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Attorney General Eric Holder at the Semi-Annual Conference of the Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training (OPDAT) Resident Legal Advisors and Foreign Service Nationals


Washington, DC
United States


Remarks as prepared for delivery.


It gives me great pleasure to address you this morning and to let you know how I feel about the work that you accomplish with our overseas colleagues. Your efforts not only advance the work of our department and bolster our national security, but also are important to the security of the countries in which you work and to their long-term prosperity.

Throughout my government service  as a DOJ prosecutor, as a judge, as the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, as Deputy Attorney General, and as a member of the private bar – adherence to the rule of law has been one of my guiding principles.  I can’t tell you how proud I am to return to the department to find colleagues promoting the rule of law domestically and abroad.

There is nothing more noble than to have men and women like you, the best that the department has to offer, represent the United States abroad.

When I was Deputy Attorney General, I was aware of the great work OPDAT resident legal advisors were doing in such countries as Colombia, Russia, the Balkans, and South Africa.  I am pleased to hear that these programs have achieved even greater results in the recent past. You can take pride in the thousands of judges, prosecutors and law enforcement personnel trained in Colombia; criminal procedure reforms and substantive reforms targeting human trafficking in Russia; specialized and joint investigative units to combat organized crime, corruption, and terrorism in countries such as Albania, Serbia and Bosnia; and much more which has been accomplished in other countries and in other regions of the world.

The department’s involvement in providing technical assistance to emerging democracies and developing countries has expanded significantly since I last served with you.  We now have more than 50 resident legal advisors in 32 countries. You are focusing more on legal and institutional reforms.  You are helping to establish more vetted task forces to address specific issues such as corruption, which is an important issue to me.  Since my last tour, new programs have been established in Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Kosovo, Kenya, Brazil, China, and many other countries. We are about to launch a major initiative in Mexico. Finally, I am gratified by the briefings I received on the heroic work performed by the resident legal advisors in Iraq. 

The reforms you help institute in countries throughout the world – whether in the Americas, Eastern Europe, Eurasia, the Middle East, Africa, or Asia – not only help protect emerging and often  fragile democracies from the threats of transnational crimes, but also enhance their abilities in combating both domestic and international criminal activity.  The reality is that helping our colleagues overseas also helps us.  Crime has no borders.  You and I know that to effectively deal with transnational crimes, international cooperation is essential.  However, many countries do not have the proper legal framework, the organizational structure, or the technical capacity to address complex crimes or to cooperate with other countries. 

Because we help other countries develop effective criminal justice systems that can combat serious crime, we help improve our collective security.

Let there be no doubt, helping foreign countries improve their criminal justice systems so they can cooperate more effectively with us and with their neighbors in real time is an important aspect of this department’s mission, and is a critical aspect of our strategy to combat terrorism and transnational crime.

Finally, to the foreign service nationals who work side by side with the resident legal advisors, I say thank you. None of the accomplishments we have achieved would be possible without your support, your counsel and your expertise.  Thank you for all that you do.

In the months ahead, as my duties permit, I hope to visit several of the countries where you live and work.  I look forward to those opportunities to see international rule of law in action.



Updated August 20, 2015