Assistant Secretary Camuñez’ Opening Remarks at the OSCE Economic and Environmenatl Dimension Implementation Meeting
(Remarks as prepared for delivery at the Opening Session of the OSCE Economic and Environmental Dimension Implementation Meeting)
On behalf of the United States, I would like to thank the Lithuanian Chairman-in-Office, Secretary General Zannier, Coordinator for Economic and Environmental Activities Svilanovic, and of course our Austrian hosts for convening this inaugural Economic and Environmental Dimension Implementation Meeting and for providing a warm welcome to Vienna. It is an honor to be here today as head of the U.S. delegation to the OSCE, representing the U.S. Government in my capacity as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance, and as a Commissioner to the U.S. Helsinki Commission. Since I joined the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) in September of 2010, I have been responsible for helping lead the effort to open new markets for U.S. companies, identifying and eliminating market access challenges such as non-tariff barriers to trade, and helping to monitor and enforce U.S. trade agreements and commitments. The work of the Environmental and Economic Dimension, especially that focused on transparency of markets and good governance, is closely aligned with the work we undertake at ITA.
I am here today to deliver the message that the U.S. Government is highly committed to making the second dimension even more effective and dynamic, and that we will do our part in ensuring that our economic and environmental commitments receive the same level of attention and scrutiny that those in the political-military and human dimensions currently enjoy.
I will try to keep my remarks brief, but I think it is critical that we take a close look at the economic and environmental commitments as they were spelled out in the 2003 Maastricht Strategy. We still see Maastricht as the key blueprint for moving forward on all the commitments that have come before, and in particular, note a number of areas where we could pursue significant, substantive action over the next few years to achieve measurable progress.
Our commitments on economic cooperation have at their core the idea of connectedness to regional and global markets, to trade and investment networks, and to energy and transportation infrastructure, as a way to address emerging economic challenges and threats. In light of the global economic downturn, it is vital that we recommit ourselves to increasing cooperation through a variety of measures, including improving corporate governance and public management, eliminating unnecessary and discriminatory barriers to trade, continuing to harmonize our regulations and standards where appropriate, taking further steps to combat financial crimes like bribery and money laundering, and increasing confidence through the incorporation of transparency principles in all our public and private ventures. At the same time, in view of progress made this year worldwide on empowering women in the economy, first at the Invest for the Future Conference in Istanbul in January and most recently at the APEC Summit in San Francisco, we believe it is important to recognize the critical connection between women and strong economies, and remove all the barriers that prevent women from full and equal participation in the economy.
We have committed ourselves time and again to “good governance,” and while progress has been made, much work remains to be done. As stated in the 2003 Maastricht Strategy, achieving good governance will require a comprehensive, long-term strategic approach. In the view of the U.S. Government, good governance is the core theme within the economic and environmental dimension, and we are pleased that next year’s Forum will address the topic in a broad and detailed way.
What do we mean when we talk about good governance? Good governance is about governments having both the propensity and the competence to manage complex political and economic systems in a fair, fully inclusive, and transparent way. Anti-corruption is part of it, but not the whole picture. Having transparent, clear and predictable legislative and regulatory frameworks that foster efficient and low cost business formation and development, and most importantly allow and even encourage robust participation in the political and economic spheres by civil society, is the essence of good governance. Moreover, having well-trained, dedicated professionals implementing these frameworks is imperative, lest well-crafted laws and regulations become mere words on paper. Improving governance in all its aspects and in all areas of public life will contribute to mutual confidence and security.
Let me say a few words about my agency’s past and current work in this area, reserving greater details and the highlights of a new proposal for Session III tomorrow. From 1998-2008, the U.S. Department of Commerce launched a Good Governance Program, focused on partnering with the public and private sectors in the countries of the former Soviet Union and Central-Eastern Europe. This work, focused on promoting sound corporate governance and business ethics, culminated in the publication of a Business Ethics Manual, a Commercial Dispute Resolution Handbook, and a Corporate Governance Manual translated into several languages and disseminated widely throughout the OSCE region. Today, we continue to work on numerous initiatives around the world, within multilateral fora such as APEC and the G20, which involve OSCE members, promoting consensus based principles focused on anti-corruption. We have taken our business ethics work and branched out into new regions including Asia and Latin America.
The lack of good governance and systemic corruption remain some of the single most important market access challenges for companies engaged in trade around the world. This is especially true for small and medium sized enterprises, which are the engine of economic growth and innovation throughout the world. The United States believes that addressing these issues can only lead to greater investment, economic prosperity and security.
At these meetings we will discuss OSCE support for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). I am pleased to report that the U.S. Department of Commerce played an important role in supporting the creation of the EITI in its initial phase. The OSCE now has a chance to follow in the steps of the G8 and G20, by endorsing the EITI, and I applaud the governments that have recently signed on as implementers, of which the United States has recently announced its intention to become one. The EITI is a great example of how shared commitments towards good governance and transparency in a vital sector to many countries can work and build sustained momentum and engagement between the private sector, governments and civil society.
Later today, I will share more concrete information about the work that the U.S. Government and my Department have undertaken to promote good governance and to combat corruption. I am also pleased to have an expert on business ethics and anti-corruption in the energy sector, as part of the U.S. delegation. Mr. Matthew Murray runs the Center for Business Ethics and Corporate Governance in St. Petersburg, Russia, and will speak to you later about a good governance initiative involving public and private stakeholders in the power generation sector in Russia, which may serve as a model for similar programs in other OSCE countries.
A month ago, the Economic and Environmental Forum discussed the concept of sustainability and where efforts to promote sustainable practices stand in our region. Those discussions remind us that our commitments on sustainable development encompass a broad spectrum of activities related to efficiency, sound resource management, and the full involvement of all stakeholders in decision-making. Just to cite an example from the Prague Forum, we recognize that in order to further develop economies and markets in such varied areas as the Black Sea region and Central Asia we will need to address several problems: improving the efficiency of border crossings and building construction, tilting the energy mix towards cleaner fuels, harmonizing standards and practices across the region, and, just as critically, ensuring broad involvement of civil society in the decision-making on project proposal, design, and implementation.
Protecting the Environment
One thing that sets the OSCE apart from many other organizations addressing the environment is recognition of the clear connection between the environment and security. We recognize that many environmental disasters cannot be predicted or prevented. At the same time, greater transparency – through information sharing and civil society engagement – about possible security risks stemming from the environment will make it possible to prevent or mitigate more disasters, both natural and man-made. We also must recognize that failure to protect the environment is itself a security risk, putting increased pressure on populations facing dwindling resources of clean air and water, arable farmland, and adequate energy.
These next three days provide a critical juncture and platform for finding consensus on measures that will improve our implementation of the OSCE commitments in the economic and environmental dimension. The Vilnius Ministerial is only a month and a half away; now is the time to summon the political will to find a way forward. We look forward to building consensus on decisions on energy security, to include good governance and transparency, and we welcome constructive dialogue on additional measures proposed on confidence-building initiatives and sustainable transport.
Just one month ago, we found some convergence of opinion on discrete aspects of the second dimension. Let us expand that convergence to the entire dimension as we review our economic and environmental commitments over the next few days, with a view toward substantive deliverables for Vilnius.
Thank you, Moderator.
(Remarks as prepared for delivery at the OSCE Economic and Environmental Dimension Implementation Meeting, Session 3: Good Governance)
The United States has viewed with keen interest the evolving discussions in recent years on what the OSCE’s priorities should be in the Economic and Environmental Dimension. As our friend and colleague Mr. Svilanovic pointed out during last year’s Vienna Review Conference, we appear to have come to an appreciation that good governance is the key linking theme across the entire second dimension. The Maastricht Strategy is very clear on this point: “Good public and corporate governance and strong institutions are essential foundations for a sound economy, which can attract investments, and thereby enable States to reduce poverty and inequality, to increase social integration and opportunities for all and to protect the environment. Good governance at all levels contributes to prosperity, stability and security.” As we consider the implementation of our second dimension commitments, we should keep in mind why it is important to implement those commitments.
The global economic downturn continues to put extreme pressure on people and governments across the OSCE region. To be sure, some countries have weathered the storm better than others. Still, no country can be forever immune to market forces, and even within those that have done well, there are always citizens left behind. This is a question we are trying to answer now in the United States: how do we get people back to work? We all know that trade and investment are critical drivers of economic growth. So the next question is, if growth is hindered by decreased trade and investment, what can be done to support these economic engines? The answer must include good governance.
Weak governance and lack of transparency constitute non-tariff barriers to trade, which we have committed ourselves to eliminating. Furthermore, the same issues that deter trade and investment also work against comprehensive security: a lack of transparency in governance leads to diminished confidence that problems and disputes will be addressed in a fair and impartial manner. Without trust and confidence in public institutions, there is little incentive for investors and companies to pursue trade deals or direct investment in those economies. The effect is stagnating economic performance, which we have seen in the past several months and years can lead to political upheaval.
The United States Government is deeply committed to fostering good governance and transparency in its political and economic institutions. President Obama has made the global fight against corruption a top priority. As he has noted, “In too many places, the culture of the bribe is a brake on development and prosperity. It discourages entrepreneurship, destroys public trust, and undermines the rule of law while stifling economic growth. With a new commitment to strengthening and enforcing rules against corruption, economic opportunity and prosperity will be more broadly shared. “For the global economy, corruption is dangerous. No matter where – or how – it happens, the corrosive result is the same: stalled development, loss of public trust, and distorted competition.
The World Bank estimates that more than one trillion dollars in bribes are paid each year out of a global economy of approximately 30 trillion dollars. That’s an incredible three percent of the world’s economy. Between 2005 and 2009, at least 305 contracts worth more than $230 million were allegedly affected by the bribery of foreign public officials. In 2009, companies lost nearly $30 billion to bribers, for deals for which the outcome is known.
Corruption is a global problem that knows no borders. And that’s why corruption demands a truly global response – one that knows no limits on collaboration. Because corruption is a significant non-tariff barrier, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Administration (ITA) are committed, under my leadership, to working with our trading partners to level the playing field and to promote transparent and corruption-free markets globally. Our work to promote clean and ethical business environments occurs at both the multilateral and bilateral level. At the multilateral level, the ITA is pressing its counterparts to lead by example and to implement comprehensive anti-corruption measures.
The United States has participated actively at the OECD as a member of its Working Group on Bribery, responsible for monitoring whether countries that are parties to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention are living up to their commitments to implement the Convention and enforce their foreign bribery laws. Many of our peers who are Parties of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention need to step up enforcement of their laws, and ensure that their companies do not bribe public officials while conducting business overseas.
This past Fall, the United States was instrumental in persuading the G20 countries to adopt a comprehensive anti-corruption action plan, which includes a commitment focused on adoption and robust enforcement of anti-bribery laws, implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption, greater engagement with the private sector, and support for transparency mechanisms, to name a few. Many of these commitments require our G20 partners to enact and implement new laws and preventive measures.
ITA, in particular, took the lead on proposals relating to the private sector and also on whistleblower protection, within the G20. Corporations from G20 countries engage in a large percentage of global trade and economic activity. It is vital for us to seek the partnership of these corporations to combat corruption.
The U.S. Department of Commerce has also been committed to fostering strong private sector integrity as an integral part of promoting good governance in markets worldwide. Companies are global corporate citizens, and as such, can work collectively and with governments to foster trust, and promote transparency.
