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26

JUNE 2016

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

assistance to help Ukraine prevent and fight corruption, imple-

ment reforms and bolster civil society.

We also saw significant progress in Guatemala in 2015.

Investigations by the International Commission Against

Impunity in Guatemala (known in Spanish as the CICIG), for

which the United States has been a leading donor since 2008,

led to arrests and the dismantling of longstanding, pervasive

corruption rings within the country’s tax authority, peni-

tentiary system, national civil police, Social Security Health

Institute and elsewhere. Most notably, in September Otto Perez

Molina resigned the presidency and was incarcerated follow-

ing a CICIG investigation. We also continue to fund bilateral

programs to help the Guatemalan judiciary adopt CICIG best

practices.

Empowering Civil Society

Fighting and preventing corruption is not only a govern-

ment’s responsibility. It requires a bottom-up approach to

building citizens’ demand for justice and accountability. With

that in mind, we are prioritizing efforts to expand civil society’s

role and empower citizens to hold their governments account-

able.

In Mexico, for example, INL has worked with a local NGO

to establish citizens’ watch booths in district attorneys’ offices

located in the Federal District and the states of Mexico and

Puebla. The booths are run by volunteers who advise citizens

of their rights in reporting crimes, monitor local authorities to

ensure that they follow correct procedures, collect data on the

quality of services provided and report irregularities. We also

support training investigative journalists to uncover corruption

at a local level. Local citizens, journalists and organized civil

society must all be empowered to expose corrupt practices and

feel safe enough to press for the prosecution of perpetrators.

In addition to building capacity in developing countries, we

are leveraging renewed global interest in this common cause to

strengthen political will and implement international stan-

dards. It is impossible to estimate the cost of corruption, but

with a conservative World Bank estimate of $1 trillion in bribes

being paid annually, the costs in diverted resources are huge.

That oft-cited and staggering figure cannot be ignored, and

individual countries cannot address it alone. Our partners in

the Group of Seven and Group of 20 have made anti-corruption

a priority this year, as shown by a May summit in London that

brought together representatives of G-20 member-states and

developing countries to work toward transparency in beneficial

ownership, law enforcement cooperation and asset recovery.