It has been a tremendous privilege serving the President and the United States as Ambassador to the OECD. As I head home to rejoin my family, here are a few thoughts on what we’ve tried to accomplish over the last three years.
When the Obama Administration took office, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development had become the “rich men’s club.”
Today -thanks to wonderful colleagues in the U.S. Government, the other member countries and Secretary General Gurria – it is, in the words of former Chilean President Michele Bachelet, the “reformers’ club.”
We got there by reengaging in multilateral diplomacy as instructed by President Obama and focusing on openness, engagement, and relevance.
Openness was our first priority. We negotiated the most robust set of principles to protect the open Internet. In December 2011 the Recommendation on Internet Policy Making Principles emerged from a High-Level Meeting we convened on the Internet Economy. The Organization has been a leader on Internet issues stretching back several decades, when it helped build the policy consensus that led to the open Internet. It is also home to the international broadband rankings and the global Privacy and E-Commerce Guidelines. With the global consensus on an open Internet fraying, we convened Internet pioneers, civil society, business and government leaders. The principles that emerged provide a blueprint for safeguarding the Internet as a platform for innovation.
We took the quest for openness to the OECD itself and one of my best days was the day Hans Reisling called Secretary Clinton “Robin Hood” because we gained agreement that the organization would provide free, open access to its cross-country data. We convinced the OECD to release their information on how much countries were or weren’t doing to implement the Anti-Bribery Convention.
To engage the OECD with the world we reached out beyond the rich, developed countries. We gained admission to the OECD for Chile and Israel. Then, with Secretary Clinton in the chair for the OECD 50th Anniversary Ministerial, members adopted a new Vision Statement committing the organization to become a Global Policy Network. We moved decisively, bringing Russia into the Anti-Bribery Convention and the Nuclear Energy Agency, renewing the Multinational Enterprise Guidelines, and then launching the Development Strategy to help developing countries strengthen their tax administrations, procurement systems and governance institutions. Negotiated by USAID and delivering on Secretary Clinton’s QDDR, the Strategy puts development back in the forefront of OECD engagement.
We had to ensure the OECD work was relevant to the lives of citizens living though the crisis. We initiated the OECD Gender Initiative to produce data and analysis to help countries understand how to address women’s poverty, access to capital, the pay gap, challenges to entrepreneurship, science education and work and family tensions – in order to draw on a critical, and often untapped, resource for improving economic performance and addressing inequality. I served as co-chair of a demonstration project: the OECD-MENA Women’s Business Forum, which made recommendations to improve support for women entrepreneurs in the region. We launched the New Approaches to Economic Challenges initiative to bring a robust analysis of inequality and innovation into economic growth analysis. And Education Secretary Arne Duncan released the OECD’s data – showing U.S. 15-year olds slipping compared to kids in other countries – as a “wake-up call.”
I am confident that Secretary General Gurria and the member countries will continue the modernization effort while navigating the inevitable challenges. The organization faces natural questions about how it will enhance its engagement with the BRICs while maintaining its commitment to high standards. And how will it engage in cross-disciplinary work – clearly the future – and continue to ensure buy in, its strength over other organizations?
I was extraordinarily lucky to work with a talented, dedicated team of Foreign Service officers and locally-hired staff. The United States is fortunate to have them representing its interests. My OECD colleagues have become dear friends and I will follow with admiration the work they do. I am so impressed with the world-class work of the OECD experts under the leadership of the Secretary General and his remarkable team.
It was an honor to serve President Obama. I hope our efforts help demonstrate the value to the United States of reengaging in multilateral diplomacy. – KK
Co-authored by Ambassador Kornbluh and Steve Pierce, Senior Policy Advisor at USAID
Big news. Thursday the OECD - the so-called “rich man’s club” of developed countries – adopted a new Development Strategy for partnering with developing countries. The multilateral organization, founded as part of the post-World War II Marshall Plan, took this significant step in fulfillment of a commitment made a year ago under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chairmanship of the OECD 50th anniversary Ministerial. Last year, OECD members adopted a new OECD Vision Statement committing the organization to look outward and engage with the developing world.
After a good deal of heavy lifting, the new Strategy advances the Obama Administration’s policy on global development and will increase the efficiency of US aid funding.
We’re both particularly excited because the Strategy will leverage for developing countries the OECD’s knowledge, resources and storehouse of economic policy best practices in areas such as tax, investment, economic growth, anti-corruption, and good governance.
