Cooperation against Organized Crime
Build International Capacity, Cooperation, and Partnerships against Transnational Organized Crime
Sustainable progress against transnational organized crime (TOC) requires both political commitment and effective law enforcement and criminal justice capacities on a worldwide basis. Transnational organized crime threatens the security and well-being of people around the world and jeopardizes the functioning of the global economy. Not all of these threats are equally visible to international audiences. Absent broad recognition of these shared threats, our collaboration with international partners to confront transnational organized crime will be constrained by limited political will.
United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime
Given its transnational component, acts of organized crime have transborder, regional, and global implications.
In 2002, recognizing the global impact of organized crime, a treaty was drafted—the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime—that sought to create a framework for addressing this crime. The convention provides a definition of “organized crime.” The act criminalized in the convention is participation in an “organized criminal gang” and taking part in its activities, knowing that participation will contribute to the achievement of a criminal aim and knowing about the aim or general criminal activity of the gang. An organized criminal gang is a structured group of three or more persons acting with the aim of committing a criminal offense to obtain a financial or material benefit.
In addition to defining “organized crime,” the convention provides a good overview of best practice approaches in addressing organized crime and draws heavily on existing, domestic approaches that may be familiar to many practitioners. These approaches include:
- the criminalization of the offense of participating in an organized criminal gang;
- the inclusion of procedural tools that enable the investigation and prosecution of this crime;
- the criminalization of related offenses (including money laundering);
- and taking preventative measures to prevent organized crime.
Also necessary are measures to ensure that police and others are specifically trained in organized crime investigation.
United States Perspective and Goals
The United States will reach out directly to the international business community and the general public to convey that both nations and individuals share a common enemy in transnational organized crime and have a common stake in addressing this threat.
For nations that have the will to fulfill their international law enforcement commitments but lack the necessary means, the United States is committed to partnering with them to develop stronger law enforcement and criminal justice institutions necessary for ensuring the rule of law. Over the past decade, important gains have been made in developing criminal justice capacities in key regions of the world. The goal of the United States is to promote the expansion of such achievements on a worldwide basis, to the point where international law enforcement capabilities and cooperation among states are self-sustaining. Great progress also has been made in developing a common normative framework for international cooperation against transnational organized crime threats. The challenge for the United States and other countries over the next decade is to bring the promise of this worldwide regime into practice.
The United States encourages international partners to dedicate the necessary political capital and resources toward making the promise of these commitments a reality. The United States will pursue this through both a renewed commitment to multilateral diplomacy and by leveraging bilateral partnerships to elevate the importance of combating transnational organized crime as a key priority of U.S. diplomacy. For example, in February 2011, the United States and the United Kingdom established the Organized Crime Contact Group, to be chaired by the United Kingdom Home Secretary and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. In addition, the United States deploys hundreds of law enforcement attachés to its missions abroad to develop and maintain foreign contacts essential to combating immediate threats to public safety and security. The United States will continue to place a high priority on the provision of international technical assistance through our missions abroad and will continue to improve the coordination of these programs.
The United States will leverage all possible areas of cooperation, including legal instruments such as the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (the Palermo Convention), the UN Convention against the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, and the protocols to which the United States is a party, to obtain the assistance of international partners and to raise international criminal justice, border security, and law enforcement standards and norms. The United States will strengthen its engagement with the United Nations in this regard and leverage the growing role of regional and other multilateral institutions that have risen in significance and influence over the past decade. Additionally, the United States will continue to pursue cooperation with other countries and with partners such as the European Union, the G-8, the G-20, and new inter-regional platforms across the Pacific and Atlantic in developing leading-edge initiatives and political commitments to combat TOC.
The United States also will seek to develop informal partnerships with states that share U.S. goals to prevent TOC networks from abusing the benefits of globalization. By promoting flexible networks of law enforcement and diplomatic partners, the United States can leverage the expertise and infrastructure of committed governments and respond more quickly to changing dynamics in transnational criminal threats. The United States convened a meeting of 25 countries and jurisdictions across the Pacific in April 2009 to consider common approaches and strengthen cooperation against transnational criminal networks that span East Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America. The United States hosted a similar event in May 2011 with the European Union to generate enhanced partnerships against trans-Atlantic criminal networks operating across Latin America, West Africa, and Europe. By building cooperative platforms and networks incrementally, the United States will generate greater collective action, joint cases, and common strategic approaches with our international partners to combat transnational criminal threats.
U.S. intended actions include:
- Raise international awareness of transnational organized crime and build multilateral cooperation against it.
- Partner with countries able to contribute key law enforcement resources, other donors, and the United Nations to launch a new International Police Peacekeeping Operations Support Program to enhance policing and law enforcement capacity in ungoverned spaces.
- Leverage assets to enhance foreign capabilities, including counterterrorism capacity building, foreign law enforcement cooperation, military cooperation, and the strengthening of justice and interior ministries.
- Implement a public diplomacy strategy to reduce the demand for illicit goods and services that fuels TOC.
- Implement the Central American Citizen Security Partnership to strengthen courts, civil society groups and institutions that uphold the rule of law in the region.
- Implement the State Department’s West Africa Citizen Security Initiative to combat transnational criminal threats in the region.
- Initiate new dialogue in multilateral fora to combat corruption and illicit trade, to include, as part of the Administration’s intellectual property enforcement strategy, stemming the flow of dangerous counterfeit products.
- Build partnerships with other donors, private sector experts, nongovernmental organizations, civil society groups, the media, and academia that focus on supporting political will for criminal justice reform.
- Increase international scientific research, data collection, and analysis to assess the scope and impact of TOC and the most effective means to combat it.
- Institutionalize the U.S.-UK Organized Crime Contact Group to deepen bilateral cooperation and galvanize multilateral collaboration against TOC.
- Finalize the U.S.-Mexico 21st Century Border Action Plan agreements on law enforcement cooperation.
- Expand cooperation with the United Nations to promote implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, including through the development of an appropriate review mechanism.