As I mentioned during my opening remarks yesterday, the United States, led by the Department of Commerce, has championed business ethics and corporate governance reform since the early 1990s, following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Our Business Ethics Manual has been translated into Chinese, Spanish and Russian and is still one of the most widely used resources on this important topic. We have partnered with business associations and chambers of commerce to develop collective action and business ethics program in many markets.
Our work on business ethics has grown. This past year, the ITA has focused on trying to heighten awareness of good governance, transparency and business ethics in sectors of vital importance to many economies – by taking a “sectoral” approach to combating corruption and promoting good business practice, the challenge of dealing with corruption becomes less daunting. The ethical issues specific to different industries vary greatly – and there is no one size fits all approach to the problem. Within the G20, for example, the United States, at the initiative of the U.S. Department of Commerce, has taken the lead in calling for the G20 to endorse additional sectoral approaches to fighting corruption, beyond the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). We have asked G20 governments, for example, to consider supporting the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (COST) – a new multi-stakeholder initiative, developed by the World Bank. COST uses similar approaches to EITI to promote greater transparency in public infrastructure projects and government procurement. I hope that the OSCE might similarly consider COST and other multi-stakeholder approaches to promoting transparency under the Irish chairmanship.
Within APEC, the ITA has focused on developing new ethical principles for key sectors within the APEC region. I am pleased to report that under the APEC SME working group, we have coordinated a project with APEC countries and businesses to develop principles of business ethics in the construction, medical devices and biopharmaceutical sectors. These voluntary principles are meant to be used by businesses and trade associations – large and small – to guide their ethical interactions with public officials and institutions. I hope that within the OSCE framework and the EEDIM, we might also consider focusing on business ethics in specific sectors of interest to all of our economies.
I would like to note also the role that women play in ensuring good governance. Women’s political participation is a crucial indicator of women’s equality. Around the world, women are entering the field of politics and government in growing numbers, yet their gains have been uneven and their leadership often goes unrecognized. All too often, important decisions that affect women, their families, and their societies are made without their having a voice. We believe that integrating women in political structures is another way to encourage good governance.
I want to close by suggesting some activities to take the theme of good governance and transparency forward. As I noted above, I hope that we will look beyond EITI to see if there are additional sectoral initiatives that merit support from the OSCE, including the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative. The United States Government also strongly supports the Irish Chair’s goal to develop a Statement or Declaration of Transparency Principles to help guide our governments in their future activities.
I want to encourage us to consider new models of bilateral cooperation to promote good governance such as the model Mr. Murray has just discussed, leading to a public-private initiative in the Russian power generation sector.
We at the U.S. Department of Commerce are working closely with the Center for Black Sea/Caspian Studies at American University to convene a conference in May of next year that would seek to address the challenge of developing mechanisms to ensure good governance and transparency, while also balancing the goals of protecting national security and accelerating economic development faced by the countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia, as they seek to assert their role as a gateway between Europe and Asia. In addition, the conference will also focus on specific market access challenges to regional integration and economic development in the Caucasus and Central Asia such as transparency in Government procurement and privatization, and trade facilitation challenges, including customs and lack of regional harmonization. It is our hope that the OSCE will join us for this event – focused on critical areas such as transport and infrastructure – to work on tangible ideas for projects and collaborations in the OSCE region.
We look forward with great interest to the 20th Economic and Environmental Forum, where we will delve deeper into all the facets of good governance. We also thank the Lithuanian Chairman-in-Office for ensuring that their draft Ministerial Council decision on Energy Security incorporates transparency in the energy sector – in our view, considering the vital role that energy plays in modern economic life, there can be no confidence, and thus no security, without energy transparency. In the year ahead, we envision an even broader focus on transparency principles across the entire spectrum of economic and environmental activities, and will work with all of our colleagues in the OSCE to make that vision a reality.
Thank you, Moderator.
(Remarks as delivered at the OSCE Economic and Environmental Dimension Implementation Meeting, Session 4: Field Presences)
Thank you, Mr. Coordinator.
You and your team deserve to feel a sense of satisfaction. This session is the realization of your vision to bring EEOs to Vienna and share their accomplishments and experiences, and the United States applauds your initiative and hopes to see this become a regular feature of 2nd dimension meetings.
Colleagues, we have just heard a number of very compelling statements from the OSCE’s field presences. As evidenced by their depth of knowledge, it is clear that we have a great pool of expertise and talent to draw on as the OSCE seeks to assist participating States to fulfill their commitments. The women and men who directly assist with the implementation of commitments truly are on the frontline, and we should listen carefully, as we have, particularly during this inaugural meeting, as we seek to better understand how we are performing in implementing our commitments and, more importantly, what tools and initiatives are needed to better implement those commitments.
In the time available, it is of course not possible to address all the fantastic work being done across the OSCE region, so we would like to highlight a few exemplars of their high-quality work.
The field operations must of course interpret their mandates in the light of the OSCE’s core tasks, so that longer-term projects can be sustained, yet offices also need to maintain agility to respond to emerging problems. Often activities are started based on themes put forward in the Economic and Environmental Forum, but then are left without subsequent support and follow-through. This is just one of the reasons why we continue to track and support the activities of the long-standing field presences and newer institutions like the OSCE Academy in Bishkek and the Border Management Staff College in Dushanbe. With specific reference to the economic and environmental dimension, we welcome and support the growing role of the OSCE Academy in Bishkek, with its new master’s degree program focusing on economics and development. We believe programs like those at the Academy will ultimately facilitate economic activity that can not only improve licit trade within the OSCE space, but crucially also help neighboring Afghanistan to do so.
The deployment of field missions in the Balkans and other conflict areas has been among the OSCE’s greatest contributions to security and cooperation in the Euro-Atlantic region in the last two decades, and we support efforts to improve the effectiveness of OSCE’s field presence. The organization needs to develop the flexibility to transfer resources and expertise as needed to address problems and emerging crises before they erupt into conflicts. Even as we in the United States and other countries seek to right-size the Balkans missions while augmenting the resources at other field operations, we will continue to support all the OSCE field presences as they carry out their mandates.
The field presences have focused on real-world problems. Their projects are not usually large in scope, but they do have an outsize human impact. For example, when the Centre in Bishkek set up a program to help labor migrants understand their rights and learn how to avoid becoming the victim of a trafficking scenario, they had maximum impact on a very vulnerable population.
The field missions also help build capacity, and we are particularly supportive of the work that is done to promote good governance. For example, the OSCE office in Baku has helped implement effective outreach programs on combating corruption for both citizens and officials. Azerbaijan’s ratings on the World Competitiveness Index have improved, setting the groundwork for real progress in combating corruption. And, the presentation we have just heard on the Guillotine Project in Armenia provides much to consider in thinking of where else this approach could be applied.
The economic and environment officers in the field continue to serve a vital function in assisting participating States to meet their OSCE commitments. Of all the critical work areas our distinguished panelists have just presented, we would like to highlight one issue we all know has the power to overshadow all others in the second dimension. We noted yesterday that good governance is more than just anti-corruption, but without a focus on the pernicious effects of corruption on political and economic systems, all other field work is at risk of being robbed of its value. Graft, bribery, favoritism in public procurement, and other drags on the economy reduce the financial resources and political capital available to governments working with the private sector and civil society to solve problems in energy production and consumption, transportation systems, and environmental protection and restoration. To that end, we strongly support both the Lithuanian Chair’s efforts to capitalize on this year’s Forum topics of sustainable energy and transport and the incoming Irish Chair’s focus on good governance during their Chairmanship year. We look forward to continuing robust discussions on how all participating States can learn from the experiences and best practices from the field.
In closing, the role of the field missions in this area will continue to be important for years to come, and we hope to see even greater involvement and support for initiatives in the field.
Thank you, Mr. Coordinator.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, originally when I set this up, I had wanted to do this for a while and I thought the – let me make sure everybody’s got their mikes here – I thought that the fact that I’m giving two speeches this week, one tomorrow at the Center for American Progress on American leadership and to talk about a lot of the sort of durable values and interests that shape our policies today and I think are helping us navigate through and even manage a lot of new and very difficult challenges.
And then on Friday, I’ll be speaking before the New York Economic Club on economic statecraft, how we sort of use what we do here in the State Department to promote economic progress here at home. And it’s an issue that I care deeply about and have been working on for the last two and a half years, but it seems particularly timely because of the Jobs Council – the event we had last week – but also because of the great anxiety in our country about our economic prospects, and to try to once again give Americans reasons to understand why we have to be focused outward, why we have to look at ways we can promote business – which is something we do a lot of in the State Department and that I do a lot personally. So we’re really trying to go into an arena in a very public way that we’ve been in for a long time, but where Americans themselves are thinking today.
And of course, this is to some extent related to the budget challenges that we’re having on the Hill, because there are a lot of people who don’t really understand what the State Department does or what USAID does and why it’s important not only for our peace and security, but also for our prosperity and opportunity in this very difficult global economic environment.
So those are two pieces of business that I feel strongly about, kind of laying down and making sure our part of the debate going forward within the Congress, obviously, the press and the public.
And I’m sure you’ve seen some of the news that we’ve had in the last few minutes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I know that Donna wants to talk to you about the budget a little bit. Can we just start with that breaking news? Because that’s the reason I’m not wearing a tie right now and – (laughter) –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. Oh, is that the reason Matt? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: We’ll talk to you about that afterward. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: And that is – presumably you are up to speed, you’re aware of this?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, aware –
QUESTION: And I know that it’s a Justice Department thing and that –
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is.
QUESTION: But what does it say about – I mean, about Iran and any attempt to try and get them to be reasonable?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first let me start with what it says about our whole-of-government efforts. I mean, this was a really important achievement by our law enforcement and our intel community to disrupt this plot. And you’ll be able to get the – you all were up here, but the news conference that the Attorney General and the FBI director and the U.S. Attorney from the Southern District and the Assistant AG for National Security just finished giving made it very clear that this was conceived by and directed by elements within the Iranian Government. The complaint has more detail than that. It’s something that we’ve been aware of and working on, led by the Justice Department and the FBI and the DEA.
So I think that the fact that the plot was disrupted and that, thankfully, the worst consequences that might have resulted from this kind of state-sponsored act of terror against a diplomat who, under the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons, is a breach of international norms, and Iran happens to be a signatory to that convention, I think creates a potential for international reaction that will further isolate Iran, that will raise questions about what they’re up to, not only inside the United States or Mexico, but elsewhere in the world. More details will, of course, come out in the course of the case being processed.
But as you may know, Matt, there are two named defendants, one the holder of American and Iranian passports and one who is in Iran who was involved. And I’m going to let the details kind of be up to the Justice Department because it’s really within their bailiwick. But it will not, I think, surprise you to know that we are actively engaged in a very concerted diplomatic outreach to many capitals, to the UN in New York, to not only explain what happened so that we try to preempt any efforts by Iran to be successful in what will be their denial and their efforts to try to deflect responsibility, but that we also enlist more countries in working together against what is becoming a clearer and clearer threat by Iran within many nations.
This is about us today, but it’s not the only place where Iran is seeking to influence and use elements of its security apparatus, most particularly the Qods Force and departments within the Qods Force, to be an arm of Iranian policy in ways that violate international norms and violate the sovereignty of nations. So we are on a concerted effort to try to make that case and have a lot of voices in the chorus.
