Promoting European integration for countries in the Balkans and former Soviet Union by meeting European criminal justice sector standards, and combating transnational organized crime through more effective regional cooperation, are two regional challenges facing the Europe-Eurasian region. While there has been considerable progress toward genuine democracy and the rule of law in the Western Balkans, justice-sector institutions in the region remain fragile, and the related threats of organized crime and public corruption threaten the stability of the Western Balkans countries and their aspirations for European integration. Transnational organized criminal networks based in the Balkans and former Soviet Union have a direct impact on the U.S. through criminal activities, some internet based and some through trafficking.
INL develops policies and manages programs to help partner countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans that strengthen law enforcement and other rule of law institutional capabilities so that their governments can more effectively combat international narcotics production and trafficking, international crime, and terrorism, both individually and working regionally with like-minded partner countries. Three such initiatives include: the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC), headquartered in Bucharest, Romania; the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development for Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine (GUAM), headquartered in Kyiv, Ukraine; and the Balkans Regional Justice Sector Platform.
SELEC: SELEC provides support to Member States to enhance coordination in preventing and combating serious and organized crime of a trans-national nature. SELEC established, operates, and maintains a computerized information system which allows Member States to share information on criminal investigations. SELEC also provides a forum for meetings that facilitate cooperation and the exchange of intelligence between law enforcement agencies in the region.
GUAM: The GUAM project has improved the capacities of the GUAM Virtual Law Enforcement Center (VLEC) to improve cooperation between member states as they combat transnational crime, intensify information sharing, and the planning of joint operations.
Balkans Regional Justice Sector Platform: Initiated in 2013, the project aims to deliver regionally-focused capacity building programs designed to strengthen regional capacity to fight organized and trans-national crime, improve implementation of more adversarial criminal justice systems, and compile a related legal archive and reference materials. Workshops have been successful in bringing together senior level officials who are making valuable professional contacts—including between Serbian and Kosovo officials—and identifying best practices.