Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stressed the need to fight corruption at all levels of society.
"Corruption," he said, "has grown at an alarming pace and threatens global growth, global stability, and the global future."
"The fact is," said Secretary Kerry, "there is nothing more demoralizing, more destructive, more disempowering to any citizen than the belief that the system is rigged against them and that people in positions of power are. . .stealing the future of their own people."
Corruption is a social danger because it feeds organized crime, it destroys nation-states, it imperils opportunities particularly for women and girls; it facilitates environmental degradation, contributes to human trafficking, and undermines whole communities.
Corruption can lead to radicalization because it destroys faith in legitimate authority. And no one knows that better than the violent extremist groups like ISIL, who regularly use corruption as a recruitment tool.
Corruption is an opportunity destroyer because it discourages honest and accountable investment; it makes businesses more expensive to operate; and it drives up the cost of public services for local taxpayers. And that is why it is imperative that the business community of the world makes the fight against corruption a priority.
The U.S. is doing its part. In the 2015 fiscal year, the U.S. Department of State and USAID provided over $715 million in foreign assistance funding around the world through good governance programs. These support avenues for meaningful public participation and oversight, as well as for substantive separation of powers through institutional checks and balances.
More than $120 million was specifically dedicated to anti-corruption efforts. The U.S. Department of Justice has successfully returned $143 million since 2004 and is litigating now more than a billion dollars’ worth of stolen assets. The U.S. is also developing stronger intelligence on kleptocrats and their networks.
All told, corruption costs the global economy more than a trillion dollars a year.
As Secretary Kerry said, "The impact of corruption touches everyone – businesses, the private sector, every citizen. We all pay for it. So we have to wage this fight. . .wholeheartedly by embracing standards that make corruption the exception and not the norm."