QUESTION: Is there an immediate impact to – I don’t know what more you can do to Iran. Is there anything that happens immediately to –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think the Treasury Department will be, if they haven’t already, be issuing additional designations of some named people which I think you’ll find of interest. We will clearly be speaking with our counterparts in the Gulf, in Europe, and beyond about what actions they might take – additional personal designations of sanctions. I mean, it’s been my experience over the last two and a half years that when we have designated individuals, as we did for systematic human rights abusers inside Iran, that drew a real response.
So I just finished talking to the Saudi foreign minister, and I will, the President will, be making a number of additional calls. I’ve already spoken in the past week with the Mexican foreign minister. So we have a lot of outreach going on, because this really, in the minds of many diplomats, government officials, crosses a line that Iran needs to be held to account for.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you said it was –
QUESTION: (Inaudible) in the region? I mean, obviously the U.S.’s Gulf allies and Iran have already been pretty unhappy with each other and there’s been a lot of allegations in the region of Iranian meddling –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, right.
QUESTION: — in Bahrain, in Saudi. Does that give you any – I mean, does this prove that there’s any more proof to those accusations, do you think? Or –
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that it does strengthen the case that a number of nations have made, but without the solid base of evidence that we have put together on this one. There is a great deal of anxiety about Iran anyway, and we often in our discussions with other nations, particularly in the Gulf, are trying to make sure that they’re not overcharging, because everything that happens is not necessarily caused by Iran.
So what we want is to make it clear that, yes, is there a real threat from the way Iran is behaving, most particularly in its region but clearly now beyond ? The idea that they would attempt to go to a Mexican drug cartel to solicit murder for hire to kill the Saudi ambassador? I mean, that even – nobody can make that up, right? And so that does give a lot of credibility to the concerns, but we also have to be careful – and we’ve tried to be very careful in this instance to – what you’ll see in the complaint is what we know, what we can prove. But now we want to reassure our friends that the complaints against Iran are well-founded, so we have to be careful about how we go after them now and how we make it in common cause with a lot of these other countries, some of whom have not been willing to point the finger at Iran, but now may be.
QUESTION: Is this supposed to go on in (inaudible) talks or is it –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I mean – you know what? I mean, we said just a few weeks ago when Ahmadinejad came to New York and he said, “Look, I’m willing to talk. All I want is my 20 percent enrichment for the Tehran Research Reactor. We had Cathy Ashton on behalf of the P-5+1 basically say, “Look, if you have a real proposal, you know where we are. Come talk to us.” And they haven’t. So, no, I mean, the door is not closed, but there has to be some seriousness of intent before we’re going to walk through that door again.
QUESTION: Is there evidence of – from – well, from this case of Iranian plotting in other countries against others?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Michael, we have had evidence going back a number – well, running back a number of years. I mean –
SECRETARY CLINTON: — we have reason to believe that in many different countries, Iran or proxies of Iran have been active. But we do – that was mostly in other countries. And most of those other countries have not put together criminal cases. They might have kicked out a diplomat or they might have protested to the Iranians. So it was all handled kind of below the radar screen, if you will.
This case, we are pushing into the sunlight with evidence and accusations which we hope will give some support to those who know this is going on in or near them so that they too can be more forthright. Yeah.
QUESTION: But nothing specific in this case that they were hiring these drug cartel guys for this –
SECRETARY CLINTON: No.
QUESTION: — they were hiring them for something else too?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, but in this case, look at (inaudible) worked for them. Who knows, right? (Laughter.) I mean, that’s what’s so scary about their overaggressive outreach here.
QUESTION: I just want to get to two other kind of – one other issue of the day and then I’ll be quiet and let all my colleagues talk, and that is – one other issue of the day, and Toria talked about this in the briefing, is Egypt and how concerned you are about what appears to be a really significant deterioration of things like sectarian violence. And then the second thing would be the Quartet offering the 23rd (inaudible) exactly 30 days from the last 23rd, what did you – is there any hope that they’re going to accept?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first on Egypt, Matt, I share the concerns that have been expressed about the outbreak of violence and particularly what appeared to be the sectarian nature of it. I’ve spoken with the foreign minister, who has assured me that there is an investigation going on, that they understand very well in the Egyptian Government, as expressed by the prime minister in his remarks last night, that they have to, number one, find out what happened, and number two, take steps to prevent it from happening again.
I also pressed on a couple of laws that they’ve been considering that would give certain rights to the Coptic Christian minority, to be able to build churches, more of an evenhanded approach, ending discrimination against the Copts. These, as I say, are laws that they’ve considered but they haven’t yet passed.
I have to tell you, the foreign minister, with whom I have spoken on numerous occasions, memorably in the middle of the night during the mob attack on the Israeli Embassy, has been very responsive, and I have found him to be very forthright, so that he hasn’t, again, told me what I wanted to hear. He has been very straight with me, and I felt like, again today, he was sort of describing the process that they’re going through. They don’t yet have the information that they are seeking about how this all happened and got out of control.
And I also pressed him on the role that the official state media played in kind of fanning the flames. And it’s our information that the official media was saying things like go out and protect the military and doing things that was not helpful. And he said he was aware of that and they were also addressing it.
So we just have to keep in a constant channel of communication with our counterparts in Egypt because this is all new territory for them. And it’s quick to jump to conclusions about what they really intend, but it’s also, I think, fair to say sometimes they don’t know what is going to happen next because this is something that they didn’t sign up for. And so we have to try to keep our voice in the mix, along with others, about when we talk about a democracy, when we talk about elections, when we talk about building a democratic government, it’s not just holding an election. They’re protecting minorities, independent judiciary, all of the pieces, freedom of press, et cetera. So I did – I told him that we hope that they would get back to protecting peaceful assembly, freedom of worship, the kind of basic rights that make up a democratic society.
With respect to the Middle East, the Quartet has been very active since we came out with the statement. They held a meeting, as you know, in Brussels – I think it was Sunday, over the weekend – as the preparatory meeting that they had promised to do among the Quartet. And then they’re aiming for a preparatory meeting by the end of this month. The exact date, that’s still in negotiation because where, when, how, that’s a detail.
But I personally have been encouraged by the seriousness that the Quartet has brought to this and the responses of the Israelis and the Palestinians. President Abbas, as you know, is on a road tour, so to speak, and has been in a number of countries seeking support for his UN position. But we have made clear that he’s lodged his request in the UN; there is no route whatsoever for a state being formed through the UN; it can only be formed through negotiations. And we are urging him, and now there are many voices in the Quartet and beyond who are urging him. So it’s not just the United States; it’s everybody saying you have to return to negotiations and there has to be a way to work out your demand for a settlement freeze and the Israeli demand for no preconditions if you really want to make progress toward a Palestinian state. So I think everybody’s on the same page, and that’s important, and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to see some movement.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, just following up on that, there is this month-long deadline that was in the Quartet statement. If negotiations don’t resume then, what do you see happening, particularly since, in the interim, we’ve seen new settlement building by the Israelis and really no sign that there’s going to be any significant progress to settle this? Doesn’t this really feed into the Palestinians saying, well, look, we’ve waited so long and look what happened right after we made this bid?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Edith, I think that the situation has changed from a total paralysis or stagnation between the parties, because you do have the Israelis saying that they’re willing, ready, and able to go into negotiations; you do have President Abbas knowing that he cannot get a state through the United Nations even though he was able to express the aspirations of the Palestinian people by lodging his request at the Security Council.
So I really think that this is hard under any circumstances, as we all know so well. And it always seems, historically, when one is ready to move, the other isn’t. And we’ve been down this road now for 20-plus years. But I actually believe that the spotlight that is now shining on this process has the potential for moving both sides in a way that we haven’t experienced for quite some time, maybe not since the Camp David efforts at the end of the ’90s.
And I am of the opinion that having the Quartet playing this leading role – because remember, everybody on the Quartet had to come together to set this timetable for us. So everybody now has a stake in it, which is one of the reasons we worked so hard to get it nailed down and just sort of made it under the wire at the UN to be able to get it public. Because what happens in most of these situations is one side or the other calls somebody and says you’ve got to listen to me, we can’t really do this, I can’t go forward, I’m not getting what I need, and now there is a common response: Go back to negotiations. We’ve all signed up to that.
And you’re right that the announcement of additional housing was counterproductive, unhelpful. All of the people on the Quartet said that. Certainly, our government said it. But as I’ve told the Palestinians, and as I think the Quartet is now telling the Palestinians, what’s the best way to end settlement development? Negotiate borders. Come up with a process where what is yours is yours, what is theirs is theirs, and then it becomes moot. The Israelis, if they were sitting on this side of the table, would say to you everybody knows Gilo is going to be in whatever we negotiate. Everybody knows that. So what’s the big fuss? It’s not like we’re building in Ramallah; we’re building in Gilo. And there’s a certain logic to that because, in fact, I don’t know any map that doesn’t have Gilo in it. There are other places that are more controversial, but Gilo is pretty much assumed.
So I actually think there’s an enormous amount of energy behind this now. And people who have never been involved at all – like I spoke last evening to President Santos in Colombia. Colombia sits on the Security Council. Colombia has made it clear that they are not going to vote for statehood because they think that it would be disruptive and not lead to a state. But President Abbas is in Colombia, so President Santos is going to speak with him. And so it’s not just the Americans, it’s not just the Europeans. The whole world is saying now is the moment. What better moment could there be? It’s kind of the argument that Olmert made in his op-ed of a few weeks ago. Whatever the reasons were for doing this before, it’s even more imperative now to try to resolve this conflict and have a safe and secure Israel with borders that are recognized by everyone, and have a Palestinian state.
So if you hang around the Middle East peace process, you either hang your head and give up, or you keep looking for any ray of light that you possibly can see. (Laughter.) And I have found every scintilla of light.
QUESTION: Although –
QUESTION: There’s an upside to the UN.
QUESTION: That’s diplomatic (inaudible). (Laughter.)
QUESTION: That very argument, though, that now is the time, it’s not – things are only going to get worse from here, is one that Ariel Sharon made five years ago. And now we’re five years down the road and, arguably, things are worse. I mean, are you worried that this just keeps getting moved along in some sort of weird middle-muddle and it never gets fixed?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Anne, I think that’s a possibility. And who knows? Look, who knows what would’ve happened if Rabin hadn’t been assassinated? Who knows what would’ve happened if Sharon hadn’t had a stroke? I mean, who knows what would’ve happened – it’s like after my husband left office, Arafat calls him up some months later and says I’m ready to take the deal now. I mean, so – (laughter) – there’s always something that is happening which makes it incredibly painful and excruciating to move forward.
But it’s by no means a coincidence that you had a succession of Israeli prime ministers, no matter where they started from, who have all ended in the same place, that we need to do this. You had Netanyahu, who doesn’t – who often it’s not written about this way – who embraced the two-state solution, which had not been something he had done before. And as I remind the Palestinians, Bibi Netanyahu agreed to a 10-month settlement freeze. I dragged you all to Jerusalem and stood on the stage with him and said look, this is a big deal, never been done before. There was never a settlement freeze when Rabin was there, Barak was there, Sharon was there. Ten months, and then for a confluence of events, the Palestinians didn’t come to the negotiating table until the ninth month, one week.
