Thank you, Chair. It is a great pleasure to be here today at the Seventeenth Regular Session of the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE).
I would like to thank Chile for its leadership over the past year and welcome the election of Panama as this year’s CICTE chair. I also want to congratulate Argentina on assuming the role of Vice-Chair. Additionally, I would like to express my gratitude for the hard work of the CICTE Secretariat, and thank our guest experts and speakers for their contributions on the important issue of countering the financing of terrorism and UNSCR 1540 implementation.
The United States is pleased to be a contributor to CICTE’s programs, and is considering funding for CICTE’s counter terrorist financing program proposal on the implementation of legal frameworks to prevent and combat terrorist financing, which would leverage existing USG projects in the hemisphere. We appreciate the generous contributions of other governments around this table, particularly Canada.
To the specific topics of today’s plenary sessions, we must ensure that states have the necessary authorities and resources to detect, investigate, and take action against terrorist financing activity. Such actions include domestic designation systems, the implementation of targeted financial sanctions regimes to comply with UN Security Council Resolutions, law enforcement actions, and improving domestic and international cooperation. These efforts have closed gaps and continue to make it difficult for terrorist and terrorist organizations to obtain and use resources to plan and carry out attacks.
The United States welcomes the critical role that the UN, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and regional and multilateral organizations such as CICTE play in developing international standards and norms and providing necessary training and capacity building when applicable to their mandates.
We are pleased that the CICTE declaration addresses the importance of implementation of critical UN measures, such as those contained in UN Security Council Resolutions 1373 and 1267 relating to the prevention and suppression of terrorism and terrorist financing. The UN and domestic designation systems stemming from these regimes remain one of our strongest tools in curbing terrorist financing by impeding and deterring broader support to terrorists and terrorist organizations, and keeping illicit actors out of the financial system.
Looking at areas of cooperation and coordination laid out in CICTE’s work plan, it is our hope that we will continue to work together to degrade the facilitation and financing of networks for terrorists and terrorist organizations in the region. This includes enhancing law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute Anti-Money Laundering/Counterterrorism Financing cases, strengthening financial intelligence units, implementation of targeted financial sanctions against terrorist groups and their support networks, and preventing the abuse of Free Trade Zones by terrorist financers.
In the past few years many countries in the Western Hemisphere have made advances in strengthening and implementing legal regimes, criminal codes, and regulations in line with international standards and best practices. This serves as a critical foundation to allow governments the ability to utilize tools to counter the financing of terrorism.
Strong domestic AML/CFT laws, and regulations in tandem with domestic and international cooperation and coordination remains critical to effectively implementing measures to counter the threat posed to international peace and stability by the financing of terrorists and terrorist organizations.
It is vital that governments have the ability to freeze, seize, and confiscate the instruments and proceeds of criminal enterprises, including those used to finance terrorism. It is also important that governments undertake national terrorism financing risk assessments to best understand what terrorist finance risks they face and then develop appropriate risk mitigation measures.
In order to be effective, strong anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism laws and regulations must be implemented through a robust and connected domestic regime that includes private sector reporting entities, regulators, financial intelligence units, relevant authorities’ law enforcement agencies, investigators, prosecutors, and judges. The exchange of information among administrative and regulatory entities and security and intelligence agencies is critical.
Since its adoption in 2004, UN Security Council Resolution 1540 has become a key instrument in global efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons to non-State actors, in particular to terrorists.
To promote the implementation of 1540 obligations, the United States’ contribution to the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs’ 1540 trust fund is supporting a grant to the OAS that will establish a regional coordinator position in the OAS, help Member States identify priorities for implementing UNSCR 1540; support the development of voluntary National Implementation Action Plans; and convene a regional meeting to share knowledge, experience, and information.
We encourage all OAS member states to endorse the PSI Statement of Interdiction Principles, which complement UNSCR 1540 obligations. PSI-endorsing states take action to interdict and counter proliferation activities based on national legal authorities and international law, and participate in strengthening capabilities to contribute to interdiction-related actions. Since 2003, 105 states have endorsed the PSI Interdiction Principles, an expression of their commitment to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, delivery systems, and related items.
Among the 86 states that make up the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, an informal, multilateral partnership that reinforces the objectives of CICTE and nuclear security, the leadership of Argentina, Canada, Chile, Mexico, and Panama in hosting and participating in GICNT exercises and workshops is a constant value-added to the partnership. We hope to continue to work with our Western Hemisphere partners to expand this work across the Americas and promote nuclear security and counter-terrorism best practices globally.
CICTE has been a critical partner in garnering regional support for cybersecurity policies and capacity building programs that strengthen member states’ commitments to maintain an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable Internet.
It is clear that the region has made significant progress in addressing the increasing security challenges we all face in cyberspace. In today’s interconnected world, each nation’s cybersecurity is essential to our global security. We welcome and support CICTE’s commitment to establish a new experts’ working group on Cyber Confidence Building Measures. This effort will advance ongoing regional discussions about how to successfully coordinate our response in the event of a cyber incident.
In closing, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to underscore the United States’ support for OAS/CICTE and the importance of countering the financing of terrorism.
The United States continues to support the critical work of CICTE, including by continuing to provide seconded personnel to the Secretariat. We are also pleased with efforts outlined in the workplan, and look forward to CICTE’s increasing work in the region. We encourage all member states to continue to strengthen CICTE thru technical, advisory, personnel, and financial support.