Delivered by Ambassador Ian Kelly
to the OSCE Economic and Environmental Implementation Meeting, Vienna, Austria 17 October 2012
The United States would once again like to thank the Irish Chairman-in-Office (CiO), Secretary General Zannier, Coordinator for Economic and Environmental Activities Svilanovic, and our Austrian hosts for convening the 2nd Economic and Environmental Dimension Implementation Meeting (EEDIM). The 2011 launch of EEDIM established this valuable framework for dialogue among participating States. This year’s focus on good governance has been addressed through preparatory meetings, the Economic and Environmental Forum, seminars, workshops, and field training sessions, all of which have generated new ideas, field mission activities, and support for a Ministerial Declaration on good governance. This forum provides an opportunity to review the implementation of OSCE commitments, exchange examples of best practices, and prepare for the Nineteenth Ministerial Council meeting in Dublin. As we look ahead, it is also important to outline a clear path for our work beyond Dublin.
First, the United States believes that good governance should continue to serve as an underlying principle upon which the OSCE can build its Second Dimension work. As an organization, we must recognize that the political will to uphold good governance principles will be an essential component of progress on the gamut of challenges we face in the environmental and economic dimension. An excellent indicator of our commitment to good governance will be a robust Ministerial Declaration that reaffirms existing principles and calls for the endorsement of international initiatives that combat corruption.
The OSCE’s mandate to protect the welfare of citizens from Vancouver to Vladivostok demands that we take seriously the cost of corruption and its rippling effects. Market economies work best when participating States demonstrate a strong commitment to good governance, transparency, and the rule of law. These tenets help improve economic conditions, raise the confidence of investors, strengthen government accountability, and create a vibrant and informed civil society.
We have discussed the significant impact that money laundering, corruption, and the financing of terrorism have on economic growth. During the asset recovery session, our panel of experts noted that according to the World Bank, stolen assets total between 20 to 40 billion dollars every year. In order to combat this challenge, our panelists agreed that what is needed is increased coordination with international partners and full implementation of anti-corruption programs within our field missions. Two great examples are the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the Open Governance Partnership (OGP), existing mechanisms to detect and deter actions that undermine sustainable development, rule of law, and integrity in the public and private sector. The United States strongly supports applying the anti-corruption principles of the UNCAC and OGP to our commitments and encourages the Organization to include these agreements in the Ministerial Declaration on good governance.
The United States fully supports the Chairmanship’s initiative to adopt a robust Ministerial Declaration on good governance that reaffirms our commitments, recognizes civil society as a key stakeholder, and incorporates appropriate international principles for participating States. We are encouraged by the ongoing discussions to finalize text for a declaration in Dublin and commend the Irish for advancing a document that presents a clear commitment to good governance in a cohesive way, drawing upon previously adopted commitments and initiatives.
We continue to endorse the full implementation of transparency programs such as the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, EITI, which is a key element in combating corruption and ensuring high standards of transparency and accountability between governments and extractive companies. EITI has been recognized by several partner organizations such as the G8, G20, and OECD. Many participating States have adopted the principle because they agree that a country’s natural resources should be developed for the benefit of both public and private stakeholders. Since its inception in 2002, 36 countries have implemented EITI and notably, the incoming CiO, Ukraine, announced its intention to implement EITI this year.
Secondly, as we applaud our successes in the Balkans, we must adapt and focus OSCE activities on corruption in Central Asia where the OSCE has unique capabilities to have an impact and reduce the barriers to trade, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and sustainable development. If not properly addressed, economic and environmental challenges will continue in a region where bribery, nepotism, and kickbacks are seen by most Central Asian citizens as “business as usual” in both the private sector and the public sectors.
In Central Asia, programs that promote democratic institutions and practices, improve border security, expand existing police assistance programs, and encourage economic and free market development are key initiatives that will help build a prosperous region and enhance stability and security for all participating States in the OSCE. A shared vision for long-term security and stability in Central Asia is of the utmost importance for the OSCE region. Since 2007, the OSCE has played an active role in combating transnational threats in the region, particularly with respect to Afghanistan. The OSCE Decision to Strengthen Engagement with Afghanistan demands improved coordination with international and regional actors and a strategic focus that will enable the organization to maximize impact on the core objectives mentioned above.
Lastly, it is important to increase the participation and inclusion of civil society stakeholders. We are pleased to see representatives from the private sector and non-government organizations joining our panel discussions and suggesting solutions to the problems they address. These players are critical partners in national and international efforts to promote good governance. It is crucial that we support their involvement both in the Ministerial Conference in Dublin, as well as in our ongoing preparatory meetings and workshops.
As noted during the EEF panel discussion, the most effective engagement will involve dialogue among government, the business community, non-government organizations, and the media. These stakeholders share a common interest in exposing corruption and supporting reform within the public and private sectors. Active civil society engagement can help monitor government actions in such areas as the privatization processes, use of strategic natural resources, procurement procedures, and public expenditures. In addition, civil society can be an effective vehicle for increasing public awareness and transparency. The OSCE can serve as a platform for dialogue between civil society representatives and government counterparts on a variety of good governance and anti-corruption issues. It plays an important role in building the capacity of civil society and the public sector at the national and local levels, working with civil society to develop future strategies, as well as to evaluate current mechanisms and programs.
As we look ahead to the Dublin Ministerial and beyond, let us find the political will to implement current commitments in the field of good governance and to embrace new tools and mechanisms that can assist participating States in this critical endeavor. A robust Ministerial Declaration on good governance, strong inclusion of civil society partners in our efforts, and a strategic focus on areas most vulnerable in the OSCE region will be a good start.
Thank you, Moderator.