So you’re right that who knows what will happen, but I think it’s the kind of difficult problem that does not get better by ignoring it or trying to put it on a shelf somewhere or taking half measures toward it. So therefore, we have to keep trying. And I think we are building a good, strong case for international support for negotiations. We just have to convince the parties of that.
QUESTION: I want to ask you about another area of things that may not improve by being ignored, and that’s the Taliban and the prospect of a peace process. Do you feel any closer to that goal than when you laid out your terms for it, I believe, in February? I mean, just sort of looking at the landscape, I mean, you’ve got President Karzai saying there’s really no use in talking and the Pakistanis have to do it. You have the assassination of the head of the – the leader of the outreach there, and if reports are to be believed, the stagnation of the U.S.’s own unilateral outreach. Where do you assess U.S. outreach to the Taliban, and how confident are you that that’s a deal you can get done before you leave?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think if you carefully analyze what President Karzai said – and of course, in the immediate aftermath of the Rabbani assassination, the emotions were intense, and for all the right reasons there was a sense of great loss. I think where we stand right now is that President Karzai understands that there has to be outreach to see whether or not there is an opportunity for a resolution with some parts of the Taliban or with all of the Taliban.
And Ambassador Marc Grossman, who has been working around the clock on this, has been in the region for the last week and believes that the parties understand – meaning Karzai and all of the elements within his government – that as difficult as it is to pursue a peace process and potential agreement with the Taliban, it has to be done.
So we believe that this has to be an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process, which we support. And therefore, their conclusion after a lot of soul-searching, after deciding that probably the best person to succeed Rabbani was his son, that there will be a continuation of outreach.
Now, there are a lot of moving parts here, and what we have tried to do is to put whatever efforts the Afghans, with our support, with the support of others – because there are a number of countries who have inroads into or contacts from the Taliban that are being pursued – that if you put this into the context of where we are today, we’re going to continue to try to kill, capture, or neutralize as many of their fighters as we possibly can, whether they are Afghan Taliban, Pakistan Taliban, Haqqani Network, whomever they might be. And we are going to press the Pakistanis even harder about being a positive player in this process.
And we are, at the same time, aiming toward two significant meetings – the meeting in Istanbul November 2nd, which is a meeting of the region, including us, to talk about what are the peace dividends, if you will; how can everybody make more money if you quit fighting with each other, to put not too fine a point on it. So we have this program that we’ve developed called the New Silk Road vision, which I unveiled with the Germans and the Afghans in New York, which people are really excited about. Because when you look at sort of South Central Asia, it is remarkably underdeveloped economically because there is so much suspicion between and among them; they don’t trade, they don’t have open borders, Pakistan – you got to go through Pakistan in most instances to get into India, and that’s not moving as quickly as we would hope. So there’s a lot of other elements here that we’re going to be pressing forward on. And of course, in December, we have the 10th anniversary of the Bonn conference.
So there’s a lot going on, a lot of diplomatic activity, a lot of outreach. But the bottom line for us is it has to be Afghan-led and owned. And if the Afghans tomorrow say, “We don’t want anything to do with this, we don’t ever think it can happen,” we can’t act in their stead. We can only act in support of them. It is their country, it’s their future, but I think they have concluded, after being quite shaken by the vicious, duplicitous murder of Rabbani, that they still need to be pursuing these threats.
QUESTION: Do you expect to have a strategic partnership dialogue document concluded and ready to sign at that Bonn conference? What’s the holdup there?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re certainly working hard on it. We’ve resolved a lot of the outstanding issues. There are a couple more that we’re still negotiating. We’ve put the lead on it now in Kabul with Ryan Crocker and John Allen. I had a SVTC with them last week and we got updated on the progress. So yeah, I think that that’s our goal. Our goal is to try to get it resolved.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you mentioned the budget, and it’s under assault on the Hill –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: — with both Republicans and Democrats –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: — even on the Senate bill. What are you saying to members up there and what is your outreach to members to try to hold the line against deeper cuts? And also, you’re in an odd position now because in everyone’s wisdom up there, they threw you all into this national security pie, so you’re up against the Defense budget.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: So there are a lot of members who don’t want to trim Defense either. So what’s your word to them and who are you reaching out to to make the case?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Donna, we are intensely reaching out to both Houses, both sides of the aisle, on a daily basis. Tom Nides, who is our deputy for management and resources, kind of runs a team of policy and legislative experts here so that we’re constantly assessing where we are and where we’re headed. The idea of having a national security budget was something Bob Gates and I proposed, and I still think it’s the right idea. And I’m fully aware of the much greater presence of the Defense Department on the Hill – (laughter) – and also the very strong allegiance that many members have to every weapons system that ever was proposed. So we are certainly cognizant of the challenges we face.
However, we have strong support in the Congress, particularly in the Senate, which understands what Bob Gates and I have been preaching together for the last couple of years, which is that if you talk to the military in Afghanistan or now coming out of Iraq, there’s just a real division of labor that State Department and USAID cannot be expected to do if we don’t get support.
Now, one of the innovations that I’ve pushed very hard for, which I believe is going to be embraced by the Congress, is the overseas contingency operations. Because as you know so well, for a long time – well, as long as anybody can remember – Defense has put all of their war-fighting costs off their budget so that they were part of what is called the OCO account. And we were competing against ourselves when this – when the new House came in and changes in the Senate and people were looking at how – while they wanted us to keep doing what we’re expected to do in Iraq and what we were doing in Pakistan and Afghanistan, “Oh, by the way, what you’re doing in Yemen and what you’re trying to do in Somalia and what you’re trying to do in Sudan,” et cetera, et cetera. So yeah, “Oh, okay, but that – but we don’t want to give you as much money, so you just keep doing that.” Well, then, okay, so who’s going to process visas, right? And when you go on your CODEL to Paris, who’s going to be there to meet you?
And so we began to make the case that we needed to replicate the Defense Department’s approach, which was an overseas contingency operation so that the funding didn’t go into the base. And I think that the Congress really understood that. So it looks like we will get an OCO account, which will release some of the pressure that we face. But to go back to the economic speech on Friday, I mean, the biggest concern that I hear from everybody from Jeff Immelt to the business guy I run into on the street in New York is “You got to process more visas. I want to do business with a Chinese supplier. He’s been waiting six months to get his interview to get the visa.” Well, we are processing – we have increased the numbers, we are open six days a week, we have more people doing it. The demand is just enormous. And so if we’re going to keep up on the economic side, there are certain functions we have to be able to perform. So that’s just one example.
Similarly, on the foreign aid side, we struggle against this unfortunate perception that 20 percent of the American budget goes to foreign aid. And it’s a burden for us to keep making the case, “No, no, no.” But then I’ll get called by a conservative member of Congress who says, “Why aren’t we doing more in the Horn of Africa? Those people are starving.” And so we have to keep making the case, and we are, and we have a lot of allies. We have religious groups who are our allies on foreign aid. We have the military and the intelligence community much more aware of what we help them do in areas of conflict. So we’ve created a much broader set of advocates.
Having said all that, it’s still going to be hard because people, when it comes down to it, especially if this super committee kicks in, it’s going to be hard for both the Defense Department and State. I’d rather have their problems than my problems, but we’re just going to do the best we can to make the case and to get the resources we need.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, could I follow up on that? What about the efforts in Congress to defund the United Nations and other international organizations? What’s that going to do to America’s international standing?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as you know, Edith, there’s already laws on the books that predate this Administration that require the end of funding to any international organization that recognizes the Palestinians as a state, gives them observer status, in any way kind of validates their claims. And we’re seeing this played out at UNESCO. I think – I can’t remember exactly, but we provide a healthy percentage of the budget to UNESCO.
SECRETARY CLINTON: How much?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Twenty-two percent. And we have made it very clear it’s not our choice to cut off funding, but we are legally required to cut off funding. And there are those who up on the Hill say, “Well, UNESCO, that’s education, that’s cultural,” but what about the International Atomic Energy Agency or what about the World Health Organization or what about the Food and Agriculture Organization?
You go down the alphabet soup of all of the international organizations and it would be very much against America’s interests. Here we are at the IAEA pushing to find out everything we can find out about Iran or North Korea, and we’re no longer at the table? That is not in our interests. So we are looking for ways to comply, of course, with the law, but perhaps to inject some understanding into it that doesn’t end up undermining America’s interests in these organizations. So that’s where we are right now, and it’s challenging.
QUESTION: And how do you see the fight over aid to the Palestinians (inaudible) out in this funding?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that we were successful a few months ago in convincing the Israelis to support my releasing the last tranche of money – I think it was $50 million – to the Palestinian Authority. And we made the case – this was money that had been appropriated in the, I think, 2010 cycle – we made the case that we needed to keep the Palestinian Authority functioning, we need to pay salaries, that it was very much in their interest but also equally if not more in Israel’s interest so that there was not outbreaks of violence, that there wasn’t a collapse of their state structure, that the security forces were paid. And the Israelis have also been continuing to provide the fees that they collect for the Palestinians, the kind of customs revenue fees, so they recognize that.
So we’re taking this on a case-by-case basis. For example, we have money up there now as part of our continuing funding of the training of the security forces. And we’re in discussions with the Hill, with the Palestinians, with the Israelis about wanting to keep that flowing, because if you go back and look at the last several years, when Tahrir Square broke out, Syria breaks out, everything is going on around them, the Palestinian security force has been reliable, stable, a very good partner with the Israelis in trying to keep peace, trying to prevent Hamas infiltration into the West Bank. So we’re making the case.
QUESTION: And you’re asking the Israelis to help make the case with –
SECRETARY CLINTON: We do on a case-by-case basis, yeah.
QUESTION: I need to get a quick one in on Keystone (inaudible). So there are environmentalists –
QUESTION: Time’s up. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I was waiting for that (inaudible). You’re slow off to start (inaudible).
QUESTION: Too bad. He started talking. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, right. Okay.
QUESTION: There’s been a lot of allegations from environmentalists that there’s a conflict of interest, that this TransCanada guy who worked in the campaign has somehow gotten sort of a cozy relationship with the Department then. So the question is, one, I mean, is there – was there a conflict? Do you see any conflict of interest, any problem here? Do you still expect a decision to be made sooner than the end of the year? Will make it yourself? Will you delegate it to someone? How does all that work?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Matt, first, I think that the Department, both here in Washington and in Ottawa, has been very much in listen-and-outreach mode, and they have met with, talked with, received information from a very large group of interested parties – some for, some against, as you know. They recently concluded six public sessions that were held gave a forum for people, and you just can’t – this is a very emotional decision. You have people who feel very strongly on both sides, as has been evident. You have states that are welcoming it, states that are rejecting it, all of whom, I think, are governed by Republicans. Or maybe one isn’t but – (laughter) – it’s quite – this is a very local – this is an issue that raises very local concerns. So I have been just having our team go forward and do what they’re supposed to do, so I have nothing more to say at this time because until a recommendation comes up the chain and – originally, two and a half years ago, this had been delegated to the deputy. This was not something that the Secretary was going to decide. But there is no recommendation, and when there is a recommendation, there’ll be a decision, but it’ll be very much rooted in all the work that has been done. And I think people have tried to be extremely careful and thoughtful, and it’s a process that I am trying to respect until it reaches its conclusion.
