Speakers Urge Greater Support for States with Porous Borders, Weak Legal Mechanisms, Share Ways to Tackle Threats from ISIL/Dae’sh, Al-Shabaab, Boko HaramCombating terrorism and organized crime hinges on unravelling and severing the ties between these …Read More
The Security Council adopted a resolution today that outlines steps leading towards the goal of ending conflict in Africa through enhanced international cooperation and partnership as well as robust support for peace operations led by the African Union…Read More
The 36th session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), held in Cotonou (Benin) on 3-5 December 2018, was opened by:Joseph Owona Kono, Co-President of the Joint Parliamentary AssemblyMichèle Rivasi, Acting Co-President of the Joint Pa…Read More
With children’s aspirations still falling short of global commitments to improve their well‑being, and some calling those pledges a “distant dream”, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) continued its debate on…Read More
As terrorism becomes more intertwined with organized crime, human trafficking and corruption, no border of the world is untouched by the illicit drug trade, delegates told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today during their annua…Read More
In early February 2018 in a supermarket in Pachino, famed for its quality tomatoes, a consignment of tomatoes was labelled as being from Cameroon and sold accordingly.After a complaint was lodged about the offensive nature of this fact, in view of…Read More
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
The Secretary-General is on his last day of his visit to Washington, D.C. This morning, he was at the State Department, where he met with the Deputy Secretary of State, John Sullivan. That comes after a meeting he had yesterday afternoon with the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. He also met just a short while ago with the Qatari Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani. The Secretary-General and the Foreign Minister had a good exchange of views. The Secretary-General delivered and repeated the message that he has delivered to other parties dealing with the crisis in the Gulf — mainly that he strongly supports the Kuwaiti mediation efforts and hopes that they will lead to a progressive de-escalation of the situation, gradually creating the conditions for a meaningful dialogue to take place.
The Secretary-General is scheduled to fly to Switzerland from Washington this afternoon, where he will attend tomorrow the Conference on Cyprus that is taking place in Crans-Montana.
And just to recap the meetings the Secretary-General had in Washington yesterday after the briefing. He met with the House Appropriations Chairman, Rodney Frelinghuysen. That was followed by a meeting with Senators Todd Young of Indiana and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and then a separate meeting with Senators Marco Rubio, Chris Coons, Kirsten Gillibrand and Bob Casey.
This morning, you will have seen, we issued a statement by the Secretary-General on the closure of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) that takes place tomorrow.
The Secretary-General congratulated the people and Government of Côte d’Ivoire for their determination and efforts in turning the page of crisis and conflict. He also paid tribute to all uniformed and civilian personnel who have served with the UN mission, and expressed his profound respect for the memory of the 150 peacekeepers who lost their life in the service of peace during the 13 years of deployment of the UN peacekeeping mission.
The Secretary-General reiterated the commitment of the rest of the UN family present in Côte d’Ivoire to support the Government with the implementation of outstanding reform activities with a view to ensuring that the hard-won peace can be sustained and the country and its people will continue to progress and thrive.
Back here, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People began a forum today to mark 50 years of occupation of Palestinian territory. The Deputy Secretary-General spoke at the event.
Amina Mohammed read out a message from the Secretary-General, in which he said that ending the occupation is the only way to lay the foundations for enduring peace that meets Israeli security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty. It is the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, he said. He added that it is time to return to direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, agreements and international law. It is time to end the conflict, he said, by establishing an independent Palestinian State, side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel.
In her own remarks, the Deputy Secretary-General said that some think that the situation can be managed. They are wrong, she said, it must be resolved. Real peace cannot be achieved without a just and lasting resolution. She recalled the Secretary-General’s remarks that there is no “Plan B”.
The UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, briefed the Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Syria a short while ago. He warned that 13.5 million people in the country are caught in a protection crisis that threatens their lives on a daily basis. We will have as our guest, in a few minutes, Kevin Kennedy, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, who can go into more detail, as soon as we are done here.
Our humanitarian colleagues are deeply concerned for the safety and well-being of civilians in the remaining Da’esh-held part of Iraq’s western Mosul, as military operations in the Old City continue. Some 10,000 to 50,000 civilians are still inside the Old City. Since the start of operations in October, at least 15,000 people have been treated for trauma injuries. Nearly 900,000 people have been displaced from Mosul city since last October.
People leaving western Mosul report deteriorating conditions, including unsafe water [sources] due to potable water shortages, as well as malnutrition. It is estimated that half of west Mosul’s female population requires sexual and gender-based violence response services. Aid workers are providing emergency assistance, with 1.85 million people having received front-line emergency support, including food, water and basic hygiene items. Partners are also distributing 6.4 million litres of water into Mosul every day.
Regarding Libya, the UN Support Mission in that country (UNSMIL) confirmed the safe return of UN staff to Tripoli following an attack yesterday on a convoy traveling from Surmon to the capital Tripoli. All staff are safe and accounted for. The Mission reiterates its appreciation to the Government of National Accord, House of Representative Members from Zawiyah and local authorities for securing the safe return of our colleagues.
**Central African Republic
The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) reports clashes between local self-defence groups and members of the Muslim community in Zémio in Haut-Mbomou prefecture. Unidentified armed elements also fired at MINUSCA peacekeepers this morning and yesterday in Zémio, but no injuries were sustained.
About 85 displaced persons sought refuge in UNHCR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] premises nearby, while another 500 took shelter at a local church. The UN peacekeepers are securing both locations, with additional reinforcements on their way today, and they are also facilitating engagement at the community level to discourage youth from joining self-defence groups.
Our colleagues at the UN refugee agency are alarmed over a fresh incident of forced returns of refugees from Cameroon into north-east Nigeria. On Tuesday, some 887 Nigerian refugees, most of them children, were forcibly removed to Banki in desperate conditions. Several dozen refugees fearing that they would be returned against their will reportedly escaped and went into hiding.
Inside Nigeria, insecurity is preventing refugees from returning to their places of origin. Many end up in Banki, where more than 45,000 internally displaced men, women and children are already accommodated.
UNHCR renews its call on Cameroon and Nigeria to refrain from further forced returns and calls on both parties to take urgent steps to convene a meeting of the Tripartite Commission — which consists of UNHCR and the two countries — to ensure a facilitated voluntary return process in line with international standards.
The Government of Malawi and UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund] launched today an air corridor to test the potential humanitarian use of unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones. The corridor, which will run for at least one year, is the first in Africa and one of the first globally with a focus on humanitarian and development use. It is designed to provide a controlled platform for the private sector, universities and other partners to explore how drones can be used to help deliver services that will benefit communities. UNICEF is working globally with a number of Governments and private-sector partners to explore how drones can be used in low-income countries.
Today is – what day is today? – it is the International Day of the Tropics, the area between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The Day seeks to celebrate the extraordinary diversity of this region, while also highlighting the unique challenges that nations of the tropics face. The tropics host 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity and over half of the world’s renewable water resource, but they are threatened by climate change, deforestation, urbanization and demographic changes. More information online.
Yesterday, I think it was you, Masood, who asked about the UN’s response to the current cyberattacks. Our colleagues at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) tell us they assist Member States to more effectively combat and prevent cybercrime, working with national- and regional-level partners, particularly through ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations]-based mechanisms and forums.
Khalas. I will stop there, and I will take some questions. Masood?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Stéphane, there’s a report saying that the Secretary‑General is… suggesting the Secretary‑General is reluctant to mediate or to involve themselves in this Qatari crisis, because he fears that the Saudi and the coalition partners would withdraw from the United Nations. And they were citing these part… one particular threat, which has been confirmed by the United Nations High Commissioner, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, on Saudi threat when it was included in the list of the nations… I mean, involved in Yemen.
Spokesman: Masood, as I think I’ve been… we’ve been talking about now for a few days, the Secretary‑General has been obviously following the current crisis in the Gulf extremely closely. Over the last 48 hours, he has met with the Qatari Foreign Minister, the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, as well as the Cabinet Minister of Kuwait, who is personally involved in the mediation. His message to all three is his support for the Kuwaiti initiative, which he hopes will lead to a de‑escalation, where a conversation and a dialogue can be initiated. So he is not afraid of getting involved in any way. His focus right now, the UN’s focus, is on supporting the Kuwaiti efforts.
Question: Nonethe… nonetheless, sir, can I ask you a follow‑up question? Say, that will the Secretary‑General after these meet… the way things are going, the Saudis do not seem to budge on their demand, I mean, no matter how many… I mean, interpretations or how many… how many interventions that are there. Is the Secretary‑General going to involve himself more aggressively?
Spokesman: I don’t know how much better to answer your question. I think… to say that the Secretary‑General has not been paying attention, I think, would be wrong. As I said, he’s just met with three Foreign Ministers who are deeply involved in this, representing both sides of the issue, and he will continue to follow this very closely. Abdelhamid?
Question: Thank you. As a follow‑up, I mean, the deadline for these demands to be met is on the… 2 July. That means something could happen after 2 July. I mean, the question we have been raising, would the SG put a note before the Security Council on this issue?
Spokesman: I’m not aware of any efforts to put this… for the Secretary‑General to raise Article 99 of the Charter. I think he has… the Secretary‑General has spoken out publicly on this matter, either directly or through me, and he’s deeply aware of the risks that go beyond the region if this crisis is not resolved through dialogue.
Question: Thank you. As a follow‑up, Stéphane, one of the demands is to close down Al Jazeera and all its related or affiliated channels. And that is something that had to do with freedom of expression and freedom of opinion and freedom of the flow of information. And I think that should, you know, instigate the UN to say something about that particular demand…
Spokesman: Well, I think you’ve had different human rights bodies and mechanisms speak out, as they are as within their mandates, as is normal for them to do. As a matter of principle, of course, the Secretary‑General supports the freedom of expression, but we’re not going to get into the nitty‑gritty of these things publicly at this point. Mr. Lee?
Question: Sure. I wanted to ask you about what UNHCR said about this… this expulsion of almost 900 people of Cameroon into Nigeria… I wanted to know…
Spokesman: They were, in fact, in a camp in Nigeria very close to the Cameroonian border. So I said they were internally displaced people (IDPs), but the operation, as we understand it, was jointly conducted by Cameroonian and Nigerian authorities.
Question: Sure. My… my… and my… given that a number of groups have said it violates both the agreement between the countries and international law, I wanted to know whether the Secretary‑General, given his history in these issues of IDPs, refugees, etcetera, has considered speaking with President Paul Biya. And I ask because I’ve seen, as I’m sure you have, the reports that he did reach out to Iran about a former UN staff member, Baqer Namazi, asking for humanitarian release. And there’s a UN staff member who’s on trial with the death penalty in Cameroon called Agbor Balla. So I’m just wondering, one, can you… will you… what can you confirm or say about his… his communications to Iran? And, two, is this a policy on his part…?
Spokesman: No, I’m not going to get into the details of private conversations; the Secretary‑General may have private communications. The welfare of UN staff that is… that are detained, that may be detained anywhere, is of concern to us. As far as the issue having to do with the people who were forcibly returned to an area that we feel… that UNHCR feels is not safe, UNHCR is on the lead on this issue and continues to be for the time being.
