Putting people at the centre of forest policies

National policies rarely fully recognize the vital role of forests in providing local communities with food, energy and shelter.

23 June 2014 Rome – Countries should put more policy emphasis on maintaining and enhancing the vital contributions of forests to livelihoods, food, health and energy, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today.

FAO’s flagship publication The State of the World’s Forests (SOFO), presented today at the opening of the 22nd Session of the FAO Committee on Forestry (COFO), shows that a significant proportion of the world population relies on forest products to meet basic needs for energy, shelter and some aspects of primary healthcare – often to a very high degree.

However, the report finds that these socioeconomic benefits are often not adequately addressed in forest and other relevant policies, despite their enormous potential to contribute to poverty reduction, rural development and greener economies.

The role of forests in food security is also often overlooked, but it is essential.

“This 2014 edition of SOFO focuses on the socioeconomic benefits derived from forests. It is impressive to see how forests contribute to basic needs and rural livelihoods. They are also a carbon sink, and preserve biodiversity,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. “Let me say this clearly: we cannot ensure food security or sustainable development without preserving and using forest resources responsibly,” he added.

Wood a major source of household energy, but overlooked in policies

In many developing countries, wood energy is often the only accessible and affordable fuel for the majority of people. One in three households uses wood as their main fuel for cooking. Wood energy provides over half of the total energy supply in 29 countries, including 22 in Africa. In Tanzania, for example, woodfuel accounts for about 90 percent of total national energy consumption.

Wood energy is essential for the food security of billions of people, but forest, energy and food-security policies rarely fully recognize this. Much needs to be done to improve wood energy production, make it more sustainable and to reduce the burden on women and children, who collect 85 percent of all firewood used in homes.

One in five people live in houses built of wood

At least 1.3 billion people, or 18 percent of the world’s population, live in houses built of wood, according to SOFO. This is particularly important in less-developed countries, where forest products are usually more affordable than other building materials. The production of building materials, wood energy and non-wood forest products employs at least 41 million people in the “informal” sector worldwide, three times the number of people employed in the formal forest sector.

In addition, forests perform many essential environmental services, such as erosion control, pollination, natural pest and disease control, and climate-change mitigation, as well as provide numerous social and cultural services and nutrients to local communities all year round. 

FAO will address these and other important nutritional issues at the joint WHO-FAO global intergovernmental conference on nutrition ICN2, to be held in Rome on 19-21 November 2014.

Adjusting forest policies

FAO’s new report stresses that providing local communities and families with access to forests and markets and strengthening forest tenure rights are powerful ways of enhancing the socioeconomic benefits of forests and reducing poverty in rural areas.

SOFO highlights the need to improve the productivity of the private sector, including informal producers, and to increase accountability for the sustainable management of the resources on which forest enterprises are based. Stronger recognition of the role of forest environmental services, and payment mechanisms to ensure the maintenance of those services, are also required.

In light of the data and analysis provided in the report, many national policies may need to be reoriented, says FAO.

“Countries should shift their focus, both in data collection and policymaking, from production to benefits – in other words, from trees to people,” said FAO Assistant Director-General for Forests, Eduardo Rojas-Briales. “Policies and programmes, both in the forest sector and beyond, must explicitly address the role of forests in providing food, energy and shelter. A new, holistic concept of forests will make them more attractive to donors and investors and ensure that they benefit all people, especially those most in need.”

FAO appoints Prince Laurent of Belgium as Special Ambassador

Prince Laurent of Belgium has been appointed Special Ambassador to FAO for Forests and the Environment, FAO announced today at COFO.

The appointment is in recognition of Prince Laurent’s longstanding efforts to promote global development and his passion for the environment, sustainable technologies, and animal health and well-being. As FAO Special Ambassador, Prince Laurent will help FAO raise awareness about, and foster policy dialogue on, issues related to the sustainable management of forests and other natural resources.

New agreements

Also at the opening of COFO, FAO signed a four-year agreement with AgriCord for collaboration with the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF), a partnership between FAO, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which aims to strengthen forest and farm producer organizations.

AgriCord is a global network of agricultural development agencies led by professional farmers organizations and farmer-run businesses. With support from the Governments of the Netherlands and Finland, AgriCord will contribute €1 million to the FFF multi-donor fund to support forest and farm producer organizations in developing countries.

FAO and the Government of the Republic of Korea will sign a memorandum of understanding during COFO in support of the Forest Landscape Restoration Mechanism, which is designed to assist the implementation, monitoring and reporting of forest landscape restoration at the country level.

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President Barroso’s speech at the Euroscience Open Forum

European Commission

[Check Against Delivery]

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

President Barroso’s speech at the Euroscience Open Forum

Science building bridges

Euroscience Open Forum

Copenhagen, 22 June 2014

Your Majesty,

Dear Minister [Sofie Carsten-Nielsen, Minister of Higher Education and Science]

Dear Chair of ESOF [ESOF2014 Champion Professor Klaus Bock]

Dear President [Euroscience President, Professor Lauritz Holm-Nielsen]

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be here with you today for the 2014 Euroscience Open Forum. I would like to thank you for inviting me to take part in this very important event.

In a country with over 400 islands, with three bridges over six kilometres long, what more appropriate theme could have been given to this Forum than “Science building bridges”.

A country world-known for its scientific leadership; for its expertise across a range of fields, from clean technology to biotechnology, from pharmaceuticals to telecommunications.

A country proud and confident about its knowledge-based society, renowned for its openness, and desire to cooperate internationally; a country whose bridge, the Oresund Bridge, links, not just two countries, i.e. Sweden and Denmark, but Europe’s regions, from Scandinavia to Western and Central Europe.

Your Majesty,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

[Europe 2020/Horizon 2020]

As we start to move out of the worst financial and economic crisis since the 1930s, now is the time to focus on building a strong, sustainable future.

On building a bridge between our past scientific traditions and a world where we share increasingly important global challenges and where we need innovative solutions.

That is precisely why, back in 2010, we put in place our new Europe 2020 strategy, designed to build a balanced, knowledge-based economy, with education, science, research and innovation at its very heart.

That is also why we have managed to make the seven year budget for our European research programme, Horizon 2020, 30% larger than its predecessor, despite the slight decrease in the European budget as a whole. It was not easy but we got it. We managed to convince Member States that at least the science and innovation budget should be increased. At 80 billion Euros over seven years, Horizon 2020 is one of if not the largest research and innovation programme in the world, designed to complement other sources of national and private financing.

We have therefore managed to match ambition with resources, giving you the researchers the stability and long term commitment that you need.

This goes to show, as we discuss the challenges facing us in the years ahead, that science does indeed matter for the future of Europe.

Not just to a large audience such as yours, but to everyone in our societies. Because I believe that our social and economic progress and many of the solutions to today’s problems will come from science. And I would even say that “The future of Europe is science”.


As our recent Communication on research and innovation as sources for growth has shown, we have a lot to be confident about.

Europe undoubtedly remains a world leader in science and has the capacity to innovate.

Our European Research Area remains the largest knowledge-production house in the world: we have twice the number of science and technology graduates in Europe than in the United States; and with 7% of the world’s population, we still produce roughly a third not only of the GDP, but also of patents and high impact scientific publications.

And despite the financial and economic crisis we have managed to halve the innovation gap that we still have with the United States and Japan.

[More to do]

But we cannot afford to stand still, in a world where scientific and technological progress is accelerating at an unprecedented pace, and where South Korea is moving further ahead, with China quickly catching us up.

So we must adapt to the new challenges and new ways of working in the 21st Century.

The role of digital technologies and the wealth of information and data that is being produced pose many questions about how science and research will be performed in the future. I know that Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, whom I would like to congratulate, for her commitment and passion on these issues during her term as Commissioner, will discuss this particular matter with you on Tuesday morning.

We must also adapt our culture so that women are better represented in research and science, another matter close to my heart: indeed, whilst women hold 45% of all PhDs in Europe, they only represent 30% of career researchers.

Last but not least, we must bring in our younger generation into science and innovation, reinforcing and tailoring our educational systems so that they more fully embrace creativity and risk.

This is key to Europe’s future.

Your Majesty,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to highlight briefly five bridges that we have been building and that we must collectively continue to build.

First, we are building bridges between all the scientific disciplines. Our Innovation Union seeks to mainstream science and innovation across all sectors, and cross-fertilise your ideas to develop new technologies, products and services for the complex multi-disciplinary challenges in our societies. This is why Horizon 2020 champions a challenge-based approach and why the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, recently launched its Call for Proposals for the Knowledge and Innovation Communities.

Secondly, we are building bridges between researchers and the general public. Horizon 2020 is a large programme, with a broad set of objectives from excellence in science – with the European Research Council now chaired by Professor Bourguignon – to industrial leadership and a number of key societal challenges, allowing us to focus on the big priorities relevant to every European citizen. I am very proud of the ERC. But in order to ensure that the progress you make, for example on new vaccinations or nano-technology, is properly explained and embraced rather than feared, across society, we need a considerable communication effort from scientists themselves as well as from policy makers. There is an important role for the media here.

Thirdly, we are building bridges between the laboratory and the marketplace. After 30 years of negotiation, we finally agreed a European-wide patent. Once fully implemented, this will reduce the cost by up to 80% for small and medium sized businesses and individual researchers to register their creative ideas. This should encourage more private investment, because at 1.30% of GDP, we still lag behind the United States, Japan or South Korea, where private investment, venture capital and the culture of risk are more widely shared.

Fourthly, we are building bridges between Member States. With the European Research Area, we are encouraging reforms for a greater mobility of researchers and for pan-European research infrastructures.

But our countries must make an equal effort in research if we are to bridge the gap in investment across Europe, and if research opportunities are available across Europe. Collectively, we are missing our Europe 2020 target of 3% GDP in research and development, averaging just under 2%, with more regional disparity and ten Member States still averaging under 1%. We are doing fiscal consolidation but we need smart fiscal consolidation.

Finally, we are building bridges internationally, trying to reach out to all countries in the world. Only two weeks ago, I signed an agreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, granting Israel – a leading nation in science and innovation – access to our Horizon 2020 programme, as part of our science diplomacy. The principle behind this agreement, as well as with agreements we have with twenty other partners, is simple: it is that we can tackle together more smartly and efficiently the global challenges we face. And this is also why I am pleased to see so many international participants at today’s Forum.


Your Majesty,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We cannot afford to rest.

And although Niels Bohr once said that prediction is very difficult, especially if it is about the future, I have nevertheless asked the Science and Technology Advisory Council and Professor Anne Glover, my Chief Scientific Adviser, to produce a report on foresight. Let me take this opportunity to thank them for their dedication to this work, which will be unveiled in the conference “The future of Europe is science”, to be held in Lisbon on 6th and 7th of October.

I look forward to a successful Euroscience Forum and to an ever increasing role of Europe in science and innovation, with a view to the next Forum in 2016, in Manchester.

Thank you.

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FACT SHEET: The United States and New Zealand: Forward Progress

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

June 20, 2014

President Obama and Prime Minister Key today reaffirmed the longstanding friendship and common values shared by the United States and New Zealand and joint efforts to advance our sustained collaboration on multiple fronts.  In that spirit, the United States applauds New Zealand’s recent decision to open a consulate in Hawaii to expand and deepen the bilateral relationship.

