Understanding the Global Corruption Act of 2019

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SEATTLE — Public corruption stands in the way of public progress. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) has introduced the Global Corruption Act of 2019 to “identify and combat corruption in countries, to establish a tiered system of countries with respect to levels of corruption by their governments and their efforts to combat such corruption, and to assess United States assistance to designated countries in order to advance anti-corruption efforts in those countries and better serve United States taxpayers.” This bipartisan bill has six co-sponsors, two republicans and six democrats.

In Cardin’s statement, he explains that “[corruption]erodes trust and confidence in democratic institutions, the rule of law, and human rights protections. It damages America’s global competitiveness and creates barriers to economic growth in international markets. It threatens our national and international security by fostering the conditions for violent extremism, and weakening institutions associated with governance and accountability.” Therefore, according to Cardin, fighting corruption is not only in the interest of the governments in which corruption exists but also in the interest of the United States. The bill requests at least $500 thousand for the Department of State and $500 thousand for the U.S. Agency for International Development to properly coordinate and improve activities.

The Three Requirements of the Global Corruption Act of 2019

The first component the bill requires is an annual report on the status of corruption and efforts against it in foreign countries. The report will assess various foreign government’s efforts against corruption based on whether the country has enacted and enforced laws, and established government structures, policies and practices that prohibit public corruption. The report also assesses whether a country’s corruption is grand or petty as well as the extent to which a country’s government investigates, prosecutes, convicts and sentences acts of public corruption. This includes the prosecution and conviction of public officials who participate in or facilitate corruption, the extent to which an independent judiciary or judicial body is responsible for and capable of deciding public corruption cases impartially and the extent to which the government of the country refrains from prosecuting legitimate victims of corruption or whistleblowers for their part in exposing corruption.

This annual report will allow for the categorization of countries into tiers based on the level of corruption. For example, “the tiers would be listed as Tier One for when a government complies with the minimum standards; Tier Two if a government is trying but falls short in meeting the minimum standards; and Tier Three for when a government is not making any efforts to comply with the minimum standards, according to a summary provided by Sen. Young.”

Second, it requires that agencies and bureaus of overseas missions prioritize corruption in their strategies. Cardin believes this will foster greater cooperation among agencies.

Third, the Secretary of State and the USAID administrator will consolidate existing reports with anti-corruption components into one online public platform which shall include The Human Rights Report, The Fiscal Transparency Report, the Investment Climate Statement reports, the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report and any other relevant reports.

Corruption hinders the progress that could happen with aid. Fighting corruption through the Global Corruption Act of 2019 could be essential in the fight against poverty.

– Sarah Faure
Photo: Flickr
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