global Partnership Dialogue, which our two presidents endorsed during President Obama’s very successful visit to Brazil, provides a framework to bring together many existing dialogues and initiatives and adding new ones that are responsive to the needs and aspirations of us both. And we have seen progress already. We are addressing through our Economic Partnership Dialogue issues for collaboration like energy, food security, development assistance in third countries. Brazil is now a global donor to many of the important funds and efforts that are aimed at alleviating poverty, hunger, and suffering.
We work together on biofuels and the launch of our initiative on aviation biofuels in Brazil in March was a significant step, and we will continue to discuss how what Brazil has pioneered can make a difference to so many others. As we expand our relationships, we’re focused particularly on our people-to-people exchanges and commitments. We know that President Rousseff’s wonderful commitment to lifting up the educational attainment of the Brazilian youth is one that we’re strongly in support of, and increasing the number of students and educators who go back and forth between our two countries is one of our highest priorities.
So we are looking on every front for work that we can do, and we partner not only bilaterally but in the hemisphere and increasingly through the G-20, through the Security Council, on so many important issues. And I thank you very much, minister, for your great commitment to our cooperative relationship.
FOREIGN MINISTER PATRIOTA: Well, thank you so much. A pleasure to be here with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to follow up on what I think has already been described as a very successful meeting between our two presidents. President Obama visited Brazil very early on during Dilma Rousseff’s administration; I think this sets the stage for enhanced cooperation on a number of areas, building upon the already very strong relationship that we have in trade and political dialogue and a number of areas, including social issues.
I had an opportunity to go over the bilateral relationship with my colleague, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Looking at trade, for example, there is an increasing trade deficit in our relationship which is cause for some concern in Brazil, but we spoke of ways of addressing that. Of course, there are other agencies in the U.S. side that deal with the issue as well and we will be engaging with them, including with the new Secretary of Commerce that has just been appointed by the U.S.
We would like to see enhanced investment and many of you are aware that we will be modernizing our airports, that we will welcome U.S. investment in this upgrading of our capacity in a key sector for preparations for the World Cup and the Olympic Games. I’m very pleased that Secretary Clinton mentioned education because I think it’s one of the most concrete outcomes of this meeting that we’ve had and our delegations have had – and I thank your very capable team also for their work in the many areas that have been touched – is a Joint Action Plan on Education. This is a plan that will increase and encourage educational, academic, and technical exchange programs between Brazilian and American universities and institutions, and hopefully promote a fast track for identifying clusters of universities, institutions, and colleges that are ready to receive Brazilian students in the United States. It’s part of our attempt to update the relationship. We also looked at science and technology, innovation. This allowed me to speak of Rio + 20, the conference that we will be hosting in 2012, and that will look at green economy and combating poverty and discussing new paradigms for sustainable development. We’d like to see participation from the U.S. during the preparatory process, but also at the highest political level during the conference itself.
We spoke of regional issues Secretary Clinton mentioned, but also of the developments in North Africa and the Middle East. I have been recently to Cairo. There are opportunities there for us in joining forces and transforming the movements in favor of greater freedom of expression, improved governance, opportunity for young people in the Arab world, in two projects where we will also strengthen each other’s participation or assistance to countries such as Egypt and others in the region.
Let me also say that I mentioned our candidacy to the Food and Agriculture Organization. Those from Brazil are aware of Professor Jose Graziano da Silva’s candidacy, a man who was involved from day one during President Lula’s government in the Zero Hunger Program that has been so effective, as well as in the social programs that have lifted millions out of poverty. We would very much like to look forward to a situation where a Brazilian at the FAO could work in tandem and very closely with an American at the World Food Program.
So these are some of the issues that we touched upon. The meeting will continue after our own encounter, and as of now, I am already very encouraged by the results that we’ve achieved.
MR. TONER: The first question today goes to Kirit Radia of ABC.
QUESTION: Hi, Madam Secretary and Mr. Minister. Madam Secretary, yesterday President Karzai threatened to make some additional restrictions on U.S. bombings in Afghanistan following the latest reports of civilian deaths. What can you and the United States do to reassure President Karzai and the Afghan people that the U.S. is trying to stop civilian casualties?
President Mubarak is going to be going to trial in August. How do you feel that this fits into Egypt’s path toward democracy?
And finally on Yemen, there’s been escalated violence over the past 24 hours with reports of many dead. How is that going to end?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think first with respect to Afghanistan, U.S. and international military forces have in the past and continue to place the highest priority on protecting civilian lives. And certainly, it is the goal of the military efforts to root out the insurgents who are responsible for the vast majority of civilian injuries and deaths. And we recognize that in a complex military environment, it’s just a tragic fact that some civilian casualties may be inevitable and unavoidable. But we are very concerned any time there is any civilian casualty caused by the NATO ISAF military mission, and every single one of the issues or events that is brought to the attention of the military command is investigated thoroughly.
