Concluding Session: The OSCE’s Role in Follow-up to the Forum

As prepared for delivery by Robert Leventhal
Director of Anti-Corruption and Governance Initiatives
U.S. Department of State
Economic and Environmental Forum First Preparatory Meeting
Dublin, Ireland, April 24, 2012

Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.

We’ve covered a lot of ground in a very short time. In the view of the United States, this conference has met its core objectives. We’ve discussed critical issues associated with improving governance, enhancing transparency, and fighting corruption. We’ve discussed the fact that laws and declarations are not enough; we need implementation. But we’ve also heard from several experts in and out of government that instituting good governance does not stop at implementation: we need solid follow-up. With the decision taken in Vilnius to strengthen the Economic and Environmental Dimension, including making the Economic and Environmental Dimension Implementation Meeting an annual event, the OSCE will be in an even better position to follow up on the implementation of our second-dimension commitments.

In order for this follow-up to be more effective, however, we will need a solid benchmark against which to measure implementation. The United States sees an emerging consensus view that we should have a strong statement at the Dublin Ministerial of our shared values and principles on good governance, transparency, and anti-corruption, one that would take account of major international instruments and initiatives that reflect these values.  We stand ready to support the leadership of the Irish Chairman-in-Office and will work with all the participating States towards this important goal. This is the logical outcome of the 2012 Economic and Environmental Forum, and we look forward to engaging with all the participating States at a high level in Prague.

Looking ahead to Prague, and the second annual EEDIM, we note that our discussion today proved the value of hearing voices from civil society, including the business community. We expect and welcome robust civil society participation at the remaining high-level events this year, and encourage all participating States to facilitate the involvement of non-governmental actors.

Mr. Ambassador, your colleague, Minister Perry, noted at the outset that poor governance has the potential to destabilize a state, politically and economically, and called for “a strong social reaction to corruption” to intensify the demand to tackle this issue. In our opening remarks, Assistant Secretary Camuñez highlighted the fact that combating corruption and strengthening governance is not just a moral argument, but also a driver of economic growth. We were pleased to hear so many delegations sharing their experiences with implementing these measures. Our Russian colleague discussed a number of measures they have taken to implement their national plan on anti-corruption, including ethical codes of conduct and asset disclosures. The United States, recognizing that no society is immune from these scourges, has likewise recently strengthened its disclosure requirements for government officials and civil servants. From Georgia, we heard about efforts to streamline business and property registrations. Not only has this enhanced the business environment, it has also removed a common entry point for corrupt practices. Poland described its efforts to promote transparency and work with civil society by engaging on the Open Government Partnership – an initiative we believe all participating States should explore as an example of how to make their governments more transparent and accountable to the people. I cite individual cases, not to ignore the efforts of others – we heard many more, and I do not want to take too much of your time – but to illustrate that the core values we have discussed – good governance, transparency, anti-corruption, broad involvement of key stakeholders – are not just words on paper, but concrete areas of work that are already being undertaken and need to be supported.

And in fact, the OSCE has provided significant assistance to States seeking to implement good governance measures. We heard updates from Armenia on its Guillotine project, an aptly-named program to slash unnecessary regulation and promote business activity, and supported by the Office in Yerevan. We also mentioned earlier the success of the Office in Tajikistan in promoting growth through trade along the Afghan-Tajik border. Again, this is but a small sample of the great work that our field presences do. As we look beyond the Dublin Ministerial – it is never too early – we should look for additional opportunities to leverage the field presences to implement good governance and transparency measures.

In closing, Mr. Ambassador, the United States thanks and applauds the Irish Chairman-in-Office, who has also been a gracious host these past two days, and the Office of the Coordinator for Economic and Environmental Activities, including Vienna and field staff, for their diligent efforts. We now have a lot of work to do, and really not much time to do it. Many organizations and actors have already made significant contributions in this area, the OSCE included. It is now time for the OSCE to put its own stamp on broad international efforts to promote good governance and transparency, and that requires the active involvement of all of us.

Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.