Question: And do you have… obviously, you’ve seen… on the… on the peacekeeping budget and the… the… the reduction in… in… from 7.9 to $7.3 billion, what are the next steps for DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations]? What… do you have any comment generally on it?
Spokesman: Well, I… first of all, my understanding is that the budget will not be officially approved until this afternoon, voted on this afternoon. So we will react more officially at that point. Obviously, it is the right and responsibility of the legislative bodies of this Organization to set the budget. Once we see what actually has been voted on, we will take the appropriate measures to follow up and ensure that our mandates are fulfilled with the resources that are given to us.
Question: Can we get DPKO to, like, come and do some kind of briefing on this?
Spokesman: I said I will… We will have some sort of reaction afterwards. Mr. Klein?
Question: Yes. I guess I want to go to a question of the Secretary‑General’s priorities. I mean, with all of the hot conflicts going on around the world, you know, from… from Yemen, Syria, Libya and Africa and so forth, why does he seem to be spending so much of his personal attention and time on the more than 40‑year‑old Cyprus conflict or… which hasn’t really resulted in any violence to speak of? Why is he devoting so much of his time and effort to that… to that matter, and appears to be delegating to others the handling of… of more imminent crises around the world?
Spokesman: You know, I… first of all, I don’t really agree with your analysis. I think the Secretary‑General has, as many of his predecessors have involved themselves in the mediation negotiations over the resum… the positive resolve of conflicts at certain times when we are within striking distance. So I think it’s important… the Secretary‑General felt it was important to attend the conference on Cyprus. The effort to facilitate the talks are being led by Mr. [Espen Barth] Eide and Mr. [Jeffrey] Feltman. It’s important for the Secretary‑General to be there, and if… you know, I think we’ll have to… obviously have to see what happens, but if his presence is critical to resolve this issue, it’s important for him to be there. There are many crises throughout the world. Obviously, some have caused more pain and destruction to civilians than others. But I think for… we also have to look at it from the point of those who are living these crises. The Cyprus issue has been going on, as I said, for a long, long time. There’s been an absence of open conflict, which is welcome, but it doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been human tragedy and human pain for the inhabitants of the island. And if we are… if the Secretary‑General’s presence can help finally resolve this conflict and sew up old wounds, then I think it’s a good use of his time. He’s also able to multitask and has been staying in touch with envoys on all sorts of other crises, and when his physical presence is necessary, he will be where he needs to be. Yes?
Question: Follow‑up on Cyprus. SG, what… what outcome he’s awaiting, he’s expecting about this new round of talks, especially for the security and the guarantees?
Spokesman: Listen, I’m not going to get into the details. The talks are in high gear and are going on as we speak in Crans‑Montana. Mr. Eide and Mr. Feltman spoke to the press yesterday. The Secretary‑General is on his way. Obviously, we would like to see the situation resolved, but I’m not going to get into pre-emptive details at this point. Pam?
Question: Thanks, Steph. Do you expect — just a follow‑up on the travel — the Secretary‑General to go to any of the countries where there is a peacekeeping mission, or Darfur, any… any… any of those areas? Do you have any projections on that? And has he gotten… a separate issue. Has he gotten any feedback on the… from the House Appropriations Chairman on budget, how they see the… any readout on that?
Spokesman: No, this… I think the talks with House leaders, with Senate leaders have been very productive. As we said, it’s an ongoing conversation. It’s a chance for him to have some in‑depth conversations about the US involvement in the UN, the need for sustained US involvement, for them to… for him to answer questions about UN reform and other issues. It’s a conversation. Obviously, the legislators will decide on the budget and what impacts the UN, but I think it was important for the Secretary‑General to be there and to continue and have sustained conversations with them. Yeah?
Question: And just a quick…
Spokesman: And nothing on travel to announce.
Question: Okay. And quick… just a timetable. Do you have any timetable or sense of when this new Office of Counter‑Terrorism starts up, when the new Under‑Secretary‑General arrives?
Spokesman: It’s been approved. Maybe Farhan [Haq] will come in with a note to tell me exactly when he’s supposed to be here, but he’s been named so it’s a matter of logistics.
Question: Right. So July, August?
Spokesman: It’s a matter of logistics more than anything else. I don’t know. Abdelhamid?
Question: Thank you. I have few questions. First, it has been announced in Israel that the SG… Secretary‑General would be visiting Israel in August. First, do you confirm that? And if it’s so, would he be visiting Gaza, as well?
Spokesman: Well, we always… this is not the first time that others announce the travels of the Secretary‑General. I would ask for reference to wait until announcements of the Secretary‑General’s travel are made by his Office, most likely me.
Question: My question also is about IOM [International Organization for Migration]. I think you mentioned in your briefing saying the UN refugee agency, and it has been referred to as such. So what is the relation between IOM and UNHCR? Are they one… and… two and… separate entities?
Spokesman: They are two separate entities. As you know, IOM was independent of the UN system up until a few months ago. It is now a part of the UN system.
Question: So how is the work? Is it duplicated or…?
Spokesman: No, it’s not duplicated.
Question: Can you invite…?
Spokesman: It’s not duplicated… it’s not… I mean, we can have… the next time Mr. [William] Swing is here, we’d be happy to have him.
Correspondent: We’d like to.
Spokesman: But, obviously, they deal with different parts of the same issue, which is the global movement of people across the globe.
Correspondent: I’d like to meet with him so we can see him. Thank you.
Spokesman: Masood? Sorry, Matthew, and then Masood.
Question: Sure. Just some… some court case questions, but I just wanted to know, is… is the Secretary‑General… the… the Cyprus talks, are they take… are they going on over the weekend? Is he… how… how many days does he plan to participate in them?
Spokesman: Let’s get him there, and then we can talk about when he leaves.
Question: Will we talk about it?
Spokesman: Go ahead. Next question?
Question: Okay. What I wanted to ask is, I’m sure you’ve seen the decision in The Hague by Netherlands appeals court confirming that the… the partial responsibility of the Dutch battalion of UN peacekeeping in the deaths of… in Srebrenica. And the… people are angry because it’s reduced the damages to 30 per cent; it’s basically saying they would have… they might have been killed otherwise. But what is the UN’s response, given this… that the… the… the Dutch battalion was, in fact, a UN peacekeeping battalion. What’s been learned to it, and what do you have any to say about that?
Spokesman: Obviously, we’re aware… I think, first of all, our thoughts need to be with the victims of the massacres that took place in Srebrenica and with the relatives of the victims and the survivors and all of those who perished in the atrocities committed throughout the Former Yugoslavia. As you know, the UN was not a party to this court case, which was in a national court in the Netherlands. We will study the judgment carefully, but, at this point, we’re not going to make any further comment, because our… my understanding, at least, is that it will be appealed to a higher court. And as you know, the UN issued years ago a rather exhaustive report on its failings, the Organization’s failings in Srebrenica.
Question: But isn’t it not a party because it cited immunity early in the case? I mean, I’ve seen the lawyer even of this current case saying that that’s why the UN’s not…
Spokesman: Well, the fact is we’re not a party.
Question: Okay. All right. And just if… just two related. One, there’s a case also in The Hague against Royal Dutch Shell by the… the… the… it’s called the Ogoni nine, but it’s a case basically tying corporate responsibility to a military crackdown. Separately, there’s a case now just begun against the Banc Nationale de Paribas about the Rwanda genocide. I don’t expect… you can say obviously these are not UN related, but since both seem to be members of the UN Global Compact, I wanted to know, does the UN track such high‑profile human rights corporate cases? And, if so, what… are… are the institutions expected to respond?
Spokesman: My understanding is that these cases are all ongoing, and the Global Compact, as you know, has a mechanism to deal with its own members. So I will leave it at that. Okay. Masood?
Question: Thank you, Stéphane. There’s a report that says that Israel has prosecuted more than 5,000 Palestinian children. At… at presently, according to United Nations, there is like… there are about 354 children in Israeli jails. Can you tell us, has you… have you had any conversation with the Israeli authorities to release them at all?
Spokesman: I think you’ve raised this issue before, and I have nothing new to add. Olga, did you have your hand raised? Did I answer your question?
Correspondent: You answered my question.
Spokesman: All right. Then we’ll get to Mr. Kennedy, if you can come up. Thank you.
Question: On the Burundi thing, have you run the names through?
Spokesman: As soon as I have something on it, I will share it.Read More
It is an honor to join you today at this year’s Senior Leaders Seminar hosted by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS). Let me first thank ACSS for their leadership over the years in fostering critical partnerships with African nations on combating today’s transnational security threats.
Let me also thank all of you for your commitment in participating in this important program. Having studied myself at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, I believe that these peer-based learning seminars are very important, not only to assess, evaluate, and discuss the broad array of security challenges facing the continent and international community, but towards developing and harnessing more effective strategies and cross-border responses.
As you have no doubt heard throughout the week in your seminar, the United States remains a strong partner in helping safeguard communities against the threats posed by illicit trafficking networks and is keen to elevate our partnership with all of your governments.
In this regard, the U.S. Department of State is similarly committed to strengthen international cooperation in support of our U.S. law enforcement and security agencies, and the capacities of our allies and partners in Africa to disrupt and dismantle transnational organized criminals.
Converging Threats: Corruption, Crime, and Terrorism Pave Illicit Trafficking Corridor
Today’s reality is one in which we live in a world where there is no region, no country and no community who remain untouched by the destabilizing effects and corruptive influence of transnational organized crime and violent terrorism.
Their impact is truly global and their real threat centers in some cases in their convergence. In particular, we must recognize that trans-regional illicit trafficking of drugs, arms, humans, and other illicit trade goods and services, are fueling greater insecurity and instability across Africa, and in other parts of the world.
While the world’s attention has in recent months been focused on the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan, or the efforts by North Korea and others on the weaponization of nuclear missiles, the threats posed by transnational organized criminals remain very real in the United States, Latin America, Africa, and globally.
This is especially true as it relates to the increasing links between cross-border narcotics trafficking and other forms of transnational organized crime across Africa that imperil not only the rule of law, economic development efforts, the promotion of trade and investment, but helps to fuel greater instability and insecurity.
In fact, according to General Thomas D. Waldhauser, U.S. Marine Corps, AFRICOM Commander, “parts of Africa remain a battleground between ideologies, interests, and values: [where] prosperity, and peace are often pitted against extremism, oppression, and conflict. The strategic environment includes instability that allows violent extremist organizations to grow and recruit disenfranchised populations.”
This strategic environment today that General Waldhauser underscores is also impacted by other transregional threats that further complicate security in Africa including issues related to the webs of corruption and cross-border criminality, and related converging threats.
Convergence: I often talk a lot about convergence, and this is something that I encourage you to examine more closely moving forward – and to view today’s transnational security threats through a prism of “convergence crime”.
Because the reality on the ground is that we can no longer simply focus on one component of a threat. In a world of converging threats – where various threats collide to form a more potent mix of insecurity globally; each is individually dangerous but whose sum represents a far greater threat across borders.
Thus, we need to see the threat environment more holistically – how, for example, corruption and complicit facilitators enable the illicit space for criminals and terrorist groups alike to thrive, and to exploit weaknesses in our borders and institutions that imperil our security.
