(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.
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.
(As prepared for delivery at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Session 9)
Democratic elections are not just about how polling is conducted on Election Day. It is possible for the process to be technically smooth on Election Day, but for the election not to be free or fair because the overall conditions for participation, competition, transparency, and accountability are not present. In other words, what happens in the run-up to the election and what happens after Election Day are often as important, if not more so, in determining whether or not an election meets OSCE standards as the balloting alone.
The pre-election environment, including respect for the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly, and expression, is a critical component of any election. The legal framework is also crucial, including the composition of the election administration, the registration process for candidates and political parties, voter registration and broader citizen participation, as well as media access. In the OSCE region we’ve seen too many elections—especially in countries without a democratic tradition—in which electoral commissions at all levels are stacked in favor of the authorities, access by opposition candidates to the media is grossly limited or non-existent, opposition candidates or parties are harassed, intimidated, or worse, and citizen participation is subverted by disenfranchisement, inaccurate voter registries and/or barriers to observing electoral processes. In some countries, genuine opposition parties or candidates simply do not exist. This fundamentally undermines the purpose of an election, notwithstanding how smooth voting day might go.
The post-election environment is equally important. An independent and impartial adjudication system, including a judiciary, must exist and function properly in order to address complaints or appeals. Competing candidates—and voters most of all—must have sufficient confidence in the system to respect the results, even if they are not happy about who won. Among other things, this requires that the precepts of open government be applied through electoral transparency that allows citizen monitoring of electoral processes and the presence of international observers.
No election process is ever one hundred percent perfect, and imperfections will be magnified in particularly close races. What is important is that there is a legitimate and accepted process to address these challenges in a fair and transparent way.
In Kazakhstan, constitutional changes in 2007 exempted the current president from term limits. The constitution was changed again hastily last January in order to allow the presidential election to be held early and quickly, giving any potential rivals little time to prepare. Party registration remains a problem in Kazakhstan; for example, the Alga Party has tried unsuccessfully to register for years. Restrictions on freedom of assembly also hinder chances for free and fair elections. These shortcomings, detailed in ODIHR’s final report on the April 3 presidential election, need to be addressed before parliamentary elections next year.
Turkmenistan remains the only OSCE participating State that officially has a one-party system. Over the past couple of years, President Berdimukhamedov has said repeatedly that a second party might be registered; more recently he said that independent candidates may be allowed to participate in the presidential election early next year. While we would welcome any opening of political space in Turkmenistan, it is vital that parties and political movements should be allowed to develop freely, and not be created or managed by the existing regime.
Looking ahead at elections that will come up within the next year, we see some areas in which an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure. In Ukraine, the draft election law has raised some questions about shortcomings in the electoral law process. It is my delegation’s hope that the Ministry of Justice’s Electoral Working Group includes voices from across the political spectrum and that, as the law is about to go to parliament, passage only take place after consultation with interested political parties and civil society through an open, participatory and inclusive process; in short, we hope for greater inclusiveness during the electoral reform process. This is especially important against the backdrop of Ukraine’s October 31, 2010, local elections, which compared unfavorably to the five democratic elections held since the flawed November 2004 presidential elections which sparked the Orange Revolution.
The refusal of Russian authorities to register the People’s Freedom Party in June caused us concern. The right to hold free, fair and competitive elections is a universal principle that the Russian Government has repeatedly endorsed, and this includes endorsement of the principle of allowing genuine political competition with fair ballot access rules that are applied impartially. It is hard to understand how the Parnas decision is consistent with Russia’s international commitments or statements by its leaders. My delegation hopes that the registration will be reconsidered, and we urge the Government of Russian Federation to recommit itself to democratic principles, including equal access to media and freedom of citizens to seek, receive and impart information about elections through activities of citizen election monitoring organizations. Otherwise citizens are denied their rightful participation in shaping the future of their own country. In addition, citizens must be permitted to exercise their right to freedom of assembly in support of all candidates and issues.
As part of assisting participating States in implementing their commitments to hold free and fair elections, the OSCE has developed a strong election monitoring capability. Moreover, OSCE expertise goes well beyond simply monitoring the election process, it also offers assistance through the recommendations it submits to a country following elections, as well as legislative analysis and technical training. In fact, the OSCE’s methodology has become the guiding example for international election observation. The ODIHR’s well-deserved reputation of election observation is directly attributable to its objective criteria. The OSCE ODIHR/Parliamentary Assembly partnership gives the Organization unique capabilities which can provide OSCE participating States with a perspective on elections available through no other mechanism.
