Media Center



September 29, 2000 - Washington, DC

It is an honor for me to participate in this ceremony, at which the Government of the United States is depositing its instrument of ratification of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption.

This measure confirms once again the commitment of the United States to one of the most important collective goals in the Americas. Corruption is one of the most serious threats to the consolidation of democracy and to social and economic development. Indeed, it poses an obstacle and a real challenge to all the states. Because corruption is an enemy that extends beyond individual national boundaries, the coordinated, effective effort of all is required.

The international community recognizes that the United States has been a leader in the fight against corruption. The adoption of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in 1977 was a landmark in this area. The United States has long engaged in an intensive diplomatic struggle to convince the international community that corruption, especially issues such as transnational bribery, affects us all, that corruption represents a crime against the transparency of markets, and that, in the long term, it cripples the economic development and the institutions of the countries.

For almost two decades this was a lonely battle for the United States. In the OECD, for instance, the developed countries refused to commit to any legislation that would punish transnational bribery and eliminate tax incentives that of some of them were giving to bribery-related activities. However, one must recognize the courage and persistence of American diplomacy, in convincing the international community that corruption does not pay, that it is everybody's enemy, and that it should be a common cause.

Fortunately, these efforts have begun to yield fruits. Today, thanks to the American leadership, the fight against corruption has become one of the priorities on the international agenda.

This leadership was essential for the OECD states to finally adhere to a Convention that gives a multilateral dimension to many of the elements of the Foreign Corruption Practices Act. Similarly, the United States administration has played a key role in the adoption of anti-corruption principles by the IMF, regional development banks and other financial institutions. Thanks to this, the states of Southeast Europe have pledged to fight corruption as part of the Stability Pact.

In this Hemisphere, with the support and leadership of the United States Government, a historic step was taken with the decision made by the heads of state and government at the Miami Summit.

The Convention is the outcome of a process initiated at the Summit, one which has now become an ongoing effort. Not only was it the first international legal instrument in this area, but it still provides the most comprehensive approach offered by any such instrument to the problem.

In relation to crimes of corruption, the Convention is the most important inter-American treaty on extradition, judicial cooperation, the exchange of evidence, and the adoption of measures pertaining to property.

With regard to investigations and the presentation of information by banks and financial institutions, the Convention represents a great step forward toward preventing the use of bank secrecy to conceal acts of corruption.

In reference to the right of asylum, the Convention achieves an appropriate balance between the values protected by that right and the objectives pursued in the fight against corruption.

Regarding transnational bribery and illicit enrichment, as a result of this treaty all the states are committed to punishing such crimes.

Therefore, the Convention has become the road map for our collective action. In fact, it has been strengthened by other decisions adopted at the Summits of the Americas and by the political bodies of the OAS. For instance, the General Assembly adopted an inter-American program of cooperation, and the General Secretariat, in accordance with that program, has supported the states in implementing the Convention.

I wish to emphasize that the General Assembly, in Windsor, adopted a very complete resolution on this matter, in the preparation of which the United States played a very active role.

I am certain that the ratification of this Convention will allow the United States to consolidate its role as a leader in this field. It will enable us, in just a few months, to present to the heads of state in Quebec, for their consideration, new proposals for further strengthening hemispheric cooperation in the fight against corruption.

Thank you very much.