As delivered

Thank you to my friends Assistant Secretary Robinson, Ambassador Holgate, and Special Envoy Finkenauer. Your leadership on this issue set is indispensable. And most importantly, thank you to all the young leaders we heard from today. It is clear, our young change makers are up to the task. You showed up and spoke out – your creativity and passion are an inspiration. Your voices and engagement are central to the global fight against corruption, and we can learn from your innovative ideas. I am committed to ensuring your seat at the table, so we can deepen our collaboration, and thus strengthen our policies.

As we’ve discussed today, corruption obstructs our access to economic opportunity, education, healthcare, justice, and so many other critical socio-economic areas, all while eroding trust in institutions and governments. These hindrances often keep people from successfully functioning in society. This reality can be especially devastating for young people, who may endure longer-term consequences of exclusion and opportunity denied.

To mitigate such outcomes, it is critical to involve youth, like those we heard from today, in anti-corruption discussions and actions. Youth inclusion will ensure policymakers and lawmakers at the local, national, and international levels can take their valuable perspectives into account when identifying gaps and much needed solutions to address anti-corruption challenges. To sustain that seat at the table, we must equip youth with the knowledge they need to identify, document, and report corrupt acts, and help prevent them from recurring.

So, how do we ensure youth a seat at the table? First, through more events like today’s that invite young people to share their story and experience, and through feedback mechanisms between young people, youth organizations, and governments online or in person.

Second, we should make internship and volunteer programs more widely available, to ensure a diverse group of youth leaders gain the knowledge and experience to elevate their engagement.

Lastly, we should develop consultation opportunities and workshops, and create more youth positions on government task forces. Though not specifically related to corruption, the United Nations Security Council’s 2015 and 2018 efforts to establish and fortify the Youth, Peace, and Security agenda recognized the inclusion and participation of young people as a key dimension of building and sustaining peace and security.

These types of initiatives bolster the voice of young people, cement their position alongside us as partners, and advance our intergenerational fight against corruption.

Government leaders, I hope that as we go into the 10th Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption this week, we will remember the contributions these young people have made and find ways to integrate their innovative solutions into our work in resolution negotiations, plenary debates, and side event remarks. Greater inclusion and collaboration will make our policies smarter and more durable.

When given the right tools and empowered with knowledge, skills, and integrity, young leaders can reject the culture of corruption through global action. Encouraging and facilitating youth involvement not only empowers them to address corruption right now, in their current contexts and communities, but prepares them to continue doing so as tomorrow’s leaders.

I leave here confident our youth are prepared to meet the moment and make a difference in the fight against corruption. It’s thanks to the world’s young change makers, including those represented here today, that we can improve and refine our anti-corruption efforts. Let us all continue to work together in good faith to challenge each other to improve, and to collaborate, using a diversity of perspectives and best practices to address these challenges collectively. Thank you for the opportunity to join today. I am truly inspired by you all, and I hope you enjoy the rest of today’s events.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future