The United States strongly supports OSCE election observation. We welcome OSCE observation of our own elections. We are prepared to welcome observers from the OSCE and any appropriate private institutions and organizations, as provided in the Copenhagen Document, in numbers they desire and with only such restrictions that promote effective observation, in keeping with the spirit of paragraph 24 of the Copenhagen Document. We also believe that follow-up to the recommendations made by the observer mission is very important. After all, the OSCE can assist us by monitoring our elections, but the ultimate responsibility for holding free and fair elections belongs to the participating States. The United States continues to work to address issues raised by the OSCE with us, including discussing with our state election authorities how to provide better access to OSCE observers for the polling process. We plan to continue to discuss such issues, and have invited the OSCE to come to Washington for a follow-up discussion of the final report and recommendations on our elections last year. We urge all other OSCE States to do the same.
(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.
We are deeply disturbed by the sentencing today of 20 medical professionals by the National Safety Court in Bahrain. We understand that the cases can be appealed and transferred to a civilian appellate court. We continue to urge the Bahraini Government to abide by its commitment to transparent judicial proceedings, including a fair trial, access to attorneys, and verdicts based on credible evidence conducted in full accordance with Bahraini law and Bahrain’s international legal obligations.
We are also concerned about trials of civilians, including medical personnel, in military courts and the fairness of those proceedings. We have repeatedly shared our position regarding Bahrain’s judicial proceedings with the highest levels of the Bahraini Government.
We call on the Government of Bahrain and all citizens to create a climate conducive for reconciliation, meaningful dialogue, and reform that, as President Obama said on September 21, will bring peaceful change that is responsive to the aspirations of all Bahrainis.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. It is a great pleasure to welcome the foreign minister here to the State Department for our first official bilateral meeting. We’ve spoken on the phone several times during these last few months, we’ve seen each other at large multilateral meetings, but there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting. So I am very pleased we had the opportunity to discuss a range of issues, and I expressed our very strong support for Egypt’s ongoing democratic transition.
It is clear that Egypt’s leadership in the Arab world and in the region and beyond is key to regional progress. And I was very pleased that Egypt has recognized the Transitional National Council in Libya. I think there is a lot of opportunity for cross-border cooperation. I was also very pleased that the minister has reiterated Egypt’s support for the Camp David Accords, which is essential for stability and, of course, essential for Egypt’s growth, prosperity, and peaceful transition.
We discussed a number of our joint priorities, and I’d like to recognize the work of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has been an institution of stability and continuity. The Egyptian people look to the Supreme Council to support the transition and to ensure that the elections go in a very positive way that provides transparency, freedom, and fairness.
And we fully support the Egyptian people in their journey. We are looking forward to the parliamentary elections this fall, the upper house in parliament, the presidential elections to follow. But we’re well aware, having been working at our own democracy for over 230 years, that this takes time. This takes persistence and patience, and it’s often hard to have the latter in a time when there’s so much pent-up demand and hope for a better future. So we look to being a strong partner for the Egyptian people.
We are also looking to implement, through the Congress, the $1 billion debt swap that President Obama announced in May. Rather than making interest payments on a debt, the Egyptian people can invest that money into new projects that create jobs and give them a better standard of living.
We’re also working on launching a network of community colleges in Egypt that would provide training for Egyptians to be able to take advantage of the investment opportunities that we hope will come to Egypt. Egypt has the largest market and the largest workforce in the Arab world. In fact, Citibank released a study earlier this year suggesting that with smart investment in its people and its political and economic systems, Egypt could become one of the top ten economies in the world. And I believe that, Minister. I really do. It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but it is absolutely possible.
So we’re going to be focused on trade, investment, on the new Middle East Trade and Investment Partnership, to help Egypt gain even greater access to global markets. The Enterprise Fund that we are seeking to establish, the ongoing work of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, are all intended to provide support for what Egyptians themselves are doing.
And it is going to be a very important couple of months for the people of Egypt. I will be giving an interview tomorrow to an Egyptian radio host and taking this message and sending it out to millions of Egyptians that the United States stands with you and supports you and wants to see a prosperous, peaceful, exciting future for not only Egypt but the entire region.
Thank you, Minister.
FOREIGN MINISTER AMR: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. As you said, we’ve been on the phone many times before, but this is the first time we have such an extended, face-to-face meeting, and it really was a pleasure.