Increasing Economic Growth, Jobs, and Trade

The United States and New Zealand are committed to creating new opportunities by increasing trade and opening markets, and we are working together to strengthen our economic relationship bilaterally as well as regionally.  The President and the Prime Minister share a commitment to completing a high-standard, comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement that achieves the objectives to which TPP Leaders and Ministers agreed in Honolulu in 2011 as soon as possible.   This agreement, will contribute to economic growth and job creation in both of our countries and in the Asia-Pacific region and will build on our work together in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

Security, Defense, and Rule of Law

The United States and New Zealand share the goal of a stable and secure world, buttressed by the principles of peaceful resolution of disputes and respect for universal rights and freedoms.  Our two countries work side-by-side to support peace and stability both in the Asia-Pacific region and globally. 

In the Asia-Pacific region, the United States and New Zealand recognize the importance of regional institutions that promote rules and norms and foster cooperative efforts to address shared challenges.  As such, both countries are working with fora such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit, and the Pacific Islands Forum to strengthen these rules and norms. 

Regarding regional maritime disputes, the United States and New Zealand are united in supporting the peaceful resolution of disputes, the respect for international law and unimpeded lawful commerce, and the preservation of the freedom of navigation and overflight.  In the South China Sea, the President and the Prime Minister called on ASEAN and China to reach early agreement on a meaningful and effective Code of Conduct.  In discussing the need for diplomatic and dialogue to resolve disputes, the two leaders rejected the use of intimidation, coercion, and aggression to advance any maritime claims.  The two leaders reinforced the call for claimants to clarify and pursue claims in accordance with international law, including the Law of the Sea Convention. 

The United States and New Zealand are also collaborating to support free and fair elections in Fiji, which will enable that nation to return to democracy and the rule of law.

The United States and New Zealand share in joint efforts to build and sustain a peaceful, secure, and prosperous Asia-Pacific region.  The United States welcomes New Zealand’s participation in RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific Exercise), the world’s largest multinational naval exercise.  This will mark the first time a New Zealand navy ship will dock at Pearl Harbor Naval Base in over 30 years, a symbol of our renewed engagement on mutual defense and security, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

Beyond the Asia-Pacific region, the President and the Prime Minister share a deep commitment to advancing global nuclear security, and our countries both contribute to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Nuclear Security Fund.  We are both members of the “Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction” and are working together to support mobile detection capabilities in Africa and Latin America.  We have also been active participants in the Nuclear Security Summit process, including the recent successful Summit hosted by the Netherlands in The Hague in March.

The United States welcomes New Zealand’s partnership with NATO.  As one of the Alliance’s global partners, New Zealand has contributed to NATO operations in Afghanistan and Bosnia, as well as counter-piracy efforts.  We look forward to continuing our political dialogue and security cooperation with New Zealand in the NATO context. 

The United States and New Zealand are committed to increasing our partnership in support of multilateral peace operations, including both United Nations peacekeeping as well as non-U.N. missions, such as the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai, which remain important tools for advancing global security.  New Zealand is providing military instructors to the U.S.-led Global Peace Operations Initiative, which trains peacekeepers prior to deployment, and both countries remain committed to making investments in the countries that contribute forces to U.N. and other peacekeeping operations. 

The United States welcomes New Zealand’s strong positions on other international issues, such as Russia’s occupation and annexation of Crimea, the conflict and ensuing humanitarian tragedy in Syria, and the continuing provocative actions of North Korea.  The United States welcomes New Zealand’s contribution to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help people displaced by the current fighting in Iraq.  We are also working together in high-value, high-impact areas, such as developing amphibious as well as humanitarian and disaster relief capabilities.

Science, Climate Change, and the Environment

The United States is New Zealand’s most significant research, science and technology partner, sharing a long history of scientific cooperation, especially in Antarctica.  The U.S. Antarctic Program, operated out of Christchurch for over five decades, supports diverse scientific work ranging from astrophysics to biology, climatology, and volcanology.  Our two countries support efforts by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources to establish the world’s largest Marine Protected Area in the Antarctic Ross Sea. 

The United States and New Zealand continue to cooperate on science, technology, and health issues through the Joint Commission Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation, which will next be held in New Zealand in August 2014.

The United States and New Zealand share a recognition of the threat of climate change and are taking a number of steps in the Pacific region and globally to address its effects.

·  As we take action at home to reduce carbon emissions, we are cooperating closely in pursuit of an ambitious 2015 climate change agreement applicable to all Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.  Our two countries intend to put forward our intended post-2020 mitigation contributions well in advance of the Paris climate conference.

·  As founding members of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, we work together to promote climate resilient sustainable development and renewable energy in the Pacific region.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research are working to build climate adaptation and resilience through new and improved climate services for Pacific island nations.

·  We lead efforts under the APEC “Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform.”  New Zealand will undertake a fossil fuel subsidy peer review in support of this effort.

People-to-People Ties

The United States and New Zealand celebrate our strong cultural and people-to-people ties. 

The President and the Prime Minister welcomed the creation of a $1.7 million New Zealand Harkness Fellowships Endowment Fund to support outstanding mid-career New Zealand leaders from the public, private, or NGO sector to undertake research and study in the United States.  Over the years New Zealand Harkness Fellows have made a significant commitment to New Zealand and to New Zealand’s relationship with the United States, and this Endowment Fund will ensure that legacy continues.

Since 1948, when the Fulbright commission was established in New Zealand, more than 3,000 U.S. citizens and New Zealanders have participated in educational and cultural exchanges.  Each year, Fulbright offers approximately 80 scholarships to New Zealand and U.S. citizens to study, research, teach, or present their work in one another’s countries on issues ranging from climate change and energy, to public policy, business, law, and the arts.  New Zealand also hosts 15 National Science Foundation fellows each year. 

The United States and New Zealand recently committed to jointly fund the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program to send twenty or more teachers to each other’s countries over the next three years.  There are more than 3,000 U.S. citizens studying in New Zealand and 1,200 New Zealand students studying in the United States, a nine percent increase over the previous year.

The indigenous peoples of the United States and New Zealand share deep historical ties, and the United States has sponsored Maori business leaders in the United States in an effort to connect Maori with Native American and Alaskan leaders. 

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Press Releases: Remarks on the Trafficking in Persons Report 2014

MR. RATHKE: Okay. Thank you, operator. I’m Jeff Rathke, director of the Press Office here at the State Department. And today we’re doing a call with Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, who is Ambassador-At-Large to Combat Trafficking in Persons. So today’s call will be on the record, but it will be embargoed until the end of Secretary Kerry’s rollout event.

So Ambassador CdeBaca has been in this position for a number of years; he doesn’t really need any introduction to most of you. So I will just turn it over to him and ask him to give us introduction to this year’s report, and then we’ll take some questions afterwards. So please, Ambassador.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Thanks, Jeff. Hello, everybody, and welcome. As Jeff said, Secretary Kerry will be unveiling the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report. This, of course, is a congressionally mandated report that has us look at the governments around the world and what they are doing to combat trafficking in persons – modern slavery – through the lens of what we call the 3P paradigm of prevention, protection, and prosecution. And in fact, I think as you see the embargoed copy of the report that I think many of you have, you’ll notice that each of the narratives of what’s happening in the countries actually are laid out in that fashion so that you can kind of see exactly how it is that we are analyzing the countries, and frankly, what the evidence is for the eventual ranking.

The rankings – the – it’s a four-tiered ranking system, and so – because it was made by us in the United States by our Congress, it has three tiers for its four-tier ranking. Let me explain what that means. We have Tier One, which is a country that’s actually meeting the minimum standards of fighting human trafficking. And those minimum standards are set out in our trafficking law of 2000, but really track the international standards and best practices that we see around the world. A Tier Two country is one that is not meeting those goals but is striving to do so and has results that you can point to to show that it’s doing a decent job, but could definitely improve.

A Tier Two Watch List – and this is how we get four tiers out of a one, two, and three. The Tier Two Watch List is kind of like a C minus or something like that in the American grading system. It’s warning the countries that are on the Watch List that they are in danger of falling to Tier Three. And one of the biggest categories for that is if what the country is doing is simply in the form of promises of future action. Again, we look for results. And if we can’t show the results on the ground, the actual outcomes, et cetera, then that does not bode well when we’re doing the analysis. And then finally Tier Three, which is a country that is not responding sufficiently to its trafficking problem, isn’t taking those affirmative steps forward, and we’re not – excuse me – seeing the progress that we need to see, especially in light of their particular trafficking problem.

So that’s a quick tour through the tier rankings, and I think that a lot of folks are very interested in that, much like horserace coverage of elections. But I want to talk a few of the top lines as well, as far as what are we seeing in the global fight against modern slavery this year. Very quick review of what we’re talking about when we talk about human trafficking, the definition – this is a umbrella term that the United States Government considers to cover all of the activities involved in reducing someone to or holding them in a condition of compelled service. So there’s nothing in there about moving them across international borders. There’s nothing in there that limits it simply to women or girls. There’s nothing in there that limits it to only in other countries. And there’s nothing in there that limits it only to prostitution or the sex industry as opposed to other forms of trafficking.

So each year for every one of these countries, we’re looking at what are they doing for all of the populations that are victimized by trafficking: How are they helping them? Are they prosecuting the perpetrators and bringing them to justice? And are they working to prevent? And when I say “they,” I mean all of the governments that we look at.

And one of those governments is the United States. The United States has been included in the trafficking report since 2010. The State Department began to rank ourselves in that report for two reasons. First of all, I think that there was a sense during the Obama Administration that it was simply a matter of fairness to all of the other countries; if we’re going to hold them to these minimum standards, that we needed to hold ourselves to them as well. But then also the notion of as a diagnostic tool. If these 11 minimum standards that you’re supposed to look at to see whether you’re doing a decent job on fighting trafficking – if those are truly to be a good diagnostic, then we owed it to ourselves to apply that diagnostic and to see where we could be doing better as the United States.

As far as that’s concerned, I want to just make the point that I think many of you may have already heard me or the Secretary say, which is that no country is doing a perfect job on the fight against human trafficking, and that includes the United States. We are all in this together, because we’re seeing people around the world – whether it’s in agriculture or whether it’s in mining, whether it’s in manufacturing, whether it’s in the sex industry, whether it’s as domestic servants – that when you have unscrupulous and cruel bosses and vulnerable people, you have a recipe for human trafficking. And that’s as true here even in the Washington, D.C. area and the suburbs, as it is in countries around the world.

So I’d certainly, although I think that we’ll probably be looking at some of the other countries, I’d certainly recommend to you all the U.S. narrative as well so you can see what the U.S. Government is doing but also what’s happening out in our communities across the United States, whether it’s to Native American girls, whether it’s to vulnerable men and women because of a disability or a drug addiction, or whether it’s to the young men and women, boys, and girls, who fall prey to the blandishments of pimps who offer a better life and opportunity.

Let me take it a little bit more international though. This year, we see of the 188 countries that are on the report, we see some movement up and down. There’s, I think, some real progress stars, I guess, for lack of a better word, some countries out there that have – that we’ve seen some real progress on. For instance, both Chile and Switzerland are moving up to Tier One on the report this year. Switzerland because they took aggressive steps to close some legal loopholes that actually inadvertently made it legal for people to have children in prostitution. Chad has really stepped up on victim identification and demobilization of child soldiers. We’ve seen the first convictions in the Bahamas and Aruba – small countries, small island countries that, frankly, five years ago would’ve said that they didn’t have any human trafficking. But they’ve realized that it’s something that they have to look for. And once they’ve looked for it, they’ve found it and been able to free some of its victims.

We’ve seen the first government-run shelter being opened by the Government of Jordan. The – a new law recently passed in Haiti – the first time now in 215 or so years in which it is now a crime to enslave someone in Haiti, a law much-awaited in South Africa that we hope will be a good tool in that which is very much the destination country for the southern tier countries in Africa. And even a country that has historically not been a leader on human rights issues, Sudan, the enactment of a modern human trafficking law that’s really the culmination of that government’s coming out and wanting to be able to have those modern tools so that they can help their own citizens and others who might be enslaved and exploited.

