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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Citizen Safety in the Western Hemisphere


Fact Sheet
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
May 26, 2010

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Insecurity and violent crime is near the top of citizens’ concerns in most countries in the Americas, and the President has recommitted the United States to creating practical partnerships in the hemisphere to advance shared interests and protect our citizens. This cooperative approach is based on a deeper recognition of new and traditional threats to the safety of our citizens in the hemisphere. This strategy is grounded in our shared responsibility for addressing such challenges; the critical importance of political will, rule of law, and effective institutions of governance; and the common aspirations for secure, prosperous and inclusive societies.

  • We’ve based our approach on an evolving view of our mutual interests and in the building of pragmatic collaborative partnerships. To get maximum buy-in and effectiveness, these partnerships are jointly designed and developed. This new approach emphasizes the need for comprehensive, evidence-based strategies that address underlying causes, not just symptoms. It also reflects a renewed focus on reliance on the political will, capacity, cooperation, and expertise of partners in the region.
  • It recognizes that the absence of citizen safety undermines efforts to promote equitable economic growth and social opportunity, secure and clean sources of energy, and the strong democratic institutions needed for effective and accountable governance. It also recognizes that transnational, local, and white-collar (e.g. extortion) crimes are interconnected, and require a comprehensive approach, highlighting the need for nations to reduce the corruption that impedes our ability to make significant progress.
  • Our view of citizen safety is also informed by the transnational threats that blur the lines between crime, terrorism, and military confrontation. We are moving in the direction of a broader, more integrated view of security; one that focuses on making advances in citizen safety at the neighborhood level while simultaneously countering emerging transnational threats.
  • The Merida - Mexico, Central America Regional Security, Colombian Strategic Development, and Caribbean Basin Security initiatives embody this approach. They are partnerships in which governments have collaborated with the United States on the development of joint programs and initiatives that are aimed at protecting citizens and strengthening the institutions responsible for ensuring citizen safety.
This concept provides the broad framework under which the United States pursues a variety of partnerships to advance citizen safety. The approach includes and extends beyond traditional counternarcotics and counterterrorism concerns, embracing the concurrent need to address local crime, gangs, the illicit movement of goods and people, and corruption. These partnerships reflect the growing recognition throughout the region about the burgeoning and corrosive effects of local, transnational, and white-collar crime, and the fact that these phenomena are increasingly interrelated.

This approach requires greater harmonization of existing and planned assistance programs, from traditional security assistance and counternarcotic programs to anti-corruption, judicial reform, anti-gang, and community policing efforts. In addition to working towards greater United States Government coordination of our efforts in the hemisphere, we also seek opportunities for diplomatic dialogue with regional powers and foreign donors to encourage them to play a more active role in enhancing hemispheric citizen safety.

We believe that ongoing citizen safety initiatives in Colombia and Mexico with their well-established implementation mechanisms and robust funding can be useful catalysts for promoting the sharing of expertise and regional law enforcement cooperation, particularly among the Central American and Caribbean countries.



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