As prepared

Thank you so much A/S Robinson, and all of you deserving honorees. I am delighted to be here today to take part in this ceremony on the eve of both International Anticorruption Day and the Summit for Democracy.

As we know all too well, corruption is a serious crime that undermines social and economic development in all societies. No country, region, or community is immune to it. Every society, community, and individual will benefit from standing firmly against corruption.

Corruption eats away at the foundations of democratic societies. It makes government less effective, wastes public resources, and exacerbates inequalities in access to services, making it harder for families to provide for their loved ones. It erodes the trust and confidence of citizens in their public institutions and puts an anchor around the neck of developing economies.

It is estimated that billions of dollars are lost to corruption annually. In developing countries, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance. Imagine how those stolen funds could benefit our world. As we face ever-expanding global challenges, we need to harness our resources to effectively meet those challenges. We cannot afford to indulge or ignore corruption, least of all from our global leaders.

Fighting corruption is a long-standing priority of the U.S. government and a security and foreign policy priority. The State Department counters corruption through country-to-country diplomacy, supporting international standards and their implementation, building and strengthening government institutions, using visa restrictions and sanctions to hold corrupt officials accountable, and supporting journalists and non-government actors that promote transparency and advocate for justice for corrupt actors.

The State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs works to keep Americans safe by countering crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. The bureau is working around the world to build the capacity of foreign justice sector partners to investigate and prosecute complex corruption cases.

Recognizing the fight against corruption cannot be won by governments alone, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor is strengthening the ability of civil society and media to reveal corruption, foster public demand for change, and address weak governance and poor human rights conditions that cultivate corruption.

The State Department publicly designates corrupt foreign officials and their family members as ineligible for entry into the United States. In this year alone, we have publicly designated and denied visas to over 60 corrupt foreign officials and immediate family members and supported the Department of the Treasury in sanctioning 79 individuals and entities in connection with corruption under the Global Magnitsky program.

None of this work would be possible without strong partnerships as well as the independent work of principled individuals who see this as their fight, too. The launch of the Summit for Democracy on International Anticorruption Day provides us with a unique opportunity to recognize those working to make their countries better. And today, we celebrate twelve men and women who undertake this perilous effort and champion rule of law, accountability, and transparency. We are honored to work alongside champions like these to defeat corruption.

In my tenure as Undersecretary of Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, I’ve seen first-hand the harm that corruption causes.

I’ve also seen the benefit to neighborhoods, states, countries, and the world when individuals take a stand against corruption in their communities. Though we’ll be honoring twelve people today, I also want to recognize the many unsung heroes who are part of this effort. Your work is vital, and we in the United States stand ready to support you however we can.

And now, I will turn things back over to the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Assistant Secretary Todd Robinson.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future