There are also downgrades, and I think that that’s something that we see every year – countries that are perhaps taking the foot off the gas pedal a little bit or aren’t doing the kind of work that we would see under the law. And I think one of the things that’s, of course, since the 2008 reauthorization that is of particular note under the U.S. law is what we call the auto-downgrade provisions of the law. This came into effect fully last year for the first time. The law in 2008 basically said that countries cannot be on that Tier Two Watch List that I described a minute ago for too many years in a row, because there was a concern, frankly, on the part of Congress that strategic countries and other countries were being given a bit of a pass and not being taken down to Tier Three but holding steady on Tier Two Watch Lists almost, it seemed to Congress I think, interminably.

And so they put a time limitation on that and – by which time a government has to either improve or will be dropped down to Tier Three on the report. There were seven such countries this year that were in that situation no longer eligible for a waiver in the U.S. national interest. And those were Afghanistan, Barbados, Chad, Malaysia, the Maldives, Thailand, and Venezuela. And what we’ve seen is the two – excuse me, three – of those Tier Two Watch Lists auto-downgrade countries were no longer eligible, and we concluded that there hadn’t been the type of sufficient progress to justify an upgrade. And those were Thailand, Malaysia, and Venezuela. And so each of those countries has now been placed on Tier Three in the report.

In the other countries – Afghanistan, Barbados, Chad, and the Maldives – in each of those countries we see fresh activity. We see new commitments to doing work. We see this notion of cases being done in the first place or victims being helped in new ways. And it’s certainly something that is welcome. And frankly, these are countries who may not have, if it weren’t for the pressure of the auto-downgrade and the good work of our men and women out at our embassies in those countries and others to work with them, might not have been able to make that journey.

I want to say two things about sectoral issues that we’ve been identifying that may be news to some. I think that many people may be aware of some of the abuses that we’ve been recognizing in the last few years in the fishing industry. And in fact we’ve seen the fishing sector now – 51 of the narratives in the TIP report this year are identifying abuses in the fishing industry. And that’s both men that are enslaved out on the boats out at sea and folks in the seafood packing huts and things like that.

But we’ve also seen forced labor in mining noted in the narratives of 46 countries and zero prosecutions or convictions around the world. So we’re very much looking for countries to step up on the mining sector, and that’s everything from things that we might call conflict minerals in Africa or conflict diamonds in North Africa, Northwest Africa, or what we see with the gold mining sector, for instance, in Peru and other places.

And sadly, just as we’ve seen in the fishing industry or the logging industry, there are follow-on effects of a subsidiary sex trafficking that happens – basically men who are enslaved in these camps, held in debt bondage through the old company store scheme, they then bring the women in to serve them as well. So whether it’s in Guyana, Peru, or other places like that, you end up seeing sex trafficking related to the mining sector. And we want to commend Senegal for being the only country in the world this last year who actually achieved a conviction of folks for holding girls in sex trafficking in that mining sector.

Lastly, just want to also point out that there is the child soldiers and Child Soldier Prevention Act list, which is part of the trafficking report each year. And this year one of the countries on that was removed, and that is Chad, as I mentioned earlier, who’s, I think, coming at this with a real energy now. And we hope that we’ll continue to see that on their part.

So I think perhaps we should turn it over and do some questions. Jeff, I’ll leave it back to you.

MR. RATHKE: Thanks very much, Ambassador. Operator, could you please inform everyone or remind them how to register – intend to ask a question?

OPERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, if you would like to ask a question, please press * then 1 on your touchtone phone. You will hear a tone indicating you have been placed in a queue, and you may remove yourself from queue at any time by pressing the # key. If you are using a speakerphone, please pick up the handset before pressing the numbers. Once again, if you have a question, please press *1 at this time. And a moment here for the first question.

MR. RATHKE: All right. That’s great. We’re ready to go to the first question then, so could you please call the first question, operator?

OPERATOR: Our first question comes from the line of Dana Hughes at ABC News. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Thank you for doing this. I have a question about what role you see governance or the breakdown of governance in these rankings. For example, Thailand’s been downgraded and they had a coup. Chad is really increasing its governance. Do you see a direct correlation?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well, it’s interesting, because the Thailand narrative and the Thailand ranking is based on everything that happened from April 1st, 2013 through March 31st, 2014. And so the coup that you mentioned didn’t happen within that time period. Obviously, there was some fraying around the edges within the Royal Thai Government, and yet the committed folks within the government who were trying to work on this within their own agencies, the – some folks at the Royal Thai Police and folks in the ministry of health and social development – they continued to go out and try to fight trafficking because it was something that they had that personal commitment to.

What we see that’s, I think, perhaps somewhat relevant to that in the Thailand situation that’s very much part of the – kind of permeates the narrative is the anchor on those good efforts of those good people that public corruption and complicity on the part of government officials then places around those who would try to do better. So I think that that kind of corruption and its effect on governance directly undercuts the good work of the folks who are trying to get everything right.

It’s interesting because I think that what we see is this is a rule of law problem. It’s a human rights problem as well. But there are a number of countries in which the government functions at a very high level that human trafficking victims simply aren’t on the radar. And I think that that’s reflected kind of throughout the report that rule of law only is going to work for trafficking victims if governments affirmatively try to bring it to bear on the plight of these vulnerable communities.

So while some of those kind of looking at instability and looking at general governance issues, there often seems to be some correlation. I think that we’ve also seen a lot of human trafficking in cases that are – in countries that are viewed as being governed well and that do well on indices, whether it’s Freedom House or otherwise.

MR. RATHKE: Okay, thanks. Could we move on to the next question, please?

OPERATOR: Okay, our next question comes from the line of Jo Biddle at AFP. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hello, good afternoon. Thank you very much. I wanted to ask you about sanctions. I know that there’s a possibility that downgrades can be accompanied by sanctions if the President so decides. And last year we saw Russia and China both downgraded into Tier Three. Were there any sanctions that were accompanied with that, and do you anticipate that with these new downgrades of Thailand, Malaysia and Venezuela that there could be sanctions forthcoming if they do not get their act together?

And I had a follow-up – a different question as well, but perhaps I’ll just ask that one first.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Of course. The sanctions determination is something that we’ll be turning to at this point. There are not just those three countries that are on Tier Three. In fact, there are 23 countries on Tier Three this year. But I think that what we look at each year is, first of all, we have to see what is it that the sanctions analysis has to look at. And first stop is to actually look at what foreign assistance we have because that’s really what we’re talking about. The sanctions here is whether or not the United States will continue to provide foreign assistance. So the first thing that we always have to look at is what is being provided to those particular governments and then also to look to see to what degree we’re providing aid that goes directly to helping fix the thing that we’re trying to solve. So you certainly wouldn’t want to halt the – any assistance that’s going specifically to increasing the capacity of our partners in those governments to fight human trafficking or to help its victims.

So those are some of the things that we’ll take into account as we work with the White House and as we give our recommendations to the President. At the end of the day, this is his decision. And last year, the three auto-downgrade countries that you mentioned – China, Russia, and Uzbekistan – the President decided that it was in the U.S. national interest and would promote the purposes of the trafficking law to waive sanctions against them as well as several other countries. And those are countries that we, again, are very much wanting to and feel we can engage with in order to move forward.

Last year, full sanctions were applied against Cuba, Iran, and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and partial sanctions were applied against the DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Sudan, Syria, and Zimbabwe.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you very much. And I wondered if I could ask about – I had another question. I wondered if I could ask about the situation in the United States. You give the United States a Tier One ranking, but I believe there have been some issues with money, funds running out for shelters for survivors, and there’s also an issue of, particularly in the sex trafficking, with children being treated as criminals rather than being treated as victims and ending up in front of courts or in cells instead of in – or in police cells rather than in shelters. I did note in the report that you say that there’s much more to be done still in the United States. What are you recommending specifically for the United States in terms of improving your own balance sheet?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Yeah. I mean, I think that to the notion of the funding issues, clearly a lot of social service providers, not just in the trafficking arena but others as well, that were depending upon per capita type of reimbursements from the United States Government, didn’t necessarily get those as quickly as they could have last year. We had a number of things, including the near – the government shutdown and the sequester and other things like that.

Our funding stream that HHS – the Department of Health and Human Services – does is actually – it is a per capita reimbursement. It’s not a kind of one-time grant at the beginning of the year that then the nongovernmental can draw down on. And one of the reasons for that is that there are thousands and thousands of service providers across the United States who may encounter a trafficking victim, and it may be that that’s not their fulltime job, so they wouldn’t be writing a grant specifically for that.

My understanding is that those reimbursements were able to continue and that folks have been backfilled for any monies that they spent on behalf of the trafficking victims. But I think it does show that there’s a need for better thought to be put in.

And that was one of the reasons why, on the plus side of the column this year, we announced in January at the White House the first-ever victim services strategy for the United States, which was brought together by the President’s interagency task force to actually look at this action plan. And we’re very proud of the fact that that was brought in with close consultation with survivors of trafficking, so that we could hear what it was that they had been through, what they saw as the shortcomings.

One of the things, frankly, that we’re having to deal with is a bunch of legacy systems. The child protective services systems in all of the states, each grew up independently and they grew up at a time before the Trafficking Victims Protection Act started looking at child prostitutes, for instance, as victims rather than as criminals. So going back to each state now and trying to get it so that they can make it very clear that these are not delinquent children but dependent children under each of the state laws and making sure that the child protective services understands that these are not criminals but victims is unpacking a multi-billion dollar effort across 57 states and territories as well as at the federal level.

So I think that, in looking at that and looking at the problems of the foster care system, et cetera, we’ve started to see not only the Administration but Congress focusing on that. But at the end of the day, all of the money that’s been appropriated for human trafficking work and all of the legislative fixes to some of those programs are just a drop in the bucket compared to the enormous child protective services structures that we need to turn around to recognize the trafficking victims in their midst.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. RATHKE: Okay. Thanks. Next question please.

OPERATOR: Next question comes from the line of Luis Alonso at AP. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Good afternoon. Many thanks for doing this. I have two questions as well, if I may. The first one is I couldn’t find a regional summary of the report, so I would like to ask if you could please give – provide us with a comment on the Western Hemisphere, how – what the general trend, how many countries were downgraded – how many countries were downgraded, is it improvement or not compared to last year?

And my second question is, given – related to the unaccompanied minors that are coming through the south border from Central America, is – we all know that the United States has put all those kids into removal proceedings right now. If a big number of them end up being deported and go – sent back to their countries where there is extraordinary violence and many presence of human trafficking, do you foresee that the United States could drop the Tier One position because of this element of the unaccompanied minor who comes into America? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well, let me answer that backwards with the second question first. I think that one of the things that we’re doing is that we are working with the governments in the region to try to improve not only the situation so that families don’t feel that they have to get their children out of harm’s way, whether it’s with gangs or otherwise, but also so that those children can be reunited with their families back home.

The law in question, of the unaccompanied alien minors, is looking to protect them, and which is one of the reasons why the Department of Health and Human Services is involved, unlike with adults who would be interdicted at the border. And in fact, one of the things that is done as part of the unaccounted – unaccompanied alien minor screening is to see whether or not those children were victims of trafficking in that situation. And as with all folks who come before the immigration judges and go through the system, we hope that that kind of screening would be able to help us find the people who need the particular services that trafficking victims so desperately need, and to be able to get them those services.

