Trans-Atlantic Dialogue on Combating Crime-Terror Pipelines

Maria Otero
Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights 
National Defense University
Washington, DC
June 25, 2012

Date: 06/25/2012 Location: Washington, DC Description: Under Secretary Otero delivers keynote remarks during the Trans-Atlantic Dialogue on Combating Crime-Terror Pipelines at the National Defense University on June 25, 2012. - State Dept ImageGood morning.

Thank you, Mr. Miklaucic, for your kind introduction, and to the Center for Complex Operations for hosting this Dialogue. The National Defense University continues to make great contributions to research and programs dedicated to enhancing civilian security and the stability of institutions against threats such as terrorism and organized crime. It is my pleasure to welcome everyone today to this beautiful campus.

I would like to thank the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and the Department of Defense’s Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy for their sponsorship of this Dialogue and their leadership in helping to combat today’s national security threats across the globe.

I also would like to commend our partner, the United Kingdom and, in particular, the Home Office, which continues to be an active leader in realizing the joint commitment of Prime Minister Cameron and President Obama to work together to combat transnational threats. We look forward to continuing our collaborative efforts to ensure that the Dialogue we advance today is an ongoing one that yields results.

In the spirit of partnership, I would also like to extend a warm welcome to our colleagues who have traveled here from Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia to offer both their expertise and experience to this workshop in support of their commitment to dismantle crime-terror pipelines. On behalf of the United States Government, I commend your efforts to defeat threat networks and safeguard our states, economies, and societies.

Protecting communities around the world from harm and exploitation at the hands of organized crime and terrorist networks requires collective action. Those of you here today recognize the need for broad collaboration—not only within governments and between governments but with a wide array of partners outside of government.

Nearly one year ago, President Obama released the National Security Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime. The Strategy challenges the U.S. government and our international partners to work together to combat crime networks and terrorists not as separate threats, but as interlocking groups that use common tools and strategies to inflict harm on society.

From the FARC in Colombia to the Taliban in Afghanistan to al-Shabaab in Kenya, we are witnessing how terrorists and insurgents turn to transnational organized crime as they finance and carry out violent acts. With each act, they intend to destabilize democratic governments and intimidate civilian populations. The same forces of globalization that have stimulated economic growth and the movement of people and goods throughout the global economy also present new opportunities that terrorists and criminals can exploit. The convergence of these criminal and terrorist threats undermines good governance, development, the rule of law, and the integrity of competitive markets.

Terrorists and criminals also take advantage of cultures of corruption to further their illicit enterprises. From corrupt public officials to courts that tolerate impunity, criminals and terrorists thrive where accountability falters and good governance fails. It is vital that we fight corruption and empower citizens to promote transparency and accountability in their communities. The Open Government Partnership, which the United States launched with the United Kingdom and many other countries last year, is one innovative way that we are increasing reforms around accountability and transparency so that criminal actors have less room to operate. 

As we devote more attention to the threat of crime-terror interaction, we shrink the space in which terrorists and criminals maneuver. Beginning today, we will redouble our efforts to enhance international cooperation to fight against these threat networks, and against those who conspire to harm our governments, our economies, and our communities.

So thank you for your efforts in this important area. I now have the pleasure of passing the microphone to Philip Barton, the Deputy Head of Mission of the United Kingdom here in Washington.