I am pleased to be here today representing Egypt post 25th January revolution. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to have this round of talks with you. Egypt and the United States have enjoyed a longtime friendship and partnership. The United States assisted Egypt in many ways in its development and it continues do so, and we are sure that our cooperation and our friendship will only strengthen in the future. Both our countries have worked in the past for peace and stability in the Middle East and beyond, and we will continue to do that.
As you know, Egypt now is in the middle of a transitional period. During this period, we look forward to the solidarity and goodwill of all our partners. It is our expectation that our friends in the United States will demonstrate their commitment, as usual, to this partnership, and I am pleased to say that I have heard from the Secretary such a commitment explicitly today.
I have discussed with the Secretary a number of issues of mutual interest. Of course, bilateral issues were paramount in our discussion, but we also touched upon regional issues. Of course, the Palestinian issue came up, and I think we believe that negotiations should resume as soon as possible between Israelis and Palestinians with clear terms of reference and with a clearly defined timeline. Israeli illegal settlement activities continue to be an impediment in the road for peace, and we would like to see them stop. Our region is going through deep change and delicate times. Egypt and the United States will need to continue to work hand in hand in order to ensure that our peoples benefit from the opportunities that these changes bring.
Again, I’d like to thank you, Madam Secretary, for your warm reception, kind words, and frank and useful exchange of view. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Minister.
FOREIGN MINISTER AMR: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: My pleasure.
MS. NULAND: We have time for two questions from each side today. The first question is from Reuters, Arshad Mohammed.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, a week ago today, the Egyptian army said that the emergency law would remain in force until the end of June 2012. That’s exactly the timeline that was outlined when President Mubarak was in power. Is its extension for another nine months acceptable to the United States?
And Mr. Minister, can you explain to us how it was that that Egyptian security forces were not able to protect the Israeli Embassy when it was attacked some weeks ago?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Arshad, we have encouraged and continued to encourage the government to lift the state of emergency. The Supreme Council has said that it will be in a position to do so in 2012. We hope to see the law lifted sooner than that, because we think that is an important step on the way to the rule of law, to the kind of system of checks and balances that are important in protecting the rights of the Egyptian people, to create the context for free and democratic elections, and we want to see this as soon as possible. We have discussed this repeatedly, and we will continue to raise it.
And I know you asked the minister to comment on the attack on September 9th against the Israeli Embassy, but I want personally to thank the minister and thank the high officials of the Egyptian Government who were very responsive to our outreach. I reached the minister at 2:30 in the morning. He was on an airplane before that, and I certainly can attest to the fact that the officials in Egypt moved to remedy the problems that existed.
FOREIGN MINISTER AMR: Yes. That attack on the – or the incident with the – involving the Israeli Embassy in Cairo was quite unfortunate, and I think it was condemned by all responsible parties in Egypt at the time. We made it very clear that Egypt respects its commitment under the Vienna 1961 Treaty on diplomatic relations. We made it clear that we are committed to protect any mission on our soil and the personnel working in them. If you remember, actually, we – that the army was very careful to see that all the personnel that wanted to leave left in – I mean, under the guard of the army. No one was hurt; we made sure that everyone was safe, and I think we were very clear in just reiterating our commitments to the protection of any mission and personnel.
MS. NULAND: Next question from (inaudible).
QUESTION: I have two questions, one about Egypt and one about the Palestinian and Israeli issue. About Egypt, I wonder if there is some more on light on the performance of the transition in Egypt and how the military council is responding. How do you assess this? Because it is very difficult conditions prevailing Egypt and anybody else or any authority will suffer a lot to govern this.
For the Palestinian issue, I want to – negotiation is the best way to – this is the United States stance. And this is very good, but there must be terms of reference, as the foreign minister said, and something to be abiding – they have to abide by – there must be a certain time they have to come to a conclusion over this term. Is there a possibly for arbitration as the end of the road, the last thing to hope. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Excellent questions. Let me start with the first one and say that we are very supportive of the steps that have been taken in Egypt to establish a timetable for elections, to create the conditions that permit the elections to proceed, the formation of political parties, for example, a lot of free and diverse opinion being expressed. The invitation to international witnesses we think is a very important step. So we have a lot of experience around the world in helping countries that are moving to democracy, most recently after the fall of the Berlin Wall in parts – other parts of the world as well.
And I know that people in Egypt are very anxious, because this is a right they wish to exercise. But I think if one takes a step back and looks at how rapidly this has moved, it’s quite remarkable. And the elections that are upcoming in the next several months should produce an outcome that will set the stage for a new constitution, for the presidential elections. And we think that’s an appropriate timetable. We want to do all we can to support those who are trying to make sure these elections are viewed as free and fair and legitimate.
