HomeAsia-Pacific Social Science Reviewvol. 11 no. 1 (2011)

Policy Decisiveness, Public Regardedness, and Unity of Purpose: The FATF and the Policymaking Process for AMLA

Bing Baltazar C. Brillo



The story of the Anti-Money Laundering Law (AMLA) is about the contemporary impact that an international organization has on the policymaking process. The dynamics of the crafting of this law illustrated the asymmetrical relationship between the international organization and the central policy actors. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a nonveto player, through incentives and constraints, profoundly influenced the behavior of the veto players, determined the tempo of the process, and delineated the legislative outcome. First, the FATF, was able to set the agenda and subdue the political inertia that worked against the law in the executive and legislative branches. Second, the FATF ensured the enactment and amendment of the law. Third, it made certain that the law did not cater to vested interests and complied with international standards. The external demand was so overwhelming that the FATF was able to guarantee the unity of purpose (the threat of sanction compelled the veto players to collaborate) that in turn resulted in the policy decisiveness of the process (the unyielding deadline defined the pace and direction of the proceeding), and in the public regardedness of the policy (the global standard shaped the content of the AMLA). In the theoretical sphere, the engagement between the FATF and institutional policy actors demonstrated a new dimension in the veto players framework, and modified the conventional proposition— that the more veto players, the harder it is to generate or change policy (policy stability), and the more watered down the output policy (private regardedness) will be. Instead, the presence of an international organization “refashioned” the lawmaking process, making policy enactment easier (policy decisiveness) regardless of the number of veto players, and ensuring that the policy responds more to global interest (public regardedness,) notwithstanding the presence of a multiplicity of interests among the veto players.