Let me begin by thanking our co-chairs Malaysia and Vietnam for this 10+1 session. I appreciate the opportunity it affords to discuss transnational issues, particularly crime and the environment.
These are matters that relate directly to the quality of life our citizens enjoy, and have major economic and social consequences. They are also issues that require cooperative action. We cannot safeguard our citizens from crime or ensure a healthy environment through unilateral actions alone. We have to work together.
The Hanoi Action Plan recognizes this, and offers a useful guide to efforts both within ASEAN, and between ASEAN and its partners, including the United States.
To start with crime, obviously our concerns are not now. But criminals are now combining old tools of coercion and corruption with cutting edge technology. Their goal is to evade national controls and render national borders irrelevant. This threatens us all.
We must respond–and we are. Establishment of the International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok is a major step forward. Its purpose is to provide high-quality training, while strengthening the regional network of law enforcement professionals.
On narcotics, the United States has a history of close cooperation with ASEAN countries and the United Nations. This fight must be waged on all fronts. We have to reduce demand, cut supply, intercept shipments and seize profits. And we must secure the full cooperation of every government, because in many ways, we are only as strong as our weakest link.
Another aspect of the crime problem I want to highlight is illegal trafficking in women and children. This is a growing menace worldwide. It is devastating for the individuals who are victimized. And it undermines broad standards of law, labor and health.
There is a saying that money can buy everything. I hope we can agree that this saying should never apply to human beings. So I am pleased that we will be co-chairing a regional workshop on this subject with the Philippines next spring, to build on measures already initiated by members of ASEAN.
The environment is another transnational problem that requires a transnational response. This challenge has recently been dramatized in Southeast Asia by pollution from uncontrolled forest, peat and coal seam fires. There is no more basic a human right than the right to breathe. But the haze has sometimes trade exercising this right a dangerous proposition.
The United States has tried to help by providing roughly $9 million in technical aid and working with the Haze Action Task Force. We are also supporting projects in such priority areas as improved forestry management, coral reef preservation, biodiversity, and the development of environmentally-friendly technologies.
Perhaps the most serious long-range environmental problem we face is global climate change. Industrialized countries must take the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But the problem cannot be brought under control without the participation of all countries.
We are committed to working with ASEAN to combat climate change without compromising any nation’s development. We think the way to do this is by making full use of market-based mechanisms, while limiting emissions growth.
I am anxious to proceed to our discussion, but let me first again express my thanks for the opportunity to focus on these issues. As evidenced by this week’s meetings, the United States is engaged with ASEAN on a full range of economic and security matters. But it is important that we set aside time to spotlight transnational problems. In many ways, these are the challenges of the future, and it will be increasingly urgent that we respond effectively to them.
In that spirit, I am eager to hear your perspectives and to explore further areas for cooperation