In this era of shrinking aid budgets, the U.S. supports the new Development Strategy as a means of working smarter through better, more strategic collaboration, both across the OECD and with outside partners. Development assistance, no longer the major flow of resources to the developing world, is increasingly catalyzing other forms of finance and technology. In this way, the Strategy is building on the achievements of Busan High Level Forum and the New Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, emphasizing a more diverse range of partners and a more targeted focus on transparency, results and accountability.
Of course, there is still much to be done. Pilot projects will test the organization’s ability to work across expert areas in a useful partnership. The U.S. will work to ensure that there are outside evaluations, metrics and knowledge building. But it’s a big step in re-orienting the OECD to help with today’s economic development opportunities.
The OECD finished up 2011 with an important step in international efforts to ensure the Internet remains an open platform that is secure and reliable, continuing to spur innovation, prosperity and job creation. The OECD adopted a Recommendation of the Council on Principles for Internet Policy Making.
The Recommendation was born at a U.S.-initiated high-level meeting earlier this year and is a major step in our efforts to ensure the Internet remains an open platform.
The Recommendation was developed through the OECD’s multilateral consensus-based process and is a successful follow-on to the U.S.-initiated June 28-29 High Level Meeting on the Internet Economy in which 34 OECD member countries, Egypt, the OECD Business and Industry Advisory Committee, and its Internet Technical Advisory Committee agreed through a Communiqué to the set of principles to guide Internet-related policy making.
This is an important deliverable on the U.S. open Internet agenda. In May, President Obama issued the U.S. International Strategy for Cyberspace, an agenda for safeguarding the single Internet. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has developed a groundbreaking Internet freedom agenda, a principled approach to preserving the freedom to connect — the freedoms of expression, association and assembly online — and to ensuring that the Internet can be a platform for commerce, debate, learning and innovation in the 21st century.
The stakes are high. According to McKinsey, over the past five years, the Internet has been responsible for 21 percent of the growth in mature economies and has created 2.6 jobs for every job it has displaced. Its power to generate innovation is rivaled only by its potential to help people realize their rights and democratic aspirations, as the Arab Spring demonstrated.
This platform, that produced more growth in its first 15 years than the Industrial Revolution did in its first 50, must not be balkanized. The United States plans to work with others to continue building consensus for these global norms.
It may not be the first holiday everyone thinks of in December, but today is UN International Anti-Corruption Day and this year it is worth celebrating as 2011 has been a banner year.
As Secretary Clinton said during her remarks at the 50th Anniversary of the OECD in May, “We all know that bribery interferes with trade, investment, and development. It distorts competitive conditions. It undermines good governance. It encourages even greater corruption. And of course, it is morally wrong and far too common.” Unfortunately foreign bribery continues to be rampant. The World Bank estimates that more than one trillion dollars in bribes are paid each year. That’s a staggering three percent of the world’s economy.
That is why the US pushed for the Anti-Bribery Convention, adopted by the OECD, to which 38 countries have now acceded. It’s why President Obama encouraged the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh in 2009 to address foreign bribery. And why I asked the OECD to make public enforcement activity(or lack thereof!).
2011 has seen progress at the OECD. Year end is a good time to take stock of some of these accomplishments. Here are a few of the highlights:
- In May, the Russian Federation, after approving a new law outlawing bribery of foreign officials, became a full participant in the OECD Working Group on Bribery.
- In November, the OECD also invited Colombia to join the Working Group on Bribery.
- In July, the new UK Bribery Act came into force.
- China, Thailand, Peru, Indonesia and India have participated in Working Group on Bribery meetings.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but shows that progress is possible. Looking to 2012 we hope to see both Russia and Colombia accede to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. We also look to be a partner with countries in the Middle East and North Africa region–where corruption played a major role in the frustrations leading up to the Arab Spring– to share our experiences on fighting bribery. We here at the U.S. Mission to the OECD are looking forward to another exciting year in the fight against corruption.
I wish you all a great Anti-Corruption Day and a happy and healthy holiday season!
Originally posted by Danny Weitzner and Karen Kornbluh on the blog for White House, Office of Science and Technology Policy
This week, at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD) High Level Meeting on the Internet Economy, we joined Tim Berners-Lee and Vint Cerf, along with representatives from business, civil society, and Internet technical communities from 34 countries to discuss how to preserve the openness of the Internet. Also present were policymakers who, over a decade ago, helped establish the Internet policy framework—elegant in its restraint—that enabled the open Internet to flourish with innovation and human connections beyond our wildest expectations.
