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U.S. Government Initiatives to Fight Corruption

Washington, DC
September 20, 2002

During the last year, this Administration has been actively involved in a number of activities to promote U.S. Government [USG] goals and intergovernmental cooperation. The USG has supported the following key initiatives:

  • The new Millennium Challenge Account ("the Account") will tie billions of dollars in extra U.S. foreign development assistance over the next three years to, among other factors, the recipient's commitments to good governance and anticorruption efforts. President George W. Bush, during the March 2002 speech that launched the Account, announced that the governments and NGOs around the world "must encourage developing countries to make the right choices for their own people." Since "good government is an essential condition of development…[the Account] will reward nations that root out corruption, respect human rights, and adhere to the rule of law."
  • In January 2002, the United Nations (UN) began negotiations for a global anticorruption convention that will most likely include international standards for governance and prevention, commitments to criminalize certain corrupt behavior, and measures to improve international cooperation among governments in this area. The USG is actively participating in these negotiations, devoting significant effort to the issue of facilitating the recovery of assets that have been transferred abroad by corrupt officials including preventive measures to ensure that assets are not stolen and laundered in the first place.
  • The Second Global Forum held at The Hague in May 2001 was strongly supported by the George W. Bush administration. The President provided a formal written statement and Attorney General Ashcroft led the USG delegation. Over 120 governments were represented at the ministerial level or above. All participants strongly denounced corruption and shared their experience with effective corruption preventive measures during an extensive series of workshops. The USG also sent a delegation to the NGO-sponsored 10th International Anticorruption Conference (IACC), held in Prague in October 2001.

The South Korean government will host both the Third Global Forum and the 11th IACC in 2003. The USG is working closely with the Korean government and IACC organizers to develop a combined and potentially biennial event. The event represents the largest and most important international gathering relating to corruption and is key for disseminating information on effective practices for the governmental and non-governmental communities to address corruption problems.

  • The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions has been a long-term priority of the USG. The U.S. was the first country to criminalize the bribery of foreign public officials with the enactment of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in 1977. Since the negotiation of the convention in 1997, almost all of its 35 signatories have ratified the convention and enacted laws criminalizing the bribery of foreign public officials. The U.S. plays a key leadership role in promoting the implementation and enforcement of the convention in the OECD Working Group on Bribery, which is composed of signatories to the convention and is charged with monitoring its implementation. The Working Group has almost completed Phase I of the monitoring process, during which it examined countries' laws implementing the convention. Last year, the Working Group began Phase II of the monitoring process, which consists of on-site visits to capitals to ensure that countries have adequate enforcement mechanisms to carry out their obligations under the convention. In March 2002, Working Group examiners visited the U.S. to monitor its enforcement of the FCPA. The Working Group will review and complete the Phase II evaluation of the U.S. at the Working Group meeting in June 2002 at the OECD. The USG is continuing to encourage the expansion of the convention to include the bribery of foreign political parties, party officials, and candidates for office, which is covered under the FCPA but not directly under the convention.
  • The Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, negotiated in 1996 under the auspices of the Organization of American States (OAS), continues to be a top USG priority. The OAS and the 25 participating States Parties to the convention, which includes the USG, created a formal follow-up mechanism to monitor implementation of the convention's commitments. States Parties met in Buenos Aires in May 2001 and adopted the Report of Buenos Aires, which creates general guidelines for the evaluation mechanism. In January 2002, representatives of the States Parties attended a Committee of Experts meeting at OAS headquarters in Washington to develop and adopt rules and procedures for the follow-up mechanism and first round assessment program. The Committee of Experts will meet again in May 2002 to initiate the formal evaluation process. The USG has provided technical assistance and financial support for this initiative.
  • The Council of Europe's (CoE) Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), a forum where the USG is an active participant, monitors the efforts of its 34 members to implement anticorruption principles and commitments. GRECO's standards are set out in the CoE's Twenty Guiding Principles, the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (to which the USG is a signatory), and the Civil Law Convention on Corruption. The USG provides experts to conduct evaluations of other members, and is currently preparing for its own first round evaluation visit to be conducted by GRECO experts in June 2002.
  • The Stability Pact Anticorruption Initiative (SPAI) for Southeast Europe is an intergovernmental effort led by the Europeans. The USG supports the initiative through assistance programs and in the policy discussions of the Steering Committee. The compact aims to facilitate cooperation between countries and major international organizations to help foster stability in the region of Southeast Europe. SPAI completed formal evaluations of the anticorruption regimes of six Southeast European nations. The USG will host a Steering Group meeting in Washington, D.C. in April/May 2002 to help channel technical assistance and donor aid to address weaknesses identified by evaluators.
  • The OECD/ADB (Asian Development Bank) Anticorruption Compact was signed in November 2001 in Tokyo, Japan by seventeen nations. The USG has formally supported efforts by the OECD and Asian Development Bank to promote an anticorruption compact for the Asia-Pacific region. Similar to the SPAI compact, participating governments commit to take certain measures to prosecute, investigate, and prevent corruption. The USG, in cooperation with OECD and ADB, is providing technical assistance to help several participating countries implement the good governance guidelines under this compact.
  • The USG continues to encourage and support several important regional anticorruption efforts in Africa. Notable regional initiatives include the Organization of African Unity (OAU) draft Protocol Against Corruption, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol Against Corruption and the Twenty-five Anticorruption Principles of the Global Coalition for Africa (GCA). The USG also expects to work closely on good governance issues with the New Economic Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
  • At the March 2002 Monterrey Conference, the theme of anticorruption became an important international focus, due largely to the efforts of the USG. In addition to the President's appearance at the last day of the session, several high level USG officials participated in a number of corruption related sessions and workshops. For example, the Global Corporate Governance Forum, the OECD, the World Bank and several bilateral donors co-sponsored a side-session on "Anticorruption and Corporate Governance: Tools for Financing Development." In a special address at this session, Mr. Fetus Mogae, President of Botswana stated, "corruption is a global problem and a social evil. But reform is not a solution imposed by the West, it is a solution demanded by the poor who suffer the consequences every day. Transparency, accountability, responsibility -- these are the watchwords of corporate governance, and these are the principles that enable us to tackle corruption." The USG also participated in a Monterrey 'Finance for Development (FfD)' session with civil society activists from developing countries to discuss the development of legal mechanisms, such as those being considered in the current negotiations of the UN Convention Against Corruption, to prevent public funds from being diverted to private foreign bank accounts of corrupt officials.
  • The USG and other international donors will continue to encourage the World Bank and regional development banks to make anticorruption a major policy focus of their activities and lending practices. The USG is funding World Bank anticorruption diagnostics for several countries. As a member of the World Bank/OECD Global Corporate Governance Forum, is working with the international financial institutions and private sector to promote good corporate governance.
  • The USG has begun taking the lead to promote the connection internationally between good corporate governance and a government's fight against corruption. An interagency working group on corruption and corporate governance is ensuring coordination among the international programs of various agencies to promote corporate good governance.
  • The USG continues to lead efforts to promote the role of civil society in the fight against corruption. This work takes the form primarily of technical assistance and funding for such organizations throughout the world. In several countries, the USG is promoting formal partnerships between government and civil society relating to the fight against corruption.

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