QUESTION: But you don’t see any merit to this conflict of interest (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: No. I mean, I haven’t – I have no reason to believe that.
QUESTION: Can I ask one question about you? You said you’re leaving these lovely rooms at the end of next year, and I know a lot of people will be interested in your plans. Is elective office done?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I have said that before; I will say it again. I really am looking forward to returning to private life. And I’ve told everyone that I assume and believe that the President will be re-elected. I will, obviously, wait until he has a chance to make whatever transition he wants to make, but then I am looking forward to being out of public life, whether it’s high-level appointments like this or elective office. I have no interest in or no plans of any sort to pursue that anymore.
STAFF: From that, I like to say her next appointment is waiting out there.
QUESTION: Bradley –
SECRETARY CLINTON: He wore this good-looking –
QUESTION: I know. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: — ascot thing. I can’t let him go without a question.
QUESTION: I figured that the ascot plus no tie equals a regular tie.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah. I think you’re right. (Laughter.) Okay, so Bradley gets the last question.
QUESTION: Just to go back to the Middle East, we skipped over a couple countries in – near civil war –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: On Syria, you’ve done various piecemeal sanctions, but how do you see this situation being resolved beyond the call that it would be great if Asad stepped down from power and the transition occurs? And how is this going to – how can this be brought about?
And then on Yemen, it’s such a difficult situation because you’re getting some cooperation against al-Qaida on the one hand but the same – some of the same officials who are helping in that way are creating this huge power crisis, which is kind of creating the conditions in which al-Qaida can grow and operate there. So how do you deal with that situation, and what can we look forward to?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first with respect to Syria, I think that what we have been strongly advocating for and what Ambassador Ford has been really putting himself out on a limb for is the right of the Syrian people to demonstrate, to organize, to demand change on their terms. And when this all started, there really wasn’t anything resembling an organized opposition. Now there is. There’s a coalescing opposition. We strongly believe it is their interest to maintain their nonviolent approach to this. We do – we think it’s right because they are not organized or able to even imagine some kind of armed action, and they don’t – they have the moral high ground right now. And one of the techniques of the Asad regime is to try to claim that it’s a armed gang, it’s thugs, it’s terrorists. So we really are focused on keeping the nonviolent aspect of this.
And I think that has done a couple of things. It has certainly attracted a lot of European support, a lot of European sanctions, because people believe that the opposition and the Syrian people deserve that. But it’s also, I think, put China and Russia on the wrong side of history. People have asked me, well, were you upset about the vetoes by China and Russia? And I say, well, first of all, I obviously expected them. But secondly, it’s China and Russia who have to explain what they’re doing about the Arab Spring and what they’re doing about the Syrian people and why they’re continuing in, at least according to available information, supporting a regime that is using weapons that Russia has sold them in the past against their own people.
So I think this is an evolving situation, and it’s not – it cannot be accelerated from the outside. The single message that comes through loudly and clearly from everyone associated with the opposition is they do not want foreign intervention, unlike the Libyans. The Libyans were asking for it. They went to the Arab League, they went to the GCC, they went to the UN. Syrians reject it. They do not want anybody coming in, and I respect that because they’re – they have a lot of work to do internally because there is not yet an acceptance by many groups within Syria that their life would be better without Asad than with Asad. There are a lot of minority groups that are very concerned.
Now, I think the killing by the Syrian authorities of the Kurdish leader seems to have been just a spark to the tinder because that goes right at one of the groups that up until now have been kind of on the sidelines. You didn’t hear a lot from the Kurds, the Druze, the Christians, obviously the Alawites, the business leaders in Damascus, Aleppo. But as this goes on, I really believe there will be more support for change. And I know we get impatient, and you guys have to write all the time so you’re especially impatient, but sometimes you just have to let – you have to let circumstances unfold. And the act that – the steps that Turkey has taken, which have drawn a fierce attack from Iran, I mean, this is all, I think, kind of moving in the right direction.
So how long, when, I cannot predict to you. But first there has to be something more of a Syrian opposition, and that opposition has to be more reassuring to all the constituent groups inside Syria in order for there to be some agreement, consensus reached to go try to bring down the government in whatever way they think they can.
Yemen is an entirely different case. I mean, Yemen – we signed on to the GCC plan because, frankly, the GCC had a better chance of influencing the Yemenis than anybody else, particularly Saleh and his family. I think that it also is a very complex situation inside Yemen. Our ambassador has been terrific in marshalling support, keeping the European and Arabs together in trying to force Saleh to actually leave. But it is also going to take some time. He’s clearly not ready to go, and the demonstrators are not ready to leave, and al-Qaida is trying to take advantage of it. And you have a lot of discontent across the country, pro-, anti-government. So it’s a lot of very complex actors who we are trying to all put in the same frame of saying, look, regardless of where you’re from or who you are, you need a fresh start and you need a new leader, and then you need a fair process for choosing the next leader. And we can help you do all of that, but you’re going to have continuing conflict and cries of – accusations of illegitimacy and the like if – unless you really come to grips with this.
QUESTION: Is this a civil war?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it’s a – no, not yet. No, I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I think it’s – I mean, there are certain – people have chosen up sides, but not completely. And that’s why we’re trying to keep everybody focused on what the GCC plan was, because at least is a coherent plan, and there’s a process attached to it, and that’s the way I think we should proceed.
QUESTION: Coherent plan without a coherence.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, without a decision by Saleh, who just doesn’t want to leave. (Laughter.) What can I tell you? He doesn’t want to leave. And he is hanging on by –
SECRETARY CLINTON: — whatever he can hang on to. And remember, he’s the only guy who ever unified Yemen. So he is a guy who understands the country as well as anybody else, and he’s trying to play every possible angle on this. But we’ve remained consistent. The GCC – everybody’s remained consistent, but we’ll have to see how it unfolds still.
Well, thank you all.
QUESTION: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: My pleasure. My pleasure.
12th Session of the UPR Working Group
The United States welcomes His Excellency Minister Chimasa and the Zimbabwe delegation to the UPR Working Group.
We commend Zimbabwe for creation of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission; however, we note with disappointment that it is not operational and is not set up to be an independent constitutional body able to effectively execute its mandate.
We are concerned by the increase of politically motivated violence; the failure of state institutions to hold security forces accountable for ongoing human rights violations against human rights defenders and perceived opponents of the ZANU-PF party; and other obstacles to citizens’ free and equal participation in the upcoming elections.
We are concerned by recurring attempts by officials to facilitate the arbitrary arrest and harassment of lawyers who represent human rights defenders, to use the law on civil and criminal defamation to control the mass media, and to infringe on individual rights to freedoms of expression and assembly.
We recognize there has been some progress by Zimbabwe to secure the Marange diamond producing area. We remain deeply concerned, however, about the failure of military forces to withdraw from the diamond fields, diamond-smuggling, corruption, diamond-related violence by state and non-state security agents, and the denial of access to civil society groups attempting to report on the diamond fields.
Bearing in mind these concerns, the United States would like to make the
That Zimbabwe fully implement the GPA provisions supporting the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee.
That Zimbabwe repeal or significantly reform the Public Order and Security Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and criminal code provisions that restrict freedoms of assembly and expression.
That Zimbabwe invite the Special Rapporteur on Torture and other mandate holders to conduct independent and impartial investigations.
And finally, we recommend that Zimbabwe create stronger mechanisms to ensure greater revenue transparency from diamond mining, demilitarize the diamond industry, and thoroughly investigate cases of beatings and abuse by government and private security services in the Marange area.
The United States is deeply disappointed with the conviction and sentencing of former Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko through a politically motivated prosecution. The charges against Mrs. Tymoshenko and the conduct of her trial, as well as the prosecution of other opposition leaders and members of the preceding government, have raised serious concerns about the Government of Ukraine’s commitment to democracy and rule of law.
The United States strongly supports the Ukrainian peoples’ goal of becoming a democratic and prosperous European state, and remains dedicated to strengthening bilateral cooperation based on shared values and shared interests. Ukraine, however, cannot reach this goal without redoubled efforts to protect and advance democracy and the rule of law for all its citizens. For these reasons, the United States urges the release of Mrs. Tymoshenko and the other political leaders and former government officials, and believes that they should have an unrestricted ability to participate fully in political life, including next year’s parliamentary elections.
Transforming Partnerships Across Asia and the Pacific To Combat Corruption and Ensure Ethical Conduct: Open Government, Clean Trade, and Integrity in Markets and Supply Chains
I am honored to have been invited to New Delhi to attend the 16th Steering Committee Meeting of the ADB/OECD Anticorruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific and to present this morning the work program in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum on combating corruption, especially in my capacity as the 2011 Chair of the APEC Anticorruption and Transparency (ACT) Experts’ Working Group.
I would like to thank the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the Government of India for their invitation and warm hospitality, and I hope that together we can chart a vibrant partnership between APEC and your initiative – and among our respective membership – to promote greater integrity and to prevent, investigate, and prosecute corruption and bribery across Asia and the Pacific.
Before outlining the work of the United States as host of APEC in 2011 and our ACT anti-corruption initiatives and capacity-building programs – including priorities that we are advancing this year as we march towards the APEC Leaders Week and Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, November 8-13, 2011 – I want to say what a privilege it is for me personally to return as a participant in your Steering Committee meetings. I recall fondly being part of the Advisory Group at the first meeting in Japan in 2001 and the meeting in Malaysia in 2003.
Over the years, I have met many good friends and am excited to meet new friends here this week and to explore continued synergies and collaborations that strengthen regional cooperation via collective action to combat corruption. It is also good to see some of my APEC ACT colleagues here at these meetings, including past and future ACT chairs: Korea (2005), Vietnam (2006), Australia (2007), Singapore (2009), Japan (2010), and Indonesia (2013). I would also like to give a special thanks to the Government of Thailand and my very good friend Professor Pakdee Pothisiri, Commissioner of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC). It was because of Thailand’s leadership in 2003 that the APEC Leaders agreed to make the fight against corruption a priority, a commitment that led to the creation of the ACT and the Santiago Commitment in 2004.
APEC 2011: Economic Growth, Expansion of Trade and Investment, and Clean Markets
APEC is the premier Asia-Pacific economic forum through which 21 economies have united to build a dynamic and harmonious Asia-Pacific community by championing free and open trade and investment, promoting and accelerating regional economic integration, encouraging economic and technical cooperation, enhancing human security, and facilitating a favorable and sustainable business environment.
The 21 APEC economies are as follows: Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; People’s Republic of China; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Japan; Republic of Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; The Republic of the Philippines; The Russian Federation; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; United States of America; and Viet Nam. Twelve of our APEC members are also active in your initiative.
APEC’s 21 member economies today account for 55 percent of global GDP, 43 percent of world trade, and comprise a market of 2.7 billion consumers.
For the United States, APEC accounts for 58 percent of U.S. goods/exports, and seven of our top trade partners are in APEC. Last year alone, U.S. exports to APEC economies grew much faster than exports to the rest of the world. Due to the dynamism of APEC markets, a 5 percent increase in exports to APEC economies would add hundreds of thousands of jobs to the U.S. economy.
So as we embark on our collaboration with the ADB/OECD anticorruption initiative and other international partners to achieve shared prosperity and economic regional partnerships, we must ensure that we similarly develop a shared framework based on not only reasonable, rules-based approaches but also on open, free, transparent, and fair principles. We believe that such a regional architecture would benefit developed and developing economies alike by transforming and expanding markets, encouraging innovation, and ensuring cleaner forms of public and private governance for markets across the Asia Pacific region.
