Remarks by the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs David Johnson
December 9, 2009
Good morning esteemed colleagues and guests. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak at this important event.
My name is David Johnson and I am the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the United States Department of State. My Bureau, INL, is the State Department’s lead on international narcotics and law enforcement issues. INL is also the lead U.S. Government agency on overseas criminal justice sector reform. We manage approximately $2.6 billion of U.S. foreign assistance resources, operate in over 70 countries and employ roughly 7,000 people. INL’s policy focus was for a long time dominated by counter-narcotics, but as time has gone by, we have moved further into criminal justice sector reform, rule of law, and law enforcement capacity building. INL works in both conflict and post-conflict countries, but regardless of where we work, our overarching goal is to build our partners’ capacity to control criminal threats within their own borders, and to deny safe havens to transnational criminals and organizations.
Today we recognize and congratulate you, representatives of the CARICC member states, on an important accomplishment – the formal inauguration and opening of CARICC. The United States Government, through my Bureau at the State Department, has been a supporter of CARICC since its inception, and we are proud to be counted as a CARICC observer. Since 1999, the U.S. Government has provided $3.8 million dollars to help open CARICC’s doors. The international community together has provided just over $9 million dollars for these efforts. But you have done the hard work of reaching agreement on working together within CARICC, and getting the needed support from your Governments for these efforts. The U.S. Government believes that information sharing and operational coordination among the CARICC member states and those with observer status, is an important opportunity to counter the many transnational threats to your countries and mine.
It comes as no surprise to anyone in this room that Afghanistan is at the top of the U.S. Government’s foreign policy priorities list. President Obama announced last week the addition of 30,000+ troops to support our coalition efforts there. The drug trade in Afghanistan presents multiple threats to all of our countries: drug trafficking fuels Taliban operations, it undermines rule of law and security throughout the Central Asian region and beyond, it creates public health crises and has the potential to radicalize populations.
My Bureau’s particular focus in this regard is narcotics trafficking through the region - precursor chemicals move through this region into Afghanistan and narcotics move out of Afghanistan, to market throughout the world - and the many negative impacts on our partner countries that result from this trafficking.
CARICC presents an important venue to increase our cooperation on stemming the flow of drugs out of Afghanistan and into your countries. In turn, this can help mitigate the many harmful effects of drug trafficking on your societies. As CARICC members, you have a unique opportunity to share real-time information and intelligence that could result in concrete interdictions and hopefully prosecution and incarceration of drug traffickers. The United States will have a US Drug Enforcement Agency representative stationed at CARICC – this will provide an important link for the US Government to be part of these operations.
Again, I congratulate you on today’s inauguration and I look forward to continuing to work with CARICC and our partners here in the future. Thank you.