As far as the hemisphere as a whole, I think that is some movement up, there is some movement down within the hemisphere. Perhaps the most notable downgrade in the hemisphere is not the Venezuelan story from Tier Two Watch List down to Tier Three, but rather the downgrade of Colombia, a country that’s been on Tier One for many consecutive years. I think that what it stands for is the notion that Tier One is not a reprieve, it’s a responsibility, and the responsibility to continue to investigate cases, to continue to seek out good victim care interventions, and to look at all forms of trafficking. The Colombians were focused so much on international sex trafficking of Colombians and transnational cases that cases of Colombians at home and others, whether it was in the mining sector, whether it was in the sex or domestic servants, simply weren’t registering. And as a result, we now see them on Tier Two.

So the movement on the one hand of Chile up to Tier One because of the new law that they passed a few years ago and their very aggressive stance in enforcing that new law unfortunately then is kind of paired with the Colombian situation, where a bit of stagnation cannot keep a country on the highest level.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. RATHKE: Okay. Thanks. Next question, please.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from the line of (inaudible) at US News and World. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about Thailand’s downgrade, specifically the government’s shortcomings, considering all the media reports this last year or so discussing their human trafficking problem and why the government has failed to really address it.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well, as I said earlier – and I want to make it very clear that we know and we have worked with some very good actors in the Thai Government who are kind of on the front lines who are trying very hard to make a difference over there. But the widespread official complicity in human trafficking that continues to hinder their performance against sex trafficking and forced labor, the government as a whole did not demonstrate serious efforts to address that. It made few efforts to address forced labor and debt bondage among the most vulnerable communities – the foreign migrant workers, including in the fishing industry.

And even though we saw this notion of some better data collection and some – an uptick in investigations by the royal Thai police, those didn’t necessarily translate over into completed convictions. You’ll see in the report, for instance, a situation where some Burmese members of a conspiracy were arrested and ended up being sentenced to 30 years in prison for their role in trafficking men in the fish industry, and yet the Thai co-conspirator, who held 14 men in confinement as part of the slavery scheme, he ended up only getting three months as an alien smuggling conviction.

And so we’re looking at each of the cases that we know about. We’re looking at the situations on the ground to see – is this something that the bosses in the brothels and the bosses in the fishing packing sheds and things can simply brush off as business as usual? Is it something that they can bribe their way out of? Or is it something that has real teeth going forward? And we look forward to working with the Thais in the coming year to not only provide that real teeth, but hopefully achieve some real results.

MR. RATHKE: Okay. Thank you. Next question, please.

OPERATOR: All right. Our next question comes from Josh Stilts at Intrafish Media. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Thanks again for hosting this. You said earlier that there were some 53 countries that have shown instances of slave labor or human trafficking in the fishing and seafood industries. Beyond Thailand, what other instances are you guys seeing?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: I think it’s actually 51. Sorry if —

QUESTION: Fifty-one, sure.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: — I misspoke. Well, we’ve seen, as far as a country that’s acting, the Indonesians have actually arrested some folks and there’s prosecutions going there. But there are some very nontraditional places. There – I don’t think a lot of people think of South Africa necessarily in this context, and yet the South Africans suddenly found themselves with a boatload of fishermen with – who had been basically shanghaied from Cambodia. We’ve seen in the Caribbean, in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, situations where this has been discovered on the boats; Costa Rica on the west coast, finding Chinese fishermen in these dire straits; African men and African children on boats in the gulf off of the Green Coast and everything kind of ranging down from Liberia all the way down to Nigeria.

And I think that that’s one of the things that the more we look at this, the more we find this in surprising places. There were reports this last year by Stella Maris, the apostolate of the sea, which is the Vatican’s kind of specialized unit of – I call them the sea priests, who go out on the boats to try to mission to the fishermen. And at a conference that the Pope hosted in – earlier this year with those priests, suddenly there were reports coming out from the fishery in Scotland of abuses up there.

So I think it’s something that we’re hearing about. We’re hearing about it on inland fisheries such as Lake Victoria and Lake Volta, but we’re also hearing about it in the Baltics and in, as I said, places as unusual as Scotland or South Africa.

MR. RATHKE: Okay. Thanks. Next question please.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from Maya Rhodan from the TIME magazine. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Thanks again for the call. I have a question about the LGBT community and how – can you just speak to how instances of trafficking that involve LGBT people were factored into any of the rankings or if there are any countries where this is a particular issue or if there’s still more digging around that needs to be done on that?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: I’m very glad you raised that. It is something that we’re seeing more of. I think that it’s something that, because it’s been so taboo for a lot of countries to even admit that these communities are part of the social fabric, much less worthy of protection, that in some ways we’re just kind of opening the bidding on this issue. I think a lot of folks are aware of and know of issues of survival sex of the homeless kids who are in many ways trying to put together their own families and their own communities. But I think a lot of folks, whether it’s in the public health arenas or even in the LGBT activist communities, have tended to look at that and not see the pimps and the controllers that sometimes are behind that.

And we’re seeing in a number of countries around the world – I remember last year, when I was in Kenya, for instance, the interplay, the horrible interplay between on the one hand the effects of terrorism in the northeast and even in Somalia, with families trying to get their kids out of that area so that their sons don’t have to be fighters for Shabaab, and then they end up in sex trafficking down on the coast in the tourist zones. And I think it’s one of those things where, because of attitudes against the LGBT community, a lot of folks that were even working or willing to talk about other forms of trafficking were having a very hard time even wanting to admit that those young boys might have been in human trafficking situations.

And this happens in the United States. There was a case, I think it was last year, in the Atlanta area where a man was convicted for human trafficking of a teenaged American kid who, frankly, he lured in because of that kid’s loneliness and seeking to have some meaning as he struggled with his own sexuality.

So it’s something that we’re going to be looking at a lot more carefully. It’s like the fishing issues a few years ago, where we had just started to hear it, and then now that we’re looking for it, we’re seeing it in a lot of different places. I think that we’re going to be seeing more coverage of this in the coming years. And we’ve started having conversations with some of the key players in the United States, like the Human Rights Campaign and others, so that we can bring to bear the folks who are working in the affected communities.

MR. RATHKE: All right. I see – I think we have three questions remaining, so we will go through those, and then we will wrap up from here. So, operator, could you call the next question?

OPERATOR: All right. The next question comes from Jeanine Stewart at Undercurrent News. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you for having this, first of all. So first off, I’m wondering two things. How much has human – has the human trafficking problem grown in the fishing industry in 2013 over 2012? I’m just curious, is this a growing problem or is this just something that we’ve become more aware of with Thailand in the spotlight over it? And also, how much certainty is there in the investigation? Can you reveal anything about how they were conducted or how sure the State Department is that Thailand’s officials were complicit in some of the human trafficking that occurred? Because I – since I know that the Thai Government has said that’s not true. So how do we weed through the “he said, she said” on that one?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well, I think that what we’ve seen in – as far as complicity in Thailand is whether – it’s not just in fishing but in a number of different sectors, the very reputable researchers, whether it’s your Human Rights Watches, whether it’s Transparency and some of the other indices looking at corruption as an issue. But specifically, there’s I think been some very good reporting even by the media as opposed to by academic researchers or others as to the involvement of Thai officials. And that’s something that’s reflected in the narrative.

One of the things that’s also reflected in the narrative is then how the parts of the Royal Thai Government have responded to that type of reporting by journalists being charged with criminal defamation —


AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: — journalists and the folks who are willing to reprint articles even being charged. So that notion of not only is there, we think, good and solid reporting by a number of different actors, whether it’s, again, activists, academics, or journalists, but also the work that’s being done increasingly now by the food industry itself. And we very much encourage the seafood industry to start looking at these supply chain issues. We know that they can trace their product from the store shelf all the way back to the particular boat. We’ve seen the bar codes on the tubs, the plastic tubs of shrimp in the packing shed that are required that if there’s a health outbreak, they can take it all the way back to the particular shed, take it all the way back to the particular boat.

So since we know that the shrimp and the fish is traceable in those instances, we think also that what the particular captains and what the labor brokers that are working with them are doing needs to be something that comes under the microscope for the companies and their consumers as well.

MR. RATHKE: Okay, our penultimate question please, operator.

OPERATOR: All right. Our next question comes from Dmitri Zlodorev from ITAR-TASS. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hello. My name is Dmitri Zlodorev. I am from ITAR-TASS news wire service of Russia. You placed Russia to the third group, and how you would characterize the U.S.-Russian cooperation in this area? And am I right that right now you are not plan to impose sanctions against Russia? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Thank you, Dmitri. We can’t speak to sanctions at this point in time. It’s something that the White House will be looking at for all of the countries on Tier Three, and so I can’t speculate as to what would happen on that. I think we had talked about that a little bit earlier as far as last year was concerned.

But your question as far as what kind of cooperation between the United States and Russia on this, we’ve had a – I think a good dialogue over the years on human trafficking with our Russian counterparts. And we’re looking forward to what we hope will be some efforts in the coming year. We know that the government submitted an anti-trafficking action plan to the National Security Council and at this point has not heard back. We think that that certainly would be a very good step, to have a public and transparent anti-trafficking action plan. And it would be a sign of political will on the part of the Russian Federation.

One thing that I would like to say as far as U.S.-Russian cooperation is that we have been able to continue to work together over the last year to announce a trafficking shelter in St. Petersburg with space contributed by the municipality – so Russian government funding – and support from the United States Embassy in Moscow. Now that shelter is only going to be able to hold and serve eight trafficking victims, and the scope of trafficking in Russia that’s pointed out in the report, with the migrant foreign workers and others, is many, many more than that. But we do feel that it’s a good step and that we hope that working together, the Russian Government and the United States Government and the Red Cross partners will be able to provide a better life to the women who are able to avail themselves of that shelter.

MR. RATHKE: Okay, thank you. Next question, please.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from Teresa Busa from EFE. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. I wanted to ask you about the specific case of Venezuela. I wonder if you could comment on that: how bad the situation is and what are the most worrying trends, and how is the U.S.-Venezuela cooperation in this area?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Indeed. Well, thank you for your question. I think that we were – a few years ago, as you know, Venezuela was brought up off of Tier Three in recognition of a number of cases that they were investigating and what looked like a commitment to working jointly between the police and the health service. And unfortunately, this last year we just haven’t really been able to see those same type of efforts. There’s a little bit of awareness raising and tourism training, but unlike most of the countries in the world, there’s not an interagency coordinating council that’s been brought together around the issue. There’s not an action plan or even a draft action plan. There’s no formal mechanism to identify the victims, and there’s no shelters that are designated for trafficking victims. In many ways, it seems that all of the victim care in Venezuela is being done by the nongovernmental organizations or by the international organizations.

And so we call on Venezuela to step up and to be involved in the victim care. And there’s so little public data on law enforcement that it does not appear that there were any reported convictions in 2013, as opposed to in 2012, where at least we were able to identify one person convicted of sex trafficking.

So as with all of these countries, we very much want to continue to be able to work together on this. This is a shared problem. It affects Venezuela, it affects the United States, and it affects the Western Hemisphere. And so we’ll be looking for ways in which we can continue to try to engage with the Venezuelans.

MR. RATHKE: Operator, we would have time for one final question, if there are any in the queue.

