In early December, the Biden-Harris Administration released the first-ever U.S. Strategy on Countering Corruption. By doing so, the United States reaffirmed that fighting this global scourge is a key domestic and foreign policy priority of the United States government.
Speaking in Ecuador in October, Secretary of State Antony Blinken enumerated some of the reasons why corruption is such a destructive force. “Corruption is estimated to cost up to 5 percent of global GDP. It stifles growth, it discourages investment, it deepens inequities,” he said. “But maybe its greatest toll is on citizens’ trust in government.”
“In fact, if you look at the vast majority of broad-based civilian uprisings around the world in recent years –the Maidan in Ukraine, Tahrir Square in Egypt; from Romania to Tunisia, from Sudan to Guatemala – you will find at their core a total revulsion at corruption.”
“It affects people in every aspect of their daily lives, and it drains resources from the state that could be spent and dedicated to a school, to a hospital, to something that actually improves lives of people.”
On a national level, the new Strategy to Counter Corruption addresses vulnerabilities in the U.S. financial system that corrupt actors may exploit. On a global level, the Strategy lays out how the United States is integrating anti-corruption measures into U.S. foreign assistance, multilateral diplomacy, security partnerships, and bilateral relationships.
The Counter Corruption Strategy stands on 5 pillars. To begin with, the United States will modernize and improve the coordination of U.S. government efforts to fight corruption. It will also allocate the issue more resources.
Second, it will address gaps in the U.S. regulatory system and work with international partners to do the same.
Third, the United States will work to minimize illicit financing and hold corrupt actors accountable.
Fourth, it will work to preserve and strengthen multilateral anti-corruption architecture.
And finally, the new Counter Corruption Strategy seeks to employ diplomatic engagement with foreign partners to prioritize anti-corruption efforts. This includes leveraging foreign assistance to advance transparency, accountability, and anticorruption reforms.
“Corruption threatens United States national security, economic equity, global anti-poverty and development efforts, and democracy itself,” said President Biden. “But by effectively preventing and countering corruption and demonstrating the advantages of transparent and accountable governance, we can secure a critical advantage for the United States and other democracies.”