(Washington) - United States Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) has introduced legislation tying U.S. financial assistance to corruption-fighting efforts in countries around the world.
The International Anti-Corruption Act of 2001 addresses the growing problem of official and unofficial corruption abroad.
“The time has come to stop providing aid as usual to those countries which line up to receive our assistance, only to turn around and fleece U.S. businesses conducting legitimate operations in these countries,” Chairman Campbell said. “Ironically, in some of the biggest recipients of U.S. foreign assistance – countries like Russia and Ukraine – the climate is harmful and outright hostile to American business.”
The International Anti-Corruption Act of 2001 would require the State Department to submit a report and the President to certify by March 1 of each year that countries receiving U.S. foreign aid are, in fact, conducive to American businesses and investors.
If a country is found to be hostile to American businesses, aid from the United States would be cut off. The certification would be specifically based on whether a country is making progress in, and is committed to, economic reform aimed at eliminating corruption.
“Instead of jumping on the bandwagon to pump millions of additional American tax dollars into countries which are hostile to U.S. businesses and investors, we should be working to root out the kinds of bribery and corruption that have an overall chilling effect on much needed foreign investment,” Campbell said. “Left unchecked, such corruption will continue to undermine fledgling democracies worldwide and further impede moves toward a genuine free market economy.”
The legislation provides an exception for continued support in cases where discontinued U.S. assistance would jeopardize humanitarian assistance or the national interests of the United States.
In 1999, Campbell launched an anti-corruption initiative to raise the visibility of this growing problem in the region covered by the 55-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The OSCE has since committed to step up efforts to combat corruption and promote the rule of law. Chairman Campbell recently urged Secretary of State Colin Powell to build upon these efforts within the framework of the OSCE.
The Helsinki Commission, created by Congress in 1976, consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine members from the U.S. House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.