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Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Statement at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
Signing Ceremony of the Anti-Bribery and Corruption Convention
Paris, France, December 17, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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[As Prepared for Delivery]

Thank you Mr. Secretary-General, Minister Strauss-Kahn, fellow ministers, distinguished colleagues.

Four years ago, my predecessor Secretary of State Christopher proposed that the OECD take the lead in making international bribery a crime. Today, with our signatures, that goal has been realized. It is a victory for good government, fair competition and open trade.

We are taking this step because we recognize that supplier nations have a special responsibility to stop this destructive practice -- a practice that punishes honest people, undermines economic development and destroys confidence in the law.

The United States prohibited the payment of bribes to foreign officials twenty years ago in our Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, but for too many years, we were virtually alone.

Indifference in the developed world legitimized corruption in the developing world. It encouraged the patronizing belief that the problem was cultural and that we couldn't do anything about it. Today we agree it is criminal and we resolve to act.

There is still much to be done. We need to work with our parliaments to ratify the Convention, pass legislation to implement it, and ensure that it enters into force by the end of 1998. I applaud those nations, including France, that have pledged to stop giving tax deductions to those who bribe foreign officials, and I call on others to join them.

We have also agreed to address outstanding issues by the Spring of 1999. We will have an opportunity to expand the Convention to cover bribes to political parties and their officials.

At the same time, as supplier nations in the OECD take these steps, it is vital that nations in the developing world meet their responsibility to act as well.

We need to remember that our work is part of a much larger global movement for transparency and accountability in the political and economic life of nations. It is part of an effort to make markets more open and fair, and societies more open and just.

Our companies and companies from around the world want to do business in countries where contracts are awarded fairly, where markets are not distorted by political cronyism, and where corruption is proscribed by law, exposed by a free press, and punished by independent courts. We have seen plenty of evidence in recent weeks that these conditions are essential to maintain confidence in emerging market economies.

I congratulate the five non-OECD nations that have joined us today to sign the agreement -- Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile and Slovakia. I urge others to follow their lead.

For ending corruption is an interest we share with every nation that wishes to take part in the more just and lawful international system we are striving to build. That system is open to all nations, and every democratic nation that wishes to participate and to abide by its rules will have America's help in finding the right path.

[End of Document]

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