I also know that the economic challenges in Egypt are significant, and we are urging our Congress to work with us to move the aid that President Obama announced as quickly as possible, and we are urging other donors who have made commitments to Egypt to also move. Because the revolution that occurred, which was so important, did disrupt economic activity. And I was pleased when the minister told me tourism is returning, investment is returning, but there’s more to be done to create jobs and more prosperity. So I think on both the political and the economic tracks, progress is being made, but it’s never fast enough and it needs to keep moving, but be done right, not to be detoured or diverted.
With respect to your question about the negotiations, the Quartet statement that came out last week referenced President Obama’s speech of May, where he clearly said there needs to be negotiations about territory that he said had to be reflective of the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps; there had to be negotiations on security so that there could be an agreement about how you could transition security.
I mean, one of the most important parts of the Camp David Accords was an agreement on security. And it’s one that has, I think, served both Egypt and Israel well to protect your sovereignty, your borders, avoid conflicts. And it was very regrettable about the loss of life of the Egyptian soldiers, which I have expressed to the minister, which is why the security cooperation has to continue. But there has to be similar agreements about security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians.
So I think that the most important terms of reference are there. If there were an agreement on borders, then there would be no more controversy about settlements, because everybody would know what side of the border is for Palestine and what side is for Israel.
So I think that there’s no shortcut to this. We have to urge the parties to put aside their reluctance or their distrust and begin the hard work of negotiating. And Egypt, the United States, the Quartet, everyone will stand prepared to put pressure on both sides to try to move toward a settlement of the outstanding issues.
MS. NULAND: The next question, CNN, Jill Dougherty.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, hello.
SECRETARY CLINTON: How are you?
QUESTION: Good to see you again. This week, Admiral Mullen called the Haqqani Network a veritable arm of Pakistan’s ISI. Do you share that assessment? And of course, Pakistanis are very angry about this. How are you dealing with the blowback on that?
And just a very quick thing on – you’re in the process of deciding whether or not to list the Haqqani Network as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. How far are you down that path?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, first, as you may know, I had a very long meeting with Pakistan’s foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, a week ago Sunday. And we discussed the urgency in the wake of the attack on our Embassy in Kabul and on the NATO-ISAF Headquarters for us to confront the threat posed by the Haqqani Network. It was certainly a threat to the United States, but it was also a threat to Pakistan, to Afghanistan, and to anyone who stands against terrorism.
And I think that you will see a lot of work taking place as we try to determine how best to confront this mutual threat. And it’s important to realize that while it’s not always easy, the United States and Pakistan have vital strategic interests that converge in the fight against terrorism. And Pakistan faces a very real threat. They have suffered far more casualties, civilians and military alike. It is their mosques and markets and police stations and homes that have been bombed and attacked.
And so we are committed to working with Pakistan to confront this threat, and we’ve had a lot of tangible results from our cooperation. I mean, most recently the Pakistanis helped to roll up al-Qaida’s number two. They have been helping us continue to dismantle the al-Qaida network that is inside Pakistan. So I have no argument with anyone who says this is a very difficult and complex relationship, because it is. But I also believe strongly that we have to work together despite those difficulties.
And with respect to the Haqqani Network, we are in the final formal review that has to be undertaken to make a government-wide decision to designate the network as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. But remember, we’ve already designated the key leaders. We have already – I did that some time ago to make it clear that the leaders of this organization fell under the Foreign Terrorist designation. So we’re going to continue to struggle against terrorism, and in particular against those who have taken up safe havens inside Pakistan. And we’re going to continue to work with our Pakistani counterparts to try to root them out and prevent them from attacking Pakistanis, Americans, Afghans, or anyone else.
MS. NULAND: Last question, Al-Ahram (inaudible).
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Al-Ahram newspaper. My question to Secretary Clinton: There is a discussion in Congress now about the U.S. aid to Egypt, and some people, especially now in the Senate, are trying to impose some conditionality on the aid. What’s your – the State Department position on this issue?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We are against conditionality, and I conveyed our position to the minister. We will be working very hard with the Congress to convince the Congress that that is not the best approach to take. We believe that the longstanding relationship between the United States and Egypt is of paramount importance to both of us. We support the democratic transition, and we don’t want to do anything that in any way draws into question our relationship or our support.
