A vigorous anti-corruption agenda that promotes
greater transparency and accountability for governments
throughout the Western Hemisphere is necessary to ensure
consolidation of democratic principles in the region, says
John Maisto, U.S. permanent representative to the Organization
of American States (OAS).
In his April 14 remarks to the American
Bar Association, Maisto -- who also serves as U.S. national
coordinator for the Summit of the Americas process -- explained
that the United States is working hard to promote an agenda
aimed at "strengthening good governance, the rule of
law, and a culture of lawfulness, both regionally and globally."
Implementation of action-oriented policies is especially
important to combat corruption, he added.
Maisto said three major events will take
place soon in the hemisphere, "which will all touch
on the subject [of corruption] in varying degrees."
Those events are the Third Community of Democracies ministerial
meeting, scheduled to take place April 26-30 in Santiago,
Chile; the Fourth Global Forum Against Corruption, to be
hosted by Brasilia, Brazil, in June; and the OAS General
Assembly, also taking place in June, in Fort Lauderdale,
Florida. All three events "will have a global focus,
of course, but because they are being held in the region,
each event will have special significance for the Western
Hemisphere," Maisto said.
The nations of the Americas already have
made strides in addressing issues related to corruption,
and the need for good governance is now widely recognized
throughout the region, he said. Maisto recalled that in
January 2004, "at the Special Summit of the Americas,
President Bush and the other 33 elected leaders of the hemisphere
... became the first to sign a region-wide commitment to
deny safe haven to corrupt public officials, to those who
corrupt them, and to their assets."
Of course, "turning these words into
action will take time, but it is happening," he argued.
As one example of this trend, the Fourth Global Forum "will
offer an opportunity to promote and build upon a wide array
of international anti-corruption efforts," Maisto said.
The other major events hosted by the region during 2005
will have a similar focus, he pointed out.
There has been some resistance to a broad,
far-reaching anti-corruption agenda, which threatens to
slow the pace of progress, Maisto warned. "Twice --
at the Special Summit in Monterrey [Mexico], and at the
States Parties meeting in Managua [Nicaragua]-- our effort
to advance this issue has been pushed back by most of the
countries in the region," he said. "They came
up with a lot of questions and reasons not to do it, but
ultimately, this is a question of political will. Either
we have the will to make transparency and the fight against
corruption a real priority, or we don't. We believe these
issues are essential elements of the rule of law, and of
democracy, and we're going to keep challenging the hemisphere
in this regard."
A strong political commitment to good governance,
transparency, and the rule of law is a prerequisite for
the hemisphere's development and long-term prosperity, Maisto
said. Moreover, "the U.S. agenda for promoting rule
of law in the Western Hemisphere … is part of a broader
agenda that encompasses our core values and works together
with our broader policies to advance democracy and good
democratic governance in the hemisphere and around the globe,"
Following is the text of Maisto's remarks,
as prepared for delivery:
"The Western Hemisphere's Agenda For
Good Democratic Governance"
Remarks by Ambassador John Maisto,
U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS
and U.S. National Coordinator for the Summit of the Americas
The American Bar Association
April 14, 2005
I want to thank all of you for allowing
me the opportunity to speak to you today on the U.S. agenda
for good governance and the rule of law in the hemisphere.
Two thousand five (2005) will be a very important year for
the region on this topic. We have three major events taking
place in the region, which will all touch on the subject
in varying degrees. Two of the events are the Third Community
of Democracies ministerial meeting, in Santiago, and the
Fourth Global Forum Against Corruption, in Brasilia. These
will have a global focus, of course, but because they are
being held in the region, each event will have special significance
for the Western Hemisphere. At the same time, while the
Summit of the Americas is a hemispheric event, the Summit
agenda has been at the vanguard of rule-of-law issues in
the global context, as well.
This administration is using these events
as springboards for strengthening good governance, the rule
of law, and a culture of lawfulness, both regionally and
globally. We set ambitious goals for every hemispheric and
regional event, aimed at gaining consensus on action-oriented
policies and implementation of these policies.
A good recent example of this approach is
the U.S. effort to promote the denial of safe haven to corrupt
public officials, those who corrupt them, and their assets.
Leaders at the G-8 Evian Summit in June 2003 were the first
to adopt this policy. In January 2004, at the Special Summit
of Americas, President Bush and the other 33 elected leaders
of the hemisphere then became the first to sign a region-wide
commitment to deny safe haven to corrupt public officials,
to those who corrupt them, and to their assets. This commitment
was further strengthened at the OAS General Assembly in
Quito in June of last year, and at the Meeting of States
Parties to the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption
in July, in Managua. Late last year, APEC leaders signed
on to a similar commitment at their November 2004 Summit.
As a result of close work with our partners in the hemisphere
and elsewhere, denial of safe haven to corrupt public officials,
those who corrupt them, and their assets is now accepted
as a nearly universal standard. The key to success, in this
relatively short period of time, has been our global approach,
working closely with governments in each region that share
our core objectives and can help deepen this vision.