And because as illicit trade operates in the shadow of the global economy, increasingly sophisticated traffickers are diversifying their portfolios in everything from narcotics, people, arms, and wildlife to counterfeits including fake medicines, and illicit tobacco and alcohol goods.
On the governance front, the proceeds of drug trafficking and other forms of illicit trafficking are fueling a dramatic increase in corruption among the very institutions responsible for fighting crime.
The collusion and complicity of some government officials with criminal networks have helped carve out an illicit trafficking corridor that stretches from the West African coast to the Horn of Africa, from North Africa south to the Gulf of Guinea.
Through these illicit trafficking routes, criminals and terrorists alike are moving people and products. From the coca and opium poppy fields of Colombia and Southeast Asia to the coasts of West Africa and its hashish plantations, drug cartels and other criminal networks navigate an illicit superhighway that serves illicit markets across the continent and around the globe. Along across these illicit routes, bad actors and networks are corrupting critical institutions and enforcement systems that exacerbate everyone’s security.
They employ the latest technological advances and use commercial jets, fishing vessels, and container ships to move drugs, people, small arms, crude oil, cigarettes, counterfeit and pirated goods, and toxic waste through the region, generating massive profits.
How massive are these profits? As I will point out shortly in my slides on the recent research of the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade, the illegal markets in Africa, and globally, are booming with staggering levels of illicit wealth in the global economy. Hundreds of millions of USD every year enable criminals and other threat networks to corrupt the regional economies and the global financial system.
At a time when many are heralding the rise of some of the world’s fastest-growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa, these criminal entrepreneurs are undermining that economic development and growth by financing flourishing illicit markets, turning many vulnerable communities into a corridor of insecurity and instability, and siphoning the real potential of the legitimate economy.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Economic Forum (WEF), Global Financial Integrity (GFI), and other international organizations, generally estimate that the illicit trade in arms, drugs, and people, and other forms of “convergence crime” generate approximately between 8–15 percent of GDP, or several USD trillions to include corrupt proceeds and illicit financial flows.
Cocaine trafficking remains among the most lucrative illicit activities. In April 2017, the UNODC reported that developing markets are fueling a resurgence of cocaine trafficking through West Africa. UNODC further added that seizures on the Atlantic island of Cabo Verde, in the Gambia, Nigeria, and Ghana had contributed to a 78 percent increase in cocaine seizures from 2009-2014 compared to the previous reporting period.
Smugglers and traffickers who intake the cocaine from the Americas will typically transport drugs and other contraband overland across the Sahel and North Africa, before crossing into destination markets in Europe and these new developing markets in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
West Africa has also become a major transit point for heroin destined for the United States.
Illicit markets are growing across Africa to meet global demand for arms, counterfeits, cigarettes, natural resources, diamonds and other precious minerals, wildlife, illegally-harvested timber, illegal fishing, stolen luxury cars, and other illicit commodities.
The Crime-Terror Continuum: Regional Spillover Effects
Unfortunately, what happens in Africa does not stay in Africa.
A convergence of actors is further paving the corridor of illicit trafficking and crime-terror continuum across Africa – including North Africa – as criminal insurgencies are becoming players themselves in illicit markets and using the proceeds to finance their terror campaigns, secure their training camps, establish safe havens, and export violence to other regions. Violent extremist and terrorist groups draw on public anger towards corruption as a means to radicalize, recruit new members, and deepen sectarian division.
We only have to look at some of the current regional hot spots to clearly comprehend how certain crime-terror dynamics continue to contribute to insecurity and instability that have a ripple effect across borders.
Today’s thriving illegal economy is so lucrative that terrorists are increasingly turning to criminal activities to fund their violent campaigns such as those that we are witnessing today by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, and others.
In Mali, as drugs are trafficked through the country, the Sahel, and Maghreb, AQIM and its sympathizers are manipulating socio-economic conditions to further advance an illegal economy that allows them to tax the drugs through the territory that they control and finance their terror campaigns.
Libya also continues to be challenged with violence and insecurity. AQIM and ISIS are attempting to forge alliances with violent extremist networks in Libya and across the Maghreb, Sahel, and West Africa, and are involved in smuggling and trafficking in persons. Organized crime networks exploit a currency black market, irregular migration and illicit trade across borders to enrich themselves and militias that defy law and order.
Nigerian organized criminal networks remain a major player in moving cocaine and heroin worldwide, and have begun to produce and traffic methamphetamine to and around Southeast Asia. In addition to drug trafficking, some of these criminal organizations also engage in other forms of trafficking and fraud targeting citizens of the United States, Europe, and globally.
Widespread corruption in Nigeria further facilitates criminal activity, and, combined with Nigeria’s central location along major trafficking routes, enables criminal groups to flourish and make Nigeria an important trafficking hub.
Nigeria is also confronting a terrorist insurgency led by Boko Haram and its offshoot ISIS-West Africa, which remains the cause of the insecurity in the Lake Chad Basin.
Maritime crime has also captured the attention of the regional states and international community. The reported number of incidents in the Gulf of Guinea and the level of violence associated with those acts remain a concern.
The Economic Communities of West and Central African States, the Gulf of Guinea Commission, and their member states should be commended for the continued commitment to implement the June 2013 Yaoundé Summit. The signed Gulf of Guinea Code of Conduct (GGC) covers not only armed robbery at sea and piracy, but also other illicit maritime activity such as illegal fishing, maritime pollution, and human and drug trafficking. The Yaounde Code of Conduct, along with the updates to the Djibouti Code of Conduct to cover other transnational maritime crime, and the newly adopted Lomé Charter, provide excellent frameworks for African states to adopt strategies and implement programs to counter transnational crime in the maritime domain.
In recent years, INL has partnered with the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, AFRICOM, and our African partners on maritime security and regional threat mitigation strategies and to build the capacities and capabilities to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal networks.
U.S. Diplomatic Efforts and International Cooperation in Africa
The United States strongly supports the great strides many African countries have made to improve security, good governance, rule of law, and sustainable economic development.
As President Donald J. Trump highlighted in new Executive Order on Transnational Criminal Organizations (E.O. TCO), the United States will continue to assist our partners to strengthen their security footprint and capabilities to combat today’s threat networks.
In support of the President’s E.O. TCO, the United States is committed to strengthen and sustain our resolve and capabilities to protect the homeland and break the corruptive power of transnational criminal networks, attack their financial underpinnings, strip them of their illicit wealth, and sever their access to the financial system.
The United States and its partners continually recognize the importance of net-centric partnerships to confront converging threats and the lethal nexus of organized crime, corruption, and terrorism along global illicit pathways and financial hubs.
For example, targeted financial actions like the 2011 311 finding against LCB can have a major impact, strengthening deterrence and showing that the international community is keeping close watch on Hizballah’s global financial architecture. Through years of cooperation with the Lebanese banking sector and the Lebanese Central Bank, the country has significantly improved its capacity to detect the kinds of behavior that led the United States to designate LCB six years ago.
Let me now share how the Department of State helps fight transnational crime, and in particular the organization I work for, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).
INL training efforts help countries build effective rule of law institutions, strengthening criminal justice systems, and strengthening their police, courts, and anti-crime efforts—everything from anti-corruption money laundering, cybercrime, and intellectual property theft to trafficking in goods, people, weapons, drugs, or endangered wildlife.
In coordination with partners in sub-Saharan and North Africa, INL develops and executes foreign assistance programming to promote civilian security and criminal justice sector reform in support of U.S. policy objectives. INL programs improve access to justice, promote stability and democratic reform, professionalize law enforcement entities, support local justice sector officials, and strengthen correction systems.
INL’s sub-Saharan and North Africa projects support partner governments’ efforts to respond effectively to the growing demand for peace and security. INL’s four main objectives are to assist African partners in combating transnational organized crime, drug trafficking, and terrorism, and their effects; support post-conflict stabilization operations and security sector reform; strengthen criminal justice systems to be accountable to the public and to respect human rights; and promote regional cooperation. INL implements its Africa program through a comprehensive range of bilateral and regional initiatives designed to maximize positive change in host countries and regions.
Let me highlight a few examples of these bilateral INL projects across Africa on criminal justice reform, anti-crime, and in support of counter-terrorism efforts:
• Deployment of Resident Legal Advisors (RLAs) and Senior Legal Advisors: U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) prosecutors embedded in U.S. Embassies to support justice sector development and capacity building: Some countries hosting RLAs include Ethiopia, Nigeria, Benin, Senegal, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, and others.
• Kenya: Build the capacity of vetted units within the National Police Service and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission investigations unit to investigate and prosecute high-level and government-wide corruption
• Tanzania: enhance the criminal justice system in Tanzania to successfully prosecute wildlife crimes.
• Benin: Build capacity of Benin’s law enforcement and judicial sectors to investigate and prosecute cases involving transnational organized crime, particularly drug trafficking; support to Benin’s border security agency; training of Formed Police Units (FPUs) for peacekeeping deployment; support to the Office Central de Répression du Trafic Illicite de Drogue et des Précurseurs
• Ghana: Training police-prosecutors, creating a counternarcotics unit, training police SWAT unit; training FPUs for peacekeeping deployment; and improving the investigations and administration of justice related to maritime crimes, cyber-crime, and border-related crimes
• Nigeria: Advise and support the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency; Justice and security dialogues project with law enforcement and civil society; international police education and training; curriculum reform; forensics support; Embedding advisors to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
• South Africa: Senior law enforcement advisor support to professionalize law enforcement and fundamental police operations; building investigative and enforcement capacities to combat wildlife trafficking
Finally, INL also administers the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program (TOCRP) which offers rewards up to $5 million for information, leads, and tips that help hobble transnational criminal organizations involved in activities beyond drug trafficking, such as human trafficking, money laundering, trafficking in arms, counterfeits and pirated goods, and other illicit trade areas.
Our embassies and/or our INL offices would be happy to share further information on INL bilateral and regional programming in specific countries in Africa as requested.
Let me say also few words on several regional initiatives that INL supports:
The West Africa Regional Security Initiative (WARSI)
WARSI funds assist the 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) members to establish and sustain effective, professional, and accountable criminal justice and civilian security sectors. Technical assistance facilitates partner-country efforts to counter transnational threats including illicit trafficking and to strengthen conflict mitigation and state legitimacy. WARSI focuses on security sector reform (SSR) in countries with more foundational assistance needs and criminal justice sector reform to counter transnational organized crime (TOC) in countries with more stable institutions. Counter-TOC assistance is more advanced, and often includes training specialized units, such as counter narcotics task forces.
The Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership
The Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) is a multi-faceted, multi-year U.S. strategy aimed at developing resilient institutions that are capable of preventing and responding to terrorism in a holistic, long term manner. INL TSCTP programs in Africa work to counter and prevent violent extremism by empowering partner countries to (1) provide effective and accountable security and justice services to enhance citizen cooperation with and trust in law enforcement and (2) develop the institutional foundation for counterterrorism and related capabilities, including border security and prison security and reintegration efforts. In doing so, INL focuses on enhancing and institutionalizing cooperation among TSCTP countries so that they increasingly learn with and from each other. Partner countries include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia.
The Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism
The Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism (PREACT) is the U.S. government’s multi-year, multi-sector initiative to build the long-term capabilities of East African partners to contain, disrupt, and marginalize terrorist networks in the region. INL’s PREACT funds empower East African criminal justice institutions to confront complex challenges posed by cross-border terrorism. INL’s active PREACT partners include Kenya, Somalia, and Tanzania.
Security Governance Initiative
The Security Governance Initiative (SGI) is a multi-year effort between the United States and partner countries to improve security sector governance and capacity to address threats. SGI partners with countries to undertake strategic and institutional reforms required to tackle key security challenges. Together with six current partners – Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia – SGI focuses on shared security priorities and enhance security sector management. SGI is managed by the State Department’s Africa Bureau but leverages expertise and experience from across the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the National Counterterrorism Center. Coordination and collaboration both within the U.S. government and with partner countries is a hallmark of SGI. INL’s activities undertaken as part of SGI seek to develop, support, and strengthen criminal justice institutions and capabilities to ensure citizen security and promote the rule of law, including sound policies, institutional structures, systems, processes, and effective management methods so that governments can efficiently and effectively deliver security and justice in a sustainable manner.
Regional Anti-Wildlife Trafficking Efforts
As many of you are aware, the United States continues to partner with the international community to combat the illegal wildlife trade.
INL is part of a whole of government approach to combating wildlife trafficking. We work closely with other parts of the Department and other agencies to support the global fight against wildlife trafficking through assistance to multiple countries in Africa. Under the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking (CWT), INL builds the capacity of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute wildlife crimes and develops regional cooperation mechanisms.
Activities can include training, mentoring, and equipment provision for park rangers, police, prosecutors, non-governmental organizations, and civil society entities to address the multiple dimensions of poaching and wildlife trafficking. Our first projects began in Kenya and South Africa, followed by Namibia and Tanzania. Future projects will cover larger areas of central and southern Africa, and address both source and transit countries.
Regional Law Enforcement Training
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not highlight INL’s International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Gaborone, Botswana. The ILEA program delivers courses on a wide range of law enforcement topics, and builds regional law enforcement networks to detect, disrupt, and dismantle transnational criminal organizations regardless of their means of operation and income.
Since inception in 2001, ILEA Gaborone has trained thousands of mid- and senior-level criminal justice officers in specialized skills on counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics operations, forensic accounting, customs interdiction, various forms of trafficking, document fraud, and illegal immigration. The program also engages with senior officials on the factors that facilitate these criminal networks, addressing public corruption, discussing modern community-oriented policing models, and cooperative international security networks that hinder illicit networks from flourishing.
As an outbranch of the successful ILEA network, INL opened the West Africa Regional Training Center (RTC) in Accra, Ghana, in January 2013. The RTC has convened hundreds of law enforcement, security, and judicial officials from multiple countries in West Africa and the Sahel, creating relationships across the region, and building knowledge and skills on topics ranging from investigative analysis to anti-corruption to counternarcotics.
We continue to explore future areas of assistance to include strengthening capabilities to preserve crime scenes for complex investigations, create strong case packages, and build more effective, evidence-based trials.
Conclusion: Partnerships for Sustainable Security
In closing, I want to again extend the appreciation on behalf of the U.S. Department of State for your commitment to work across borders, improve coordination and information-sharing, and leverage our respective capabilities and capacities to defeat our common adversaries.
We must continue to leverage all national economic, intelligence, and diplomatic powers to make it riskier, harder, and costlier for threat networks to do business within Africa, and externally.
Illicit trafficking remains the lifeblood of the numerous bad actors and networks, creating vulnerabilities for nations.
We must crackdown on corruption at all levels and cut off the ability of kleptocrats, criminals, and terrorists to enjoy the fruits of illicit enterprise and that enable the financial capacity to execute their operations.
By combating corruption, we can also shut the door and keep violent extremists from exploiting their grievances to wage jihad. We must prevent narco-corruption from destroying countries like Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.
In addition to our law enforcement and security cooperation, we also need to address underlying causes that are contributing to today’s conflicts and insecurity in Africa: food and water security, poverty, economic integration and development, and other socio-economic areas that empower communities and nurture growth markets, investment frontiers, and resiliency.
With careful, targeted assistance, and smart diplomatic engagement, together we can advance our common objectives and strategic interests.
If we do not act decisively, the region will remain an exporter of terror and a provider of safe havens where terrorists from other conflicts all over the world find refuge, illicit trafficking will continue to expand, arms and weapons will dangerously proliferate, women, men, and children will be trafficked, and drugs and illicit enterprise will corrode the rule of law and the gains of globalization.
We can only tackle these threats effectively if we work together and jointly synchronize our full spectrum capabilities and capacities. We must stay connected and continue to harness our network of networks at every level – local, regional, and global to win our fight against convergence crime.
If we do this, we can create hope, stability, opportunity, and an enduring peace.
Thank you.Read More
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) sent 12 draft resolutions to the General Assembly today, tackling a range of issues from corruption and crime prevention, social development and children’s rights, to the rights of indigenous peoples and racial discrimination.
The day focused heavily on the protection of children’s rights, with the approval of three draft resolutions without a vote.
By a draft resolution on child, early and forced marriage, the General Assembly would call on States and relevant stakeholders to develop and implement holistic and coordinated responses and strategies to eliminate those practices, and to support girls and women at risk or subjected to them.
The representatives of Qatar and Guyana – the latter speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community – expressed concern about the term “early marriage”, pointing out that it must be applied in line with national laws, as there was no international agreement on the issue. Mexico’s representative said he deplored the tense discussions around the inclusion of sexual and reproductive rights, which were crucial for making progress. Recalling that such language had been previously agreed, he expressed concern about replacing references to sexual and reproductive rights with diluted language.
Bullying emerged as another major concern in the protection of children’s human rights. The related draft resolution would have the General Assembly call on States to share national experiences and best practices for preventing and tackling bullying, including cyberbullying. It would invite the Secretary-General, within existing resources, to facilitate global efforts to raise awareness of bullying, including through United Nations specialized agencies, funds and programmes.
The traditional “rights of the child” draft resolution would see the Assembly express its profound concern that the situation of children in many parts of the world remained critical. It would call on States to ensure the enjoyment of all human rights for children belonging to minorities and vulnerable groups and in vulnerable situations, including migrant children and indigenous children, as well as children placed in alternative care and within the juvenile justice system and in detention.
Prior to its approval, the Committee rejected an oral amendment to its operative paragraph 36, by recorded vote of 100 against, to 23 in favour, with 33 abstentions. Sudan’s representative, introducing the change, said it would replace a reference to the International Criminal Court with the following: “promptly bring them to justice as provided for by national laws and obligations under international law”. He cautioned against imposing a legal system on States, stressing that the Court was not the sole instrument to dispense justice at the national, regional, and international levels.
Without a vote, the Committee then approved a draft resolution on the rights of indigenous peoples which would have the General Assembly encourage the engagement of indigenous peoples in implementing the outcome of the high-level Assembly plenary meeting, known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. It would stress the importance of pursuing the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, especially through international cooperation to support national and regional efforts.
Bolivia’s representative, introducing the text also on behalf of Ecuador, encouraged Member States to make greater efforts in promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples and to increase their participation in national and international processes.
By a recorded vote of 122 in favour to 10 against (Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United Kingdom and United States), with 44 abstentions, the Committee approved a draft resolution on a global call for concrete action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
Also approved by a recorded vote of 164 in favour, to 0 against, and 2 abstentions (Syria, Lao People’s Democratic Republic) was a draft resolution on the human rights treaty body system, by which the Assembly would invite the Chairs of those bodies to address its seventy-second and seventy-third sessions.
The Committee also approved without a vote draft resolutions on the implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly; preventing and combating corrupt practices and the transfer of proceeds of corruption; strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme and in particular its technical cooperation capacity; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the role of the ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights; and missing persons.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 23 November, to continue its work.
The Committee took up the draft resolution titled, “Preventing and combating corrupt practices and the transfer of proceeds of corruption, facilitating asset recovery and returning such assets to legitimate owners, in particular to countries of origin, in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption” (document A/C.3/71/L.11/Rev.1).
An official from the Secretariat said the draft resolution would require voluntary funding to carry out its request for a Review Mechanism on the Implementation of the Convention. As that Mechanism had a funding gap of $4,229,100, the draft’s adoption would require $435,200 to be added to the programme budget for the biennium 2018‑2019, but would not have budgetary implications for the biennium 2016‑2017.
The representative of Colombia, introducing the draft resolution, said it promoted the provisions of Chapter 5 of the Convention on preventing and detecting transfers and recovering and returning those assets through international cooperation. Efforts also must be made to mitigate the effects of corruption on societies.
The representative of Nigeria expressed his support for the draft, stressing that returning assets to countries of origin would contribute to infrastructure investment and help eradicate poverty.
The resolution was approved by consensus.
By its terms, the General Assembly would call upon States Parties to the Convention against Corruption to cooperate to recover the proceeds of corruption. It would call on States with practical experience in asset recovery to develop non-binding practical guidelines for that purpose. At the seventy-third session, the Secretary-General would include in his report on crime prevention and criminal justice an analytical section titled “Preventing and combating corrupt practices and the transfer of proceeds of corruption, facilitating asset recovery and returning such assets to legitimate owners, in particular to countries of origin, in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption”, and a report of the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention on its seventh session.
The representative of the Russian Federation expressed disappointment at the lack of desire by some States to support an international legal instrument for the return of assets, an issue she hoped to address again in the future.
The Committee then took up a draft resolution titled, “Strengthening the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Program, in particular Its Technical Cooperation Capacity” (document A/C.3/71/L.12/Rev.1).
The representative of Italy, a main sponsor, orally revised operative paragraph 16, adding the words “and artefacts” after the words, “trafficking in cultural property”, in recognition of the fact that cultural artefacts were the most trafficked items. The draft resolution’s purpose was threefold: to build consensus on the fight against transnational organized crime, promote the implementation of all pertinent United Nations instruments, and confirm the membership’s support for the Office on Drugs and Crime. The draft did not address all relevant challenges, only those on which consensus could be reached.
The representative of South Africa said omission of the issue of extremism had weakened the text. Preventive measures were needed to avert extremism from manifesting in violence. In addition, operative paragraph 43 did not go far enough in addressing cybercrime, and it was imperative to elaborate an international normative framework to combat such behaviour. She would continue to engage the sponsors to ensure those issues were considered in the future.
The Committee approved the draft resolution, as orally revised, by consensus.
The representative of the Russian Federation welcomed the approval of the draft, which her delegation had cosponsored. However, she expressed regret that a paragraph pertaining to an international legal instrument to counter cybercrime had not made its way into the final text. She hoped that issue would be considered during the Assembly’s seventy-second session.
The Committee then took note of three reports of the Secretary-General: the follow-up to the Thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and preparations for the Fourteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (document A/71/94), technical assistance for implementing the international conventions and protocols related to counter-terrorism (document A/71/96), and improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons (document A/71/119).
The Committee then took action on draft resolution titled “Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly” (document A/C.3/71/L.5/Rev.1).
