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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Combating Corruption and Promoting Good Governance

The fight against international corruption is an essential part of INL’s mission. Keeping corruption in check promotes economic growth in foreign markets and a level field for U.S. business; boosts stability, the rule of law, human rights, and democracy; strengthens our law enforcement partners; and snatches tools out of the hands of those engaging in transnational crime, terror, and illicit trade.

The starting point for our efforts is that countries around the world should share a common vision and strong commitments to taking effective and practical steps to prevent and prosecute corruption. To encourage follow-through on these commitments, the United States directly engages other countries, sponsors innovative reform programs, and contributes to building the architecture for cross-border cooperation. To sustain the effort, INL promotes political will through high-level diplomacy and by highlighting the important role that civil society, the media, and business must play.

Promoting Shared Standards and Real Reform: INL helped to negotiate the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and is working to promote implementation of this comprehensive treaty. The UNCAC covers all aspects of combating corruption, and with 168 parties, is nearly universal. The UNCAC and other treaties the United States helped establish in the Organization of American States (OAS) and Council of Europe provide roadmaps and benchmarks for reform in areas such as bribery, conflicts of interest, procurement, and independence of judges. To ensure that countries take their commitments seriously, INL supports mechanisms where experts from peer countries review each country’s follow-through, publicly pointing out shortcomings and recommending remedial steps. In a global environment, we also work with regional and international bodies to bring investigators, prosecutors, and other practitioners together to build networks for cross-border collaboration on cases, compare notes on good practices, and build their capacity. INL supports these peer networks and regional initiatives in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific. INL has galvanized the world’s leading economies and political powers to lead by example, supporting groundbreaking G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plans and high-level support from groups such as the G8 and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

Denying Safe Haven: Denying corrupt actors access to U.S. shores and financial systems sends a strong message about our values, helps combat impunity, and deters graft. INL coordinates special visa authorities that can bar entry of corrupt actors into the United States. We also work with the U.S. Department of Justice and international organizations to help countries pursue the proceeds of corruption stowed abroad. In 2012, the United States, as G8 chair, launched the Arab Forum on Asset Recovery to build stronger collaboration between transition and financial center countries in this area.

Whole of Government and Whole of Society Approach: INL works closely with others in the U.S. government as they advance other important elements of good governance and integrity, such as the Open Government Partnership Initiative, Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials, Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, and Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. The private sector and the civil society organization community are vital partners as well.

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