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JUNE 2016


ment will look for more opportunities to support these preven-

tive approaches.

Second, the State Department is going beyond law enforce-

ment to unite a wider range of anti-corruption tools and actors.

Two dozen embassies in Eastern and Central Europe have con-

vened political and economic officers, public diplomacy spe-

cialists, defense attachés and development experts to develop

comprehensive national anti-corruption plans. The department

has also launched an internal anti-corruption toolkit to provide

officers with a one-stop-shop for jumpstarting their anti-cor-

ruption work.

Third, the department is striving to identify and seize narrow

windows for reform, recognizing how important national politi-

cal will is for successful anti-corruption efforts. These windows

of opportunity may include public outrage about a new corrup-

tion scandal, as we have seen in Guatemala and Moldova, or

the election of reformers promising to end corruption, such as

President Joko Widodo in Indonesia or President John Magufuli

in Tanzania.

By focusing U.S. efforts on such “ripe” opportunities, we can

help reinforce progress that might otherwise take generations

to achieve. A recent report on anti-corruption tradecraft from

the Foreign Service Institute cited the example of Paraguay,

where U.S. Embassy Asunción responded to the election of a

reformist government by quickly developing an International

Visitor Leadership Program for new ministers focused on anti-


Lastly, we are tying these bilateral efforts to the emerg-

ing global architecture around anti-corruption. To date, 178

As the voice of our

government around the

world, U.S. diplomats will

be the ones to raise the

tough conversations about

corruption and security with

foreign officials.

countries have ratified or acceded to the 2005 United Nations

Convention against Corruption, and its norms have since been

embedded in regional agreements by the Arab League and

African Union. In the last few years, the Group of Seven, Group

of 20 and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and

Development have also elevated anti-corruption as a priority.

These developments underscore the global support in principle

for anti-corruption efforts, and they empower U.S. diplomacy by

undercutting claims that the anti-corruption agenda is simply

Western finger-wagging.

The reporting mechanisms baked into many of these

agreements also give diplomats new tools to hold govern-

ments accountable for their anti-corruption commitments and

empower civil society to provide oversight. Another tool is the

Open Government Partnership, a multilateral platform that

convenes governments and citizens to strengthen transparency

through dialogue, exchange and new technologies.

Some of the most important work ahead does not involve

launching new efforts, but simply examining how our existing

operations and foreign assistance may affect corruption around

the world. We will be developing a “first do no harm” policy to

ask, for example, how we can better prevent the diversion of

resources and equipment we provide to foreign security forces.

Efforts like the U.S. Security Governance Initiative, which part-

ners with foreign militaries to strengthen their institutions of

accountability, suggest ways we can adapt existing partnerships

to fight corruption and promote security.

The Foreign Service’s Role

As the State Department looks to prioritize anti-corruption,

our success will depend on the efforts of Foreign Service

officers: political officers persuading foreign counterparts to

strengthen accountability for graft, public affairs officers giving

voice to citizen activists fighting for transparency and consular

officers denying visas to known kleptocrats. FSOs remain some

of our best resources in the fight against corruption.

As the voice of our government around the world, U.S.

diplomats will be the ones to initiate the tough conversations

about corruption and security with foreign officials. Their

reporting will continue to strengthen documentation about

corruption in the annual Human Rights Report and Invest-

ment Climate Statements, and help to identify “ripe” opportu-

nities to advance reform. And in doing so, U.S. diplomats will

not only strengthen governance and the rule of law for billions

around the world, but also help make America safer and more