During the week of April 15, 2019, enforcement agents from around the world will meet in the United States for the fifth annual Towards a More Safe and Secure World International Visitor Leadership Program. International law enforcement, security, counternarcotic, and judicial officials from 56 countries will meet with their U.S. counterparts in 16 cities, focusing on how to improve efforts in combatting transnational crime and countering terrorism. The program will begin in Washington, DC, where plenary sessions will occur at the State Department and National Defense University involving security experts from both the public and private sector.
After meeting in Washington, the foreign officials will visit small and medium-sized cities throughout the U.S., conversing with law enforcement officers and public officials of the federal, regional, and local level. Program consultations will analyze mutual threats related to issues including border security, money laundering, and cyber security. The three-week program will wrap up with two events. First, the St. Petersburg Police Department will host a Multijurisdictional Counterdrug Taskforce Training program in Tampa, Florida. Finally, the FBI’s New York Field Office will co-host the Combatting Transnational Crime Global Cooperation Conference in New York City.
The State Department has outlined a number of project objectives they hope to fulfill in their efforts. They aim to strengthen global cooperation mechanisms to combat terrorism and other transnational crime threats. The State Department also hopes to better understand the means by which they impede global criminal activities including drug trafficking and trafficking in persons. They seek to improve partnerships between community-based organizations and law enforcement agents as well. Furthermore, they desire to address conflicts related to balancing law enforcement and security, while protecting civil liberties. These objectives, among the others they possess, emphasize how the State Department is taking serious, substantive steps to improve international enforcement cooperation, while developing a network of foreign officials more likely to trust one another and work together.
Now in its fifth year, the Towards a More Safe and Secure World program has brought a vast array of officials to the U.S. to study a variety of issues. In 2018, 80 security and law enforcement officials traveled to the U.S. with the program. This included Simon Cheung, a Chief Inspector with the Hong Kong Police Force, as well as Joseph Lengmang, a Director General of a government peacebuilding agency in Nigeria. Mr. Lengmang praised the program, noting, “I am very confident that [the program] is going to lead to a resounding working relationship among nations. Security is the responsibility of everyone, and it’s not going to be possible to think that one single country would have the capacity to deal with transnational challenges and crimes.”
One state that has taken a great deal away from the program is Bosnia and Herzegovina. While Bosnia looked to U.S. and international standards when rebuilding their judiciary and police after the Yugoslav Wars, they continue to recognize the value of international cooperation and networking. Edin Jahic, chief of the Section for Fighting Organized Crime and Corruption at Bosnia’s Ministry of Security, attended the program in 2018 and voiced his deep support for it. He stressed that his country has adopted U.S. mechanisms, such as plea agreements and a witness protection program, which have proven highly successful. He also valued the opportunity to meet private sector and university analysts, as well as develop relationships with his European counterparts.
“I am very fortunate to meet these guys,” said Jahic. “We’ve already made some friendships that are going to last more than these three weeks and, of course, it’s going to be very helpful for my future job.”
The experiences and thoughts of Mr. Jahic emulate what success within the Towards a More Safe and Secure World International Visitor Leadership Program looks like. Through promoting international enforcement cooperation and developing a global network of actors, the State Department is taking the steps needed to assist themselves and the global community in confronting transnational crime and terrorism. The program also illustrates how states (e.g., the U.S.), help develop international networks.