Thank you, Madame Chairwoman. As this is the first opportunity for my delegation to speak, may I extend my congratulations on your election as Chair for this 54th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
I also add the condolences of my government, my people, and my nation to those already expressed by other delegations to our Japanese colleagues. We admire enormously the courage and discipline of the Japanese people that we see every day on our TVs.
I am joined by our co-head of delegation, Dr. Gil Kerlikowske, the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Dr. Kerlikowske will address the session later today at a round-table discussion on key public health and safety issues, such as the growing threat of driving while under the influence of drugs, or “drugged driving.”
My predecessor Ambassador David Johnson, is also in attendance. Ambassador Johnson is leaving the State Department but he is not leaving public service. Indeed, it is our hope he can bring his years of experience to the International Narcotics Control Board.
Over the last 30 years, we have all witnessed the evolution of drug production, trafficking and use. Though overall drug use has fallen dramatically, we see its consequences affecting citizens and communities throughout the world.
As the scale of illicit drugs has evolved, so has our political will. Last year, my government provided $34 million to UNODC to support its efforts around the world, and looking ahead there is no reason to expect that we would not continue this level of support. This represents our commitment to the UN Conventions and support for international partnerships to reduce drug use and its consequences.
As we look for new approaches, we anchor our efforts in the three UN drug control conventions that are the foundation of our domestic and international counter-drug efforts – past, present and future.
Looking ahead, my government is working with its partners to support three new regional initiatives. They are aimed at addressing emerging threats, and we look forward to working with UNODC in shaping and supporting these initiatives.
First, we will re-align our Central Asia programs into a comprehensive “Central Asian Counter-narcotics Initiative.”
We believe that now is the time for a renewed effort in Central Asia’s fight against narcotics trafficking. We hope to promote greater cooperation and coordination between the Central Asian states and Afghanistan, and to work through regional organizations including the Central Asian Regional Information Coordination Center (CARICC).
We intend to work closely and cooperatively with UNODC, in particular its Regional Office for Central Asia, to promote innovative cross-border approaches to combating drugs and crime.
Second, we will re-align our efforts in Central America to meet new security challenges. The U.S. has over $260 million available for the Central America Regional Security Initiative.
Our strategy will focus on five areas:
We hope to cooperate closely with our strategic partners and friends, such as Colombia, Mexico and Canada.
Third, next month we will launch a comprehensive “West Africa Security Initiative.”
We hope to strengthen law enforcement and security operations in West Africa and build the capacity of national security institutions to disrupt organized crime, while ensuring transparency and accountability within law enforcement.
Madame Chair, UNODC has played an active role in all three of these priority regions. We hope that UNODC’s engagement continues to bolster cross-border law enforcement cooperation through the Paris Pact Initiative and its programs in Central Asia; that it continues to support national government partnerships with UNODC field offices, and that it continues its work to create inter-agency specialized trans-national crime units.
In each of these regions and indeed throughout the world, we seek partnerships and common ground among national governments, regional organizations and multilateral organizations. We look forward to working with our fellow member states, and to continue to partner with UNODC in the global fight against illicit drugs and international crime.