We also believe that the army has played a very stabilizing, important role during this period, and you can see what happens when you either don’t have an institution like the institutions that Egypt has, including an army, and you’ve seen what happens when the army is not on the side of the people. Well, Egypt’s strong institutions, longstanding respect for the army, and the role the army played was absolutely critical for the revolution.
So we’re going to make that case very strongly, and I want to be sure that Egyptians know that the Obama Administration opposes conditionality and do not believe that’s in the best interest of our relationship.
Good morning. Thank you Alfred, for your generous hospitality today as we celebrate this momentous occasion: the formal launch of the Open Government Partnership. It’s wonderful to be here.
I especially want to thank Ginny Hunt, Michelle Rosen-Sapir, Phase One Consulting, and Julie McCarthy for putting together this top-notch event. We have a full day of the finest minds and people in this space, all of whom are in high-demand, not to mention during the UN General Assembly week. So it’s an honor to have you with us. I especially want to recognize and welcome President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines. Thank you for being here.
As you have heard, I am Maria Otero, the United States Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, and I have the pleasure of serving as co-chair of the Open Government Partnership with Minister Jorge Hage of Brazil.
Today is a big day for us. Just one year ago, President Obama called on governments around the world to recommit to transparency and accountability, to increase civic engagement, and to harness new technologies in the pursuit of better governance and a better world.
And one year later, the steering committee of the Open Government Partnership welcomes no less than thirty eight countries as they join us in stretching the limits of government in twenty first century.
Let me just say that again; because I think it’s remarkable. Thirty eight governments—in addition to the eight founding countries of OGP—have committed not only to open government in name and theory but also in action. Forty six total governments that, with the help of civil society and the private sector, will take concrete steps to make their governments work better, respond better, and serve better.
The really phenomenal point — even beyond the sheer number of countries — is that they have signed up voluntarily, entirely out of appreciation for OGP’s founding premise — that open is good for all of us.
We are seeing this around the world:
Technology and social media are opening communications channels, increasing awareness and dialogue in every corridor of society.
Open source innovations are introducing new solutions to old bureaucracies, resulting in more access and knowledge between a government and its people.
And as we know, information is power. In the hands of citizens and officials alike, open information can mean change and progress.
Thanks to the leadership of OGP’s steering committee—many of whom are in this room—we are setting a new example for governments around the world.
We are demonstrating by our commitment to the OGP declaration—launching today on our new website—that openness can help us do our jobs better in serving and responding to our people.
We have crafted ambitious action plans grounded in concrete steps and informed by civil society. These plans will continue to evolve, but I can tell you that they are already making governments think, talk and act in new ways.
We have told the world about what we’re doing—and the world has responded. This afternoon, we will welcome those thirty eight countries to OGP not just in their commitment to open government but in their promise to work with civil society to develop their own plans towards greater openness.
Governance will never be simple or easy. But good governance should the foundation upon which we address the world’s problems. Today, with the launch of the Open Government Partnership, we embrace openness as one lever to our success, and we do so in the good company of those of you in this room.
So, thank you for your support and for your ideas. I wish you the best today and look forward to hearing from our distinguished panelists and speakers.
Now, it is my pleasure to turn it over to my co-chair, Minister Jorge Hage, Comptroller General of Brazil and lifelong advocate of transparency anti-corruption causes.
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.
“In all parts of the world, we see the promise of innovation to make government more open and accountable. And now, we must build on that progress. And when we gather back here next year, we should bring specific commitments to promote transparency; to fight corruption; to energize civic engagement; to leverage new technologies so that we strengthen the foundations of freedom in our own countries, while living up to the ideals that can light the world.”
–President Obama, September 23, 2010
In his address to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2010, President Obama spoke of open economies, open societies, and open governments as the “strongest foundation for human progress.” He recognized that the work of strengthening democratic government requires sustained commitment, and that countries around the world are taking innovative steps to better serve the people they represent. He issued a challenge to the leaders assembled in New York to gather together again in September of 2011 with specific commitments and plans of action to promote transparency, fight corruption, energize civil society, and to leverage new technologies.
Answering the Call
Responding to the President’s challenge, a group of governments and civil society organizations spanning the globe have come together to form the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a new multilateral initiative that supports national efforts to promote transparency, fight corruption, strengthen accountability, and empower citizens. At the core of the Partnership is a commitment from participating countries to undertake meaningful new steps as part of a concrete action plan, developed and implemented in close consultation with their citizens.
