Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Victor Jackovich
Associate Director
George. C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies
Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany


Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity
Ministry of Justice
Hague, Netherlands
May 29, 2001


Thank you.

It is an honor to help represent the United States government and, more specifically the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, a joint American and German institution, at this Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity. I would like, first of all, to express my gratitude to the Ministry of Justice of the Netherlands and the organizers of the forum for extending an invitation to me to participate.

Among other things, I would like to share with you some of the highlights and results developed at a conference held just one week ago at the Marshall Center's headquarters in Garmisch, Germany. That conference dealt with the problem of corruption in national security services, including law enforcement agencies, customs, border police and armed forces. The Marshall Center conference was sponsored by the U.S. and German governments, whose specialists also participated, and it was attended by high-ranking representatives of some 30 other governments, mostly from Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and Southeast Europe.

The fact that the Marshall Center was the venue for this event demonstrated the importance my government gives to this issue. The recognition is universal that crime and corruption are major destabilizing elements not only in newly emerging democracies, but in older states as well. The all-pervasive nature of this threat has spawned renewed interest in identifying ways to combat it. This was the driving force behind our conference a few weeks ago in Garmisch.

The Threat of Corruption to Transition Societies

The United States and other Western governments and societies have not necessarily been more adept or more intelligent in developing or deploying tools necessary for combating organized crime and corruption. But, we have been perhaps more successful, if only because -- unlike states in transition -- we are not facing the challenges of reform simultaneously with the problems of organization crime and corruption.

But, having identified corruption and crime as major threats to stability and security, we recognize that they are, therefore, a threat to our own welfare. For this reason, assemblies such as this Forum, that bring together specialists from a variety of countries and professions, can make a valuable contribution to the battle against these threats.

Today, criminality and corruption are truly transnational phenomena. Some organized crime networks are so large and powerful that they have the capacity to hold an entire small state hostage, to infiltrate government agencies and to merge illegitimate activities into legitimate enterprise. Law enforcement agencies -- and even military forces and intelligence services -- can be corrupted, their "trade craft" borrowed and their members co-opted.

An even more insidious dimension of the problem, however, is the corrosive effect on society at large. There is the danger that the population of a newly emerging state could begin to perceive criminality and corruption as ineluctable elements in the process of transition. There are probably only two directions from such a point once it is reached: acceptance of criminality and corruption as permanent elements in society, or rejection of the entire transition process and of democratization.

Neither path is positive.

Results of Marshall Center Conference

From May 14 through 18, together with the U.S. government's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the German government's "Bundeskriminalamt" (BKA), the Marshall Center in Garmisch, Germany co-sponsored a Euro-Atlantic conference entitled "Corruption within Security Forces: A Threat to National Security." This conference looked for ways in which organized crime and corruption are already being confronted by various states, but in addition explored some new methods. And, as I noted previously, the entire focus was on corruption in the armed forces and related services, such as intelligence, police and customs.

Approximately 120 high-ranking government officials from some 25 states in the Euro-Atlantic community participated in the conference, together with specialists, academic figures, journalists, NGO representatives and others. A significant number of members of national parliaments also attended and were particularly vocal about the need to pass new legislation, and the need to ensure expeditious implementation of laws where they are already on the books. Attendees included: the Chairman of the Kyrgyz Parliamentary Commission on Corruption; the Lithuanian Minister of Interior; the Albanian Minister of Public Order; the head of the district court in the capital of Bulgaria; the Chairman of the Russian Parliament's Subcommittee on Transnational Crime, the Chairman of the Romanian Parliament's Committee on Economic Affairs; the Vice President of European Parliament and the Deputy Director of the Council of Europe's anti-corruption initiative called "GRECO." As I mentioned earlier, several prominent American and German law enforcement representatives also participated.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this conference in Garmisch, Germany was to observe the cohesion between military and non-military specialists, including policy-makers, when it came to the subject of corruption. What emerged was a clear consensus that corruption is basically the same in all contexts, and that government officials of various agencies must work together in order for the battle against criminality and corruption to be successful.

Beyond this, during the full week of discussions and workshops, the participants recognized four basic conclusions:

But, the participants at the Marshall Center conference not only surveyed the problems and their origins. They also actively exchanged ideas on what measures could be taken in the future-- by individual states and by regional associations -- to improve efforts to combat organized crime and corruption.

In this regard, I identified four major conclusions:

By the way, the vast majority of participants at this conference came from states in transition. Perhaps not surprisingly then, one of the points they continually made was that the U.S. and West European states need to make more efforts to reduce the "demand" side, which could in turn reduce the prosperity for corruption on the "supply" side.

In brief, those are the highlights of trends identified and solutions explored at the Marshall Center conference on corruption in security forces, held just a few weeks ago in Garmisch, Germany. This event was one in a series of conferences and seminars we intend to continue on this subject.

The Way Forward

It is clear that a successful battle can be waged against corruption and organized crime, or that we can at least reduce the deleterious impact crime and corruption have on our societies, on our states and on security and stability. But, it is equally clear that this must be done in ways that integrate many players in a society; that encourage active involvement of a strong civil society and media; and, that engage popular opinion from the bottom up, as well as political will of leadership from the top down.

In order for reform strategies to succeed, they must combine the efforts of fighting corruption within national political and economic borders with the efforts of fighting corruption on an international scale. In other words, cross-border mechanisms are most successful when domestic institutions are strong, democratic and fully developed. One dimension of this issue cannot be deployed successfully without the other.

Some key measures that emerge as critical to the process are the following:

Strengthening government oversight. Whether through Parliaments of through other official bodies, strong government oversight over national security forces -- including customs, military and intelligence services -- can be a major factor in fighting corruption. This is why the United States and many others in the international community put such emphasis on rendering assistance to the development of Parliament committees, staffers and other agencies.

Harmonizing regulations and transition processes. Newly emerging democracies can eliminate significant opportunities for corruption and crime by harmonizing their laws, regulations and practices with those of the rest of Europe and the international community. Specifically, processes such as privatization of denationalization of property, a formidable challenge faced by virtually every one of the new states of Eastern Europe, can be made more transparent and the results more public.

Developing a merit-based public service cadre. In many newly emerging democracies, public servants and even those in national security forces, are often selected on the basis of loyalty to a particular party or politician. This is one reason why elections can be such traumatic ordeals in these states. There is a dire and urgent need to train and develop a cadre of professionals in government agencies, including the security forces, that can provide professionalism and expertise on a continuing basis without fear of arbitrary removal of reprisal.

Requiring accountability of public officials and institutions. Elected officials should be held accountable to the public through transparency of their transactions and their acquisition of personal wealth. In addition, national institutions -- such as banks, service industries and security's forces -- should come under scrutiny; in cases of significant transfers of holdings or cash, or in cases of significant amounts of procurement of equipment. This presupposes an active and objective media, as well as a vibrant and involved network of citizens associations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).


In the end, the stability and security of the most vulnerable of states is of vital interest to the stability and security of the entire international community. We are only as strong as our weakest link. In our modern age of instant transference of funds and rapid exchange of information via the Internet, the world's inter-connectivity has grown and developed at a pace never before experienced.

Even if we wanted, we could not consign criminality and corruption to certain states or societies and give as the excuse that these problems are endemic or natural in those parts of the world.

Under these circumstances, it is clear that we must work together -- West and East, developed and developing, traditional democracies and newly emerging states in transition -- in order to wage the fight against corruption, in order to win that battle and in order to secure a better life for our children.

Thank you.

Source: U.S. Department of State Washington File