Since the end of the Cold War there has been a sharp rise in the number of regional and intrastate struggles. Fueling these small-scale, bloody conflagrations are criminal networks trading in people, drugs, diamonds, etc. Since the mid-1990s, as with businesses and terrorists, organized crime has developed transnational networks which disperse their activities, planning and logistics across continents and oceans thereby confounding traditional, state-based legal systems. The profits generated by these activities have created a niche for major service industries which cater to many of the needs of transnational criminals. These sibling industries include providers of false documents, money launderers and even highly trained legal professionals who offer their financial and accounting services.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 ushered in a new era of international diplomacy. Since then, the global community has become more aware of threats to international peace and security that cannot easily be traced to a single state or group of states. This change in the geopolitical structure has changed the way the United States conceptualizes and responds to security threats.
While groups such as al-Qaeda are currently the most notable terrorist organizations in the world, the U.S. Department of State identifies 44 Foreign Terrorist Organizations that span the globe from Colombia to Iraq to Sri Lanka. Designating a group as an FTO allows the U.S. government to block its assets held in U.S. financial institutions, provides grounds for denying visas to its known members and makes it illegal for U.S. citizens or anyone under U.S. jurisdiction to provide the group or its members with support or resources.
The Department of State, through its Coordinator for Counterterrorism (S/CT), is the primary diplomatic player in the battle against terrorism. S/CT works with other agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and the office of the Director of National Intelligence, as well as with officials of other nations and the relevant international institutions within the United Nations system.
The Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM) is also active in fighting terrorism. It secures base access and over-flight permission to support the deployment of U.S. military forces, coordinates the participation of coalition combat and stabilization forces and aids other countries in reducing the availability of portable air defense systems.
Trafficking in persons (TIP), or the illegal smuggling of people across borders, has become a pressing global crisis. Its pervasive spread reflects increasingly sharp income disparities across the globe, the greater ease of transportation and the growing numbers of people seeking to immigrate to other states by illegal means. Using force, fraud and outright extortion, traffickers prey on the desperate and vulnerable—including young girls and boys—who are forced into prostitution, slavery or military units.
The United States passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) in October 2000. It requires federal agencies to increase their pursuit of domestic trafficking while working with other nations to address the problem internationally. Responding to the requirements of Congress, the State Department, through its Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, monitors TIP conditions in 175 countries, ranks them according to how vigorously they are working to curtail such abuses and provides tools to combat trafficking.
The 2005 United Nations World Drug Report estimated the value of illegal narcotics on the global market at $312 billion. Fueled by high demand and the opportunity to reap enormous profits, farmers and entrepreneurs in developing countries produce these drugs and export them to wealthier countries, particularly the United States and European nations.
The State Department’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) conducts numerous bilateral drug and crime control programs, many in Latin America. INL reports to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, advising the President, Secretary of State and other bureaus in the State Department on how to deal with these new developments in international crime and fraud. It also works closely with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in its efforts to reduce the entry of illegal drugs to the United States.