Obama at UN: Accountable Government Promotes National Prosperity

U.S. president Barack Obama addresses the sixty-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Revenue Watch and our allies were heartened to read President Obama's strong praise for open government and extractive industry transparency during this week's United Nations meetings.

Speaking to the UN General Assembly today, Obama said:

... the strongest foundation for human progress lies in open economies, open societies, and open governments. … Open society supports open government, but cannot substitute for it. There is no right more fundamental than the ability to choose your leaders and determine your destiny. Make no mistake: the ultimate success of democracy in the world won’t come because the United States dictates it; it will come because individual citizens demand a say in how they are governed.

And in remarks yesterday at the Millennium Development Goals Summit, he specifically cited the new disclosure requirements for oil, gas and mining companies passed in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform act:

We also know that countries are more likely to prosper when governments are accountable to their people. So we are leading a global effort to combat corruption, which in many places is the single greatest barrier to prosperity, and which is a profound violation of human rights. That’s why we now require oil, gas and mining companies that raise capital in the United States to disclose all payments they make to foreign governments. And it’s why I urged the G20 to put corruption on its agenda and make it harder for corrupt officials to steal from their own people and stifle their nation’s development.

"The president sent a message today that open government is a universal value," said Revenue Watch Director Karin Lissakers. "The reporting requirements set by the new U.S. law and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative reflect standards of good practice that serve rich and poor countries equally. Mr. Obama gave a powerful reminder to world leaders that disclosure is an essential tool for development, democracy and prosperity."