SECRETARY BLINKEN: Nicely, good afternoon, everybody. And let me first say I’m actually tempted to say “what she mentioned” and we are able to name it a day, and that’s normally the case. As a result of sure, we’re right here – and I’m right here – to take pleasure in a bit of of this inspiration that we’re seeing round this desk. However loads of that inspiration for me begins with a now greater than a long time lengthy friendship and admirer-ship, if that’s a phrase, of Sam and every thing that she has impressed so many people to do over so a few years with this relentless give attention to democracy, on human rights, on combatting humanity’s worst and assembly it with humanity’s finest.
So it’s at all times nice to be partnered with my buddy, my colleague of a few years, and to be with all of you. I’m actually grateful for this outstanding turnout of leaders and colleagues each throughout governments but additionally throughout organizations, and as Sam mentioned, actually throughout areas and the world over.
And sure, normally the occasions that we have now on the way forward for democracy are likely to give attention to the challenges and the regarding traits. And they’re actual. They’re deep; they’re critical. And I do know that for all of us they’re a profound preoccupation. We – and that “we” consists of governments, NGOs, multilateral establishments, companies, and others who’re dedicated to democracy’s renewal and its unfold – we do tend generally to miss the flipside of the coin: the folks throughout the globe who, as Sam mentioned, are demanding democracy, demanding human rights, demanding accountable authorities, and who routinely come out to the polls, or generally into the streets, to reject corruption, to reject repression, to reject authoritarianism.
And on this room, round this desk, we see the outcomes of many such actions: inspiring leaders who rode waves of common help for democracy and anticorruption into workplace, however who now must show, as Sam mentioned, that their reform agendas can really ship tangible advantages for the people who they symbolize. That basically is the duty earlier than us. It’s what President Biden has been centered on and speaking about actually since he grew to become president, however I’ve heard him give attention to it for a very long time earlier than that.
And the excellent news is that this: We’re seeing – you’re seeing – democracy really delivering for folks in your international locations. And I feel we have now an enormous alternative now to help these efforts, to help your efforts, and to assist guarantee their sustained success, at a time after I know a lot of you’re going through very appreciable headwinds. So right this moment, I do know we get a chance to listen to from a few of the main reformers about simply how we are able to really do this.
Governments have a key function to play. Ultimately December’s – excuse me – Summit for Democracy, President Biden introduced the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal. We’ve dedicated about $425 million to observe via on the commitments that had been made. About $55 million of that funding within the first yr goes to USAID’s Partnerships for Democratic Growth, which is able to present versatile, multiyear help – and the multiyear help is vital – for international locations pursuing democratic openings, like those taking part in right this moment’s occasion.
However authorities is important, however it isn’t adequate. We want others to step up with us, together with the personal sector, which has an abiding stake in fostering stronger democracies. Transparency, anticorruption, rule of legislation, all of those – you already know this – create a extra stage taking part in subject for companies to compete. And international locations that respect human rights and labor rights are usually extra steady and extra dependable companions – particularly in a disaster, as we’ve skilled via COVID-19.
The personal sector, in flip, has extraordinary experience in lots of the areas the place rising democracies want essentially the most help. And we’ll hear about a few of these right this moment, like Vodafone’s efforts to enhance maternal well being in Tanzania. I’m certain that others on this room, round this desk, could have concepts of the place to pitch in. We’re keen to listen to them. We’re additionally keen, the place we are able to, that will help you act on them. And I’ve seen this time and time once more, and it’s additionally extremely inspiring. We see the sensible outcomes once we can construct public-private partnerships in really making progress, in really making a distinction in folks’s lives.
Now a method that we’re ready to try this within the authorities is thru the Growth Finance Company, which companions with the personal sector to decrease the danger of funding in creating international locations, together with all of the democracies represented right here right this moment. And Scott, thanks a lot for being with us right this moment, however thanks for what you’re doing each single day. I’ve to say, from my perspective, one of the vital instruments that we have now in america Authorities on this agenda is the DFC, and I’m very proud that we’re working collectively so intently.
Immediately, although, is extra than simply offering help. We’re additionally right here to study. We’re right here to study from everybody round this desk. We’re right here to adapt. We’re right here to attempt to share and unfold finest practices, as a result of one other factor that I’ve realized in a few years of doing that is that nobody has a monopoly on concepts, by no means thoughts good concepts. Nobody has a monopoly on finest practices. Someplace, someplace world wide, for almost any downside that we’re confronting, somebody’s in all probability figured it out.
But when we don’t share that info, if we don’t share these finest practices, then we’re continually reinventing the wheel. And the ability of bringing so many individuals collectively who’re centered on completely different points of this problem is that I’ll wager that, for absolutely anything we have now to take care of, somebody has discovered a good suggestion or an excellent answer. So we wish to be sharing them right this moment.
Finally, the challenges that many are going through are merely not that completely different from those going through democracies everywhere in the world. Let me simply rapidly cite one which I do know is on the high of nearly everybody’s agenda: corruption. That’s estimated now to price as much as 5 % of worldwide GDP. And everyone knows this, however corruption discourages funding. It stifles competitors, it deepens inequities, and perhaps most damaging for democracies, it erodes public belief in authorities, in establishments. And that, that’s the most corrosive factor of all. It additionally greases the wheels of international interference, disinformation, transnational repression, and different actions authoritarian governments take to attempt to weaken democracy.
Each nation right here right this moment is taking significant steps to deal with this scourge. The Dominican Republic handed new laws that enables the federal government to grab property gained via illicit actions and make investments them within the Dominican folks. Ecuador created the nation’s first-ever specialised courtroom tackling corruption and arranged crime. Armenia’s Corruption Prevention Fee performed integrity checks on 261 candidates for judges and prosecutors within the first half of 2022, searching for conflicts of curiosity and different points that might really undermine their independence. These are actual, sensible methods of coping with the problem of corruption.
Now, a lot of this democratic renewal is definitely being pushed from the underside up – in Zambia, the place final yr extra youth, ladies, first-time voters turned out than at any time in that nation’s historical past and introduced new leaders to workplace who’re already making optimistic change, from increasing human rights protections to decreasing the nation’s crushing debt.
And Moldova, the place huge voter turnout to energy reform a authorities that ran on a platform of transparency, anticorruption, and judicial independence introduced that authorities to workplace.
And I’ve to say my very own admiration for you, Madam President, and your whole colleagues is boundless. You will have a rare problem below essentially the most troublesome circumstances, however know that america is and can stay strongly your companion in every thing that you simply’re doing.
Of all the explanations to be optimistic about this progress, the passion of residents would be the most inspiring and, finally, essentially the most consequential, as a result of when folks in different elements of the world, together with in closed societies, see residents holding their leaders to account, once they see authorities really working to resolve issues that individuals are confronting of their every day lives, then they too start craving for a extra free, a extra open, a extra accountable authorities in their very own international locations. And that’s the type of virus that we’d wish to see unfold. It’s an excellent one, a strong one, one that may make an enormous distinction.
The underside line is that this: I feel, greater than ever earlier than, the destiny of our democracies are intertwined, interconnected. The extra vibrant, resilient democracies that we are able to foster by our aspect, the extra we will do what we’re all right here to do, which is to ship for our folks, for our fellow residents. That’s the mission; that’s the target. And we’re grateful to have the ability to work with so many who’re making an attempt to just do that.