Summit for Democracy Event: Authoritarian States’ Illicit Finance and Kleptocracy: Threats to Democracy, Peace and Security 6 December 2021, 12pm-1pm Washington, DC (Virtual) Opening Statements David M. Luna Co-Director, Anti-Illicit Trade Institute (AITI) Terrorism, Transnational Crime, and Corruption Center (TraCCC), Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for joining us in today’s Summit for Democracy side event, sponsored by the Terrorism, Transnational Crime, and Corruption Center (TraCCC) at the Schar School of Policy & Government, George Mason University. We also thank our partners, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), as well as Global Financial Integrity (GFI) for their support at TraCCC’s Anti-Illicit Trade Institute (AITI) including our recent course on Transnational Crime, Money Laundering & Illicit Finance from Authoritarian States. My name is David Luna and I am the co-director of the AITI at TraCCC. Democracy is under siege. As President Biden outlined earlier today in the Strategy on Counter Corruption, released this morning, “Corruption threatens United States national security, economic equity, global anti-poverty and development efforts, and democracy itself.” We concur. In fact, illicit finance and kleptocracy are such pervasive threats that in addition to undermining democracy, they corrode the rule of law, fuel impunity, imperil effective implementation of national sustainability and economic development strategies, contribute to human rights abuses, and enflame violent conflicts. These threats become magnified when they are advanced by authoritarian states to finance greater insecurity and instability around the world, and in a manner that harms the national security of the United States and other democracies. The corruptive influence of authoritarian forces can be seen and felt across borders and in every corner of the globe. This is especially true when dictators or corrupt ruling elites conspire with criminals to manipulate weak governance structures, erode judicial independence, and quash anticorruption investigations and the rule of law so that democracy cannot take hold or the voice of citizens cannot be heard. The malign and criminal behaviors by authoritarian states, for example through kleptocracy and illicit finance, are existential threats to democracies, democratic values and human rights, and to world peace and global order. Our discussion today will further illuminate the destabilizing effects and dangers that these threats pose to democracy, peace, and security, and why we must diligently inform communities with facts and evidence-based research on the impacts of authoritarianism. Finally, we must support whole of society approaches to counter today’s transnational security vectors including the convergence of kleptocracy, organized crime, and threat finance. In short, sustaining the light of democracy must be our resolute challenge.
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Find Chairs' Report: Authoritarian States’ Illicit Finance and Kleptocracy: Threats to Democracy, Peace and Security (Civil Society Side Event), 6 December 2021: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/chairs-report-authoritarian-states-illicit-finance-david-m-/