Robert Leventhal
Director of Anti-Corruption and Government Initiatives, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Brasilia, Brazil
December 9, 2010

The United States is honored to be part of the Third Meeting of the Conference of the States Parties of the MESICIC and we thank the Government of Brazil for hosting this event. The OAS Technical Secretariat is also due recognition and appreciation for its ongoing work to support MESICIC. The U.S. delegation extends its congratulations and welcome to the governments of Haiti, Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Kitts and Nevis upon their joining the MESICIC on the occasion of this Conference.

It is worth note that chairing the MESICIC and hosting the Conference are emblematic of Brazil’s strong -- and growing -- leadership in international efforts against corruption.

The U.S. delegation applauds Brazil for the leadership that it has shown not only in the MESICIC, and not only for its leading domestic transparency and other anticorruption measures, but also in Brazil's working with other G20 economies to adopt a broad and practical G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan at the Summit in Seoul in November; in its participation in the Anti-Bribery Convention under the OECD; in hosting productive and high-profile regional and global conferences such as the 2005 Global Forum and the 2012 International Anti-Corruption Conference; and in promoting progress on review of implementation and cooperation to recover proceeds of corruption in the context of the UN Convention against Corruption.

Like Brazil, combating corruption is a priority for the United States. U.S. policy reflects the belief that efforts to combat corruption are essential to preserving security and stability, promoting economic growth and development, and consolidating democracy and the rule of law. The United States has been a longstanding global leader and partner in building an international architecture to combat corruption, and President Obama is committed to strengthening anticorruption efforts worldwide. As President Obama said in Toronto earlier this year, “In too many places, the culture of the bribe is a brake on development and prosperity. It discourages entrepreneurship, destroys public trust, and undermines the rule of law while stifling economic growth.”

The United States continues to advance anticorruption efforts through cooperation and by example. Recently, the U.S. announced a Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative to enhance its capacity to cooperate to freeze, seize, and return proceeds of corruption stowed abroad; increased enforcement against businesses that pay bribes to foreign officials to win business, thereby helping to level the playing field internationally for honest companies; strengthened protection of whistleblowers; put record amounts of data in the public domain; and adopted a new Publish What You Pay law requiring that oil, gas, and mining companies publicly report payments to the U.S. or any foreign government for resource extraction. With this year’s financial commitment, the United States became the largest donor to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and worked with international organizations, the private sector, and governments to help resource rich countries build transparent and accountable practices in the extractive industries sector. The United States provided over $1 billion in fiscal year 2009 in anti-corruption and related good governance assistance aimed at promoting transparency, accountability and participation in government institutions and public processes at all levels.

Today, however, we should celebrate the early leadership this entire region showed in addressing corruption.

This hemisphere’s adoption of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption in 1996 established the first multilateral framework to promote and facilitate cooperation between states in order to effectively fight corruption. The region’s leadership in addressing corruption through high-level political commitments made at the Summit of the Americas has also been instrumental in maintaining the political will to combat corruption. These actions set a pattern and opened a space for continued high-level commitments and further regional -and now global -- frameworks to combat corruption.

As the body that supports the implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, the MESICIC plays a vital role in ensuring that this hemisphere continues to be a leader in the global fight against corruption. We have heard the results of the work of MESICIC, reflected in the accomplishments detailed in the Hemispheric Report reviewed today, although it is clear that for each of us there is more work to be done.

As we complete the Third Round of review and move into the Fourth Round, we must continue to turn our shared commitments into action in order to ensure that the Inter-American Convention against Corruption achieves its purposes. While we cherish the comparative advantages of MESICIC in a world that now has UNCAC and other instruments, we must also take the occasion to examine how to continue to strengthen its value-added. We should not be reluctant to consider how to strengthen MESICIC, despite its productivity to date – just as we did not hesitate to strengthen the Inter-American Convention by establishing MESICIC despite the accomplishments of the Convention standing on its own. In fact, the Report of Buenos Aires foresees periodic review of MESICIC in order to let it evolve and grow.

To that end, there are several things that we can do to strengthen the MESICIC.

First, in addition to the methodology of questionnaires and discussions in review subgroups and plenary that the MESICIC has utilized, the MESICIC would be strengthened by adopting and undertaking the practice of regular on-site (in situ) country visits, which would be objective, technical and nonintrusive. Our experience with site visits is that they add depth to review processes. Indeed, site visits would further enrich the work of the Committee of Experts by bringing experts together with colleagues and other stakeholders for an extended face to face dialogue, providing increased opportunity for the interaction that has enriched the work of the Committee. In developing such visits, impartiality and equal treatment can be safeguarded by adopting a detailed, standardized methodology. We need to jointly act to develop a methodology for such site-visits and begin regular visits as part of the Fourth Round of reviews.

Second, the MESICIC’s own procedures must reflect the vital role that civil society – citizens, individual businesses and private sector associations, non-governmental organizations, media – plays in providing oversight and promoting accountability. The processes to promote implementation of an anticorruption convention must of course themselves be transparent, participatory, and inclusive. The States Parties must provide civil society organizations appropriate opportunities to participate in the MESICIC, in accordance with the principles of the OAS and consistent with the general rules of the OAS for the participation of civil society organizations.

Third, we must each work to satisfy in a reasonable but expeditious timeframe the recommendations that MESICIC formulates. The United States supports the proposed focus of the Fourth Round on resolving pending recommendations as a useful tool in that regard.

Finally, we need to ensure that the MESICIC has the financial resources it needs to be effective, through voluntary contributions provided by a wide range of countries from across the hemisphere. The United States has been honored to provide voluntary financial support to the MESICIC, and we are prepared to increase the level of support in order to contribute to the costs associated with regular site visits based on a sound and effective methodology. The United States urges other countries to show their support for the mechanism by widening the base of voluntary contributions to support its work.

The United States believes that the central challenge in moving forward is not in figuring out what needs to be done. The Inter-American Convention against Corruption and the UNCAC, among other instruments, outline the necessary steps and set in place clear and high standards. Our collective challenge is to summon the political will to embrace these instruments and standards, to strengthen them where appropriate, and most importantly to take actions to effectively implement them. The MESICIC has accomplished much in the first three rounds of review. Working together, the United States is confident that the MESICIC will continue to strengthen implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption and aid us in our collective fight against corruption.