Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am pleased to be here in Santo Domingo to address this distinguished group at the Sixth Regular Meeting of Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General of the Americas. This forum represents the growing interdependence of this vital region required to achieve our collective goals – a multinational response to the transnational threat of terrorism and organized crime.
I wish to thank the people and Government of the Dominican Republic for hosting this very important hemispheric Ministerial conference. I am happy to share this table with my colleagues and look forward to working closely with you as we strengthen our law enforcement cooperation and coordination.
I know that all of you who have come to this OAS Ministerial share many of the same goals – to safeguard our citizens and communities from terrorism, violent crime, drugs, and other threats to this and future generations.
And despite differences of language, culture, and, sometimes, opinion, we all share the belief that we will only achieve our goals by cooperating together.
In today’s environment, crime and criminals do not stop at any border – and neither can our efforts to stop them. The mandate for international cooperation and joint law enforcement efforts is stronger today than ever before. We must embrace multilateral solutions to the challenge of transnational crime.
Not surprisingly, many of the areas I've singled out as my priorities for the U.S. Justice Department are the same subjects before us today – terrorism, violent gangs, drug trafficking, cyber crimes, human trafficking, and corruption.
All of these crimes have both domestic and transnational implications, and in each of these strategic areas we’ve had a number of recent successes in the United States and in joint work with our foreign partners.
In fact, virtually every day the Justice Department is working hand-in-hand with our foreign colleagues at all levels of government to fight transnational crime throughout the Western Hemisphere – and around the globe.
For example, recently, a group of law enforcement officers and prosecutors from the Justice Department traveled to El Salvador for a multilateral conference on gangs that included a number of our colleagues from Central America.
That conference helped to open a dialogue about ways we can further our cooperation in combating gang activity throughout our countries.
Of course, that is just one small example of the ways in which we are working together in this hemisphere. The opportunity to share best practices with our colleagues – and learn from their experiences as well – is invaluable to international cooperation.
Part of what brings us here today is to discuss the proposed Hemispheric Plan of Action on Transnational Organized Crime. The United States supports the preparation of a brief and concise plan. And we believe that such a plan should focus on concrete, measurable law enforcement initiatives.
We do not believe that the Plan should simply recite existing policy statements reflected in agreements such as the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, but instead should be geared toward facilitating specific measurable improvements in law enforcement cooperation.
In closing, let me say that I am honored to lead the U.S. delegation at this important conference.
The defenders of freedom in this hemisphere and around the world are working hand-in-hand to fight transnational crime and terrorism. We will only succeed if we embrace each other as full partners in this fight.