THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
concerned by signs of potential backsliding that could under-
mine support for the greater, generational project of ensuring
a Europe that is whole, free and at peace, had made the issue
the top priority for their missions. EUR convened two regional
workshops for embassy working leads and interagency partners,
one in Bucharest and a second in Brussels, to meet important
anti-corruption actors, talk through the options available to
posts and brainstorm possible solutions.
EUR envisages the post action plans as an iterative process.
The first drafts were discussed by interested bureaus at State,
with feedback aimed at refining the proposed actions and, in
particular, sharpening diplomatic “asks” that high-ranking U.S.
officials could use when engaging host country counterparts.
Assistant Secretary Nuland mandated that such advocacy points
move out of the “if time permits” section and into the core
The bureau struggled with the question of how to leverage
assistance programming to complement the high-level diplo-
matic engagement in countries that were backsliding on corrup-
tion but had been phased out of U.S. assistance, while avoiding
projects that would be seen as taking a cookie-cutter approach
to a diverse region. Ultimately ACE supported a project through
the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor that was
pioneered at Embassy Bucharest. Using Democracy Commis-
sion funds as seed money, the embassy linked local activists
with IT professionals in a competition to develop governance
and social justice-related information and communication
technology (ICT) tools.
This project grew into a broader effort in the Western Balkans
that ACE and embassy public affairs offices co-funded. The
success of these projects in building a sustained, locally-driven
effort led to a broader push to make the most effective of these
ICT tools available to other countries in the region. This is cur-
rently being implemented by the nonprofit TechSoup.
No Magic Bullet
If Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity validated the focus on cor-
ruption as a vital issue for regional stability and for a country’s
ability to defend its sovereignty and choose its own future, the
depth of the country’s corruption showcases the challenges in
making systemic progress, and the need to continually adjust
anti-corruption action plans.As Assistant Secretary Brownfield explains in this issue (see p. 24), INL helped conceptualize and underwrite one of the
important successes in Ukraine: the introduction of a “protect
and serve” patrol police to replace the notoriously corrupt road
militia. In addition, the 2015 introduction of an e-procurement
system, ProZorro (“transparent” in Ukrainian), developed by
Transparency International Ukraine, has saved tens of millions
of dollars by reducing insider deals.
Elsewhere, however, progress has been slower. But U.S.
leaders from Vice President Joseph Biden to Ambassador to
Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt continue to spotlight, both publicly and
in private conversations, the need to overhaul the country’s
judicial system, particularly the corrupt prosecutorial and court
systems. Ukraine, like many countries across the region, has
yet to hold “big fish” accountable for corruption. Romania’s
intrepid anti-corruption prosecutor, Laura Kovesi, is a model for
many in the region to emulate in this regard.
There is no single magic bullet proven to eradicate corrup-
tion, despite a cottage industry of experts peddling such solu-
tions. On the contrary, promoting public awareness, account-
ability and integrity in public institutions and civil society
pressure for transparent governance is a complex and long-term
Fortunately, the 2011Open Government Declaration
an enduring template of principles and a positive aspirational
agenda. The development of effective and accountable institu-
tions, including the criminal justice system, is an ongoing pro-
cess requiring political will and national ownership to succeed.
If we want to see our decades-old vision of a Europe that is
whole, free and at peace fully realized, we have our work cut out
for us in the coming years.
Rather than imposing a
template on posts, EUR
encouraged them to identify
the main corruption-related
issues in their respective
societies and tailor proposed