Partnering to Address Today's Transnational Security Threats in a Turbulent World

David M. Luna
Senior Director for National Security and Diplomacy Anti-Crime Programs, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
CSFRS Conference, Ecole Militaire
Paris, France
December 15, 2016

Good afternoon.

It is an honor to be here with you today to speak and participate at this year’s Assises on “A Fragmented World: Centrifugal Forces of Globalization” hosted by Prime Minister Manuel Valls and France’s Conseil Supérieur de la Formation et de la Recherche Stratégiques (CSFRS).

Let me also thank my dear friends, Alain Bauer, CSFRS President, Ambassador Eric Danon, Ambassador Olivier Caron, and Xavier Raufer for their kind invitation, and for their collective leadership in advancing the recent U.S.-France dialogues on emerging security threats and related research.

The Importance of Trans-Atlantic Partnerships

The U.S. Department of State was honored to host the first U.S.-France Cooperative Security Futures Forum in 2014 - a diplomatic dialogue and partnership between France and the United States on national security, strategic research, and intelligence to better understand some of today's transnational security threats.

Over the past few years, in partnership with the CSFRS, we have examined ways to strengthen international cooperation between the United States, France, the European Union (EU), and the international community, including anticipating and addressing security threats and risks related to organized crime, cybercrime, terrorist and criminal networks, black markets and illicit trade.

We look forward to our continued partnership with CSFRS.

As President Obama underscored during his recent visit to Europe, our globalized world is passing through a time of profound change. He argued that, even as there is no turning back from our interconnected world, the current path of globalization requires a course correction to address the inequality, uncertainty, and disconnection from their own governments that many of our citizens feel.

The United States is thus a committed partner with Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and others around the world in advancing the freedom, prosperity, and democracy that our citizens deserve.

As witnessed over the past year with the attacks in Paris and Brussels, instability in remote places like Iraq and Syria has direct consequences not only for those parts of the world, but also to our homelands and those of our allies.

Increasingly, the corrupting influence of transnational criminal and illicit networks impacts global security as well as individual citizens’ lives.

So as long as illicit networks continue to exist and evolve, we must work together to address them across regions, borders, markets, and communities – and to ensure that, as we confront these immediate threats, we implement long-term strategies to prevent their resurgence.

Let me share with you some thoughts on such threats—dangerous alone but even more dangerous when they converge-- that require more than ever our collective will and cooperation to confront.

Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism

Many security experts will note that what keeps them up at night is the horror that could result from the use of weapons of mass destruction, or WMD. Addressing WMD trafficking, whether it involves rogue states like North Korea, criminal syndicates, or terrorist groups, is thus a priority we share.

Past seizures of weapons-grade nuclear material indicate that such materials continue to circulate on the black market, where they can be bought by criminals and eventually transferred to terrorists, potentially allowing a small group of determined killers to inflict widespread harm. Fortunately for us, we have not seen terrorist groups acquire nuclear material of concern.

However, the continued terrorism and criminal acts of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other violent extremist groups will remain a high priority for governments, especially stopping their horrific atrocities against innocent civilians, including women and children which endanger all of our communities.

So we must also continue to work together on countering the flow of foreign terrorist fighters into Iraq and Syria, and other regions of conflict or instability, and to track and disrupt the terrorist or criminal activity of violent extremists returning to their homes of origin, including Europe and the United States.

We must similarly counter the violent and dangerous ideologies that are used to radicalize and recruit individuals to violence around the world. This must include addressing the social, political and economic grievances that fuel the appeal of violent extremism, particularly among our most vulnerable or disenfranchised citizens.

The United States has been working with partners to strengthen the capabilities of our allies to confront threats and prevent unauthorized transfers of WMD and missile technology, expertise, and material; and imposing sanctions to discourage such transfers or the willful skirting of these obligations.

On combating illicit trafficking, criminal networks, and proliferators more broadly, the United States works closely with the international community, including organizations like INTERPOL, the IAEA, the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), to strengthen governments’ capacities to detect, investigate and prosecute those who facilitate the trafficking of WMD, their delivery systems, and related materiel.

We know that effective investigations, prosecutions, and convictions are critical for keeping rogue states, criminals, terrorists, and other non-state actors from acquiring WMD and dangerous materials and technologies.

Within the Department of State, INL coordinates closely with other important stakeholders including the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN), Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT), Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance (AVC), and others, to strengthen international cooperation against transnational threats including WMD proliferation and combating illicit networks and corruptive facilitators.

In part to support U.S. law enforcement, the Department of State is working with international partners to counter WMD proliferation. This includes working with the network of Attaches from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and other federal agencies, to coordinate with foreign counterparts, as well as international organizations to investigate, prosecute, or sanction suspected WMD smuggling and trafficking networks and strengthen nations’ capacity and will.

Webs of Corruption and Criminality

Transnational organized crime (TOC) is being supercharged by the adoption of high technology to extend criminality in unprecedented ways to every part of the world.

