WASHINGTON – The full Senate today unanimously approved an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2024 (NDAA) authored by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) that would require the State Department to publish each year a list of countries, ranked in three tiers, according to the degree to which the governments are fulfilling the commitments they made to combat corruption in international covenants. Similar language was adopted twice by the full House of Representatives in the 117th Congress, and it also was favorably reported out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last Congress and again earlier this month.
“Global corruption erodes trust and confidence in democratic institutions, the rule of law, and human rights protections. It also damages the United States’ competitiveness and creates barriers to economic growth in international markets,” said Senator Cardin. “Our bipartisan legislation, which matches President Biden’s assertion that fighting corruption is a core national security priority, will provide a new tool to encourage other governments to cooperate with America’s global fight against corrupt actors.”
“Global corruption is often at the root of conflict, humanitarian suffering, and political crises,” said Senator Young. “In places like Burma, Syria, and Venezuela, corruption has undermined the rule of law and prevented humanitarian aid from reaching those in need. Our bipartisan legislation provides tools that will help combat international corruption by standing with the world’s most vulnerable and holding those in power responsible for their actions.”
The Combatting Global Corruption Act creates a ranking system for corruption, though it would not require detailed reports such as are prepared in the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the International Religious Freedom Report and the annual Trafficking in Persons Report. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said several times this year, these rankings are important tools in U.S. foreign policy, helping solidify American leadership in defending human rights, battling trafficking, and enhancing religious freedom. The legislation also would have the U.S. Department of State designate an anti-corruption point of contact at U.S. diplomatic posts in the two lowest tiers of countries.
Cardin and Young both are members of the Senate Finance and Senate Foreign Relations committees.