As delivered by Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Louis L. Bono
Good afternoon excellencies and colleagues. Thank you, Executive Director Waly for the opportunity to participate today. It is an honor to join this panel of distinguished leaders.
On behalf of the United States, I would like to join the other speakers in congratulating you and the UNODC on the launch — of the Strategic Vision for Africa. We were pleased to contribute this framework, and we look forward to advancing it with our partners here today to fulfill the African Union’s Agenda 20–63: The Africa We Want.
In this regard, I applaud the theme of cooperation woven throughout the Strategy, particularly between UNODC and the African Union. As President Biden has made clear, “diplomacy is the center of our foreign policy,” and we are reaffirming our commitment to international institutions. Indeed, President Biden recently stressed his intent to collaborate with the nations of Africa, stating that “the United States is committed to rebuilding our partnerships around the world and, in particular, reengaging with international institutions like the African Union.”
The criminal threats we face as an international community, threats that know no borders, are grave, complex, and interrelated. This has become evident over the past year as criminal syndicates have adapted to the pandemic by developing new methods to pursue their nefarious activities. Thus, we commend this Strategy for its pragmatic approach to tackling the challenges we are facing.
The United States is proud to partner with the UNODC to promote the international drug and crime control treaties as well as the norms and best practices developed here in Vienna. Since 2016, the United States has contributed almost 22 million dollars to the UNODC to implement programs that achieve these goals in Africa.
For example, with our support, UNODC has trained law enforcement officers in Western Africa to safely interdict and handle synthetic opioids. We believe this training makes an important contribution to the global fight against opioids.
The United States also supports UNODC’s efforts to tackle maritime criminal activity such as piracy, –illicit trafficking, –diverting oil, and illegal fishing in Eastern Africa. UNODC projects have enabled law enforcement agencies throughout this region to secure their territorial waters, which makes the region safer.
We are also proud to contribute to UNODC programs that combat Trafficking in Persons in Southern Africa. I have worked with victims of this global scourge, which robs Africa of its most precious resource. Thus, I am personally glad that UNODC will provide the nations of Southern Africa with more tools to combat this most heinous crime against humanity.
Finally, we are pleased to see that data collection and analysis play a prominent role in UNODC’s Strategic Vision. Improving data collection remains critical to our ability to track our progress, identify new challenges, and adapt our approaches. Thus, we encourage donors to redouble efforts to support UNODC’s data collection initiatives.
Although each country has a responsibility to implement its obligations under the drug control, anti-crime, and corruption treaties, we are strongest when we act collectively. And, while President Biden has made clear that the United States stands ready to be your partner, in solidarity, support, and mutual respect, we must all work together to apply this shared vision of a better future, which advances peace and security for all our citizens.
UNODC’s new Strategic Vision for Africa provides an excellent roadmap for such collaboration. Executive Director Waly, you and your staff should be proud of this framework.
Thank you, and I look forward to today’s discussion.