OPERATOR: All right. We did have one final question from Matthew Russell Lee at Inner City Press. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Sure. Thanks a lot, and thanks for taking the question. I was looking at Myanmar – Burma – and also at Sri Lanka. And in both cases, it seems to say – the report seems to say that that government is either, in the case of Burma, directly involved in trafficking in coercion; or in the case of Sri Lanka, suspected of complicity in it. So in those two cases, I wondered as the U.S. sort of re-engages with Myanmar or Burma, how does this issue get raised and how is it going to be resolved? And the same in the case of Sri Lanka where there’s this human rights inquiry. Is this – what can be done in terms of actual government complicity in trafficking?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well, it’s interesting. Let me start with Burma. We – this is one of the first things that we re-engaged on. I was in Burma within I think about three weeks or a month after Secretary Clinton took her first historic trip there, and when I met with Aung San Suu Kyi, one of the things that was very interesting to me was that she recommended to me that I needed to talk to her jailor. And I asked her, “What do you mean?” And she said, “The guy from the secret police who was assigned to me to be my warden all of these years would bring me articles on human trafficking off of the Internet, and we would talk into the night about how we would work together to help end human trafficking and slavery for our people if things ever changed.” A lot of people forget that she spent her Nobel Prize money while she was in prison. She sent it World Vision, an NGO, to provide food and shelter for about 200 Burmese trafficking victims in Thailand. The first place that she went after she was able to travel was to the shrimp-packing sheds in Thailand where so many Burmese are affected by this crime.

So it was interesting to see not only her, but then eventually what came true is the new head of the anti-trafficking unit – the central body against trafficking in persons for the Burmese Government in the new era – is the very person who she recommended to me that we should work with. He’s written a book on trafficking; he’s gone to other parts of the region. I think there’s a real desire on the part of the Burmese Government to engage and to bring on some of these modern approaches.

And to that end, they even passed a law abolishing the 1907 Villages and Towns Act, which is what gave them the legal ability to enslave their own people. So the notion of giving that up as part of the process of opening up to the outside world. I think that, as with every country, there’s a long way to go, and we’ll continue to work with them. We have an established and formal dialogue with them that was agreed to by both presidents during President Obama’s visit a year and a half ago, and it’s something that I’ve been to Burma for that dialogue and will be, I think, going again in the fall for the second round of that. So we’re – in that situation, I think that we’ve got a formal way to work with them.

Sri Lanka on the other hand, I think that that’s a bit of a work in progress. We don’t see – first of all, we’re not digging out of the years of exclusion from the international community that we had seen with the Burmese Government, but we’ve got this notion of three years in a row the trafficking statute that they have, which is a pretty good one – it prohibits all forms of trafficking, which not every SAARC country, not every country in the region has laws that prevent forced labor as well as sex trafficking – and yet three years in a row without any convictions, no services really for male trafficking victims, sex trafficking victims punished, and the folks who come home from overseas, no real way to screen for or help them the way that other source countries like the Indonesians and the Filipinos have.

So I think that there’s a long way to go, but they have this inter-ministerial structure that they have now adopted, and I think that for us both here in Washington and at the Embassy in Colombo it provides us some interlocutors who we hope that we’ll be able to work with going forward.

QUESTION: Just one follow-up on Burma. Do you see this issue of the Rohingyas, is it – does it make them susceptible to trafficking, this kind of stateless status? And how – do you have more – do you see this – do you see it through the light of trafficking, or is it a separate issue?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well, I think that we see with any displaced and vulnerable communities that are suffering from social exclusion, and I think that the plight of the Rohingyas has pretty been – has been pretty well documented. That is the type of population in which we often see in this type of situation.

Now, I mean, obviously, we remain concerned about all of the humanitarian issues that are around the Rohingya and other vulnerable ethnic and religious communities. We actually shed some – a little bit of light on this both in the Burma narrative but also, frankly, in the Thai narrative as we’re looking at the exploitation and even alleged sale of Rohingya refugees once they get to their destinations as they’re moving for all these different reasons.

QUESTION: Thanks a lot.

MR. RATHKE: Okay, thank you very much, participants. That’s the end of our question period. Want to thank Ambassador CdeBaca once again and thank you for your questions. A reminder this call is on the record but it is embargoed until the end of the Secretary – Secretary Kerry’s rollout event. Thanks once again, and we’re signing off here.

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Press Releases: Remarks at Pacific Day Policy Seminar

I’m going for the whole thing.  Sorry about that, folks.  Well, good evening, everybody.  How are you all?  Everybody good?  What a fantastic evening, and it’s a great, great pleasure for me to be able to come over here and share Pacific Day.  Tonight, we celebrate – obviously or this evening, I can still say – the critical relationships that unites all of the nations of the Pacific.  And believe me, in the last few days at our conference, we’ve seen the power of how united the Pacific region is. 

So we thank you because these partnerships were born out of a world that put us together geographically because we border on the Pacific, but it has also put us together because we have weathered wars and we have developed together and built a shared prosperity.


So I want to thank Palau’s ambassador, Hersey Kyota, who invited me to come speak.  I particularly want to thank New Zealand’s Ambassador, Michael Moore, for hosting us.  I think we all want to join together in saying thank you for his willingness us to do that.  (Applause.)  Oh, where is he?  Hiding?  (Applause.)


I want to recognize New Zealand’s prime minister who is here – he’s hiding over here, right here – John Key.  Thank you so much, Mr. Prime Minister.  It’s an honor to be here.  (Applause.)  And I’m going to be meeting with him tomorrow, where we can discuss some of the issues that we’ll talk about here. 


I also am honored to be here with the president of Palau, Tommy Remengesau.  And we also met.  We had a wonderful opportunity to talk about a host of issues, but most importantly the way in which island nations are deeply threatened by climate change, rising sea levels, acidification, overfishing.  And all of these were the topics of the conference that we just had in the last few days.


I want to just emphasize to everybody, America thinks of itself as a Pacific nation and is a Pacific nation proudly.  We don’t just border it and have an extraordinary coastline framing the Pacific, but we have been in the Pacific and in its far reaches for centuries.  We also obviously went through an extraordinarily difficult period during World War II.  We shed a lot of blood in the Pacific and fought hard for the ability of Pacific nations to be free to determine their own future and certainly to be able to associate and come together to protect the freedom of navigation, the freedom of commerce, and our rights as human beings.


And one of those rights is the right to be free from pollution that literally threatens nations.  That is why President Obama made the strategic decision in the first term, to do what has become known as a rebalance or pivot, but I prefer a rebalance, because pivot implies we’re somehow turning away from something else and we’re not.  But we’re rebalancing so that we make certain that some people in the Pacific understand our commitment and can rely on the presence of the United States with respect to many of those issues that I just talked about. 


President Obama is absolutely committed to continuing to make certain that everybody understands this rebalance is not a passing fancy, it’s not a momentary thing, and in fact it has grown.  We recently renegotiated a long-term defense pact with Japan.  We have reaffirmed our relationship with South Korea.  We have, obviously, with ASEAN and our presence in Southeast Asia as well as throughout the islands and the nations southwards to New Zealand and Australia, we’ve strengthened our presence there.  And we are continuing and we will continue, I can guarantee you, to work to impress on people that the values that bring us together don’t belong to one country.  They don’t belong to one nation.  I would tell you that I think they are genuinely universal values, and they certainly don’t belong to any ideology. 


There are a huge number of issues that Pacific nations have to wrestle with as a community now, and we all have a stake in regional stability and security.  The right to choose one’s own government, as I said, we believe is a birthright.  Economic growth is imperative for all of us.  But one thing above all looms as a threat, literally, to existence, and that is the connective tissue that holds – that connects all of us with respect to the environment and our responsibility to the ocean itself.


We just had two days of a conference in which speaker after speaker, film after film, expert after expert, scientist after scientist documented the degree to which we, mankind, are threatening ourselves as a consequence of the amount of carbon dioxide we are releasing into the atmosphere, as a result of too much money chasing too few fish, as a result of the devastating impact of pollution, run-off from development that streams out of rivers and down into the ocean so that we have over 500 dead zones.  And we can unfortunately boast a big one in the Gulf of Mexico where, coming out of the Mississippi River, from the various rivers that feed into it along the way, all the way from the northern part of our country down into the south.  We have runoff from agriculture, which overloads nitrates which kills the ecosystem. 


This is happening, unfortunately, everywhere.  The numbers of birds and fish that are found imbibing plastic, which has a 450-year life, therefore, obviously, a killer for many fowl and fish.  We face an extraordinary challenge to our fishing stocks almost everywhere:  some depleted, some stocks so low that they’re almost extinct, and in some places fisheries that are fished to the level that they’re near the possibility of collapse.


So all of what I’ve just said is obviously an enormous challenge and probably some of you could walk away tonight and say, “Boy, I hate to hear all those facts because I don’t know what I can do about it.”  Well, the problem is solvable.  What is shocking to me, and I think to many of us who are engaged in this effort, is the fact that it’s not something we can’t do something about.  The solutions are staring us in the face.  The solution to climate change, which we have to embrace rapidly because of the rate and pace at which coal-fired power plants are still being built – the solution is energy policy. 


And we have brave innovators and entrepreneurs who are on the cutting edge of producing alternative and renewable capacity to produce the energy that we need.  Whether it’s solar or wind or biomass or other forms, or even – some people say God perish the thought because of what happened in Japan, but if you don’t build on an earthquake fault and right next to the ocean, nuclear does have the ability, as we’ve seen in so many places, from France to the United States Navy, where we haven’t lost one sailor in more than 70 years of the use of nuclear power, or had one accident on a ship.  It is, because it is zero emissions, one of the alternatives we’re going to have to use.  And I’m confident that our scientists, as we do, will find the ways to create a fuel cycle that is unified and we can deal with the waste, and clearly we have safer and greater capacity in fourth-generation modular units. 


So the solutions are there.  And I just want to – I want to leave you with just one thought, a big thought about this, which is what excites me and why I’m banging away at this.  We’ve got to move rapidly if we’re going to save some of those island.  We have to be able to turn this around, and that means we’re going to have to embrace very forward-leaning policies very quickly.  And next year in Paris, in December, we will meet – all of our nations of the world – in order to try to set targets in order to be able to do what I just talked about.


But let me just tell you something.  We could produce – we’re not about to, but we could produce three times the entire electricity needs of the United States of America well into the future from 100 square miles down in the New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona region.  You could do it if you decided to.  We could do solar-thermal, we could do other things, but we have to build the infrastructure to do these kinds of things.  We have to invest in it.  And that is true all around the world where people have yet to embrace the simplest forms of energy efficiency, where we could be making a different set of choices about how you price carbon and what you do.


The bottom line is this:  The marketplace that made America richer than it ever imagined in the 1990s was a $1 trillion market with four – with what, 1 billion users.  One and one; $1 trillion market, 1 billion users.  Every single income earner in America, every quintile of our percentage of taxpayers, from the bottom 20 percent to the top, saw their incomes go up during the course of the 1990s.  We created more wealth in America because of one sector of our economy, the technology sector, that boomed, and it provided goods to those 1 billion people and became a $1 trillion market. 


Well, guess what?  The energy market that I am talking about today, as you look at it, is a $6 trillion market with 4 to 5 billion users, and it’s going to go up to 9 billion users by 2050.  It’s the mother of all markets.  It’s the greatest opportunity to build infrastructure, build power plants that are clean, build windmills, build alternatives, to have a whole new restructuring of the goods and services that are provided to people that provide the energy of the world.  And given the fact that almost half of the world still lives on about $2 a day and a huge percentage on $1 a day, the capacity for this development to change lives, save lives, reduce conflict, have an impact on security, change our ability to dream about a different kind of future is absolutely extraordinary.