By its terms, the General Assembly would request the United Nations to continue to support national efforts to achieve inclusive social development in a coherent and coordinated manner. It would urge States to fulfil all their commitments to meet the demands for social development, including social services and assistance that had arisen from the global financial and economic crisis, which particularly affected the poorest. It would also stress the importance of promoting corporate social responsibility and accountability.
The representative of Thailand, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, made a small technical change to operative paragraph 4, adding a comma before “and that it serves”.
The draft resolution was approved without a vote as orally revised.
The representative of the United States, while joining consensus, expressed concern about outdated language on the global financial crisis and trade-related issues, and thus disassociated from the related six paragraphs. She also considered it unacceptable to include language on debt relief, noting that technology transfer must be voluntary and respect property rights. She stressed the responsibility of all enterprises, regardless of their size and structure.
The representative of Armenia voiced regret about the selective nature of the draft resolution and therefore disassociated from operative paragraph 24.
The Committee then turned to draft resolution titled, “Child, early and forced marriage” (document A/C.3/71/L.13/Rev.1).
By its terms, the General Assembly would call on States and relevant stakeholders — including women and girls, parents and family, religious, traditional and community leaders, civil society, organizations led by girls, women’s groups, youth and human rights groups, men and boys, the media and the private sector — to develop and implement holistic and coordinated responses and strategies to eliminate child, early and forced marriage, and to support girls and women at risk or subjected to that practice. The Secretary-General would be requested to submit a report on progress towards ending the practice worldwide.
The representative of Zambia orally revised operative paragraph 4, replacing the word “requiring” with “concerning”. In operative paragraph 13, after the first instance of the word “including”, he replaced the phrase “their right” with “the right of women, and those girls who have been subjected to child, early and forced marriage”.
The draft resolution was approved as orally revised without a vote.
The representative of Mexico expressed concern about the tense discussions on sexual and reproductive rights, which were crucial in order to make progress in that area. Recalling that such language had been previously agreed, he expressed concern about replacing references to sexual and reproductive rights with diluted language.
The representative of Guyana, on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said he had joined the consensus, pointing out that the concept of early marriage referenced in the draft resolution, and others, was subject to the national laws of CARICOM members.
The representative of Qatar expressed her reservation about the term “early marriage”, on which there was no international consensus and there existed national discrepancies. National legislation and customs must be respected.
The representative of the Holy See drew attention to the harmful nature of early and child marriage, urging that both spouses have the appropriate age and maturity. He voiced concern about the focus on the individual, saying that because reproductive rights were not recognized as international human rights, he could not affirm what was not in international human rights law. He expressed reservations about sexual and reproductive rights, which must be seen as in the overall context of health. Gender identity encompassed male and female, he added, stressing that parental rights must be protected.
The Committee then took up the draft resolution titled, “Protecting children from bullying” (document A/C.3/71/L.18/Rev.1).
An official from the Secretariat said adoption of the draft resolution would require an additional $37,600 in 2018 for the production of a pre-session document in all six languages.
The representative of Mexico, introducing the draft resolution, said it was a response to requests from children, who according to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) survey, cited bullying as one of their principle concerns. The text aimed to make the global problem of bullying more visible.
The draft resolution was approved by consensus.
By its terms, the Assembly would call on States to share national experiences and best practices for preventing and tackling bullying, including cyberbullying. It would invite the Secretary-General, within existing resources, to facilitate global efforts to raise awareness of bullying, including through United Nations specialized agencies, funds and programmes, and to submit a report to the Assembly’s seventy-third session.
The representative of Slovakia, on behalf of the European Union, said the draft resolution would raise global awareness on an issue that many children and youth dealt with every day. He looked forward to bullying being introduced into the omnibus resolution on the rights of the child, as many children were bullied because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. He expressed regret that that reality had not been incorporated into the text.
The representative of Iceland, on behalf of more than three dozen countries, recalled that children belonging to marginalized or vulnerable groups — including those with disabilities — from indigenous communities, migrants, refugees, or those from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex communities, were at higher risk of bullying. The draft resolution did not specify those groups. No one should face exclusion because of how they were born, he stressed, expressing regret that many Member States disagreed with that principle.
The Committee then took up a draft resolution on the rights of the child (document A/C.3/71/L.20/Rev.1).
By its terms, the Assembly would express its profound concern that the situation of children in many parts of the world remained critical. It would urge States to withdraw reservations incompatible with the Convention on the Rights of the Child or its Optional Protocols, and to protect and promote the children’s right to express themselves freely. It would urge States that had not yet done so to ratify the International Labour Organization’s Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182), 32, and the Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138), 33. States would be called on to ensure the enjoyment of all human rights for children belonging to minorities and vulnerable groups and those in vulnerable situations, including migrant children and indigenous children, as well as children placed in alternative care and within the juvenile justice system and in detention.
The representative of Uruguay, on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States and the European Union, introduced the draft resolution, praising the New York Declaration on Migrants and refugees for sending a strong message of political commitment to ensure a more humane and compassionate response to movements of people. The draft called for preventing and eliminating all forms of discrimination against migrant children. It incorporated resolutions of the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, and had been drafted following consultations with UNICEF and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict.
The representative of Sudan said that, through the African Group and during informal consultations, his country had rejected the inclusion of a reference to the International Criminal Court. However, their position had been rejected by the facilitators and he therefore had no choice but to introduce an oral amendment to operative paragraph 36. It would delete the phrase, “inter alia, through the International Criminal Court”, and replace it with the following: “and calls upon the international community to hold those responsible for violations accountable, and promptly bring them to justice as provided for by national laws and obligations under international law.” While he agreed on the importance of the draft resolution, it was crucial not to impose a legal system on States. He expressed regret that certain Assembly resolutions were being exploited to promote the Court. That body was not the sole instrument to dispense justice at the national, regional, and international levels, and he called upon all to support the amendment.
The representative of Uruguay said he regretted that he had not been informed earlier about the proposed amendment, noting that the same language had been approved in earlier resolutions on the rights of the child. He requested a vote on the proposed amendment and urged those who had worked on the draft to vote against the amendment.
The representative of Slovakia, on behalf of the European Union before the vote, expressed disappointment about the amendment. The paragraph in question was a longstanding one and had received strong cross-regional support during informal consultations. The bloc had worked hard to build consensus on the text. He supported the Court, could not accept the amendment and urged others to vote against it.
The representative of Lichtenstein, on behalf of Australia, Canada, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, said the oral amendment sought to change language that had been agreed for more than ten years. The Court played an important role in addressing children in armed conflict, and therefore, reference to it was relevant and appropriate. She expressed regret that consensus had been undermined and called upon all delegations to vote against the amendment.
The Committee rejected the amendment by a recorded vote of 100 against to 23 in favour, with 33 abstentions.
The Committee approved draft resolution L.20/Rev.1 without a vote.
The representative of the United States said her country had joined consensus on the text. Voicing her concerns, she said countries could not be held accountable under international agreements and treaties to which they were not party. She reiterated support for migrant children and their dignity and rights in accordance with applicable national laws. She also expressed concern about the lack of transparency and inclusiveness in negotiations on the draft.
The representative of Ghana, on behalf of the African Group, said the draft resolution was among the most important. However, he had several reservations. Many proposals had been ignored while other critical issues had not been treated in a comprehensive manner, such as food security and children and armed conflict. He had not joined consensus on language about sexual and reproductive services and rights.
The representative of Sudan expressed concern about references to sexual and reproductive health care services, as mentioned in operative paragraph 33, noting that his country had disassociated from such language. He also recalled Sudan’s position on the International Criminal Court, as expressed through the amendment.
The representative of the Russian Federation said her Government prioritized children’s rights and she deplored that the main sponsors had not conducted negotiations in an open and transparent manner. She could not agree with operative paragraph 36 on the International Criminal Court and had disassociated from that language.
The representative of Saudi Arabia, on behalf of Gulf Cooperation Council, expressed support for the draft resolution and the protection of children’s rights, emphasizing that action must consider national, cultural and regional conditions.
The representative of Switzerland expressed support for the draft resolution, stressing the need to protect migrant children and apply all relevant international human rights law.
The representative of Yemen said children’s protection must be a priority, especially in emergency situations. He expressed regret about language on sexual and reproductive health care services, which was not in line with national obligations, and he therefore had disassociated from those paragraphs.
The representative of Iran, stressing that his country was committed to implementing all agreed obligations, said the creation of new obligations was unacceptable.
The representative of Singapore, while expressing concern about contentious issues in the draft resolution, nonetheless reiterated her support for the text.
The representative of Morocco said her country had made the strategic choice to work for the protection of children’s rights, and thus, had joined consensus. However, language on the International Criminal Court had not achieved consensus.
The Committee then took note of the report of the Committee on the Rights of the Child at its sixty-sixth, sixty-seventh, sixty-eighth, sixty-ninth, seventieth and seventy-first sessions (document A/71/41); and of the Secretary-General on the status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (document A/71/413), and on Collaboration within the United Nations system on child protection (document A/71/277).
The Committee went on to take action on draft resolution titled ¨The rights of indigenous peoples¨ (document A/C.3/71/L.17/Rev.1).
By its terms, the Assembly would encourage the engagement of indigenous peoples in the implementation of the outcome of the Assembly’s high-level plenary meeting, known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. It would stress the importance of pursuing the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, especially through international cooperation to support national and regional efforts.
The representative of Bolivia, introducing the draft also on behalf of Ecuador, stressed that greater efforts must be made to implement the relevant international agreements, noting that the high-level meeting planned for the 2017 session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was beneficial in that regard. Indigenous peoples could not be left behind in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. She also expressed hope that more progress could be made in increasing the participation of indigenous peoples at all levels.
The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.
The representative of Ecuador reiterated his commitment to advance indigenous peoples’ rights. Stressing the importance of implementing the 2007 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, he drew attention to the importance of protecting and promoting indigenous languages.
The representative of France, on behalf of Bulgaria and Romania, recognized individual rights, rather than collective rights, stressing the need for non-discrimination.
The representative of the United Kingdom said there were no collective human rights except for that to self-determination. Individuals must not be left vulnerable.
The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania recalled that there were no indigenous peoples in her country, as internationally defined.
The representative of the Russian Federation said her country supported indigenous peoples and their rights, as well as the draft resolution. The Government also supported greater participation of indigenous peoples at the United Nations, in line with the Organization’s rules of procedure.
The representative of Cameroon pointed out that the loss of languages did not only affect indigenous communities. Therefore, languages under threat must be preserved, protected and promoted. The planned high-level event was informal. If it was a formal high-level event, intergovernmental negotiations would have been required. All obligations must be in line with international agreements.
The Committee then took note of the Secretary-General’s note transmitting the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the status of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples (document A/71/228).
The representative of Belgium, also speaking on behalf of Slovenia and other co-sponsors, presented a draft resolution titled, “International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination” (document A/C.3/71/L.47). He orally amended three operative paragraphs, noting that the draft addressed several elements that were important for ensuring implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the work of its Committee. He expressed hope the draft would be approved by consensus.
The draft resolution was approved without a vote as orally revised.
By its terms, the General Assembly would invite the Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to present an oral report on its work and engage in an interactive dialogue with the Assembly at its seventy-second and seventy-third sessions.