After intensive conversations, the OECD issued a communique of fundamental principles , highlighting commitments to:
- Promote and protect the global free flow of information
- Promote the open, distributed, and interconnected nature of the Internet
- Co-operate in multi-stakeholder policy development processes
- Ensure transparency, fair process, and accountability
- Strengthen consistency and effectiveness in privacy protection
- Maximize individual empowerment
- Promote creativity and innovation
- Limit Internet intermediary liability
Illustrated by the release of the President’s International Strategy for Cyberspace in May, Internet openness is an Obama Administration priority. As the President told a group of students in China, “I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have free Internet—or unrestricted Internet access—is a source of strength, and I think should be encouraged …. the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes….” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched an Internet Freedom agenda and in February challenged other countries to “join us in the bet we have made… that an open Internet will lead to stronger, more prosperous countries.”
In sharp contrast, last month Iran announced plans to disconnect Iranian Internet services from the rest of the world. There are calls for greater governmental and inter-governmental, top-down, one-size-fits-all control over the Internet. If these trends continue, they risk balkanizing the Internet—with high costs in both economic opportunity and the realization of human rights. According to McKinsey, the Internet has generated as much growth over the past 15 years as the Industrial Revolution generated in 50 years. In the past five years, the Internet has been responsible for 21% of the growth in mature economies and has created 2.6 jobs for every 1 job it has displaced.
But the Internet is not just a generator of today’s jobs; it is the biggest innovation incubator in the world, with a global reach never before achieved in human history.
That’s why these principles should be embraced by governments and other stakeholders. They were developed through an extensive, transparent, multi-stakeholder process. Although there was broad support from the government, technical, and business communities, the civil society groups participating in the process were not able to support the final text due primarily to concerns about specific provisions on online copyright questions. We will continue to seek common ground with them on how these principles are interpreted and implemented.
In another fifteen years, those of us who gathered together at the OECD will look back and be proud of what we did—just as those who set the original framework for the Internet are justifiably proud.
Karen Kornbluh is U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
Danny Weitzner is Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Internet Policy
US Chairs OECD’s 50th Anniversary Ministerial
The US chairmanship of the OECD’s 50th Anniversary Ministerial was a great success. The all-star cast featured Secretary Clinton, French PM Fillon, Japanese PM Kan, and EC President Barosso, and we used the opportunity to accomplish something all too rare – transitioning a post-war international organization into what the new Vision Statement calls a “global policy network” – much more focused on development and engaging in partnerships with new economic powers to spread high standards.
Secretary Clinton focused Ministers on New Paradigms for Development, creating momentum leading into the high-level forum on aid effectiveness in Busan, Korea in November which will now shift the international development architecture to more closely parallel the Administration’s development strategy.
A major moment: Russian Minister for Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina, representing the Russian Federation, accepted the OECD’s invitation to join the Working Group on Bribery in recognition of Russia’s new anti-bribery law – enacted to further Russia’s bid to join the OECD. Russia subjected itself to peer review by other countries in developing the anti-bribery legislation and will now subject itself to additional analysis and peer reviews on topics from corporate governance to environmental law to gain OECD entrance.
Austan Goolsbee chaired the opening session on Growth, Jobs, Innovation and Skills and Ron Kirk chaired the last session on Trade and Jobs. Bob Hormats unveiled a “competitive neutrality” agenda, and Rich Trumpka who serves as OECD Trade Union Advisory Committee President joined Charlie Heeter of the Business Industry Advisory Committee for the adoption of the update to the Multinational Enterprises Guidelines. These guidelines include a new human rights chapter, the incorporation of guidance on due diligence in supply chain relationships, and a new recommendation on Internet freedom.
We pushed the envelope a little more by marking the first milestone in the new US-initiated Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative, and gaining commitments from the UN, World Bank, ILO and OECD for a joint plan to develop cross-country indicators of gender equity for Busan. The Koreans responded by pledging to elevate gender at the development summit. Further, we’re piloting the gender initiative with a Women’s Business Forum for the MENA region, an initiative I co-chair with the Jordanian Ambassador to France. Cherie Blair presented a gender award to the MENA project, and we kicked-off a public-private collaborative on private equity in the region.
Next Up: the big OECD meeting on the Internet Economy, also initiated by the US, at the end of the month.