Biden’s Global Anti-Corruption Plan

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Ukraine’s anti-corruption reforms since its 2014 revolution provide a model for emerging democracies seeking to shed the legacy of corrupt regimes and have likely helped strengthen the country’s defenses against Russian invasion, according to a new guide is expected to be deported by the US Agency for International Development to its missions and partners around the world on Wednesday.

The new ‘dekleptification’ guide seeks new ways to help countries seeking to dismantle governments and political systems dominated by corrupt elites, and it draws heavily on Ukraine’s reform efforts over the past eight years since a popular uprising in 2014 toppled the corrupt regime of former President Viktor Yanukovych.

The guide offers a window into the Biden administration’s broader anti-corruption efforts around the world, which have been an overlooked but quietly groundbreaking tenet of its foreign policy.

Ukraine’s anti-corruption reforms since its 2014 revolution provide a model for emerging democracies seeking to shed the legacy of corrupt regimes and have likely helped strengthen the country’s defenses against Russian invasion, according to a new guide is expected to be deported by the US Agency for International Development to its missions and partners around the world on Wednesday.

The new ‘dekleptification’ guide seeks new ways to help countries seeking to dismantle governments and political systems dominated by corrupt elites, and it draws heavily on Ukraine’s reform efforts over the past eight years since a popular uprising in 2014 toppled the corrupt regime of former President Viktor Yanukovych.

The guide offers a window into the Biden administration’s broader anti-corruption efforts around the world, which have been an overlooked but quietly groundbreaking tenet of its foreign policy.

In December 2021, the administration released the first US Anti-Corruption Strategy, which aims to combat illicit finance by closing loopholes in the US regulatory system, strengthening efforts to support civil society organizations and journalists around the world who expose corrupt actors, and creating anti-corruption leadership positions. -corruption within key government agencies, including USAID, the Treasury, and the State Department. As countries like Russia and China increasingly seek to use ill-gotten wealth in their foreign policy to influence the politics and policies of other countries, Joe Biden has become the first U.S. president to wrestle. against corruption a national security priority.

While USAID has historically focused on administrative corruption, which undermines development programs, the agency takes a much broader perspective on kleptocracy and its corrosive effects and seeks to tackle the toolkit of increasingly brazen used by corrupt officials.

“The issues this guide addresses involve kleptocracies re-allocating the same corrupt actors, resources and networks that they use to prevent democracy and the rule of law from spreading in their own country – they also use it to undermine the democracies abroad as a tenet of their foreign policy,” said a USAID official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In the context of Ukraine, Russia has long sought to leverage its energy grip on the country and the influence of Moscow-aligned media, political parties and oligarchs to crush the country’s efforts to reform and out of the Kremlin’s orbit. When Russia invaded eastern Ukraine in 2014 and annexed the Crimean peninsula, it came up against a demoralized military that had been drained by years of corruption and underinvestment.

Reform of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was one of the priority areas following the uprising known as the Revolution of Dignity. While this process has sometimes stalled, Moscow’s forces in their last invasion encountered a highly motivated and disciplined army which, although outnumbered and outgunned, surprised the world by successfully repelling the advance. from Russia to Kyiv.

“The camps are reversed today in Russia’s war against Ukraine: the forces of kleptocracy are fighting in their military invasion against a great power of dekleptification”, notes the guide. He also acknowledges that corruption played a significant role in paving the way for the Taliban’s advance in Afghanistan, as the militant group was able to pay off local officials who were uninterested in fighting on behalf of a largely government. considered corrupt.

It is notoriously difficult to dislodge kleptocratic regimes from power, and such opportunities tend to present themselves only once in a generation, around popular uprisings or a wave of support for reform movements. The guide recognizes that the United States cannot force such moments to materialize, but must be nimble to react as they arise.

“Overcoming spoiler resistance and shattering widespread expectations that ‘everyone is corrupt’ can only happen in the midst of the ‘big bang’ imbalance, which drives transformational political will,” he says.

New USAID guidelines emphasize the importance of preparing the ground in advance, mapping corrupt activities and the networks through which they operate in advance, and responding with agility to support governments, reform-minded journalists and civil society organizations once these “big fringes” arise.

USAID, like many international donor organizations, operates on long and often rigid funding cycles. To respond more quickly to overtures such as the 2014 Ukrainian revolution or the election of a reformist government in Moldova in 2021, the agency announced the creation of its Anti-Corruption Response Fund to support countries in times of of political openness as well as to experiment with new and innovative anti-corruption mechanisms.

The new handbook offers a grim assessment of the fragility of democratic openings in corrupt states: “Too often, reform momentum dissipates within a few years. At that time, corrupt elements regain power. In these cases, it includes a series of recommendations aimed at holding local government accountable by increasing diplomatic pressure and continuing to support reformers and journalists facing legal harassment from oligarchs and corrupt governments.

As part of a package of initiatives announced last December at the Democracy Summit, USAID announced the creation of a global defamation defense fund to protect investigative journalists from frivolous lawsuits to silence them.

“Colleagues in missions have told us that corruption is often the biggest impediment to the progress they seek on other development issues, on health, education, climate,” a second official said. USAID speaking on substance according to ground rules set by the agency. “They are very eager to step up their work in this space and often feel that this has been a historically underfunded part of our work.”

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