The Committee then took up a draft resolution titled “A global call for concrete action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action” (document A/C.3/71/L.48/Rev.1).
By its terms, the Assembly would call upon States that had not done so to consider acceding to and/or ratifying the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. It would express its grave concern at the lack of progress in elaborating complementary standards to the Convention and request the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to develop a racial equality index aimed at measuring States’ performance in promoting substantive equality and inclusive societies. It would also lay out a series of measures to revitalize international human rights mechanisms.
An official from the Secretariat announced that implementing the requests contained in the draft resolution would require additional recurrent resources starting in 2017 for the travel of five experts for each of the annual sessions of the four Durban follow-up mechanisms. Adoption of the draft would give rise to annual requirements of $90,400 starting in 2017, but would not have programme budget implications for the biennium 2016–2017.
The representative of Thailand, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, orally revised operative paragraph 22 adding the word “previous” before the word “invitation” in the first line. She urged States to support the draft.
The resolution was put to a vote at the request of the delegation of Israel.
The representative of Israel said her country had hoped the Durban Conference would have created a meaningful and unpoliticized instrument to fight racism, xenophobia and related intolerance. That goal had not been achieved because a group of countries had hijacked the proceedings to demonize Israel. Her country therefore had not participated in subsequent meetings to commemorate the adoption of the Durban Programme of Action. Israel had a consistent policy prohibiting discrimination and would leave the door open for future collaboration in an unpoliticized manner.
The representative of Slovakia, on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc was committed to the total elimination of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance but those challenges should be tackled in a balanced and comprehensive way at the national region and international levels through ratification and implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The European Union was committed to the objectives of the Durban Conference, but a number of proposals it had put forward during informal consultations had not been reflected in the draft. He said the bloc did not agree with operative paragraph 7 and therefore would not support the draft resolution.
The representative of the United States said her country’s commitment to fight racism was rooted in the saddest chapters of its history. The United States would work with countries of goodwill to combat racism and raise the profile of the International Decade for People of African Descent. She underscored the costs the draft resolution would bear on the regular budget and would vote against it.
The representative of the Syria said it was not shocking that Israel had requested a vote because in 2001 it had not been invited to the Durban Conference. Israel, an occupying State, was built on discrimination and the occupation of Palestinian land. Israel continued to erect walls of discrimination separating Palestinians from their land and identity. Syria would vote for the draft resolution.
The draft resolution was approved by a recorded vote of in 122 favour, to 10 against (Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United Kingdom and United States), with 44 abstentions.
The Committee then took note of two notes of the Secretary-General, the first transmitting the report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (document A/71/301), and the second on the latest developments with regard to the Group of independent experts on the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/71/288).
The representative of Iceland, speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, introduced a draft resolution on the “Human rights treaty body system” (document A/C.3/71/L.19/Rev.1), which he said combined two texts traditionally submitted on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and on human rights covenants. It also addressed the treaty body system as a whole, continuing efforts to ensure coherence. The draft put in place measures that increased cost efficiency and provided for a new capacity-building component to support State party reporting. He expressed hope it supported the implementation of resolution 68/268 and strengthened the human rights treaty body system.
He then asked who had requested the vote, to which the Secretariat official replied that Syria had requested the vote.
The draft resolution was then approved by a recorded vote of 164 in favour, to 0 votes against, with 2 abstentions (Syria, Lao People’s Democratic Republic).
By its terms, the draft resolution would see the General Assembly invite the Chairs of the human rights treaty bodies to address and engage in an interactive dialogue at the seventy-second and seventy-third sessions. The Assembly would encourage all stakeholders to continue their efforts to fully implement resolution 68/268 on the strengthening and enhancing the effective functioning of the human rights treaty body system.
The representative of Austria expressed surprise at having had to vote on the draft resolution, and “in the spirit of working together constructively” questioned why it had been put to a vote.
The representative of Iceland expressed “regret and surprise” at having had to vote on the draft resolution, noting that Syria’s delegation had not engaged during negotiations to indicate any problems with the text. That was unacceptable behaviour which was not in line with decorum.
The representative of Syria, on a point of order, confirmed that it had not participated in informal negotiations.
Invited by the Secretariat to finish his statement, the representative of Iceland declined, saying the statement by Syria’s representative spoke for itself.
The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on the role of the ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights (document A/C.3/71/L.40/Rev.1).
By its terms, the Assembly would express regret that the Secretary-General once again had not provided a report on the implementation of Assembly resolutions on the role of the ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions, despite the request in resolution 69/168, and called upon him to submit that report at the seventy-second session. It would recall the request that he report in particular on obstacles encountered by States in implementing resolution 69/168, and best practices in the work of the ombudsman, mediator and other human rights institutions.
A representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) took the floor to explain that the report requested by General Assembly resolution 69/193 to be presented during the Assembly’s seventy- first session, had not been published. She expressed regret for the misunderstanding with the representative of Morocco.
The representative of Morocco explained that draft resolution L.40/Rev.1 was procedural, intended to put into effect the two preceding resolutions on the topic. She welcomed the willingness of OHCHR to present a report at the next General Assembly session, emphasizing that Morocco was committed to re-establishing the biannual nature of the text.
The draft resolution was approved by consensus.
The Committee took up a draft resolution titled “Missing persons” (document A/C.3/71/L.41/Rev.1).
The draft resolution was approved without a vote.
By its terms, the General Assembly would call on States to take measures to prevent persons from going missing in connection with armed conflict and to determine the identity and fate of those missing. It would also call on States to take steps on the legal situation of missing persons and the needs of their family members in such areas as social welfare, psychological and psychosocial support, financial matters, family law and property rights. The Secretary-General would be called upon to submit a report on the implementation of the resolution.
The representative of Armenia, in a general statement, said her country, traditionally a co-sponsor, and had joined consensus on the text. From a practical, humanitarian perspective, all parties to conflict should cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross and play a role in determining the fate of missing persons.
The Committee then took note of numerous reports and notes of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat and relevant Committees under its sub-items 68 (a), (b) and (c).Read More
SECRETARY KERRY: (Applause.) Well, good afternoon, President Yeom. Thank you very much for a generous introduction. Distinguished guests, all, I’m delighted to be here and I want to thank the university, and particularly Park No-young, the Director of the Cyber Law Center, for inviting me to be here today. Thank you very, very much.
I also want to acknowledge somewhere – I don’t see him – but my friend, the ambassador from the United States of America – there he is right in front of me – Mark Lippert, who represents the United States here in Seoul. And he’s a special person. I’ve known him for a long time. He served in the United States Navy. He served in Afghanistan and served for the President, been an advisor to several presidents. But recently, as you all know, he displayed great grace and dignity under duress, and like all of our diplomats, whose jobs carry with them certain risks on the front lines of diplomacy, I will tell you that Mark has never wavered from his determination to do his job and to represent our country to the best of his ability – which, believe me, he does. So I’m grateful for his leadership. And, Mark, thank you for the great example you’re setting.
I’m really happy to be back here in Seoul. This is a beautiful city, and I’m struck every time I come here. I wish I had more time. Time is the enemy of those of us in diplomacy nowadays. But the United States and South Korea share a very special history, obviously, and we also share great hopes for the future. And I am very happy to be here to talk about our shared interests, though it will not just be, President Yeom, about the security; it will be about the internet itself, which is important as we think about security. It’s also, obviously, very critical as we think about the many interests that we share together, ranging from security on the Korean Peninsula, to the success of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, to the many connections that exist between the Korean and the American peoples – including, I want you to know, a love for Psy, K-Pop, bibimbap, and Pororo, the little penguin. (Laughter.) I want you to know that my staff recommended that I walk out here this afternoon, dancing to Gangnam Style – but I told them no, that’s too 2012.
Today, it’s really more than appropriate to be here in the most wired city in the country, one of the most wired cities in the world, in order to speak with you about digital technology and about the fears and the possibilities that we associate with digital technology. And let me underscore: It’s the possibilities that should motivate us, and it’s the possibilities that bring me here today.
Now, years ago, South Korea made a conscious choice to become a global IT leader and you have delivered. As a society, you opened the door to investment, you encouraged households to sign up for broadband, you eased the transition to new technology, and you developed programs in universities just like this one to educate young people in digital skills. And I applaud you for the remarkable linkage to the military and the security side of it with the offer that you make to students who will come here, learn, and then go on to serve the country in the military for those seven years.
Today, thanks in part to President Park’s commitment to build a, quote, “creative economy,” the ROK is a virtual synonym for Internet success stories, such as the educational network service ClassTing; or the Kakao, your messenger app which is one of the fastest-growing tech firms in all of Asia; and GRobotics, a company which has revolutionized the robot industry and, incredibly, it was originally conceived by an amazing 11-year-old child. Just two weeks ago, Ambassador Lippert joined President Park at the opening of the Google Campus for startups and entrepreneurs right here in Seoul – an initiative designed to spur the exchange of ideas and digital growth in both of our countries. Now, both of our nations know and view the internet and cyber issues as part of a new frontier for our governments and peoples, and it will be one of the key areas discussed when our two presidents meet in in Washington in June.
The fact is, whichever side of the Pacific Ocean we live on, the internet today is part of almost everything that we do. And just to tell you how amazing it is, I served in the United States Senate on the Commerce Committee in 1996. I was chairman of the Communications Subcommittee when we rewrote the communications law for our country. And guess what? Barely anybody in 1996 was talking about data, and data transformation, and data management. It was all about telephony – the telephone. That’s how far we’ve traveled in 20 years.
So it matters to all of us how the technology is used and how it’s governed. That is precisely why the United States considers the promotion of an open and secure internet to be a key component of our foreign policy. It’s why we want to work with you and with international partners everywhere in order to better understand the choices that we face in managing this extraordinary resource – a resource which does present us with certain challenges even as it presents us with unprecedented opportunities.
Now, what do I mean by that?
Well, to begin with, America believes – as I know you do – that the internet should be open and accessible to everyone. We believe it should be interoperable, so it can connect seamlessly across international borders. We believe people are entitled to the same rights of free expression online as they possess offline. We believe countries should work together to deter and respond effectively to online threats. And we believe digital policy should seek to fulfill the technology’s potential as a vehicle for global stability and sustained economic development; as an innovative way to enhance the transparency of governments and hold governments accountable; and also as a means for social empowerment that is also the most democratic form of public expression ever invented.
At its best, the internet is an equal-opportunity platform from which the voice of a student can have as much reach as that of a billionaire; a chief executive may be able to be out-debated by an entry-level employee – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Most users of the internet agree, on the internet as in any other venue, the human rights of every person – including freedom of expression – should be protected and respected. The United Nations has repeatedly affirmed this view, but as we know, it is still not universally held. That means that we will continue to have important choices to make – important choices to make locally, to make in universities, to make in businesses, to make in countries, and between countries. We will have a lot of choices about technology among and between nations.
Let me tell you something: How we choose begins with what we believe. And what we believe about the internet hinges to a great extent on how we feel, each and every one of us, about freedom.