So it’s a beautiful evening, you came here to have fun, I don’t want to go on and on tonight, but I’m just telling you, there is a solution staring us in the face, and the Pacific region, the Pacific islands can help to underscore to people what is really at stake.  It’s called life itself.  And the irony, the horrible fact is those nations most threatened are those nations least contributing to this problem.  So the developed world has an obligation to make this happen, and I look forward to working with our Kiwi friends and others and all of the Pacific islands.  We’re going to get this job done.  Thank you for Pacific Day.  Thank you for welcoming me here today.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

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Speeches: Assessing Threats Facing the U.S.-Korean Alliance

Thank you, Bob, for the introduction. I’m happy to be here at the Wilson Center and to contribute to a terrific program today.

On April 25th and 26th, President Obama visited the Republic of Korea for an unprecedented fourth time, to reaffirm our alliance, and more broadly, our truly comprehensive global partnership.

A month earlier in the former East German city of Dresden, President Park Geun-hye laid out her comprehensive vision for peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula – just days after North Korea provocatively launched two medium-range ballistic missiles.

Next month, President Park will host Chinese President Xi Jinping in Seoul at a time when both Republic of Korea-China economic ties, and the region’s challenges, are increasing.

These events show the strength of our alliance, the threat it faces, the Republic of Korea’s growing confidence, and the changes taking place in the region – all highlighting South Korea’s prospects for an even brighter future, and the potential stumbling blocks on the way there.

You all know these issues, and the Korean Peninsula, extremely well. It’s an honor for me to be here with Minister Gong. I had the privilege of working with him in the ‘90s, when he was Foreign Minister, and I was head of Embassy Seoul’s Political External Unit under Ambassador Jim Laney. This was the era of the Agreed Framework. And frankly, Minister Gong was already a legend, having been involved in diplomacy since the 1950s.

It’s also great to see my good friend Minister Kim Sung-hwan. I got to know the Minister when I was the National Security Council staffer responsible for Korea. We can think back to the time when we were planning President Obama’s trip to South Korea, and President Lee’s state visit to Washington. As you know, President Obama has visited Seoul more than any other foreign capital. Minister Kim’s role behind the scenes was absolutely essential to establishing a strong relationship between the two leaders.

Over two decades of working with the Republic of Korea, I’ve seen the Alliance modernize and relations between our countries grow and evolve.

And they’ve advanced markedly under President Obama, who developed close ties with former President Lee Myung-bak, and now with President Park Geun-hye. I want to underscore up front that the growth in our relationship, and the scope of what our two nations do together, has been driven in large part by South Korea’s incredible progress, in just a few generations, from a nation ravaged and impoverished by war, to a modern, democratic, prosperous global power.

Naturally, the threat posed by North Korea has been an enduring focal point of our alliance for sixty-plus years now. That threat – specifically the DPRK’s nuclear, ballistic missile, proliferation programs is a grave threat, it is persistent threat, and it is a growing threat. But working together, the United States and the Republic of Korea are addressing it through a comprehensive, principled strategy that uses all the tools at our disposal – economic, diplomatic, and military.

Militarily, we deter the North by maintaining a robust, increasingly interoperable alliance. It features some of the best-trained, best-equipped warfighters in the world. Diplomatically, we work hand-in-hand with each other, and with our other Six-Party partners and the broader international community, to hold North Korea to account. And economically, we have enacted, both domestically and multilaterally, extremely tough sanctions on the DPRK.

The strategy is to sharpen the DPRK’s choice: to raise the cost of continued defiance and effectively leave the DPRK no viable alternative but to honor its commitments and come into compliance with its international obligations—first and foremost—with its obligation to irreversibly and verifiably denuclearize. North Korea can never achieve security and prosperity while it pursues nuclear weapons. But we continue to make clear to North Korea that meeting its obligations and taking irreversible steps to denuclearize will put it on a path to attain the security, the economic development, and the international acceptance that it wants.

But while security is the focus of today’s event and North Korea is never far from our collective minds, let me emphasize that the U.S.-Republic of Korea relationship today goes far beyond a localized defensive alliance driven by the DPRK threat.

Today, if you’ll permit me, I’ll be ambitious and cover the U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance in five parts: one, an overview of the challenges we face and America’s broader regional strategy, which provides context for the alliance; two, the Republic of Korea-U.S. global partnership; three, our bilateral relations, including security; four, regional challenges; and five, regional opportunities.

Challenges Facing the Alliance and America’s Strategy for the Asia-Pacific Region

As I said: there is a single overarching threat to the alliance, which comes from North Korea. But the alliance also faces at least three principal challenges, as I see it.

First: expanding our vision for what our alliance can accomplish. Our ambition should reflect South Korea’s increased economic power, military capacity, and global role. This is a happy challenge to face.

Second: executing the “nuts and bolts” modernization of our defense relationship. This includes continuing to upgrade equipment and training to improve interoperability, and also working out the transfer of wartime operational control. It includes sorting out how to keep our alliance politically sustainable, and how, for example, to resolve land use issues when cities grow to reach the edges of our bases. It also includes addressing the costs that come from keeping U.S. troops in a highly developed, increasingly expensive country.

Third: ensuring that our alliance adapts to meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities of changing dynamics in the region. These include China’s rise, ASEAN’s growing centrality, and Japan’s revitalized economy and renewed political stability.

The regional context includes America’s sustained rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. This is a sophisticated audience, so I won’t review the full rationale and history of the rebalance. But briefly, it started when President Obama took office in 2009 and, with a view to America’s economic recovery and future, decided to make the region a strategic priority and approach it as an integrated whole.

As a result, the U.S. set about reinvigorating our treaty alliances in the region; we upgraded our engagement in regional fora such as ASEAN and the East Asia Summit; we focused more time and attention on emerging powers in the region; and we strengthened cooperation and economic ties with longtime friends and newer partners – taking a holistic approach through programs like the Lower Mekong Initiative, which brings together several nations with common interests, and launching Energy Partnerships and other initiatives.

Our Global Partnership

Over the last couple of decades, the Republic of Korea has emerged as a positive force for security, stability, and prosperity across the globe. South Korea’s position has been strengthened immeasurably by its phenomenal performance – the Miracle on the Han with its equally important economic and political components – and its willingness, even eagerness, to share its success with the world. As a result, as I mentioned, we’ve developed an increasingly comprehensive global partnership. It is underpinned by strong economic and people-to-people ties, shared values of democracy and respect for human rights and the rule of law, and, of course, our alliance – the linchpin of peace and security in the region.

Our burgeoning global partnership with the Republic of Korea really shows what two countries can do when they make an affirmative decision to rally behind shared interests and shared values. Development is one example: sixty years ago, the United States provided development assistance and sent Peace Corps volunteers to South Korea. Now KOICA – the Republic of Korea’s Peace Corps equivalent, is the second largest international volunteer corps in the world.

Korea’s rapid development – its economic miracle and democratization – inspire striving nations all over the world. Now, the Republic of Korea plays an important role in advancing global economic and financial stability through its membership in the G20. Today, both the U.S. and the Republic of Korea offer assistance and paths to peace and development to countries that seek our help.

The Republic of Korea is also a global leader on nuclear security. Few countries better understand the threat of nuclear weapons, and South Korea works well beyond its own neighborhood to advance our shared vision for a nuclear-weapons-free world. It hosted leaders from around the world for the Nuclear Security Summit in 2012. The Republic of Korea has been a close partner in addressing concerns with Iran’s nuclear program, helping to implement the Joint Plan of Action through the P5 + 1 negotiating process. And we collaborate on a wide range of nonproliferation and counter-proliferation issues.

South Korea has also worked closely with us to support the mission to remove Syria’s chemical weapons. In Afghanistan, our troops have served side by side while our development personnel have worked together to help that country build a foundation for its future. And our work together extends well beyond security.

The scope of our collaboration to advance science and human development is impressive – we engage in far-sighted scientific research in fields from nanotechnology to earth sciences, as well as clean energy technologies like smart grids and fuel cells that may soon be making a difference in the lives of all of us. We work together on practical applications of science in fields such as advanced manufacturing and aeronautics. We have important roles to play in address climate change. And we’re helping people in immediate need by promoting maternal and child health in Ghana and Ethiopia, and working together on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, particularly in Southeast Asia.

Bilateral Relations

As you can see, our global partnership is extensive, touching almost every continent. And while I know this conference is focused on threats and challenges facing the alliance, I think the starting point should be the alliance’s fundamental strengths.

First of all, our bilateral relationship has never been stronger, and it touches every field of human endeavor.

Our economic relationship has never been closer. The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement took effect just over two years ago, and last year, we had $125 billion in bilateral trade. Our people-to-people ties also continue to grow. In the last decade-and-a-half, the number of Korean-Americans has gone up 41 percent, to a total of more than 1.7 million – including World Bank President Jim Kim, and our friend and immensely talented Ambassador in Seoul, Sung Kim, and many more distinguished Americans.

And of course, as I indicated, our security ties are also strong and enduring. America’s commitment to South Korea’s security remains unwavering, and we continue to strengthen our combined defensive posture on the Peninsula. We are constantly working to improve readiness and interoperability in order to meet existing and emerging security threats. This includes shared investment in ballistic missile defense and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Our new Special Measures Agreement provides important resources to help sustain the presence of U.S. Forces in Korea. This agreement is yet one more proof point that both nations are politically and economically committed to making our alliance even more sustainable and adaptable.

But more important than any single proof point is the strength of our people-to-people ties. For example, President Obama’s passionate interest in and respect for Korea’s commitment to education is matched only by Korean interest in American educational institutions – there are more Korean students studying in the U.S. than those from Canada and Mexico combined.

Let me also share one personal vignette. The visit by President Obama to Seoul in April was meticulously planned. But, frankly, in the course of the visit, to mea at least, the most moving moment – the moment I will remember forever – was a spontaneous, heartfelt act at the Blue House, when President Obama, speaking for all Americans, expressed condolences for those lost in the Sewol tragedy, and called for a moment of silence in their honor.

What our two leaders, what our two nations, what our two peoples, shared at that moment, says as much about the strength of our alliance as anything I could say.

Regional Challenges…

Let me turn to the regional challenges. At the same time that South Korea has strengthened its alliance with the U.S., it has also pursued peace and prosperity in a very complicated neighborhood.

In the face of North Korea’s hostile rhetoric and its threats to carry out new provocations, President Park has remained steadfast in maintaining a strong, principled posture and in insisting that the nuclear issue cannot be set aside. But at the same time, she has been consistently extending a hand to the North and laying out a step-by-step process for building trust across the DMZ. She has demonstrated convincingly how the North could benefit economically from steps toward reconciliation and denuclearization. And the United States firmly supports this vision for peaceful reunification.

The United States also shares her compassion and concern for the North Korean people.

We are deeply troubled by the deplorable human rights violations taking place in North Korea today, graphically detailed by the recent U.N. Commission of Inquiry. We will continue to work closely with the Republic of Korea and others across the international community to seek protection and a better life for the victims of repression, and accountability for the victimizers.

In just a couple of weeks, Seoul will host a visit by China’s President Xi Jinping. This is an extraordinary milestone, and it should be helpful in promoting needed cooperation on North Korea. It is particularly gratifying for me, personally, since I played a small role in helping to facilitate early contacts between Seoul and Beijing in the beginning of the 1990’s when I served at the United Nations – alongside a talented South Korean diplomat named Yun Byung-se, when he was stationed at the Republic of Korea observer mission at the U.N.

The United States fully supports South Korea’s efforts to build strong ties with its neighbors. The flourishing relationship between China and South Korea clearly demonstrates that our alliances in the region are a force for stability and integration, and that active U.S. engagement is good for the Asia-Pacific region.