As the host of APEC in 2011, the United States is focusing on three priority themes for this year, reflecting many of the challenges and opportunities facing public and private sectors across the Asia Pacific region:
Strengthening regional economic integration and expanding trade;
Promoting inclusive, sustainable, green growth; and
Advancing regulatory convergence and cooperation.
With these priorities in mind, I would like to raise three questions for consideration: First, why are transparency and effective anti-corruption measures critical to our future? Second, why are they indispensable tools for long-term, sustainable growth and regional prosperity? And finally how can we partner to advance our mutually-shared agenda? I hope that today’s discussion will help us leverage our energies and harness our talents and capacities to achieve cleaner trade and more open governments.
Ensuring Greater Integrity in APEC Economies, Markets, and Supply Chains
Let me start with a well-known truism: Governments are most effective in promoting economic competitiveness, growth, and investment when their communities and its people have confidence in the stability and soundness of its institutions. Governments can faithfully and judiciously invest the public’s trust by adopting effective anticorruption policies that put accountability front and center, demonstrating to their people that they are working for their communities with the highest levels of integrity.
At the United Nations General Assembly meetings last week, the United States and other members of the Open Government Partnership acknowledged “that people all around the world are demanding more openness in government . . . and are calling for greater civic participation in public affairs, and seeking ways to make their governments more transparent, responsive, accountable, and effective.” Participating governments also agreed to accept responsibility for seizing this moment in time “to strengthen [their] commitments to promote transparency, fight corruption, empower citizens, and harness the power of new technologies to make government more effective and accountable.”
Through the Open Government Dialogue, India and the United States are working together to create “Data.gov-in-a-Box,” a joint, open source, e-governance application. It will be available for implementation by countries globally, encouraging governments around the world to develop open-data sites that promote transparency, improve citizen engagement, and engage application developers in continuously improving these efforts.
As ACT Chair, I can report to you that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton are working together with our APEC partners, and globally, to make anticorruption a priority. In remarks made at the OECD Session on Development and Gender this past May, Secretary Clinton observed that corruption, lack of transparency, and poorly functioning governance systems “not only deprive government of revenues; they inflict a quieter and in some ways an even more dangerous cost as well, because they corrode citizens’ trust in each other and in their government. And when those bonds of trust crumble, it becomes much more difficult for communities and countries to make progress.”
In APEC, we are addressing corruption by sharing our good governance practices and experiences with each other, including by exchanging information on our respective laws, what we do to publicize our enforcement efforts, and what our respective business communities are doing to ensure that they have effective compliance programs to prevent and detect corruption and bribery. Moreover, we are also investing in a broad array of capacity-building programs that help sharpen the capabilities of the APEC anti-corruption agencies and law enforcement communities to prevent, investigate, and prosecute corruption.
Reducing Illicit Arbitrage Opportunities for Cleaner Markets and Supply Chains
In November 2010, in Yokohama, Japan, APEC Leaders and Ministers agreed to leverage collective action to combat corruption and illicit trade by promoting clean government, strengthening relevant judicial, regulatory, and law enforcement systems, and enhancing regular reporting of our efforts to implement anticorruption commitments to build communities of integrity.
â€ªWe can appreciate why Leaders remain focused on good governance and transparency.
Corruption and bribery are not only barriers to economic growth, trade and investment, and market integrity, but also weaken the entrepreneurial spirit that nurtures innovation, openness, and competiveness.
Corrupt practices also corrode the pillars of free and accountable societies, especially at a time when our citizens are demanding more of our governments and expect to be governed with the highest levels of integrity.
By leading by example, APEC is demonstrating that ethical behavior among public officials can anchor the trust and confidence of the public and markets alike.
As Secretary Clinton emphasized at the 2011 APEC SOM I meetings in Washington, DC, as our communities demand greater accountability, transparency and participatory governance, we must deliver.
And we are. I have just returned from San Francisco where the APEC ACT discussed a robust plan of action for combating corruption in APEC economies as part of our 5-year strategy and discussed ways to advance our 2011 work program under the following three guiding principles: 1) combat corruption and illicit enrichment for more clean and open governments; 2) combat bribery through public-private partnerships that anchor market integrity; and 3) combat corruption and illicit trade to ensure greater supply chain integrity.
On the first guiding principle, through collective action, we are contributing to influence positively APEC’s open and transparent framework, including through the Santiago Commitment and Course of Action to Fight Corruption and Ensure Transparency, the APEC Code of Conduct for Business, the Conduct Principles for Public Officials, and the Complementary Anti-Corruption Principles for the Public and Private Sectors, as well as the development this year of principles to strengthen financial/asset disclosure systems that encourage officials to perform their duties in accordance with public interest, as opposed to self-interest. These principles, we hope, will also help investigators and prosecutors identify and corroborate illicit enrichment, providing greater accountability and building public trust.
Consistent with the APEC Santiago Commitment, in APEC, we are committing ourselves to implementing the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and undertaking a full review on a wide range of measures, including criminalization, preventive measures, and the recovery of stolen assets.
The ACT also continues to work on denying safe haven to kleptocrats around the world, to bar their illicitly-acquired assets, and to give notice that continued theft from our economies will not be tolerated. Following the money must be an integral part of our strategies to deny criminals and their networks access to entities and mechanisms used to hide and launder illicit criminal proceeds. Working with Peru and China in APEC, for example, we launched a very aggressive initiative to strengthen capacities to combat kleptocracy. In 2006, in Shanghai, the United States and China led APEC efforts to take strong enforcement actions to deny safe haven to corrupt individuals and prevent them from enjoying the proceeds of their illicit activities. The ACT commends Thailand and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), and others, for leading ACT capacity-building efforts in recent years to combat money laundering and help track the criminal proceeds of kleptocrats and illicit networks alike. Similarly, we applaud Indonesia for being co-Chair of the G20 Anticorruption Working Group, and for serving next year as a Vice Chair in the ACT (and host of APEC in 2013).
Depriving illicit networks of their profits and funding is one of the most effective ways to deter them. This requires a holistic, comprehensive anti-money laundering regime with the ability to trace, freeze, and seize assets related to illicit financial flows, while addressing both formal and informal financial networks.
Second, in the ACT, we are also taking a comprehensive and holistic approach to combat corruption and illicit trade to ensure integrity in global markets and supply chains and to sustain our shared prosperity. We must confront criminal entrepreneurs and illicit market actors that navigate between licit and illicit worlds, tainting supply chains and compromising the integrity of our markets and institutions. Moreover, tainted supply chains, compromised markets, and the corruption that accompanies illicit trade also hurt our legitimate businesses; diminish brand identities, reputations, and returns on research and innovation; and increase operating costs and investment risks to all market investors.
Working together in APEC, we are ramping up efforts to investigate and prosecute the illicit actors who produce and sell harmful counterfeits such as counterfeit medicines, and we are simultaneously strengthening the integrity of our supply chains, as well as our global financial system.
At the APEC September 2011 SOM 3 meetings in San Francisco, investigators, prosecutors, and regulators, from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) including Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) , the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and others, coordinated with their APEC counterparts by organizing an APEC workshop on Investigating and Prosecuting Corruption and Illicit Trade: Stemming the Flows of Counterfeits and Dismantling Illicit Networks to impart best practices, law enforcement techniques, share case studies, and explore possible tools that can equip APEC economies to mitigate vulnerabilities, dismantle transnational illicit networks, and strengthen integrity in supply chains.
In the next month, we will submit to APEC Senior Officials the ACT’s recommendations to launch across APEC a public-private partnership to dismantle illicit networks at every link in tainted supply chains and prosecute criminal entrepreneurs who arbitrage weak and corrupt law enforcement systems and exploit internal border controls for illicit gain and enrichment.
Breaking the corruptive power of transnational illicit networks globally is a key objective for the United States. On July 25, 2011, the White House released the Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime. We will work with international partners to attack the financial underpinnings of transnational criminal organizations; strip them of their illicit wealth; and sever their access to the financial system. In targeting illicit entrepreneurs and illicit networks that pose grave threats to our citizens’ safety—including those that sell and distribute substandard, tainted, and harmful counterfeits—we will also expose criminal activities hidden behind legitimate fronts and protect strategic markets, as well as the integrity of the global financial system. The United States will also work with other committed partners to disrupt crime-terror networks all around the world including in South Asia.
Combating Bribery and Forging Public-Private Partnerships on Market Integrity
Finally, when both public and private sectors work together, we can create a culture of integrity that has a lasting impact. The private sector can lead in ensuring that corruption does not corrode the foundations of an efficient and transparent market system, which is fundamental to economic security, sustainability, and prosperity for all economies. We can create a better future by uniting in our support of accountability and good governance and against corruption. Such action has been evidenced in recent years in India, where the Global Corporate Governance Forum has worked in partnership with the regulator, the National Institute for Securities Markets, and one of the country’s leading business associations, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), to raise understanding and awareness of the importance and modalities of good corporate governance. The regulator brings to this exercise the imprimatur of the government, while CII lends the weight of prominent Indian industrial concerns, creating a formidable alliance.
As the OECD and World Bank Group – key APEC partners – have underscored as part of their global corporate governance forum, “encouraging high quality corporate governance practices as a linked element of anti-corruption measures, are the twin pillars of developing fair and efficient markets. Both are relevant to broader efforts to promote sustainable economic development and democracy. They depend upon implementation by the private sector, with the active support of civil society and stakeholders, within a framework of law and regulation provided for by government. Achieving effective measures therefore requires the active partnership of all sides” in a full practical engagement for reform, modernization, and good governance.
Through our continued cooperation with the private sector, we are leveling the playing field across APEC economies. Moreover, in working with the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), and other partners, we are ushering in a new era of cooperation between the public and private sector that will help forge a more connected, innovative, and dynamic Asia Pacific region. Combating corruption, achieving sustainable development and dismantling illicit markets and networks also requires collective action and a shared responsibility among APEC partners, as well as close coordination with relevant regional and international organizations that have important expertise and capacities to help improve the overall governance climate in the Asia-Pacific region.
The ACT has a strong record of achievement of strengthening cooperation with other international and regional organizations. We have leveraged new and exciting collaborative platforms with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), OECD, ASEAN, G20, INTERPOL, and the International Anticorruption Academy (IACA), as well as with civil society groups such as Transparency International.
I have already mentioned the good work that many of our APEC ACT colleagues are doing in combating corruption including, for example, Australia, Chile, China, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Next year, Russia will host APEC and we look forward to continue to advance our public-private partnerships to combat corruption and bribery especially tied closely to the expansion of our investment and trade agenda. In addition we would like to congratulate Russia for joining the OECD Working Group on Bribery; we look forward to its ratification of the anti-bribery convention itself. The rigorous peer review that is at the heart of the Working Group’s success will help Russia to intensify its efforts against foreign bribery. The fact that India, China and Indonesia all are participating in the OECD Working Group on Bribery as observers is another positive step and we hope that they will consider full membership in future.
The Way Forward: Greater Integrity in Economies, Markets, and Supply Chains â€ªAcross Asia and the Pacific
In closing, it is great to be meeting with you here in India, and I applaud the diversity of your ADB/OECD Steering Group membership.
