Note: Attached below in pdf format is a document outlining the joint statement today issued by the co-chairs of the Ukraine Forum on Asset Recovery. The document details the participants’ commitment to helping recover stolen assets on behalf of the people of Ukraine.
Thank you for those kind words – and thank you, once again, to Her Majesty’s Government and the people of the United Kingdom for co-hosting this important and productive Forum.
It has been an honor to join with so many dedicated leaders, committed public servants, and distinguished activists and policymakers from around the world in discussing and advancing the critical work that has brought us together. And it continues to be a great privilege for my American colleagues and me to stand with this community of nations in supporting Ukrainian officials and citizens as they strengthen law enforcement efforts, reinforce key institutions, and build and improve systems that will help guarantee the economic stability, the political independence, and the national sovereignty of a strong and free Ukraine.
Over the last two days of constructive dialogue, I believe we have made significant progress – in sharing knowledge and best practices, in refining our mutual understanding of the challenges ahead, and in seeking new avenues for communication and cooperation, both in and far beyond Ukraine. This Forum has provided a vital opportunity for high-level international engagement. And it marks a positive and highly promising start to what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult journey.
As we are all aware, the process of investigating corrupt officials and reclaiming stolen assets is far from simple. As in any such endeavor, we will likely encounter setbacks and false starts as we move forward. These cases are exceedingly complex. They require significant time and resources to pursue. The collateral effects of corruption are vast and widespread. And the avenues for achieving important reforms are often difficult to navigate.
Yet each of us is here today because we are certain that, despite these difficulties, the task we have undertaken is achievable. We recognize that progress will demand not only persistence, but patience; not only the will to succeed, but the fortitude to keep up the fight even against tough obstacles and difficult circumstances. And there can be no question that the work we have begun here in London this week – the partnerships we’ve strengthened and the innovative steps and solutions we’ve discussed – will enable us to lay the foundation for a strong and far-reaching effort that can succeed.
As we return to our respective countries, we bring with us not only a clearer understanding of the road before us, but also a renewed determination to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine in its time of challenge – just as we will stand with any nation embattled by kleptocracy and corruption. And we share a determination to ensure that this collaborative effort extends beyond this immediate crisis – and beyond the borders and the narrow interests of any one nation, region, or continent.
After all, in today’s increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, corruption impacts us all. It denies resources to those who need them most. It imperils growth and development. It weakens the rule of law. And it can pave the way for international crime.
Ultimately, corruption undermines and endangers every nation that hopes to establish justice for its citizens; to ensure peace for its society; and to secure freedom for its people and for posterity. That’s why it must be of grave concern to every country and every government that harbors genuine interest in the welfare and common defense of those we serve.
This shared understanding of the reality we face is reflected in the distinguished assembly before me. The nations represented at this Forum hail from around the world. They comprise populations both large and small. Some are stewards of ancient civilizations and systems of government. Others are bold new experiments for free lands and free peoples. But all of us – and many others around the globe – are united by our desire to build and protect a more secure and more prosperous world. We are determined to help realize our vision of a future in which all people can be assured of their inalienable human rights – and no person is at the mercy of a corrupt regime’s repressive will; in which power is freely given by the people, and not coerced by intimidation or theft. And so we gather this week in support of that vision: of a world in which strong and committed nations stand together not to exploit divisions or to wage war – but to forge, in President Obama’s words, a “just and lasting peace.”
This Forum’s work rests squarely in that proud tradition, and in that noble spirit. Although our respective nations may disagree at times, in the face of new challenges and evolving threats, we also recognize that – here, today – there are universal issues at stake. Issues of dignity and the rule of law. Issues implicating the rights of men and women in every region of Ukraine to choose their own futures, to forge their own paths, and to determine their own destinies.
Like you, I have no illusions that helping Ukraine secure these rights, or achieving our other goals, will be easy – or that the obstacles we face can be surmounted overnight. But I am confident – because of this Forum, because of our ongoing collaboration, and because of the strength and overwhelming unity of this community of nations – that we can and will continue to build that brighter future together. So let us leave London recommitted, rededicated, and resolved to do just that.
Over the course of our discussions here, yesterday and today, many of us have spoken often about the resilience of the Ukrainian people – of their proud history and unyielding resolve. As we close this Forum, I want to commend these brave citizens once again for their inspiring example in the face of great adversity – and their abiding faith in the strength of democracy. And I want to assure the world that as long as Ukraine, or any nation, has the courage to oppose corruption and to challenge exploitation, they will find steadfast friends and strong allies in every corner of the globe.
Although our Forum has reached its conclusion, the work we perform will not end. We will not lose sight of these critical challenges. And we will not diminish our focus on eliminating corruption wherever it occurs, and whatever form it takes.
This is the commitment that free peoples and free societies demand. And that is the promise we make today.
I thank you all, once again, for your active partnership, for your ongoing support, and for your dedication to all that we must achieve together. I am proud to stand with you, and look forward to all that we will accomplish going forward.