Discussing U.S. development assistance programs overseas, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans, Environment and Science Claudia McMurray said, "Promoting a strong legal system is an important part of U.S. foreign policy – to further not only our environmental goals, but also sustainable economic growth." Speaking at the 8th International Conference on Environmental Compliance and Enforcement in Cape Town, South Africa, Assistant Secretary McMurray said the U.S. is working with many nations to combat the activities of organized crime that undermine stability, the rule of law, democracy, and legitimate economies while spreading corruption and environmental harm.
"The U.S. sees this mission as a central part of our diplomatic and foreign assistance efforts to promote well-governed states that also meet the needs of their people," said Assistant Secretary McMurray.
In 2005, the United States established the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking, a partnership between government and the private sector that has already improved wildlife enforcement at the national and regional level and raised awareness of the issue at the highest political levels. The U.S. initiated this effort because the illegal wildlife trade threatens many endangered species with extinction. Also vitally important is the need to combat the organized crime networks that carry out this traffic. Today the U.S. has nineteen partners in its coalition, including Australia, Canada, Chile, India and the United Kingdom and thirteen international non-governmental organizations.
As one way to improve law enforcement, the Coalition worked with ten Association of Southeast Asia Nations to establish a regional wildlife anti-trafficking network. The countries of South Asia are working with the U.S. and its Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking partner, Traffic International, to replicate the success ASEAN has had with its wildlife enforcement network.
The U.S. is also active in efforts to stop illegal logging and its associated trade. Not only do illegal activities destroy forest ecosystems, but they also rob governments and local communities of ten to fifteen billion dollars in revenues on legitimate trade each year worldwide. The U.S. is working with Liberia to strengthen forest management and governance there. Through its Congo Basin Forest Partnership, which it launched with South Africa in 2002, the U.S. is fighting illegal logging and training thousands of people in conservation. The U.S., said Assistant Secretary McMurray, seeks "additional high-level commitment and adequate resources in all countries to ensure effective enforcement."