Terrorists and transnational criminal organizations are increasingly using the Internet to plan, coordinate and learn from one another, using sophisticated tactics to raise funds, move people, transfer arms and other contraband and to spread fear - a critical source of their power and reach.

New technologies are also being used in an array of profitable illicit and criminal enterprises involving online child pornography, prostitution, narcotics, money laundering and illicit uses of virtual currencies, financial fraud, identity and data theft, extortion and blackmail, and even contract killings and assassinations. Computer hacking, network exploitation, and disruption activities such as denial-of-service attacks and ransomware make the news on an almost daily basis.

Transnational organized criminal activities are putting legitimate businesses, government institutions, consumers, and citizens at risk. These activities threaten not only the interdependent commercial, transportation, and transactional systems that facilitate free trade and the movement of people throughout the global economy, but it also jeopardizes economic development, security, and the integrity of supply chains.

In this illicit global marketplace, organized criminals are truly multinational enterprises establishing a presence in emerging markets across every region of the world, linking and consummating business deals with one another in ways that mock legitimate business practices. Latin American cartels are doing business with Asian triads; Eurasian mafias are colluding with Middle East syndicates; and so on.

Their penetration of state institutions and financial and security sectors is particularly alarming, especially in parts of the world where the illicit economy is dominant.

Transnational crime drives hundreds of billions of dollars in illicit commerce that includes narcotics trafficking, wildlife trafficking, human trafficking, illegal logging, counterfeit consumer goods and medications, stolen antiquities and art, and other illicit enterprises. This illicit trade not only fuels webs of corruption and criminality – but in some cases, finances terrorist activities.

Of particular concern are transnational crimes involving people themselves as a commodity. Countries lose their human capital and economic potential when men, women, and children are kidnapped, trafficked, exploited, or even murdered by actors in a web of criminality and corruption.

Transnational crime and corruption undermine sustainable development as governments struggle to provide basic public security. Law enforcement is outgunned and outmanned as government resource streams dry up due to the capture of legitimate commerce by corrupt officials and criminals.

On combating illicit networks, recognizing the expanding size, scope, and influence of transnational criminal threats and its impact on U.S. and international security and governance, in July 2011 the United States released the National Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime: Addressing Converging Threats to National Security.

The TOC Strategy calls for the U.S. government and our international partners to work together to combat transnational illicit networks, and take that fight to the next level by breaking their corruptive power, attacking their financial underpinnings, stripping them of their illicit wealth, and disrupting their networks.

At INL, through many of our anti-crime training programs to combat corruption and organized crime, including our network of International Law Enforcement Academies (ILEAs), we are helping our partners to improve their capacity to undertake complex investigations to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal networks, and to strengthen information-sharing across borders.

Environment and Human Security: Combating Illicit Trafficking Networks

With a global population that now exceeds 7 billion people, stress on the environment and demand for natural resources can directly impact national and economic security.

Unsustainable exploitation of global resources, precious ecosystems, vital habitats, oceans, and

wildlife endangers the well-being of future generations.

According to a 2014 report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), over the past 40 years, populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish around the globe have dropped by 52 percent.

The poaching of iconic animals such as rhinoceros, elephants, tigers, gorillas, orangutans, and a great number of rare and exotic birds and reptiles, have left these species very close to extinction.

The illicit trade in timber, fish and other natural resources endangers not only the environment, but contributes to an expanding of the global illegal economy that corrupts the rule of law around the world and helps fuels greater insecurity and instability.

As we have seen in some parts of the world, natural resources exploitation can help to trigger, intensify, or sustain violent conflict.

INL’s experts draw on extensive experience combatting other forms of transnational crime and apply it to the illicit trafficking of wildlife and environment crime around the world, including through programs that target corruption and money laundering; strengthening legislative frameworks of partner nations to make sure there are effective laws in place to deter, investigate, prosecute, and sanction wildlife criminals; and supporting cross-border regional law enforcement cooperation.

Conclusion: Partnerships to Combat Today’s Transnational Security Threats

As many leaders have said in recent months, we also need to better understand the economic dislocation, migration, and transnational security threats that have been part of our increasingly globalized world.

We must listen to the concerns of people, especially those who feel that globalization has undermined their own security, and reflect on how transnational crime, corruption, and terrorism undermine our collective security.

We should not despair, but rather gather our energies anew—recognizing that unity of effort and purpose remains our greatest strength, and putting our heads together to turn good intentions into sustainable actions that help to safeguard our common security.

It is in our hands to decide. We know that if we do not act, transnational security threats and the dark side of globalization will continue to imperil our communities, economies, and ways of life.

In closing, it is fitting that we discuss these threats and challenges today in Paris and at the Ecole Militaire.

As we all know, in the last two years, France has repeatedly shown a face of courage to the world in light of heinous terrorist attacks. These events have reinforced our commitment to defend democratic values at home and abroad.

The United States is honored to join with the people of France and with our allies in this great cause and winning the peace.

Through diplomatic engagement and global partnerships, we stand together to support, defend, and advance freedom and the just rule of law everywhere and deter the transnational threats that undermine our collective security and prosperity.

Thank you.