Led in its first year by the United States and Brazil, OGP is a unique partnership with a steering committee composed of governments (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and civil society organizations (Africa Center for Open Governance (Kenya), Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (Brazil), Instituto Mexicano para la Competitividad (Mexico), International Budget Partnership (international), MKSS (India), National Security Archive (U.S.), Revenue Watch Institute (international), Transparency and Accountability Initiative (international), and Twaweza (Tanzania)).
The Launch of the Open Government Partnership
Today in New York, President Obama and President Rousseff hosted the formal launch of OGP at an event with Heads of State and senior officials from 46 countries. The high-level meeting focused attention on the shared challenge of improving governance, and demonstrated a strong political commitment around the world to the kinds of reforms necessary to enhance transparency, fight corruption, and strengthen mechanisms of democratic accountability.
The eight founding governments embraced an Open Government Declaration in which they pledged to advance the core principles of open government. And each government presented an action plan with concrete commitments to put the principles of the Declaration into practice.
The Partnership also welcomed the commitment of the following 38 governments to join OGP and deliver their own action plans in Brazil in March 2012: Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Peru, the Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Tanzania, Turkey, Ukraine, and Uruguay.
Each of these countries has already demonstrated a commitment to open government across four key areas – fiscal and budget transparency, freedom of information, asset disclosures for public officials, and citizen engagement – and published a formal letter of intent to participate.
The Open Government Declaration
The Declaration is a high-level political statement by the leaders of the eight founding governments of the value of openness, and their commitment to:
Promote openness, because more information about governmental activities should be timely and freely available to people;
Engage citizens in decision-making, because this makes government more innovative and responsive;
Implement the highest standards of professional integrity, because those in power must serve the people and not themselves; and
Increase access to new technologies because of their unprecedented potential to help people realize their aspirations for access to information and a more powerful voice in how they are governed.
Eight Action Plans
Today, as part of the formal launch, the eight founding governments delivered action plans pledging new commitments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness the power of new technologies. Each action plan contains detailed commitments in a wide variety of areas, developed by governments in consultation with citizens. Among the highlights, the action plans include commitments to promote:
Effective management of natural resources revenues: The United States will join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) as an implementing country – forging a new partnership between government and industry to ensure that taxpayers receive every dollar they are due from the extraction of our natural resources. (You can view the full U.S. National Action Plan here.)
Delivering public information: Brazil will develop several activities toward increasing active transparency and open data, including restructuring the Transparency Portal and launching the Brazil Open Data Portal, in order to converge to the appropriate environment for future enactment of the Access to Information Law.
Gender equality: Norway will promote gender equality and women’s full participation in civic life, the private sector, public administration and political processes, including by: following up the recommendations of the government white paper on equal pay; launching an effort to have more women apply for top posts in the private sector; and undertaking an initiative to strengthen the role of women in local democracy and develop a gender equality program with all municipalities.
Open data: The United Kingdom will promote improvements in outcomes and accountability in the public sector by transforming the rights of citizens to obtain data from public authorities and establishing standards and frameworks to embed a culture of transparency in the UK.
Citizen participation: The Philippines will extend participatory budgeting across the government to 12 government departments and 6 government corporations by 2012; establish an empowerment fund to support bottom-up involvement in development planning and budgeting; and institutionalize social audits as a tool for monitoring the implementation of public infrastructure projects.
Service delivery: South Africa will enhance the capacity and capabilities of communities to access and claim their socio-economic rights through the roll-out of national public education campaigns and set up “Service Delivery Improvement Forums” in all nine provinces to provide timely citizen report cards on service delivery at the community level.
Public integrity: Indonesia will pursue an ambitious effort to bring greater transparency to range of critical areas that have been sources of corruption in the public sector, with commitments to publish basic information and performance data for the police and public prosecution service, the tax court, the immigration office, the customs office, and the land administration office. They will also increase the transparency of civil service recruitment.
Government transparency: Mexico will increase the publication of socially useful information in four key areas – budget allocation, security, education, and telecommunications – in order to strengthen public integrity and public participation, and to enhance the oversight of performance in the education sector to improve educational quality.
The Domestic Open Government Initiative
In addition to committing to implement EITI, among the highlights of the U.S. National Action Plan:
The White House recently announced the launch of the “We the People” petition platform to give Americans a direct line to voice their concerns to the Administration via online petitions. In addition, the White House plans to publish the source code of the recently announced “We the People” petition platform so that it is available to any government around the world that seeks to solicit and respond to the concerns of the public. This will foster greater participation in government.
