USIS Washington 

25 February 1999


(Erecting laws against corruption is not enough) (1631)

Washington -- An independent judicial system based on a rule-of-law
regime and government that is open, accountable and transparent are
essential requirements for an anti-corruption strategy, says Under
Secretary of State for Global Affairs Frank E. Loy.

"Erecting laws and institutions as barriers against corruption is not
in itself enough," Loy said February 25 in remarks at Vice President
Al Gore's Global Forum on Fighting Corruption. "Laws and institutions
can't work very well in a society that doesn't also have a culture of
trust and an atmosphere of openness and accountability."

The three-day forum, which ends February 26, includes representatives
from almost 90 countries. Loy said that the department is developing a
rule-of-law strategy for a few specific countries, with the goal of
helping governments focus their scarce resources where they can do the
most good.

"A laissez-faire approach to crime and punishment has a terribly
corrosive effect on citizens' confidence in their leaders," Loy

He said the United States will actively support governmental efforts
to make criminal justice systems more aggressive and more punitive on
corruption issues.

Following is the text of Loy's remarks as prepared for delivery:

(begin text)

A Global Forum on Fighting Corruption
Remarks by Under Secretary for Global Affairs Frank B. Loy
Thursday, February 25, 1999

Good afternoon. It's a great pleasure to be with all of you today. It
seems that tickets to this conference have become a much hotter
commodity than we expected. But I can assure you with absolute
certainty that no one had to pay a bribe to get in.

We've been talking the last couple of days about the importance of
fighting corruption and the many benefits that accrue from that fight.
But I want to talk today about a broader theme -- that of the rule of
law and its importance.

No anti-corruption strategy, no matter how well-designed and
well-intended, can succeed without a broader commitment to two
overarching requirements. The first is an independent judicial system
based on a rule-of-law regime. And that includes the concept of due
process and the principle that the rule of law applies equally to
everyone -- from the poorest and least-privileged among us to the
highest echelons of government and society. The second requirement is
a government that is open, accountable and transparent. Here in the
United States we often refer to this idea as "Government in the

Some of you may be familiar with the International Crime Control
Strategy that President Clinton released last year. The President
spelled out a series of very specific goals, one of which is to
"foster international cooperation and the rule of law." I want to talk
a little about that today, because it really defines my agenda -- my
marching orders, if you will -- as the Under Secretary with
responsibility for our rule-of-law policies.

The President's strategy spelled out three objectives for furthering
the goal I just mentioned.

One, we should try to establish a commonly-accepted code of global
standards for fighting international and trans-border crime. And once
it's established, we should very actively encourage compliance with

Two, we should improve our bilateral cooperation with foreign
governments by increasing the quantity and quality of our
collaborative law enforcement efforts with them -- and the training
and technical assistance that we can offer them.

And three, we should strengthen rule of law's position as the
foundation of both democratic governments and free markets that are,
if not free of corruption, at least well-insulated against it. That
means, among other things, that court systems must be able to function
independently so that all people can be confident of fair and
equitable treatment. They won't get off, maybe, but they'll get a fair

This third objective is, perhaps, the most important one, particularly
as it applies to newly-emerging democracies or countries trying to
rebuild their democratic institutions in the aftermath of civil
conflict. These countries, as we have seen, are particularly
vulnerable to corruption and trans-border crime.

There is a common theme that runs through all these objectives: it is
that erecting laws and institutions as barriers against corruption is
not in itself enough. Laws and institutions can't work very well in a
society that doesn't also have a culture of trust and an atmosphere of
openness and accountability.

Here in the United States, we've been working at this for better than
200 years. Certainly, no one would say that we've got it just right.
But we do have two centuries of experience, and we're eager to share
it with countries that share our commitment to the rule of law.

To that end, my friend and boss, Madeleine Albright, has made rule of
law an integral part of her agenda as Secretary of State, a commitment
that I don't believe any of her predecessors ever articulated.

Secretary Albright's interest in this derives from two sources. First,
she understands the centrality of the rule of law to so many of our
most important foreign policy goals: promoting democracy and human
rights, building free and fair markets, fighting international crime
and terrorism. Second, she and Attorney General Janet Reno saw that a
growing proportion of our international assistance was going toward
rule of law objectives training law enforcement agencies, assisting
with judicial reform, providing advice on legislation -- but without a
coherent strategy for applying this assistance.

So, with that in mind, the Secretary this year created a new position
in the State Department -- that of the Senior Coordinator for the Rule
of Law. And we have filled that position with a highly qualified,
highly capable gentleman by the name of Joe Onek, who is here today
and whom I encourage all of you to get to know.

Joe's role here has several parts. One is that he will pull together
and coordinate the rule-of-law efforts of the various bureaus here in
the State Department and other U.S. Government agencies. The goal is
eventually to produce a blueprint that all U.S. government agencies
can refer to as they work on our international rule-of-law programs.

Second, he'll develop our rule-of-law strategies for a few specific
countries, with the goal of helping this government focus its scarce
resources where they can do the most good. And lastly, Joe is our
principal liaison to the NGO community and to businesses and
governments that share our goals. Obviously, he's a very busy guy, so
don't be offended if he doesn't return your phone calls right away.

I don't want anyone to think that our appointing a Rule of Law
Coordinator this year means we weren't already working on rule of law
issues. In fact, we've been quite active on this front for decades all
over the world.

In some Latin American nations where, historically, a lot of crimes
have simply gone unpunished, we have actively supported governmental
efforts to make their criminal justice systems more aggressive and
more punitive. Needless to say, a laissez-faire approach to crime and
punishment has a terribly corrosive effect on citizens' confidence in
their leaders. So we're quite pleased about the progress that
governments in this hemisphere have made.

Earlier this month in Guatemala, for example, three men were sentenced
to 28-year prison terms for an atrocious attack on a group of American
college students just a year earlier.

In 1996, the Organization of American States oversaw the adoption of
the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, which, among other
things, requires its signatories to criminalize cross-border bribery
of public officials. Twenty-five countries have signed the Convention
and 13 have ratified it. President Clinton submitted it to the Senate
last year, and we're hoping for ratification very soon.

Then, at last year's Summit of the Americas in Santiago, heads of
states from throughout the Americas put together a clear and
comprehensive "Plan of Action" for stamping out corruption in our

In the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union and the
former Eastern Bloc, where organized crime has taken root and
flourished, we have put in place several rule-of-law assistance

In Romania, we're working with the government to design and implement
a long-term anti-corruption strategy and to strengthen its capacity to
fight organized crime.

In Bosnia, the United States has contributed 200 police officers to a
UN police task force that monitors the work of local police and
teaches them how to use democratic police procedures. I cannot
overstate the importance of this. You know, for the average citizen,
the cop on the street is his first and maybe only point-of-contact
with government. If that cop is crooked, if he's mean, if he's unfair
or just uncaring, then that citizen may well adopt a very grim and
cynical view not just of that officer, not just of the police
department, but of the whole system of government.

Before I conclude, I'd like to leave you with some questions to ponder
in your panel discussions this afternoon. As you talk about corruption
in the context of the military, the judiciary, law enforcement and
other organs of government, I'd ask you to consider the following:

-- How can we, as governments, join forces to bring about change? What
can we do together, bilaterally and multilaterally?

-- What are some concrete steps we can take after we leave here today?

-- And how do we, each of us, address corruption at both the domestic
and international levels?

So, with that, I'll say thank you again for coming and enjoy your

(end text)