Freedom. The United States believes strongly in freedom – in freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of choice. But particularly, this is important with respect to freedom of expression, and you believe in that freedom of expression here in Korea. We want that right for ourselves and we want that right for others even if we don’t agree always with the views that others express. We understand that freedom of expression is not a license to incite imminent violence. It’s not a license to commit fraud. It’s not a license to indulge in libel, or sexually exploit children. No. But we do know that some governments will use any excuse that they can find to silence their critics and that those governments have responded to the rise of the internet by stepping up their own efforts to control what people read, see, write, and say.
This is truly a point of separation in our era – now, in the 21st century. It’s a point of separation between governments that want the internet to serve their citizens and those who seek to use or restrict access to the internet in order to control their citizens.
Here in the Asia Pacific, we see countries such as the ROK and Japan that are among the world’s leaders in internet access, while North Korea is at the exact opposite end of that spectrum, with the lowest rate of access in the world and the most rigid and centralized control.
No other government is as extreme as the DPRK, but there are more than a few who want to harvest the economic benefits of the internet while nevertheless closing off the avenues of political, social, and religious expression. They impose filters that eliminate broad categories of what their citizens can see and receive and transmit – and with whom ideas may be changed and shared. What’s more, the governments that have pioneered the repressive use of such technologies are quick to export their tools and methods to others, and thereby further diminish individual rights. At the same time, some governments are using the internet to track down activists and journalists who write something that they don’t like, and even reach beyond their borders in order to intimidate their critics.
My friends, this discourages free expression and it clearly seems intended to turn their part of the internet into a graveyard for new ideas – the exact opposite of what it should be, a fertile field where such ideas can blossom and grow.
Let’s be clear: Every government has a responsibility to provide security for its citizens. Yes. We all agree with that. In the United States, our efforts to do so – and the reforms that we have undertaken in the process – have been guided by our concern for individual rights and our commitment to oversight and review. Further, unlike many, we have taken steps to respect and safeguard the privacy of the citizens of other countries and to use the information that we do collect solely to address the very specific threat to the United States and to our allies. We don’t use security concerns as an excuse to suppress criticisms of our policies or to give a competitive advantage to an American company and any commercial interests at all.
Now, regrettably, it is no coincidence that many of the governments that have a poor record on internet freedom also have a questionable commitment to human rights more generally. United States policy has always been to engage with such governments to encourage reforms and to point out the contributions to prosperity that would flow from a more open approach. Regimes that practice repression typically argue that they have no obligation to justify what they do inside their own borders, but that assertion is directly contradicted by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by many other multilateral declarations and statements.
The fact is, an individual’s aspiration to be free may be the most single powerful force on Earth. It’s an aspiration that may be able to be slowed sometimes, maybe intimidated sometimes, it may even be eliminated temporarily by violence in certain cases. But I’m telling you its power within the human soul is so infectious that it will always resurface in one form or another, even in the most extraordinary circumstances.
And history – history has proven that again and again and again. Throughout history, we have seen that men and women will do whatever it takes to find a way to make their desire for freedom known. We saw that with the authors of the pamphlets that helped to spark the revolution that gave birth to my home country in the 1700s. We saw it with the dissidents writing newsletters and producing radio broadcasts behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. And we see it today, in places all over the world, where young people are challenging injustice – armed only with their smart phones.
The internet is, among many other things, an instrument of freedom. It’s a tool people resort to in response to the absence and failure or abuse of government. So of course, some leaders are afraid of it. They’re afraid of the internet in the same way that their predecessors were afraid of newspapers, books, and the radio, but even more so because in this case, because of the interactivity that allows for a free-flowing discussion and the exchange of views – activities that can, and often do, lead to change.
I say to you today, here at Korea University, that fear is misplaced, and that response is, in the end, futile. Anyone who blames the internet for the disorder or turmoil in today’s world is just not using their head to connect the dots correctly. And banning the internet in a misguided attempt to impose order will never succeed in quashing the universal desire for freedom.
Ladies and gentlemen, repression does not eliminate the speech we hate. It just forces it into other avenues – avenues that often can become more dangerous than the speech itself that people are fighting. The remedy for the speech that we do not like is more speech. It’s the credible voices of real people that must not only be enabled, but they need to be amplified.
The good news is that much of the world understands this. More and more of the world understands this. And the advocates of internet freedom and openness are speaking up. The United States is part of the Freedom Online Coalition, a 26-country group that we are actively seeking to expand. The coalition argues that narrow and distorted visions of the internet cannot be allowed to prevail. Freedom must win out over censorship. That is an important principle, but it is also a practical imperative. After all, from the dawn of history to the present day, repression hasn’t invented a thing. Freedom is how jobs are created, diseases are cured, alternative energy is harnessed, and new ways are found to feed a global population that has quadrupled in the past century and that will rise to some 9 billion people in the next 40 to 50 years. Without freedom, civilization can’t advance; it’s like a bicycle without pedals.
Remember that the internet is not just another sector of our economy. Like electricity, it is a general purpose technology that is used in thousands of different ways, streamlining everything from buying a cup of coffee to building a skyscraper. Consider what would happen if someone tried to block the flow of electricity – the lights would go out and everything would stop. In fact, when I was a lot younger, Hollywood made a movie about exactly that; it was called “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” And thank heavens they made a couple more of them so you can’t tell exactly which one I’m referring to. (Laughter.) Now, you might want to watch it, because policies that restrict online data streams have a similar effect, if perhaps not quite so dramatic.
Think, for example, of what would take place if every country imposed data localization requirements, causing information to halt and to undergo inspection whenever it reached a national border. Imagine what would happen to commerce and to the flow of information, to the simple effort to get an answer to a question at a dinner table when you’re talking with people and you want to Google something. The delays would create huge obstacles to multinational business at a time when speed is of the essence and cross-border enterprises are major engines of growth. That’s not a formula for progress; it’s a way to stop progress in its tracks.
The internet provides broadly-shared connections that are essential for modern economies to be able to grow. It’s that simple. It can help people even in remote areas take advantage of government services and make a better business decision, for example. Let me give you an example. It could make a difference to people about when you bring your crops to the market or how do you find international customers for local projects.
With digital technology, fishermen in Mozambique can keep their catch fresh in the water until they have a buyer, somewhere in another continent maybe, thus eliminating spoilage and waste.
Shopkeepers in sub-Saharan Africa have seen their incomes actually grow by using mobile banking technology to avoid local loan sharks and go directly to reputable financial institutions for emergency credit and loans.
The system becomes more accountable and more transparent and more accessible. Women entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia have formed cooperatives online that enable them to take advantage of economies of scale.
Children from Angola to India are learning more and faster through education that comes to them over the internet.
And a couple of years ago, a young engineer from Cameroon developed a computer tablet called “Cardiopad” that enables Africans to be able to have a heart examination at home and receive the diagnosis from doctors who may be hundreds of miles away. Think about that.
The examples are endless, but you get the point. I know. The internet fuels innovation that can lead to improved efficiency, improved productivity in every sector of a developing economy.
But in thinking about the internet’s promise, you have to recognize how far that potential is from being fulfilled today. Roughly three out of every five people in the world today remain without internet access – and in the poorest countries that figure can top 95 percent.
A big part of the reason is simply cost. Ask yourself: How much of your family’s income do you pay for internet access? In America, the average is 1 or 2 percent. But a typical family in some countries have to pay 10 percent for entry-level mobile broadband and roughly four times that for fixed broadband. In other words, people with low incomes can’t afford digital access. They need to earn more money. To break that circle of despair, we need to bring the costs down by getting public policies right – because money isn’t the only barrier.
There’s a reason why access is relatively high in Colombia but low in Venezuela. There’s a reason why it’s high in Malaysia but low in Cambodia; a reason why it’s high in Rwanda but low in Ethiopia. Some governments do much more than others to facilitate access for people in poor or remote areas. And the starting point is for every country to have a clear and comprehensive national broadband plan that allows for private investment, encourages competition, removes bureaucratic obstacles, and takes full advantage of shared internet services at schools, libraries, community centers, and cafes.
That’s why two years ago the United States helped create the Alliance for Affordable Internet. This broad coalition draws on expertise from governments, the private sector, and civil society to assist policy makers in expanding access while keeping prices low. It’s the right goal, and I’ll tell you, it’s also a smart goal. According to one recent European study, tripling mobile broadband penetration levels across the developing world would provide a return of as much as $17 for every $1 spent.
About 10 days ago, when I was in Kenya, I Skyped, using the internet, with a group of young Somali refugees. Most of these refugees were high school or college age kids, and yet – and yet, extraordinarily, many of them had never, ever been outside that refugee camp – ever. This, in an era of incredible globalization – they had only lived in one refugee camp. The students I spoke to wanted desperately to be able to complete their schooling. They wanted to find a job. They wanted to go on to university. They wanted to begin a career. One young woman, who is studying chemistry and biology, told me she hoped to become a doctor. Now, I’m willing to bet you that she’s never been inside a hospital. But that’s what she wanted to do – become a doctor. The irony is that, at the refugee camp, they have internet connections. Now, I can’t help but wonder whether that will be the case when they return to Somalia.
If there is any message that is going to be sent to governments by young people in the world today, it is the desire – the universal desire – for jobs, for opportunity, for education, for a future. That’s what people want. It’s what every family in the world really wants. No one is asking to be censored. No one is yearning to be told what to think and how to live. The same desires that helped South Korea embrace democracy are what sparked the beginnings of the Arab Spring; they’re what kept the pro-democracy movement alive through two decades of dictatorship in Burma; and they’re what prompted the voters of Sri Lanka and Nigeria to flock to the polls in recent months and cast their ballots for change.
So looking to the future, we have to respond to this demand for openness and opportunity by making steady progress toward closing the digital divide. And with that goal in mind, the United States State Department will soon launch a new diplomatic initiative – in combination with partner countries, development banks, engineers, and industry leaders – and we’re going to do just that: try to make it more available. You may be sure that we will be inviting your government and other representatives from this highly-connected country to help us lead and guide this effort. Because this will define the future. And this is the way we’ll address violent extremism, and failing states.
So this brings me to another issue that should concern us all, and that is governance – because even a technology founded on freedom needs rules to be able to flourish and work properly. We understand that. Unlike many models of government that are basically top-down, the internet allows all stakeholders – the private sector, civil society, academics, engineers, and governments – to all have seats at the table. And this multi-stakeholder approach is embodied in a myriad of institutions that each day address internet issues and help digital technology to be able to function.
The versatility of the current approach enables it to move both with deliberation and care on complex issues and, frankly, much more rapidly on situations that demand a rapid response. For example, we saw the community respond to the 2007 cyberattacks in Estonia in a matter of hours. And as recently as last week, it responded literally in minutes to an unexpected outage of the Amsterdam exchange, which is the second-largest internet exchange point in the world.
That’s why we have to be wary of those who claim that the system is broken or who advocate replacing it with a more centralized arrangement – where governments would have a monopoly on the decision-making. That’s dangerous. Now, I don’t know what you think, but I am confident that if we were to ask any large group of internet users anywhere in the world what their preferences are, the option “leave everything to the government” would be at the absolute bottom of the list. Because of the dynamic nature of this technology, new issues are constantly on the horizon – but the multi-stakeholder approach remains the fairest and the best, most effective way to be able to resolve those challenges.
