Promoting Rule of Law in the Asia-Pacific

Event Recap

Speakers Charles Levy, Conchita Carpio Morales, Wendy Cutler, and Yorizumi Watanabe at an Asia Society Policy Institute panel discussion in Washington on March 29, 2017. (Nick Khazal / Asia Society)

In our rapidly evolving global economy, international cooperation is critical to maintaining growth and prosperity through trade and investment. At the core of international cooperation is the notion that all persons and entities, including governments themselves, abide by common standards of transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption. In other words, the rule of law.

On March 29, the Asia Society Policy Institute held a panel discussion among experts in Asia-Pacific domestic and international law assessing the current state of play for rule of law in the region, and opportunities to promote accountability and anti-corruption.

Moderated by ASPI Vice President Wendy Cutler, the panelists discussed how the private sector and Asia-Pacific leaders can better harness international organizations and agreements to promote good governance and break down endemic problems like corruption that hamper fair and inclusive growth in the region.

Ombudsman of the Philippines Conchita Carpio Morales stressed the importance of regional fora as opportunities for policy makers to share best practices on anti-corruption measures to proactively guard against corruption, asserting that “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of prosecution.”

Panelist Charles Levy agreed and added that it is “critically important that the processes by which laws are practiced, administered, and enforced are accessible, fair, and efficient. Justice has to be timely.”

As international trade agreements, particularly plurilateral deals, contain increasingly higher standards, the application of the rule of law domestically becomes increasingly important. Reflecting on this trend, Professor Yorizumi Watanabe noted that “corruption can be found within the protectionist grouping of domestic constituents,” or, in other words, protectionism tends to breed corruption. To promote better adherence to the rule of law in multilateral fora, Watanabe stressed the importance of peer-to-peer review of best practices.

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