Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Transnational Organized Crime

Ambassador Robert Wood
Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
December 7, 2023


Thank you, Mr. President, for calling this important meeting. I also want to thank Secretary-General Guterres for his remarks, and Executive Director Waly, Dr. Cammett, and Ms. Nyanjura for your efforts to strengthen the Council’s understanding of transnational organized crime. Ms. Nyanjura, thank you for sharing your personal tragedy with us. Your remarks were extremely moving.

Colleagues, we all have an interest in countering transnational organized crime, which stops neither at national boundaries, nor vast expanses of land, sea, or cyberspace, to exact its very high costs to individuals, to communities and countries, and even to our planet.

The United States takes a comprehensive approach to countering transnational organized crime in its many insidious forms – from illicit drug and firearms trafficking, human trafficking, and migrant smuggling to cybercrime, money laundering, and other illicit activities.

In 2021, President Biden established the U.S. Council on Transnational Organized Crime, bringing together the resources to modernize and expand our ability to target transnational criminal organizations.

In addition, a White House Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime, which is forthcoming, will lay out our whole-of-government strategic approach to combatting this growing security threat.

In July 2023, Secretary Blinken launched the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats to expand international cooperation to address synthetic drugs, such as fentanyl, and disrupt the global illicit supply chain and the financial networks that enable the illicit manufacture and trafficking of synthetic drugs and their precursor chemicals.

Existing treaties, including the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, and international instruments and protocols provide a useful framework to facilitate law enforcement cooperation on combating crime.

The United States welcomed the focus on access to justice at this year’s UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, and we welcome the 15th UN Crime Congress agenda focus on new, emerging, and evolving forms of transnational organized crime.

Colleagues, as we respond to transnational organized crime, we must ensure that the essential voices of those impacted, including civil society, are foremost in our efforts.

Like many threats to peace and security, the impacts of organized crime are often acutely felt by women and girls.

We encourage relevant UN entities to continue to support women’s safety and meaningful participation in forging lasting solutions to these challenges.

And the United States recognizes the impact of transnational crime on fragile and climate-vulnerable contexts.

Transnational organized criminals take advantage of fragility to advance their operations, including illicit drug trading, environmental exploitation, and human and wildlife trafficking.

We are eager to engage in the evolving and continued discussions surrounding nature crimes, including those crimes that impair the resilience of natural ecosystems to withstand climate change.

Finally, the United States recognizes the complex challenges posed by transnational criminal organizations to maritime security, including the trafficking of illicit drugs and their chemical precursors; migrant smuggling; illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; and the illicit transport of weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. President, the United States looks forward to hearing from other countries about how they are addressing transnational organized crime.

And we will continue to work with the United Nations; organizations such as the Financial Action Task Force, the G-7 Roma Lyon Group, the Global Counterterrorism Forum; and countries around the world to address these challenges.

Thank you, Mr. President.