General Petraeus has consistently emphasized that we have to do everything in our power to reduce the number of civilian casualties. And we are seeing a steady increase of Afghan lead through their army and security forces on any night raids, and procedures are being put into place in preparation for a transition to greater Afghan responsibility to ensure that such operations are properly authorized and approved by senior representatives of the Government of Afghanistan.
So we’re going to continue to do everything we can to express our deep regret when a terrible incident occurs and civilians are injured or killed. And I would only underscore that that stands in stark contrast to the indiscriminate killing, the suicide bombing, the IED – the improvised explosive devices, that are used by the insurgents without regard for any human life.
With respect to Yemen, we continue to watch the situation, and we are where we’ve been for weeks, in doing everything we can, along with the international community, to convince President Saleh to step down from power. If it wasn’t obvious before, it certainly should be now, that his presence remains a source of great conflict and, unfortunately, as we have watched over the last several days, even military action and violence. President Saleh was given a very good offer, that we strongly backed, by the Gulf countries, and we cannot expect this conflict to end unless President Saleh and his government move out of the way to permit a – the opposition and civil society to begin a transition to political and economic reform.
And finally, you asked me a question about – a third country in one question, so I –
QUESTION: Mubarak’s trial.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Mubarak’s trial. That is a decision for the Egyptians to make. Obviously, we want to see the rule of law. We want to see appropriate due process and procedures followed in anyone’s trial, and particularly in such a highly charged trial as that will certainly be. And we are keeping very close watch on events in Egypt. We’re disturbed by the reports of efforts to crackdown on journalists and bloggers and judges and others, which we don’t think is in keeping with the direction that the Egyptian people were heading when they started out in Tahrir Square.
MR. TONER: Next question goes to Luis Fernandez of (inaudible).
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Ministro Patriota, the imbalance in the trade relationship between the United States and Brazil has been referred to by the minister. The question to both of you is: Do you see the United States becoming again the main trading partner of Brazil, and if so, in which basis? The main trading partner of Brazil at the moment, the relationship is based largely on the exportation of raw materials from Brazil, of commodities, and that’s not the best situation – China specifically. And in relation to the visit of the Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to the United States, I would like to ask you what was discussed. Is the visit confirmed, and for when, specifically? Thanks.
FOREIGN MINISTER PATRIOTA: Well, I can start on the trade relationship. Of course, this was mentioned, and as I said, we have a number of other dialogues, an economic dialogue. We have a meeting that is already scheduled between Department of Commerce and our department – our ministry for industrial development and commerce during the month of June, in addition to the USTR foreign ministry dialogue. So we will be pursuing different avenues to try to develop a trade that is mutually beneficial.
The relationship is a very robust one, and we discussed some of the opportunities for increasing exports from Brazil to the United States, as you mentioned, with other important trading partners, including our individually most important at present, China. There’s a concentration on a very few products, namely iron ore, soya, and oil, and we’re trying to diversify our exports to China. With the United States, we don’t confront the same problem. It’s a more diverse platform, and we would like to continue exporting airplanes, exporting beef, and looking at other products.
There was also a question about a potential visit by President Rousseff. Well, this is mentioned in the joint communiqué that was adopted by our two leaders when President Obama visited Brazil in March. But I think what we are concentrated on right now is to implementing the many decisions that were taken then, and I’ve invited Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to come to Brazil to continue this discussion so that we can in the future have a productive summit meeting between our two leaders at the earliest possible and at the most convenient time so that we can start reaping some of the benefits of the discussions that we are having already.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I endorse what the minister said and would only add that we are quite satisfied by the depth and breadth of our relationship. I think both of our presidents set forth a comprehensive agenda, and we continue to add to it. And in the area of trade and investment – that’s a very high priority for the Obama Administration. The minister is correct that we have a diversified economic relationship. We want it to become more so. We fully endorse President Dilma Rousseff’s commitment to innovation, science, and technology because we think that’s not only very directly in Brazil’s interest, but also in the interest of the hemisphere, including the United States, to see Brazil continue to develop and broaden its own economic foundation. And we will be working on finding a date for the president’s visit to Washington, and as the minister said, he and I will be in close consultation in preparation for such a visit because we have a very high standard to meet given the successful visit of President Obama to Brazil. Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER PATRIOTA: Thank you so much.