At the same time, and in contrast to improvements with China, relations between Korea and Japan remain strained. Both countries have compelling shared interests – both are free-market economies, stable democracies, influential regional actors. Both are crucial U.S. allies. The Director General-level dialogue between Japan and Korea on historical issues is an important instrument for working through sensitivities. And the meeting hosted by President Obama last March in The Hague, which brought President Park and Prime Minister Abe together to confer trilaterally on North Korea, was an important milestone.

There is hard work ahead for both sides. This cannot be done by one party alone. And the hard work is made more difficult by politicization and by the erosion of trust. But it’s hard work that is made more imperative by the pressing need for cooperation. South Korea and Japan are two of our most important allies, and cooperation between them and trilaterally among us is essential – not just to address the nuclear and missile threats from North Korea; not just to manage contingencies on the Peninsula; but to advance all of our interests and values globally.

…and Regional Opportunities

There are also opportunities along with those challenges. Our strong modern alliance and global partnership positions the Republic of Korea and the United States to seize opportunities throughout the region.

We are working together to build up the region’s political and economic institutions, which, as I mentioned, is a key aspect of the rebalance. For example, South Korea has stepped up its interactions with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. This includes active participation in the “ASEAN plus three” group. It includes President Park’s participation in the East Asia Summit, an ASEAN-convened meeting of 18 of the region’s leaders. And it includes Korea’s strong role in helping to build up ASEAN’s maritime security and disaster relief capacities.

In APEC, the U.S. and Republic of Korea work closely with 19 other member economies from across the Asia-Pacific to expand trade and investment, promote sustainable growth, and strengthen regional ties. For example, we are working closely with South Korea to strengthen cross-border education and skills development; increase economic opportunities for women; and develop capacity building programs to enhance the ability of economies to participate in high quality trade agreements.

We also welcome South Korea’s interest in a hugely important project, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. Although our focus right now is on concluding the negotiations with the current 12 members, we are committed to continuing to consult closely with the Republic of Korea on meeting the high standards of the TPP, and to address specific areas of concern. The TPP is an ambitious, comprehensive, and high standard agreement that will promote growth and create jobs both at home and in the region, and includes economies that represent nearly 40 percent of global GDP.


Northeast Asia is a complex region with shifting dynamics, and new challenges will continue to rise. But there is one constant: the friendship between the American people and the Korean people, backed by our unwavering alliance commitment. Korea and the United States signed our first treaty of peace, amity, commerce and navigation 132 years ago. We have been allies for more than sixty years.

More recently, we have built a truly remarkable comprehensive global partnership. I believe that there is much, much more that we can do together and I’m counting on the sessions this afternoon to shed light on ways to increase our cooperation and the effectiveness of our alliance.

With that, let’s open it up for discussion.

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Arms Control and International Security: Implementing Missile Defense in a Global Context

Thank you for that kind introduction. It’s great to be back in Germany and I am particularly honored to address the 3AF Missile Defense Conference again this year.

In my remarks this morning, I would like to discuss three key issues:

  • First, the Obama Administration’s commitment to ballistic missile defense (BMD) and the Fiscal Year 2015 missile defense budget request;
  • Second, the significant progress the United States and our NATO partners are making in implementing the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA); and;
  • Third, cooperation on missile defense with allies and partners outside of Europe.

The U.S. Missile Defense Budget

It is no secret that governments around the world, including the United States, are working very hard to do more with less. This, of course, includes our investments in our national security. Despite these challenges, you will see—and the proof is in the numbers—that the United States is continuing to ensure that our missile defense priorities are funded, on track and on budget.

In March of this year, President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2015 budget submission that aligns defense program priorities and resources with the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). I would like to highlight for you a few of the missile defense aspects of the President’s request.

Overall, the budget request provides $8.5 billion for our missile defense programs, including $7.5 billion for the Missile Defense Agency. With regard to U.S. homeland defense, the budget request provides funding to increase the number of long-range missile defense interceptors deployed in Alaska and California from 30 to 44 by 2017. The request also funds a number of other programs to enhance the long-range BMD system such as a new kill vehicle and a new long-range discrimination radar. With regard to regional missile defense, the budget continues to provide adequate funding to complete work on the missile defense base at Devesulu, Romania and provides additional funding of $225.7 million for the missile defense base at Slupsk in Poland. The request also includes $435.4 million for the procurement of SM-3 Block IB interceptors and $263.9 for continued development of the longer-range SM-3 Block IIA interceptor.

As you can see from these numbers, the United States continues to devote significant resources to our missile defense programs. These programs are an important part of ensuring the national security of the United States, as well as our allies and partners. With regard to the EPAA, this budget request clearly signals the importance the U.S. places on the program. We believe that the resources we are allocating to our missile defense programs demonstrate our commitment to establish ever more capable missile defenses, both in Europe and other regions, to address growing ballistic missile threats. As U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel noted in March 2013, the U.S. commitment to NATO missile defense and to the sites in Romania and Poland remains “ironclad.”

European Phased Adaptive Approach

Moving on, I would like to take a few moments to discuss the implementation of the President’s European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) to missile defense. In 2009, when the President announced the EPAA, he noted that the EPAA will “provide stronger, smarter, and swifter defenses of American forces and America’s Allies,” while relying on “capabilities that are proven and cost-effective.” And since then, we have been working hard to implement his vision—and we have made great progress in doing so. Earlier this month, President Obama noted in Poland that we are “on track” with the EPAA.

Phase 1 of the EPAA gained its first operational elements in 2011 with the start of a sustained deployment of an Aegis BMD-capable multi-role ship to the Mediterranean and the deployment of an AN/TPY-2 radar in Turkey. With the declaration of Interim BMD Capability at the NATO Summit in Chicago in May 2012, this radar transitioned to NATO operational control. As part of Phase 1, Spain agreed in 2011 to host four U.S. Aegis BMD-capable ships at the existing naval facility at Rota as a Spanish contribution to NATO missile defense, demonstrating its commitment to NATO’s collective defense. In February 2014, the first of four of these ships, USS Donald Cook, arrived in Rota. The next ship, USS Ross, is on its way now. The remaining two will deploy to Rota next year. In addition to their roles in NATO BMD, these ships will conduct maritime security operations, humanitarian missions, bi-lateral and multi-lateral training exercises, and they will support U.S. and NATO operations. By stationing these naval assets in Spain, we are placing them in a position to maximize their operational flexibility for missions in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

With regard to Phase 2, we have an agreement in force with Romania to host a U.S. Aegis Ashore site beginning in 2015. Last October, I had the honor of attending the ground-breaking ceremony at Deveselu Air Base to commemorate the start of construction for this site. When this site is operational, and combined with BMD-capable ships in the Mediterranean, NATO will gain enhanced coverage from short- and medium-range ballistic missiles launched from the Middle East. I also had the opportunity last year to visit the Lockheed-Martin facility in Moorestown, New Jersey where they built the Aegis Ashore deck house and components destined for Romania. The deck house has been disassembled and is currently in transit to Romania.

In furtherance of Phase 2, on May 21, the United States successfully conducted the first flight test involving components of the Aegis Ashore system, including the SM-3 IB interceptor. During the test, a simulated ballistic missile target was acquired, tracked, and engaged by the Aegis Weapon System. A live target missile launch was not planned for this flight test.

Before moving on to Phase 3, I would like to stress that we remain on schedule for deploying the system to Romania, with the site becoming operational in 2015.

And finally there is Phase 3. Phase 3 includes an Aegis Ashore site in Poland equipped with the new SM-3 Block IIA interceptor, per the Ballistic Missile Defense agreement between the United States and Poland which entered into force in September 2011. This site is on schedule to be operational in 2018. The interceptor site in Poland is key to the EPAA. When combined with other EPAA assets, Phase 3, which begins in the 2018 timeframe, will provide the necessary capabilities to provide ballistic missile defense coverage of all NATO European territory. So, as you can see; we are continuing to successfully implement the President’s vision for stronger, smarter and swifter missile defenses going forward.

NATO Cooperation

In addition to the support and burden sharing as part of the EPAA undertaken by Spain, Turkey, Poland and Romania, NATO Heads of State and Government noted at the Chicago Summit that there were potential opportunities for using synergies in planning, development, procurement, and deployment of NATO missile defense.

In our view, with this in mind, there are three approaches Allies can take to make valuable contributions to NATO BMD.

  • First, Allies can acquire fully capable BMD systems possessing sensor, shooter and command and control capabilities.
  • Second, Allies can acquire new sensors or upgrade existing ones to provide a key BMD capability.
  • Third, Allies can contribute to NATO’s defense by providing air defense capability for U.S. BMD ships underway on a NATO mission.

In all of these approaches, however, the most critical requirement is NATO interoperability. While acquiring a BMD capability is, of course, good in and of itself, without interoperability, its value as a contribution to Alliance deterrence and defense is significantly diminished. It is only through interoperability that the Alliance can gain the synergistic effects from BMD cooperation that enhance the effectiveness of NATO BMD, as well as the security of all NATO members through shared battle-space awareness and reduced interceptor wastage. Given the budget challenges many allies face today, this becomes even more imperative. Looking ahead, we are hopeful that missile defense will be a key deliverable at the Alliance’s Summit later this year in Wales.

Missile Defense Developments in Other Regions

Outside the NATO context, the United States is continuing to increase and deepen its cooperation with partners and allies around the world to protect people, forces, and assets from the growing ballistic missile threats that we face. As in Europe, we are tailoring our approaches to the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific so that they reflect the unique deterrence and defense requirements of each region.

In the Middle East, we are already cooperating with our key partners bilaterally and multilaterally through venues such as the recently established U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Strategic Cooperation Forum. At the September 26, 2013, Strategic Cooperation Forum (SCF), Secretary Kerry and his Foreign Ministry counterparts reaffirmed their intent, first stated at the September 28, 2012 SCF, to “work towards enhanced U.S.-GCC coordination on Ballistic Missile Defense.”

As you know, this is a time of profound change in that region and we are acutely aware of the daily threats and anxieties felt throughout the Gulf. Security cooperation has long stood at the core of the U.S.-Gulf partnership. The United States is not only committed to enhancing U.S.-GCC missile defense cooperation – we see it as a strategic imperative.

As stated in the 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review, a key objective of U.S. strategy is to expand international efforts and cooperation on ballistic missile defense. BMD cooperation contributes to regional stability by deterring regional actors, principally by eliminating their confidence in the effectiveness of their ballistic missiles, and assuring allies and partners of U.S. defense commitments while enhancing their ability to defend against these threats.

Less than two months ago I travelled to the Gulf to work toward enhanced U.S.—GCC coordination on ballistic missile defense. The message I delivered in the region was clear: the United States remains firmly committed to developing and deploying advanced missile defense capabilities around the world to protect our homeland, our deployed forces, as well as our friends and allies.

Several of our partners in the region have already expressed an interest in buying missile defense systems, and some have already done so. For example, the UAE has contracted to buy two THAAD batteries that, when operational, will enhance the UAE’s security as well as regional stability. The UAE also has taken delivery of its Patriot PAC-3 batteries, which provide a lower-tier, point defense of critical national assets. We look forward to advancing cooperation and interoperability with our GCC partners in the years ahead.

Additionally and separately, we are continuing our long-standing and robust cooperation with Israel on missile defense on key systems such as Arrow 3, David’s Sling, and Iron Dome.

In the Asia-Pacific, we are continuing to cooperate through our bilateral alliances. For example, the United States and Japan already are working closely to develop jointly an advanced interceptor known as the SM-3 Block IIA along with deployment of a second AN/TPY-2 radar to Japan, while continuing to work on enhancing interoperability between U.S. and Japanese forces. With the Republic of Korea, we are continuing to consult closely as it develops the Korean Air and Missile Defense system, which is designed to defend the ROK against air and missile threats from North Korea.