Our institutions share many common goals. Similar to APEC’s approach, you are leveraging alliances with communities and civil society groups to mobilize public support to address corruption. I have also taken note of your recent efforts to promote more active judiciaries, parliamentarians, and your ideas on access to information tools and the promotion of social anticorruption and media campaigns that can help to support resiliency and stability and to build a culture of integrity. As we nurture the network of government and business leaders that support innovation in the vibrant sectors of tomorrow – such as computer and high technology, biomedical, energy and space – these issues become even more important to government officials and entrepreneurs to create the right governance conditions for new markets and investment frontiers to thrive across our regions.
India’s adoption of anticorruption commitments as part of the G20 and its ratification of UNCAC send an important signal to the public and to businesses that tackling corruption is a high priority. An even more important step is to implement those commitments, to put them into practice, whether they are about prevention or transparency or law enforcement. Our experience is that creating momentum for reform, for implementation of these kinds of commitments, requires government leadership as well as support and expertise and oversight from civil society and the private sector. A partnership between government and the public is essential. Partnerships among countries can also help by sharing experiences among peers. That is one hallmark of APEC ACT, and one important value added of the ADB/OECD initiative. The United States is pleased to partner with other economies through these frameworks and bilaterally.
Thank you for the opportunity to outline the APEC ACT’s work program. I hope we can develop pragmatic and collaborative joint workshops, from time to time, that will enhance our commitment to combat corruption and illicit trade and strengthen integrity across our respective economies.
(Remarks delivered at the Treaty Room at the Department of State)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. I am very pleased to have the foreign minister of Nigeria here, and I will address the concerns that we discussed. But I first want to begin with a statement about the assault on Ambassador Robert Ford and our Embassy staff in Syria this morning.
We condemn this unwarranted attack in the strongest possible terms. Ambassador Ford and his aides were conducting normal Embassy business, and this attempt to intimidate our diplomats through violence is wholly unjustified.
We immediately raised this incident with the Syrian Government, and we are demanding that they take every possible step to protect our diplomats according to their obligations under international law. Ambassador Ford has shown admirable courage putting himself on the line to bear witness to the situation on the ground in Syria. He is a vital advocate for the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people now under siege by the Asad regime. I encourage the United States Senate to show our support for Ambassador Ford by confirming him as soon as possible, so he can continue, fully confirmed, his critical and courageous work.
Now, I’m delighted to welcome the foreign minister. Minister Ashiru is a great diplomat. He’s been serving his country for many years and we had an opportunity today to follow up on the meeting that I had in New York with President Jonathan. We have worked closely with the people and Government of Nigeria over the last two and a half years to make progress in key areas.
The U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission is our flagship agreement for bilateral cooperation on the entire African continent. When we signed the agreement just 17 months ago, we set bold goals for ourselves. Today, the foreign minister and I discussed how far we have come in each area of the commission, including advancing good governance, promoting energy access and reliability, improving food security, dealing with extremism, and so much else.
Our joint efforts leading up to Nigeria’s elections in April deserve particular attention because we worked so closely with the government and civil society to improve transparency, to address the political and logistical challenges of the elections. And for the first time in recent history, Nigeria held elections that were widely hailed as credible and effective. And we know that over 90 percent of Nigerians thought the elections were free and fair. That is up from 30 percent just a short four years ago. So the people of Nigeria are making strides every day and consolidating their democracy and the institutions of democracy.
Nigeria has also played an important role on global issues through its seat on the UN Security Council and has been a leader in helping to improve stability in West Africa. Nigeria played a key role in supporting the difficult democratic transitions in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Niger. Nigeria’s own example of credible elections provides it with great credibility in democracy promotion across the continent.
So as we continue our close cooperation through the second year of our Binational Commission, we will set forth our priorities, and they include improving governance, fighting corruption, delivering services more effectively to the people. We are working toward a strong anticorruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and other ways we can promote transparency.
Economic development is key; Nigeria is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with the largest population in Africa and strong trading relationships. We want to see Nigeria prosper and grow. To this end, the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation, OPIC, has just approved $250 million in financing to help revitalize the Union Bank of Nigeria, and to reach previously un-banked people in Nigeria. And we will look for ways to support Nigeria as it reduces inequality and builds a broader base for prosperity.
Finally, we will stand with Nigeria as it faces serious security issues. The bombing of the UN headquarters in Abuja last month was a horrific and cowardly act, and we want to work with Nigeria and West Africa to improve security and to make sure that we also address the legitimate needs of people before extremists have a chance to exploit them.
So again, Minister, our goals for the second year of the Binational Commission are just as ambitious as our goals for the first. We look forward to working closely with you, and I thank you for your long-standing commitment to the relationship between our two countries.
FOREIGN MINISTER ASHIRU: I thank you, Secretary of State Clinton. It’s a pleasure for me to be here, and we’ve had useful discussions with our American counterparts and we discussed issues of mutual concern to our two countries. Our relations is now anchored under the BNC, the Binational Commission, which was signed earlier this year. And in the Commission there are various sectors and we discussed areas of enhancing and promoting relations and attraction of investment, especially in the energy and power sector.
I reiterated the fact to the Secretary of State that the U.S. companies should take advantage of the boom that we foresee in the nearest future in the energy sector, and that the U.S. companies should not sit on the fence as they did when we had the telecoms boom in Nigeria. We should not allow their competitors to go reaping only from Nigeria, and now this is the time for them to move into Nigeria and take part in the energy boom which we foresee. And there are many notable U.S. companies that are the leading players, especially in manufacturing of turbines and so on. We believe this is the time for them to come to Nigeria and invest. And we see a big market for the energy sector in Nigeria.
And of course, we also open our doors to other companies in the agricultural and rural transportation sector to also come into Nigeria because we now having an agricultural boom. We are (inaudible); we are turning agriculture in Nigeria to mechanized farming, and we believe they have the expertise. They should now join the others who are already in Nigeria to come and see this transformation and let’s partake in it together. Of course, Secretary of State Clinton has already reviewed a number of the issues we discussed on the bilateral sides and also on the international arena. So with those few remarks, I say, Madam Secretary, thank you very much for this –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Minister Ashiru. Thank you.
MR. TONER: Time for just two questions today. The first goes to Jill Dougherty of CNN.
QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, thanks for the comments about the attack in Syria. If you had anything further to add, especially about your level of concern for the safety of the ambassador, we’d be more than happy to hear it. I do have just two questions.
One concerns Uzbekistan. The President spoke with the President Karimov last night, and then also you met with the Uzbek foreign minister. Did you discuss expanding the Northern Distribution Network for Afghanistan? And does the Administration support expanding – or I should say dropping restrictions on military equipment that can be sold to the Uzbeks in spite of the concerns about potential human rights violations.
And just – I’m sorry – one other question. I represent a lot of journalists.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Maybe one is optional. (Inaudible) But there is interest among my colleagues in the continuing questions about Pakistan. There was an interview with Admiral Mullen. He’s not stepping away from those comments about the veritable arm, the Haqqani Network. Why is the Administration or parts of the Administration stepping back from those comments in spite of what he is saying?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, if I can remember them – (laughter) – the first one, with respect to Ambassador Ford, we’ve raised this ugly, unfortunate incident to the highest levels of the Syrian Government. We are demanding that the Syrian Government take all necessary steps to protect our Embassy, to protect our diplomats in accordance with the international obligations that every country must abide by. And this is absolutely required. The Vienna Convention requires that host countries protect property and persons of diplomatic missions. And I must say that this inexcusable assault is clearly part of an ongoing campaign of intimidation aimed at not only American diplomats but diplomats from other countries, foreign observers who are raising questions about what’s going on inside Syria. It reflects an intolerance on the part of the regime and its supporters, and it is deeply regrettable that we have the Asad regime continuing its campaign of violence against its own people.
So I hope that, first and foremost, our property, our – the persons that serve in our mission will be protected along with every other diplomat from every other country. But secondly, we continue to call for an end to the violence, and we’ll continue to speak out, and I think Ambassador Ford’s courage and clarity is making the point that the United States cannot and will not stand idly by when this kind of violence continues.
With respect to Uzbekistan, we value our relationship with Uzbekistan. They have been very helpful to us with respect to the Northern Distribution Network. They have also been helpful with Afghanistan in terms of reconstruction. They are deeply involved in assisting Afghans and the Afghan Government to try to rebuild and make Afghanistan a more prosperous, peaceful country. We believe that our continuing dialogue with officials of the government is essential. It always raises, as I have and as others from our government continue to do so, our concerns about human rights and political freedoms. But at the same time we are working with the Uzbeks to make progress, and we are seeing some signs of that, and we would clearly like to deepen our relationship on all issues.
Finally, with respect to Pakistan, I would certainly urge people to look at the entirety of Admiral Mullen’s testimony. He did raise serious questions, which our government has raised with the Pakistanis about the continuing safe haven for terrorists that strike across the border in Afghanistan against Afghans, Americans, NATO ISAF troops, civilians working there, as well as within Pakistan. But Admiral Mullen also said that this is a very critical consequential relationship. We have a lot of interests that are in common, most particularly the fight against terrorism. So we are certainly making clear that we want to see an end to safe havens and any kind of support from anywhere for terrorists inside Pakistan, and we also want to continue to work to put our relationship on a stronger footing.
MR. TONER: Next question goes to Peter (inaudible) from News Agency of Nigeria.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary of State, thank you very much for your firm belief in Nigeria, for you very open comment about our country. My question is on security in Nigeria. Will the U.S. support the Nigerian Government to go into dialogue with Boko Haram while there are ongoing killings on the streets of Maiduguri? And in the last 48 hours we have had unconfirmed reports from the extremist group saying they will disrupt the independence day celebrations.
And if you can indulge me one more question, you told us that you discuss with the minister – your meeting with the minister this afternoon, there was a follow-up on what you discussed with President Goodluck Jonathan, who attended General Assembly last week in New York. Did you raise the issue of Palestine with the minister, and what did our president tell you about Nigerians (inaudible) and preference if the issue of the Palestinian statehood should come to the Security Council?
Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first with respect to Boko Haram, we have condemned its deadly use of violence. We think that its attacks on ordinary citizens, on institutions of the Nigerian state, on the United Nations office in Abuja, are absolutely unjustifiable. There is no set or principles or beliefs that can justify taking the lives of innocent people, and we offer our deepest condolences to all those families who have lost loved ones in these senseless attacks.
At the same time, we are working with Nigeria to try to develop capabilities to provide better security, to strengthen the security sector, because we think that some terrorist and extremist groups are absolutely unreconcilable. They cannot be convinced to end their violence and participate in society. But where there is an opportunity for any dialogue or outreach, we would support that. We certainly have around the world. But we also know that it has to be both at the same time. There has to be a strong, effective security response and an effort to try to remove the reasons why people would, in any way, condone or support this kind of terrorism.
And maybe – let me stop here and let the minister respond to that as well, and then I can answer your second question.
FOREIGN MINISTER ASHIRU: Yes. I can assure you that we had a useful discussion on that with the Secretary of State (inaudible) to offer support and assistance to Nigeria to combat this issue of terrorism. You see, no one country can handle this issue on its own, so it has to be multilateral and multifaceted. And from all our meetings, we’ve received assurances of support to help Nigeria in this new wave, which of course, as you rightly know, is much new to us in Nigeria. But we believe that our government is on top of the situation and they will continue to develop expertise and capability to manage and curtail this new menace that we have.
