This is a momentous time for global development: Over the last thirty years, the number of people living in extreme poverty has been cut in half, and now - for the first time in history - ending extreme poverty is within reach. It is also a time of complex humanitarian crises and great upheaval, so the stakes have never been higher for us to obtain maximum development results for each precious taxpayer dollar.
Corruption takes on many forms, from the bribery of public officials to collusion in public procurement to the wholesale theft of government assets. Although its different forms may cause varying degrees of harm, corruption as a whole tears at the fabric of society and hinders inclusive economic growth and democratic governance. Additionally, corruption poses major security risks to the United States, often enabling radicalization and violent extremism and fueling political instability and conflict. That is why President Obama views corruption as a fundamental obstacle to peace, prosperity, and human rights, and our Administration has sought to elevate anti-corruption efforts across our foreign policy and development agendas.
As the United States’ lead development agency, USAID plays a critical role in the U.S. Government’s strategy to stem the tide of corruption and hold to account all those who exploit the public trust for private gain. Our work takes us to every corner of the world, where we have seen firsthand the devastating impacts corruption can have on people, communities, and countries. But, encouragingly, we are also seeing new and promising trends on which to build.
Across all 12 Pacific island countries, USAID assistance focuses on climate change adaptation, greater disaster preparedness and providing relief when disasters do strike. In the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, we also assist in reconstruction from disasters. In Papua New Guinea, USAID supports biodiversity conservation and improved natural resource management, helps combat HIV/AIDS and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, and works to strengthen democracy, peace and security in the post-conflict Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Through our regional programming, we also support sustainable fisheries management and conservation.
The United States has put gender equality and the advancement of women and girls at the forefront of the three pillars of our foreign policy–diplomacy, development, and defense. This is embodied in President Obama’s National Security Strategy, the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, and the 2010 and 2015 U.S. Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Reviews. But more must be done. Women’s empowerment is critical to USAID’s core mission of ending extreme poverty and promoting resilient, democratic societies while addressing pressing health and education challenges.
The President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget request of $164.1 million for Department of State and USAID foreign assistance in Central Asia reflects an increased commitment to American engagement in this strategically important region. The request would enable USAID to build on recent momentum in the U.S.-Central Asia relationship developed through Secretary of State John Kerry’s historic November 2015 trip, during which he emphasized the United States’ strong commitment to the prosperity, sovereignty, stability and security of the five Central Asian countries, including through regional integration as promoted by the recently launched “C5+1” framework between the five Central Asian countries and the United States.
USAID has long played an important role in Europe and Eurasia, which has seen considerable advances in freedom, security, and prosperity over the past quarter century. Twelve countries have transitioned from receiving U.S. assistance, successfully integrating into the Euro-Atlantic community through institutions such as NATO and the European Union (EU). Many of these countries are now important U.S. partners and allies in the region and around the world. Yet the region’s transformation remains incomplete; progress is uneven in key areas, important achievements are at risk and, in a few cases, we are seeing regression.
Before I begin, I want to thank both of you as well as the members of this Subcommittee for your continued support and leadership on nutrition and food security. In particular, I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for sponsoring the Global Food Security Act, which demonstrates the U.S. Government’s commitment to reducing global poverty and hunger through increased food security and improved nutrition.
In the Europe and Eurasia region, states weakened by corruption are more susceptible to malign pressure and manipulation from the Russian Federation and other countries, as any semblance of a rules-based order often seems to take a back seat to power, influence, and greed including oligarchs, whose geopolitical goals do not respect international commitments to transparency, rule of law, and fair play. Finally, endemic corruption threatens states by depriving them of the most important resource of any democratic government -- the trust and confidence of its citizens. Where public trust is absent, there can be little expectation of the cooperation of citizens with government to build resilient democracies, let alone do what is needed to counter emerging threats like violent extremism.
For these reasons the Administration sees addressing the problem of corruption, and the need for open, effective, representative governance as a significant priority.
We recognize that the Jasmine Revolution was sparked by the Tunisian people's frustration with the stifling of political discourse, a corrupt economic environment, and predatory security apparatus that coalesced to strip the dignity of citizens. As the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) says in our mission statement, we seek to partner with Tunisia to end extreme poverty and promote a resilient, democratic society while advancing our security and prosperity. I'd like to talk briefly about how the U.S. government quickly and effectively responded to support Tunisians' aspirations for change, describe what we are doing in Tunisia today, and outline how we plan to scale up our support for the democratic transition and economic reforms.
USAID is deeply committed to supporting democratic governance in Africa as part of our mission to end extreme poverty and promote democratic, resilient societies. Africa is on the rise; the continent has some of the youngest populations and fastest growing economies in the world, yet extreme poverty remains concentrated in its fragile states. Development is not sustainable without a legitimate, responsible government that can deliver services in an inclusive manner as well as a vibrant civil society that channels citizen interests and promotes accountability.
Last updated: July 29, 2016