The Administration will launch a platform called ExpertNet that will enable government officials to better communicate with citizens who have expertise on a pertinent topic. It will give members of the public an opportunity to participate in a public consultation relevant to their areas of interest and knowledge, and allow officials to pose questions to and interact with the public in order to receive useful and relevant feedback. ExpertNet will foster greater collaboration within government.
The Administration will continue work on a new civil service personnel category (or job series) for officials who specialize in administering FOIA and other information programs. It is important to recognize the professional nature of the work done by those administering FOIA. In addition, the Administration will expand the use of technology to achieve greater efficiencies in FOIA administration, including utilization of technology to assist in searching for and processing records.
Recently, Congress nearly enacted legislation that would eliminate loopholes in existing whistleblower protections, provide protections for employees in the intelligence community, and create pilot programs to explore potential structural reforms in the remedial process. The Administration will continue to work with Congress to enact this legislation. But if Congress remains deadlocked, the Administration will explore options for utilizing executive branch authority to strengthen and expand whistleblower protections.
The Administration will launch an initiative that will recommend reforms and require reporting on current records management policies and practices. The initiative will consider changes to existing laws and ask how technology can be leveraged to improve records management while making it cost-effective. The initiative will seek a reformed, digital-era, governmentwide records management framework that promotes accountability and performance.
Brazil 2012 and Beyond
Six months from now, on March 5th and 6th, 2012, Brazil will host the second high-level meeting of OGP. A group of countries – including the 38 who expressed their formal intent to participate today – will endorse the Open Government Declaration and deliver their own action plans to strengthen the pillars of open and accountable government.
The founding governments are committed to continuing the Partnership beyond Brazil, with commitments from the United Kingdom, Indonesia, and Mexico to chair the effort in subsequent years. OGP will work actively to expand the ranks of participating countries, engage civil society and the private sector, and to help countries deliver meaningful reforms that increase government accountability, effectiveness, and efficiency.
Good morning, everyone.
Thank you for joining us here in San Francisco for the Third APEC Senior Officials Meeting (SOM 3) of the year and the 13th APEC Anti-Corruption & Transparency Experts Working Group (ACT) meeting. The United States is honored to be the Chair of the ACT this year, and I extend a warm welcome to all the delegates and international-organization-representatives here this week.
The ACT has been instrumental in carrying-out the mandate from our leaders to strengthen efforts to combat corruption and illicit trade and improve governance, and the U.S. is committed to building on the ACT’s achievements to date to further our collective interests in ensuring free, open, transparent and prosperous economies. As recognized by our leaders, corruption is a serious threat to greater prosperity and development in the Asia-Pacific region and demands our ongoing commitment, cooperation, and creativity.
I would like to begin this meeting by quickly reviewing what we accomplished in SOM 1 in March 2011 in Washington, D.C., then share some thoughts on where we are going and what we hope to accomplish in the coming months in advance of the APEC Leaders Summit that will be held in Hawaii, November 8-13, 2011.
Accomplishments from SOM 1
First, as evident in the ACT’s new name, the Steering Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation approved our proposal to upgrade the ACT from a task force to a working group during SOM 1. As a result, the ACT is now institutionalized as a permanent body within APEC.
I would like to thank all ACT members and their senior officials for their support in realizing this important APEC milestone. This achievement enables us to make and implement longer-term action plans that more effectively confront the pervasive, long-term nature of corruption and ensure cleaner, more open governments and enhanced integrity in markets and supply chains.
The ACT also continued to enhance our partnerships with other APEC sub-fora during SOM 1 by hosting a dialogue on counterfeit medicines, addressing corruption and supply chain integrity in a sector that dramatically affects the health and welfare of citizens in the Asia-Pacific region. Our ongoing partnerships with ABAC, IPEG, and other APEC sub-fora will help us to ensure better cross-disciplinary and inter-regional cooperation among experts, as well as to ensure that ACT activities are more fully aligned and integrated with APEC’s core mission, including the strengthening of regional economic integration and lasting benefits for are all of our people.
The ACT also appreciates our growing partnership and synergies with our international organizations, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Anticorruption Academy (IACA), the Organization of American States (OAS), INTERPOL, Transparency International (TI), and others.
In addition, the ACT adopted an ambitious 2011 work plan, as well as a five-year strategy that includes the Yokohama Leaders’ commitment for each economy to report on its implementation of APEC anti-corruption commitments. We will be adopting the reporting template this week and begin our comprehensive reporting on the various APEC anticorruption commitments and actions in 2012 and 2013.