SECRETARY CLINTON: With respect to your second question, the minister and I had a good discussion of these issues today. I had the opportunity to talk to President Jonathan, as did President Obama, last week at the United Nations General Assembly. We believe strongly, and we have certainly communicated that to the president and the foreign minister, that the only route to a Palestinian state, which we want to see happen, is through negotiations. We know that whatever does or doesn’t happen in the United Nations will not create a state, and our goal is to see two states living side by side in peace and security.
The Quartet statement that was issued last Friday calls for a return to negotiations. We hope that Nigeria, who is a friend of both Israel and to the Palestinians, will tell both of them, get back to the negotiating table, because that’s where the differences must be resolved. It is the only place where we can get a durable and lasting peace, but we have certainly made it clear to all of our friends that we want to see a return to negotiations. Anything which is done that disrupts that or detours that is a postponement of the outcome that we are all seeking.
Thank you all very much.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good afternoon, everyone. And welcome to this inaugural event of a partnership that’s already transforming how governments serve their citizens in the 21st century.
One year ago, at the U.N. General Assembly, I stated a simple truth — that the strongest foundation for human progress lies in open economies, open societies, and in open governments. And I challenged our countries to come back this year with specific commitments to promote transparency, to fight corruption, to energize civic engagement, and to leverage new technologies so we can strengthen the foundations of freedom in our own countries.
Today, we’re joined by nations and organizations from around the world that are answering this challenge. In this Open Government Partnership, I’m pleased to be joined by leaders from the seven other founding nations of this initiative. I especially want to commend my friend, President Rousseff of Brazil, for her leadership in open government and for joining the United States as the first co-chairs of this effort.
We’re joined by nearly 40 other nations who’ve also embraced this challenge, with the goal of joining this partnership next year. And we’re joined by civil society organizations from around the world — groups that not only help hold governments accountable, but who partnered with us and who offer new ideas and help us to make better decisions. Put simply, our countries are stronger when we engage citizens beyond the halls of government. So I welcome our civil society representatives — not as spectators, but as equal partners in this initiative.
This, I believe, is how progress will be achieved in the 21st century — meeting global challenges through global cooperation, across all levels of society. And this is exactly the kind of partnership that we need now, as emerging democracies from Latin America to Africa to Asia are all showing how innovations in open government can help make countries more prosperous and more just; as new generations across the Middle East and North Africa assert the old truth that government exists for the benefit of their people; and as young people everywhere, from teeming cities to remote villages, are logging on, and texting, and tweeting and demanding government that is just as fast, just as smart, just as accountable.
This is the moment that we must meet. These are the expectations that we must fulfill. And now we see governments around the world meeting this challenge, including many represented here today. Countries from Mexico to Turkey to Liberia have passed laws guaranteeing citizens the right to information. From Chile to Kenya to the Philippines, civil society groups are giving citizens new tools to report corruption. From Tanzania to Indonesia — and as I saw firsthand during my visit to India — rural villages are organizing and making their voices heard, and getting the public services that they need. Governments from Brazil to South Africa are putting more information online, helping people hold public officials accountable for how they spend taxpayer dollars.
Here in the United States, we’ve worked to make government more open and responsive than ever before. We’ve been promoting greater disclosure of government information, empowering citizens with new ways to participate in their democracy. We are releasing more data in usable forms on health and safety and the environment, because information is power, and helping people make informed decisions and entrepreneurs turn data into new products, they create new jobs. We’re also soliciting the best ideas from our people in how to make government work better. And around the world, we’re standing up for freedom to access information, including a free and open Internet.
Today, the eight founding nations of our partnership are going even further — agreeing to an Open Government Declaration rooted in several core principles. We pledge to be more transparent at every level — because more information on government activity should be open, timely, and freely available to the people. We pledge to engage more of our citizens in decision-making — because it makes government more effective and responsive. We pledge to implement the highest standards of integrity — because those in power must serve the people, not themselves. And we pledge to increase access to technology — because in this digital century, access to information is a right that is universal.
Next, to put these principles into practice, every country that seeks to join this partnership will work with civil society groups to develop an action plan of specific commitments. Today, the United States is releasing our plan, which we are posting on the White House website and at OpenGovPartnership.org.
Among our commitments, we’re launching a new online tool — called “We the People” — to allow Americans to directly petition the White House, and we’ll share that technology so any government in the world can enable its citizens to do the same. We’ve develop new tools — called “smart disclosures” — so that the data we make public can help people make health care choices, help small businesses innovate, and help scientists achieve new breakthroughs.
We’ll work to reform and expand protections for whistleblowers who expose government waste, fraud and abuse. And we’re continuing our leadership of the global effort against corruption, by building on legislation that now requires oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose the payments that foreign governments demand of them.
Today, I can announce that the United States will join the global initiative in which these industries, governments and civil society, all work together for greater transparency so that taxpayers receive every dollar they’re due from the extraction of natural resources.
So these are just some of the steps that we’re taking. And today is just the beginning of a partnership that will only grow — as Secretary Clinton leads our effort on behalf of the United States, as these nearly 40 nations develop their own commitments, as we share and learn from each other and build the next generation of tools to empower our citizens and serve them better.
So that’s the purpose of open government. And I believe that’s the essence of democracy. That’s the commitment to which we’re committing ourselves here today. And I thank all of you for joining us as we meet this challenge together.
I want to thank you very much for your participation. And with that, I would like to turn over the chair to my co-chair, President Rousseff.
It is an honor as the 2011 APEC Anti-Corruption and Transparency (ACT) Working Group Chair to co-host this workshop with Rodrigo Roque, the APEC Intellectual Property Experts Group (IPEG) Chair.
Over the years, the ACT, IPEG, and other APEC sub-fora have been pathfinders in developing innovative cross-fora approaches to addressing numerous illicit trade issues that are important to APEC economies. Earlier this year at the APEC SOM I meetings, for example, we partnered to advance a dialogue on combating counterfeit medicines and other cross-border illicit threats that impact our economies, especially in areas where they threaten human health and safety.
Corruption and illicit trade are not only barriers to the integrated commercial, transportation, and transactional systems that facilitate free trade and the movement of people throughout legitimate markets, but they also weaken the entrepreneurial spirit that nurtures innovation, openness, and competitiveness and contributes to prosperous economies. Indeed, combating corruption and promoting good governance nurtures the overall business climate and promotes cleaner and more dynamic sectors.
Illicit market actors easily navigate between licit and illicit worlds, investing in legitimate industry and integrating themselves into communities, where they erode supply chain integrity and destabilize institutions through bribery, coercion, and corruption. In some cases, they even establish themselves as seemingly altruistic providers of security and basic services.
Criminal entrepreneurs and illicit networks also engage in bribery, fraud, and violence to corrupt or intimidate vital government institutions in order to gain the upper hand against competitive business. This cycle distort our markets, damaging the ability of legitimate firms to compete, and drives some legitimate small- and medium-sized enterprises out of the market in the APEC region.
In the case of counterfeit or falsified medicines, medical products, and other dangerous counterfeits and defective and tainted products, illicit trade imperils the safety of our people and shakes confidence across our markets. Fake medicines often contain inactive or toxic ingredients than can increase drug resistance, prolong patients’ suffering, and even cause death. The “entrepreneurs” behind these counterfeits and other illicit activities are rapacious opportunists who profit from the low level of risk for this type of criminal activity where regulatory and enforcement structures are weak or ill equipped to address this challenge.
In our fight against the spread of counterfeit medicines, APEC economies must work together and with the private sector and other stakeholder interests not only to investigate and prosecute the illicit actors who produce and distribute counterfeits, but to ensure that all communities have access to safe and effective medicines.
Excising corruption and illicit trade from the global market for goods and services requires all market actors—from businesses to governments to consumers—to act in harmony to restore supply chain control to legitimate businesses that have both the greatest knowledge of their supply chains and the greatest stake in their integrity. We applaud our growing partnership with the private sector and other stakeholders across APEC sub-fora to develop a full-spectrum approach to combating illicit trade that targets not only actors, but also the economic, political, and legal conditions that enable them to operate.
Today’s Workshop on Investigating and Prosecuting Corruption and Illicit Trade: Stemming the Flows of Counterfeits and Dismantling Illicit Networks continues to build upon the partnership we began at SOM 1 and is a model for what we hope will be many more vibrant partnerships across APEC sub-fora to combat corruption and illicit trade and plug vulnerabilities in supply chains and markets.
We can no longer allow illicit criminal networks to hijack our prosperity and twist the globalized value chain. We cannot allow our businesses to experience a loss of profits, a loss of brand identity and reputation, diminished product quality, stifled innovation, and other harmful economic consequences. APEC economies risk an increasingly unstable investment climate, weaker governance structures, and less transparent communities.
The United States is committed to working with our APEC partners in government, the private sector, and other stakeholders to develop communities of vigilance that will promote greater integrity at every step of the supply chain and to ensure that only quality products enter our markets. We must ensure integrity throughout the complex web of producers, manufacturers, re-packagers and distributors, from raw materials to finished products.
As U.S. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg underscored in March 2011 at our APEC SOM I dialogue on this issue in calling for us do everything that we can to prevent the entry of counterfeit, substandard or adulterated medical products into homes and health care facilities in our countries: “[a] supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the proliferation of additional handlers, suppliers and middlemen creates new points of entry through which contaminated, and otherwise falsified medicinal products can infiltrate the legitimate medical products supply.” We must dismantle illicit trade networks at every link in tainted supply chains and prosecute criminal entrepreneurs who arbitrage weak and corrupt law enforcement systems and exploit internal border controls for illicit gain.
On July 25th, 2011, the White House released the Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime. Breaking the corruptive power of transnational illicit networks globally is a key objective for the United States and we will work with international partners to attack the financial underpinnings of transnational criminal organizations; strip them of their illicit wealth; and sever their access to the financial system. In targeting illicit entrepreneurs and illicit networks that pose grave threats to our citizens’ safety—including those that sell and distribute substandard, tainted, and harmful counterfeits—we will also expose criminal activities hidden behind legitimate fronts and protect strategic markets, as well as the integrity of the global financial system.
Combined with a follow-up training, collaboration, and best practices initiative for APEC member economies’ law enforcement, this workshop is the first in a set of deliverables that is intended to promote the development of a harmonized approach to illicit trade and corruption in the APEC region.
Law enforcement tools such as the Illicit Trade Unit (ITU) that will be discussed by the United States will assist with detecting corruption, customs fraud, and counterfeits and can also positively contribute to our efforts to mitigate vulnerabilities, dismantle transnational illicit networks, and strengthen overall market resilience to thwart future threats at every phase of interconnected supply chains.
The presenters at this workshop will build on the themes that emerged in March 2011 at the APEC Dialogue on Corruption and Illicit Trade: Combating Counterfeit Medicines and Strengthening Supply Chain Integrity. I hope that our discussion today will help shape the deliverables that we would like to present to our Senior Officials and Leaders as we work our way to the APEC Summit in November.
Please allow me now to introduce Rodrigo Roque, the APEC Intellectual Property Experts Group (IPEG) Chair to deliver some brief remarks. Thank you.