Remarks by Richard Nephew, U.S. State Department Coordinator on Global Anti-Corruption, at Bulgaria’s Summit for Democracy Cohort about Anti-Corruption and National Security
Thank you for the invitation, and I’m sorry I’m not able to join you today for what promises to be an impressive gathering on a critical topic. Let me first congratulate the government of Bulgaria, the Center for the Study of Democracy, and the Basel Institute on your work to organize this cohort and this event. The United States government emphatically agrees with the premise that corruption is not just an economic issue, nor just a moral or compliance issue, but fundamentally a threat to international stability and to each of our countries’ national security.
Where transparency and accountability thrive, we can provide better services, accounting for public funding and ensuring that our public servants answer to the people. Conversely, corruption exploits opportunities to strip the public of resources and makes our governments more vulnerable to malicious influence. Corruption is, at its core, a threat to the health and vibrancy of democracy itself.
This year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention against Corruption, and the United States is honored to host the 10th Conference of the States Parties in December 2023. We can acknowledge the important progress we have made as an international community over the last 20 years, while also recognizing we have more work to do.
It is no secret that no country has completely solved the problem of corruption. While the United States is proud to be a leader in the fight against corruption, we also recognize there is room for us to harden our defenses against the threat it poses. We are working to do just that as we implement the first-ever U.S. Strategy on Countering Corruption, which we launched at the first Summit for Democracy in 2021. Our strategy tasks us with addressing corruption holistically, from bolstering the preventive tools to disrupt corrupt acts before they can occur all the way through to accountability, ensuring that corrupt actors cannot operate with impunity. The strategy guides us to focus, in particular, on transnational corruption and to redouble our engagement with partners around the world and across sectors. We will continue to work with you, including as a member of the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption. And so, I am so pleased to see the organizers of today’s event bring together this conversation to discuss how we can collectively learn from one another and continue to collaborate in our efforts.
It is the heart of the Summit for Democracy endeavor to showcase with pride that which democracies deliver best for their people, while acknowledging that democracy, by its nature, continually strives toward progress, bringing together diverse groups to exchange ideas and work together toward a stronger outcome. Our work to fight corruption is inseparable from that hopeful vision and the democracy cohorts are a demonstration of our commitment to an inclusive multistakeholder approach. So let me thank you again for bringing this conversation together, and I look forward to continuing this conversation with you all at next week’s Summit and beyond.