We can all be proud of what the ACT has accomplished to date, and I commend each of my colleagues within the ACT for your hard work and commitment to make anticorruption efforts a priority within APEC and to promote transparency and accountability within your respective economies.
Combating Corruption and Illicit Enrichment: Clean and Open Governments
Now, as everyone in this room is well aware, corruption and bribery impede economic growth, trade and investment; compromise markets and supply chain integrity; weaken the entrepreneurial spirit; and also erode citizens’ trust in one another and in their government. In the absence of transparency, corruption indeed flourishes.
Collective action—on the part of governments, the private sector, and civil society—is necessary to secure greater accountability, competitiveness, and supply chain integrity. As reflected in our 2011 ACT workplan, we must employ the full range of tools in the toolbox—ranging from tools to prevent corruption and enhance market integrity to tools to more effectively investigate and prosecute corruption and combat money laundering and illicit trade.
On the front-end, preventive measures and integrity systems are crucial in the fight against corruption. Financial/asset disclosure is an anti-corruption and transparency tool that encourages officials to perform their duties in accordance with public interest as opposed to self-interest and helps public officials, potential candidates, and political appointees recognize and protect against conflicts of interest. Disclosure systems also help investigators and prosecutors identify and corroborate illicit enrichment, providing greater accountability and building public trust.
The ACT workshop on Effective Financial/Asset Disclosure for Public Servants later this week will go into further depth on the use of disclosure systems as a preventive tool as well as a tool in conducting investigations and prosecutions. Furthermore, we plan to build upon the APEC Conduct Principles for Public Officials that were adopted in Australia in 2007 to develop draft principles regarding financial/asset disclosure and strengthen our efforts in APEC on combating corruption and illicit enrichment.
Combating Bribery: Public-Private Partnerships on Market Integrity
In addition to addressing corruption in the public sector, we have recognized that partnering with the private sector to confront corruption and bribery in international business, as well as in the way governments grant licenses and permits, is essential.
Governments alone cannot root-out corrupt practices that undermine free and fair competition and taint global markets and supply chains. Communities of vigilance composed of governments, industry, and civil society organizations are needed to promote greater integrity in business transactions and supply chains. In light of this, we will continue to partner with ABAC—the APEC Business Advisory Committee—and will be co-sponsoring a dialogue with ABAC tomorrow on Ensuring Greater Integrity in APEC Economies, Markets, and Supply Chains.
We will also delve further into shaping an ACT-ABAC public-private partnership to combat corruption in the Asia-Pacific region. I encourage everyone to participate in this dialogue and the other workshops over the next couple days.
Combating Corruption and Illicit Trade: Supply Chain Integrity
Finally, in taking a comprehensive and holistic approach to combating corruption and illicit trade, 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. As we discussed in our dialogue on Combating Counterfeit (Falsified) Medicines and Strengthening Supply Chain Integrity during SOM 1, illicit trade in counterfeit or falsified medicines, medical products, and other dangerous, defective products is an especially grave threat as such products threaten the health and safety of our people.
Tainted supply chains, compromised markets, and the corruption that accompanies illicit trade also hurt our legitimate businesses, diminishing brand identities, reputations, and returns on research and innovation, while increasing operating costs and investment risks.
Working together in APEC, we must thus continue to investigate and prosecute the illicit actors who produce and sell harmful counterfeits, and simultaneously strengthen the integrity of our supply chains, as well as our global financial system. The APEC workshop on Investigating and Prosecuting Corruption and Illicit Trade: Stemming the Flows of Counterfeits and Dismantling Illicit Networks later this week will allow us to delve further into this issue and explore law enforcement tools that can equip us to mitigate vulnerabilities, dismantle transnational illicit networks, and strengthen our markets.
The ACT looks forward to leveraging our expertise across APEC to help ensure that we 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.
2011 Deliverables: Open and Cleaner Governments and Enhanced Integrity in Markets and Supply Chains
As we proceed with our work this week and look towards the ministerial meetings in Hawaii this November, the ACT is on track to provide our leaders with robust deliverables, possibly including principles related to financial/asset disclosure; the launching of an ACT-ABAC public-private partnership to combat corruption and illicit trade (ensuring integrity in institutions, markets, and supply chains); and a timeline for economies to report on how they are implementing their anticorruption commitments.
I look forward to your interventions and an exchange of ideas and best practices throughout our time together and to ensure that our ACT deliverables in 2011 contribute to inclusive growth and greater integrity and prosperity for all economies, and nurture a better future for all of our people.