Now, as everyone knows, it’s impossible to talk about cyber policy without talking about international peace and security. You live this truth right here in South Korea, just as we do in the United States. Both of our countries have been hit by serious cyber-attacks from state and non-state actors. Worldwide, the risk and frequency of such attacks is on the increase.
America’s policy is to promote international cyber stability. The goal is to create a climate in which all states are able to enjoy the benefits of cyberspace; all have incentives to cooperate and avoid conflict; and all have good reason not to disrupt or attack one another. To achieve this, we are seeking a broad consensus on where to draw the line between responsible and irresponsible behavior.
As I’ve mentioned, the basic rules of international law apply in cyberspace. Acts of aggression are not permissible. And countries that are hurt by an attack have a right to respond in ways that are appropriate, proportional, and that minimize harm to innocent parties. We also support a set of additional principles that, if observed, can contribute substantially to conflict prevention and stability in time of peace. We view these as universal concepts that should be appealing to all responsible states, and they are already gaining traction.
First, no country should conduct or knowingly support online activity that intentionally damages or impedes the use of another country’s critical infrastructure. Second, no country should seek either to prevent emergency teams from responding to a cybersecurity incident, or allow its own teams to cause harm. Third, no country should conduct or support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets, or other confidential business information for commercial gain. Fourth, every country should mitigate malicious cyber activity emanating from its soil, and they should do so in a transparent, accountable and cooperative way. And fifth, every country should do what it can to help states that are victimized by a cyberattack.
I guarantee you if those five principles were genuinely and fully adopted and implemented by countries, we would be living in a far safer and far more confident cyberworld.
But even with these principles, ensuring international cyber stability will remain a work in progress. We still have a lot of work to do to develop a truly reliable framework – based on international law – that will effectively deter violations and minimize the danger of conflict.
To build trust, the UN Group of Governmental Experts has stressed the importance of high-level communication, transparency about national policies, dispute settlement mechanisms, and the timely sharing of information – all of them, very sound and important thoughts. The bottom line is that we who seek stability and peace in cyberspace should be clear about what we expect and intend, and those who may be tempted to cause trouble should be forewarned: they will be held accountable for their actions. The United States reserves the right to use all necessary means, including economic, trade and diplomatic tools, as appropriate in order to defend our nation and our partners, our friends, our allies. The sanctions against North Korean officials earlier this year are one example of the use of such a tool in response to DPRK’s provocative, destabilizing and repressive actions, including the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures. Now, as the international community moves towards consensus about what exactly constitutes unacceptable behavior in cyberspace, more and more responsible nations need to join together to act against disruptors and rogue actors.
As we know, malicious governments are only part of the cybersecurity problem. Organized crime is active in cyberspace. So are individual con artists, unscrupulous hackers, and persons engaged in fraud. Unfortunately, the relative anonymity of the internet makes it an ideal vehicle for criminal activity – but not an excuse for working through the principles I described to finding rules of the road and working so that the internet works for everybody else. The resulting financial cost of those bad actors, the cost of cybercrime, is already enormous, but so is the loss of trust in the internet that every successful fraud or theft engenders.
And that’s precisely why the United States is working with partners on every continent to strengthen the capacity of governments to prevent cyber-crime through improved training, the right legal frameworks, information sharing, and public involvement.
The best vehicle for international cooperation in this field is the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, which my government urges every nation to consider joining. There is no better legal framework for working across borders to define what cybercrime is and how breaches of the law should be prevented and prosecuted. We also support the G-7 24/7 Network – in which South Korea is an active participant – and that enables police and prosecutors from more than 70 countries to request rapid assistance on their investigations.
The United States is also working with partners to improve network defenses and in cooperation with other countries to respond to cyber incidents. All of this is crucial, because in an interconnected system like the internet, poor cybersecurity has the potential to increase the danger for all of us. So we have to help each other. We have to maintain direct contact between our incident response teams, invest heavily in that capacity, and build that capacity so that weak spots are turned into stronger blockages against the vulnerabilities, and ultimately, they disappear.
So to sum up, I think it is clear to all of us that the internet is not like most inventions that affect a single industry, require just a few tweaks – a little adjustment here and there – and then we can all move on. That’s not what it requires. Digital technology has led us into a whole new frontier in which we have to find our way – and there are many different dimensions to it. When I was still in the United States Senate, I introduced legislation to protect the privacy rights of individuals and I still feel very strongly about that principle. And we are working to make sure we protect the privacy of people, not just in our country but in others.
As Secretary of State, I am in charge of an organization that is the target of hacking attempts every single day – and we have to defend against those. As a diplomat, I’m constantly engaged in discussions with counterparts about how to best enhance access and how to design and enforce the right rules to protect all of us.
My meetings with the private sector, the scientific community, the civil society, all bring home to me how important it is that all stakeholders have a voice in internet governance. The very essence of this technology is its freedom and its openness, and unless we bring all the stakeholders to the table, that will be lost. And something more important than all of us will be lost with it.
We cannot let that happen. Now, as I said before, obviously, the internet is not without risk – but at the end of the day, if we restricted all technology that could possibly be used for bad purposes, we’d have to revert to the Stone Age. Throughout the global community, we need to come together around principles that will establish a solid foundation for our freedoms – principles that will protect the rights of individuals, the privacy of our citizenry, and the security of our nations – all at the same time.
So I leave you with a somewhat unusual request: Keep doing what so many of you are already doing. Speak up for an open and secure internet. Defend freedom of expression. Add to South Korea’s great reputation as a leader in digital technology. In doing so, we can be absolutely confident about the future that we will shape.
And how will we know when we finally have succeeded? When an open, secure internet is as widespread as electricity or cellphone coverage itself. When it is fully integrated into everyday life in every corner of the globe. When it is no longer contested but accepted and even taken for granted. When we reach that point – believe me: Your successors will look back at all of this debate and they will wonder how could anyone have argued the other way.
My friends, if we do all of these things, if we stick by our guns, the internet revolution that we are living today will literally define the kinds of opportunities that young people all over the world are hoping for today – help strengthen governments; provide opportunity; make us safer; bring us together; and in effect, define the future of this century. That’s the goal we’re fighting for, and we look forward to working with all of you to achieve it.
Thank you.Read More
Iraqi Minister Calls for Comprehensive Security Structure to Squash Terror Networks
Doha, 13 April 2015 – As criminals became ever more sophisticated and brutal, swift and collective action was needed to stamp out new and emerging threats, delegates heard today as the thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice continued its high-level segment.
Strengthening legal frameworks and launching targeted programmes to tackle crimes – from hacking and online identity theft to terrorist groups recruiting foreign fighters – were parts of the toolkit needed to build resilient societies, some ministers said as more than 50 speakers discussed their crime prevention and criminal justice efforts alongside proposals for solutions.
Ministers and other government officials described recent horrific attacks by terrorist groups, including Al‑Shabaab and Da’esh. Some speakers appealed to the Congress to send a strong message to all terrorists groups that the international community stood united against them.
“We need to have a comprehensive security structure to combat the terrorist structure,” Iraq’s Minister for Foreign Affairs said, pointing to his country’s current on-the-ground combat against Da’esh. Such a structure must, among other things, ensure that terrorists’ funds were “dried up” and must end their practice of using the Internet to broadcast their heinous criminal acts, he said, calling on all judicial authorities to punish perpetrators. All continents were home to Da’esh fighters and no State was immune to terrorism; all countries should support Iraq and other countries that were battling the scourge.
To fight the growing threat of Boko Haram in West Africa, a coalition comprising Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger had deployed troops, enabling the region to reclaim all territories occupied by insurgents or terrorists, Nigeria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs said. For its part, Nigeria had adopted a national counter-terrorism strategy in 2014 and a new national security strategy had been formulated to address emerging related crimes. Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister for Justice, Human Rights and Public Liberties said his country had crafted a counter-terrorism legal project to restrict and prevent the proliferation of terrorist groups.
Speakers agreed that laws and regional agreements could help in the fight against several aspects of terrorism. The Minister for Home Affairs of the Maldives said Governments must unite and act against terrorists’ recruitment campaigns by making it a criminal offense for any person to leave his or her country with the intent to participate and fight alongside those groups.
Many speakers, including ministers from Afghanistan and Nicaragua, shared concerns over pervasive online crimes, which affected all countries and required new and coordinated measures.
“Cybercrime deserves special attention,” Brazil’s representative said, pointing to his country’s balanced Internet regulations. As authorities from every country faced complex challenges in investigating and obtaining evidence in digital environments, a truly global legal framework that balanced repressive measures and respect for human rights, especially the right to privacy, was essential. Echoing that sentiment, South Africa’s Deputy Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development said the initiative to negotiate a United Nations Convention against Cybercrime should be supported and fast tracked.
In an effort to make further inroads in rooting out and prosecuting cybercriminals, speakers described challenges, experiences and best practices. Lebanon’s Minister for Justice suggested that cybercrime required specific targeted programmes. For its part, his country had taken a number of forward steps, including amending its Penal Code to criminalize hacking. Taking a similar approach, Kuwait’s Minister for Justice and Minister for Awqaf and Islamic Affairs said his Government had adopted laws, including one specifically targeting online crimes, and had also signed regional agreements to combat the illegal use of technology and the Internet.
Encapsulating the goals of some of those measures, the “Doha Declaration” (document A/CONF.222/L.6), adopted by acclamation at the opening meeting of the Congress on Sunday, weighed in on online criminality. Member States, by the Declaration, sought to ensure that the benefits of economic, social and technological advancements enhanced efforts in preventing and countering new and emerging forms of crime. (See also Press Release SOC/CP/359 of 13 April.)
Addressing a range of related issues on Internet crime, among them identity theft, recruitment for the purpose of trafficking in persons and the online exploitation and abuse of children, Member States sought to explore ways to create a secure and resilient cyberspace environment, prevent and counter criminal activities over the Internet and provide long-term technical and capacity-building aid to strengthen national authorities’ ability to deal with cybercrime.
During the day, speakers raised a range of issues, with some offering success stories stemming from policy changes and new approaches. Finland’s representative pointed to her country’s criminal justice policy’s accomplishments in addressing prison overcrowding. Applying community sanctions and fines in lieu of jail time, the country’s prison population had been halved between the 1960s and 1970s. Georgia’s Minister for Justice said that through one crime prevention initiative, 65 youth prisoners had used a special programme to have their body tattoos removed, eliminating the social stigma that prevented them from becoming full-fledged members of society.
By the evening, several common threads had emerged, including that no one country could combat crime alone and that international cooperation was needed to both overcome cross-border challenges and to share best practices to ramp up the fight against crime.
Also delivering statements were Ministers, Government officials and representatives of Croatia, Angola, Ecuador, Uganda, Sudan, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Botswana, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Nepal, Zambia, Gambia, United Republic of Tanzania, Somalia, Belarus, Mexico, Spain, Republic of Korea, Mongolia, United States, Armenia, Saudi Arabia, El Salvador, United Kingdom, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Belgium, Malaysia, Kenya, Viet Nam, Canada, Burkina Faso, Cuba and the Philippines, as well as the State of Palestine and the Holy See. The United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights also addressed the Congress, as did the Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate. The representatives of Turkey and Armenia also spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
Furhter information:Read More