printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Third Committee of the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly

William R. Brownfield
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
New York City
October 5, 2011


Thank you Mr. Chairman.

The challenge to our societies from drugs and crime is not new. Drugs endanger the health and safety of our citizens; deprive our youth of their potential; reduce our national productivity; drive up our health care costs; and fund transnational criminal organizations. Drug use in the United States continues to be a serious problem, especially the rising abuse of prescription drugs. Fortunately, over the long term, drug use in the United States has dropped substantially – declining by approximately thirty percent over the past thirty years.

To build on this progress, the United States developed a National Drug Control Strategy that outlined a comprehensive and balanced public health and public safety approach to reduce drug use and its consequences. To support the strategy, we committed over $10.3 billion dollars in this past year to programs which support prevention, early intervention, access to treatment, and the expansion of support for people in recovery. An additional $9.2 billion dollars was provided for our domestic law enforcement efforts; $3.8 billion for interdiction; and $2.3 billion for our international cooperation and assistance.

Meanwhile, in response to this unprecedented pressure, drug traffickers have adapted and modernized their methods and have expanded their reach to new areas. They tap into the tremendous illicit profits available, including the capacity to manufacture synthetic drugs, diverting the chemicals needed to produce them, penetrating financial institutions to launder and move monies, exploiting our transportation networks, and even corrupting our political institutions. No country is safe from these traffickers.

Transnational crime groups rely on our global economy and instantaneous communication systems. They exploit the obstacles that our law enforcement agencies face when operating beyond national borders. International cooperation, the key stone of this body, is the foundation for defeating these shared challenges. By working together, we become more than the sum of our individual parts. By working together, we set international standards; pool our resources and expertise; and close the doors to the safe havens where these criminals operate.

Despite the power, ruthlessness and reach of transnational organized crime groups, experience shows that they can be successfully countered. Colombia, after years of violence by terrorist groups and drug cartels, restored public safety, revitalized its economy and strengthened and expanded the rule of law.

More broadly in the Western Hemisphere, others nations are forging new alliances and enhancing coordination. The Merida Initiative, launched in 2007, is a partnership between the United States and Mexico to confront violent national and transnational gangs and organized criminal and narcotics organizations.

My nation is pro-actively working with the nations of Central America to arrest rising crime and violence. Since 2008, the United States has committed $361 million in assistance through the Central America Regional Security Initiative or CARSI. This initiative focuses on improving citizen security through modern law enforcement techniques and community policing; strengthening the criminal justice sector, security institutions, border controls and interdiction capabilities; and diverting the region’s youth away from criminal gangs. As we attempt to close the door on organized crime groups in Central America, we are also stepping up our support to the Caribbean. We want to ensure that institutions can successfully combat transnational crime should these criminals divert their activities there. In order to support these efforts, we boosted our support of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative from $45 to $77 million in 2011.

For various reasons, including the weak U.S. market for cocaine, drug traffickers are aggressively seeking ways to expand into lucrative European markets. These networks now operate in West Africa, smuggling narcotics from Latin America to West Africa en route to Europe and beyond. This disturbing trend places West African countries at increased risk for corruption, violence, weakened public institutions, and distorted economic and political systems. The profits from West African operations feed into the cocaine organizations.

To counter these criminal efforts, we launched a new partnership program with several West African nations to enhance citizen security under the West Africa Cooperative Security Initiative. As of September 2011, we identified approximately $61.6 million dollars in WACSI funding to develop the capacity to combat transnational organized crime.

Meanwhile, the United States is supporting the Afghan government’s efforts to provide security for its people and re-establish governance and economic opportunity by countering the links between narcotics, insurgency, and corruption. In 2011, we committed $238 million to fund programs to improve the rule of law, support counternarcotics efforts, and strengthen law enforcement cooperation in Afghanistan. We believe that such efforts are a critical part of ensuring a sustainable transition of security matters to the Afghan government. Against this backdrop, it is critical that Afghanistan continue to receive such support and we urge coalition partners and other donor countries to increase support for Afghanistan.

The Central Asian States also face a significant threat from illicit narcotic drugs transiting the region. The United States recently announced a new partnership program, the Central Asia Counternarcotics Initiative, to improve the effective investigation, prosecution and conviction of traffickers by counternarcotics agencies in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. We identified $4.2 million for the program, and will work in close cooperation with existing regional programs, including those of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Center.

Critical to these cooperative efforts is the treaty framework that we established under UN auspices. A cornerstone of this framework is the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs—now observing its fiftieth anniversary—which remains a critical touchstone for the UN General Assembly, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and all member states. 

The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime is the first international convention to target serious crime on a global scale. Parties to this Convention are demonstrating a commitment to stay ahead of the organized crime threat, to strengthen and facilitate international cooperation, including extradition and mutual legal assistance, and to conduct joint law enforcement investigations. As with most treaties, implementation is essential and States’ parties are working on a review mechanism which we look forward to adopting at the next Conference of the Parties in 2012.

Effective anti-crime efforts must attack corruption. The Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), which entered into force in 2005, provides a framework for States, individually and collectively, to attack--both corrupt officials and those who corrupt them – to deny them the fruits of their unlawful activities.

All of these treaties depend strongly on the staff of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime. We owe them all our support and our thanks. Under the leadership of Executive Director Fedotov, the UNODC has an opportunity to expand the UN’s efforts and further its cooperative activities. It is critical that all member states support this institution both politically and financially. For its part, the United States contributed $34 million to UNODC in 2010. But, the work that needs to be done continues to outpace the resources available. I encourage all Member States to consider increased contributions to protect our society, our culture, our human rights, our children, our future. I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Back to Top

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.