Turning these words into action will take
time, but it is happening. Just two weeks ago, the OAS --
with support from the State Department's Bureau of International
Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs -- sponsored a two-day
experts meeting to develop practical measures for enhancing
cooperation among OAS member states in the three areas considered
critical to denying safe haven to corrupt officials: denial
of entry, extradition, and asset recovery. So from words,
we are moving to actions.
With this example of our approach in mind,
let me speak about the meetings that are the topic of this
panel. The United States launched the Global Forum on Fighting
Corruption here in Washington in 1999. The Fora have since
become biannual events, with the second held in The Hague,
and the third hosted by South Korea. The Fourth Global Forum
this June in Brasilia will offer an opportunity to promote
and build upon a wide array of international anti-corruption
efforts. Combating international corruption remains a high
priority for the Bush administration. The president has
incorporated the fight against corruption in numerous national
security and foreign policy initiatives -- including the
Millennium Challenge Account, the G-8 anti-corruption and
transparency initiative, the 2002 National Security Strategy,
the global war on terrorism, and efforts to promote reform
and freedom in the Middle East.
For this year's event, the U.S. has been
working closely with the government of Brazil, and other
members of the organizing committee, on some of the more
pressing issues related to anti-corruption, including how
best to implement the United Nations Convention Against
Corruption and how to develop effective strategies for denying
safe haven to corrupt public officials, those who corrupt
them, and their assets.
Second, the Community of Democracies will
hold its third ministerial later this month. This is a unique
global network in which emerging and consolidated democracies
gather to strengthen representative government, to share
experiences, to help one another, and to coordinate policies
in areas of common interest. The goal of the Community is
to achieve practical results that directly benefit democracies
and to refocus international and regional organizations
on the ideals of liberty and self-determined government
-- ideals which are frequently espoused but less frequently
attained. Over 130 free nations have come together -- first
in Warsaw in 2000, and then again in Seoul in 2002 -- to
reaffirm their commitment to consolidating their own democratic
institutions and working with other countries to help them
along the path of democratization.
In Chile this month, the Community of Democracies
will hold -- for the first time -- regional roundtable discussions
exclusively for democracies to identify each region's democracy
deficits and how they can be addressed. These roundtables
should strengthen our own ability to tap into our regional
democratic knowledge-base to support regional democracies
in transition, and we should also look to other regions
like Africa in order to share insights and expertise with
other democracies in similar transitions.
Third, the OAS General Assembly that will
take place this June has, as its theme, "Delivering
the Benefits of Democracy." We see this as directly
linked to this year's Summit of the Americas theme, "Creating
Jobs to Fight Poverty and Strengthen Democratic Governance,"
and for both themes, rule of law is an essential topic.
Under the umbrella of Rule of Law, the OAS already has a
broad range of programs, centers, and commissions covering
everything from drugs and trafficking in persons, to justice-sector
reform and community policing programs. At the General Assembly,
we will be looking for ways to strengthen and quicken the
pace of the follow-up mechanism to the Inter-American Convention
Against Corruption. More broadly, we need to make good on
current commitments, "to add teeth" through better
funding and political focus for the many efforts we already
have in play.
Political focus is not something to be taken
lightly, either. Most of you know that, at the 2001 Summit
of the Americas in Quebec, leaders made a groundbreaking
commitment to democracy as a condition of participation
in the Summit process. That commitment led to and now serves
as a foundation for the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
I want you all to know that the United States has pressed
for a similar commitment with regard to the fight against
corruption and the effort to promote transparency. Twice
-- at the Special Summit in Monterrey, and at the States
Parties meeting in Managua -- our effort to advance this
issue has been pushed back by most of the countries in the
region. They came up with a lot of questions and reasons
not to do it, but ultimately, this is a question of political
will. Either we have the will to make transparency and the
fight against corruption a real priority, or we don't. We
believe these issues are essential elements of the rule
of law, and of democracy, and we're going to keep challenging
the hemisphere in this regard.
We think that the Summit of the Americas
process, because it is presidential in nature, is the right
place for such a significant commitment. It is where leaders
launched the Democratic Charter in 2001. It is where leaders
for the first time made a series of specific, short-term,
measurable commitments, at Monterrey in 2004. And this year,
it is our hope that it will serve as a venue for exactly
these types of political and concrete commitments, on the
rule of law, on good democratic governance more broadly,
on job creation, and the other themes leaders are working
on together through the Summit process.
I'll close with this general thought: the
U.S. agenda for promoting rule of law in the Western Hemisphere
is not developed as an isolated piece of U.S. foreign policy
that changes from meeting to meeting.
Rather, it is part of a broader agenda that
encompasses our core values and works together with our
broader policies to advance democracy and good democratic
governance in the hemisphere and around the globe. We pursue
an agenda to develop stronger democratic institutions. We
encourage governments to be more open and transparent, to
work to create a greater role for civil society, and to
foster a culture of lawfulness in society. And we have worked
hard to build a foundation that capitalizes on the great
entrepreneurial spirit within the hemisphere. It is the
breadth of our agenda for good democratic governance that
is its strength.