The truth is we face many shared challenges: The pandemic and the resulting economic uncertainty. Climate change, cyber threats, and the resulting security concerns. And, of course, the outright assault on democracy that is occurring around the globe.

In the chaos of the crisis, Autocrats have become more destructive. Human rights abuses have multiplied. The rule of law that underpins our international order is under assault. Even basic truth, even basic facts, are being undermined by disinformation—chipping away at public confidence in our press and scientists, our courts and our elections.

I will never forget the horror and the heartbreak of January 6, 2021, when our United States Capitol, a beacon of democracy for so many, came under siege by a violent mob who refused to accept the results of a free and fair election. It is not enough to say we cannot let something like that ever happen again. We must commit and recommit our democratic principles and lead by example. We must reinforce our democratic institutions to deliver real results and instill trust.

There are barriers that stand in the way of doing that. Corruption is one such barrier.

Corruption causes the people to suffer. It stands in the way of progress. It stands in the way of hope.

Corruption can keep people from going to the doctor, sending their children to school, opening a small business, getting a fair trial. Corruption corrodes public trust and drives away investment. It compels migration. It causes violence. And it cannot stand. This month, we announced that for the first time ever, our Administration is designating the fight against corruption a core U.S. national security interest. Together with our allies, civil society, and the private sector, the United States will prioritize the fight against corruption to preserve democracy.

The fight against corruption is a fight won through accountability, through transparency. It is a fight won through strengthening the rule of law and also through the promotion of human rights.

Our democracies cannot be sustained when people are denied their rights, their freedom, their dignity. We must reckon with the injustices of the past and confront those that still persist.

A democracy’s strength depends on its ability to protect against injustice. When we make it possible for more people to fully participate, we improve communities, we improve countries, we improve our world. And that is why, wherever, whenever human rights are violated, we must stand together.


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