No Constraints

Before I conclude, let me speak about missile defense and Russia. Russia continues to demand that the United States provide it with “legally-binding” guarantees that our missile defenses will not negatively impact its strategic nuclear deterrent. What the Russians really mean is that they want legally-binding limitations or constraints on U.S. missile defenses—defenses we and our partners and allies believe must be flexible and unconstrained in order to adequately protect ourselves from emerging ballistic missile threats. Such “legally binding guarantees” would create limitations on our ability to develop and deploy future missile defense systems against regional ballistic missile threats such as those we see evolving in the Middle East and North Korea. We have repeatedly made clear to the Russian government that the United States cannot and will not accept any obligations that limit our ability to defend ourselves, our allies, and our partners, including where we deploy our BMD-capable Aegis ships.

As far as where things stand today regarding our discussions with Russia on missile defense, Russia’s intervention into the crisis in Ukraine, in violation of international law, has led to the suspension of our military-to-military dialogue and we are not currently engaging Russia on the topic of missile defense.


Let me conclude by saying that we have made a great deal of progress on missile defense over the past several years.

Thanks to the important work of our NATO Allies, implementation of the EPAA and NATO missile defense is going well. We are continuing to engage productively with our partners and allies in the Middle East and East Asia. And, as I noted earlier, Congress has continued to provide sufficient funding for missile defense programs, even in these times of tight budgets.

For our part, we look forward to continuing these successes and working with our allies and friends around the world to deepen our cooperation, both diplomatic and military, in pursuit of ensuring that missile defense remains a key part of deterring and defending against ballistic missile threats.

Thank you very much, and I look forward to your questions.

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Landmark agreement between the European Commission and South Korea on 5G mobile technology

European Commission

Press release

Seoul/Brussels, 16 June 2014

Landmark agreement between the European Commission and South Korea on 5G mobile technology

An agreement signed in Seoul today is a milestone in the global race to develop 5G mobile technologies. Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda, and Mr Mun-Kee CHOI, South Korea’s Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) have agreed to work towards a global definition of 5G and to cooperate in 5G research. They also agreed on the need for harmonized radio spectrum to ensure global interoperability and on the preparation of global standards for 5G.

Both sides signed a Joint Declaration on Strategic Cooperation in Information Communications Technology (ICT) and 5G, agreeing to deepen discussions in the area of Net Futures (network and communications, 5G, cloud computing), an element of on-going relations on ICT topics. Both sides will also work towards a coordinated call for research project proposals, to be launched in 2016. An industry memorandum of understanding will be signed between the EU’s 5G Infrastructure Association (whose members include Alcatel-Lucent, Atos, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Nokia, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telenor and Telefonica) and South Korea’s 5G Forum.

Vice President @Neelie KroesEU said “5G will become the new lifeblood of the digital economy and digital society once it is established. Both Europe and South Korea recognise this. This is the first time ever that public authorities have joined together in this way, with the support of private industry, to push forward the process of standardisation. Today’s declaration signals our commitment to being global digital leaders.”

5G is a new network technology and infrastructure that will bring the capacities needed to cope with the massive growth in the use of communication – especially wireless – technologies by humans and by machines. 5G won’t just be faster, it will bring new functionalities and applications with high social and economic value. (see MEMO/14/129 on What 5G can do for you)

The two sides reaffirmed to strengthen the agreement of the November 2013 summit meeting, where both sides agreed on promoting R&D collaboration in the area of ICT. As a follow up, both sides decided to set up a Korea-EU ICT working group to prepare for ICT R&D cooperation as well as relevant policy discussions in the areas of 5G, Cloud and Internet of Things (IoT), and eventually to launch jointly funded R&D programs (’coordinated call’) in 2016-2017.


In December 2013 the Commission launched a Public-Private Partnership on 5G (IP/13/1261Factsheet). The EU is investing €700 million over the next seven years into the 5GPPP through the Horizon 2020 programme. EU industry is set to match this investment by up to 5 times, to more than 3 billion euros. South Korea is investing and coordinating research its efforts through 5G Forum and there are other major public and industry-led initiatives s in China, Japan, Taiwan and the US

In February 2014 at the World Mobile Congress 2014, Neelie Kroes called for bold steps towards global consensus on the scope of 5G (SPEECH/14/155): “Let’s find a global consensus on the scope of 5G, its main technological constituents, and the timetable for putting it in place. Let’s work this out together. And let’s work it out soon: by the end of 2015. So all our citizens can get the 5G boost as early as possible.”

For more information

Video statement (EBS) by Ryan HEATH, Spokesperson for Digital Agenda

Towards 5G




Mun-kee CHOI, Minister of the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) of the Republic of Korea, and Neelie KROES, Vice-President for European Commission, responsible for the EU Digital Agenda (hereinafter referred to as “two sides”) held an official meeting on 16 June 2014, where the two sides exchanged views on the enhancement of bilateral co-operation and exchanges between governments, research institutes, educational institutions, private companies, and other organizations.

The two sides reaffirmed to strengthen the agreement of the November 2013 summit meeting, where both sides agreed on promoting R&D collaboration in the area of Information Communications Technology (ICT). As a follow up, both sides decided to set up a Korea-EU ICT working group to prepare for ICT R&D cooperation as well as relevant policy discussions in the areas of 5G, Cloud and Internet of Things (IoT), and eventually to launch jointly funded R&D programs (’coordinated call’) in 2016-2017.

The two sides recognised the great importance of timely developing the next generation of mobile communication networks (5G), because the communications infrastructure will be the backbone of the future digital economy, creating more and better jobs, and contributing to a sustainable economic growth for the mutual benefit of the Republic of Korea and the European Union (EU).

The two sides agreed to enhance cooperation in the field of the future generation of communication networks (5G), fostering global consensus on the definition of 5G, developing common interest in research activities, harmonising radio spectrum policy to ensure global interoperability and preparing global standardization for 5G.

The two sides also agreed to jointly work in the area of future mobile network on the following:

  • To strive to reach a global consensus, by the end of 2015, on the broad definition, the key functionalities, and target time table for 5G.

  • To work together to explore further possibilities in cooperating and implementing joint research actions in the field of 5G, to be launched in 2016. To work together towards global standards for 5G, in support of ongoing standardization in relevant fora, such as 3GPP and ITU.

  • To cooperate to facilitate the identification of globally harmonised radio frequency band to meet the additional spectrum requirements for 5G, and to reinforce cooperation in the context of ITU and WRC.

The two sides recognised the importance of public-private partnerships for 5G, and expressed support for the deepening of interactions and exchanges between industry associations dealing with 5G in the EU and in Korea.

Done in Seoul, the Republic of Korea, on June 16, 2014 in English language.

Mun-Kee CHOI

Minister of the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, the Republic of Korea


Neelie KROES

Vice-President for the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda


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Harper Government Tables Text of Final Agreement of Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement

The Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement will benefit hard-working Canadians from all sectors in every region across the country

June 12, 2014 – Ottawa, Ontario – Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, today tabled the Text of Final Agreement of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement in the House of Commons. This tabling is yet another step by the Government of Canada toward ensuring transparency and openness in its efforts to implement the agreement as soon as possible.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Park Geun-hye of South Korea announced the conclusion of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement negotiations on March 11, 2014, in Seoul.

The Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement is a landmark achievement: it is Canada’s first free trade agreement in the Asia Pacific, one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic regions in the world. South Korea is not only a major economic player and a key market for Canada, but also serves as a gateway for Canadian businesses to the entire Asia-Pacific region.

On the first day it comes into force, the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement will provide Canada with preferential new market access to South Korea’s 50 million consumers and annual $1.3-trillion economy. It will bring substantial benefits to Canadian consumers, exporters, producers and investors across Canada from coast to coast to coast.

Quick Facts

  • South Korea is already Canada’s third-largest trading partner in Asia (after China and Japan). Total merchandise trade between the two countries reached approximately $10.8 billion in 2013.
  • On the day the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement comes into force, Canadian businesses will immediately benefit from South Korea’s removal of duties on 81.9 percent of tariff lines. Once the agreement is fully implemented, South Korea will have removed duties on 98.2 percent of tariff lines.
  • The Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement is projected to boost Canada’s economy by $1.7 billion and increase Canadian merchandise exports to South Korea by 32 percent.
  • Tariff elimination under the agreement will be particularly advantageous for Canadian businesses because average South Korean tariffs are three times higher than Canada’s (13.3 percent versus 4.3 percent).
  • Canadian businesses will benefit from a level playing field with their competitors in the South Korean market, notably competitors from the United States and the European Union.


“The Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement, Canada’s first with an Asia-Pacific market, will create thousands of new jobs in Canada and provide Canadian businesses and workers with a gateway to Asia, enhancing their global competitiveness. It will also level the playing field for Canadian companies competing with Korea’s other trading partners, including the United States and the European Union, which already have free trade agreements with Korea.

“We are committed to working as expeditiously as possible through the remaining steps toward implementing the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement so that Canadian workers and businesses can access the full range of benefits and opportunities as soon as possible. Today’s tabling is an important step toward delivering on our government’s most ambitious pro-trade plan to create jobs and opportunities for hard-working Canadians in every region of the country.”

– Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade

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The World Cup for Social Progress

Ed note. Be sure to tune into the World Cup + Social Good, co-hosted by our friends at the United Nations Foundation this week. 

For those of us anxiously counting down until the start of the World Cup, the coming month promises a flurry of excitement showcasing some of the world’s most talented athletes. Despite political divisions, countries as disparate as Brazil, Croatia, Germany, Korea, Nigeria, Iran, and Russia will all take to the same fields in displays of skill, teamwork, and passion. Football, which has universal appeal, will bring all eyes and ears to one place, and this limited attention span bears some legitimate social messaging potential.

Even to the FIFA, who is responsible for the quadrennial event, the World Cup is not simply a football championship. Because of the game’s unifying nature, FIFA has seized the opportunity to use the World Cup as a platform to address global issues that tear us apart, from racism and poverty to gender inequality and disease.

Using the World Cup as a platform for social progress is not new. FIFA originally took a bold stance against racism in 1961 by expelling apartheid South Africa from the games, only readmitting the nation in 1991 after Nelson Mandela was released from prison. When the games were held there in 2010, Mandela noted that “[Football] is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.”

The seeds of racism have long been embedded in the football world, as well. Consequentially, the Buenos Aires Resolution to combat racism in football, passed by FIFA’s Congress in 2001, invited a decade-long campaign using international football superstars as advocates against racism. In the 2002 World Cup held in Japan and South Korea, FIFA introduced “Say No to Racism” banners that covered the fields during pre-game formalities, while anti-discrimination advertisements filled TV spots. These efforts were repeated in 2006 and 2010. And you can be sure to see these banners in Brazil this month.

The anti-discrimination campaign flourished alongside other movements. In 1999, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and FIFA President Sepp Blatter promoted a closer partnership between their two organizations. In 2005, FIFA created the Football for Hope initiative to further the UN Millennium Development Goals by fostering relationships between football organizations and existing development stakeholders to build community centers across the globe.

By building centers with shared spaces and a football field, young people have been encouraged to collaborate with each other and engage with existing NGOs to promote locally relevant social development on the frontiers of HIV/AIDS education, conflict resolution, gender equity, capacity-building and work training, youth leadership, and life skills training. The 2010 World Cup made the creation of 20 of these centers in Africa its priority.

While the use of football as a platform for social progress has evolved over time, the world of football has met its match: global social problems are not going away and might prove to be much tougher opponents than anticipated. But FIFA has yet another opportunity to make a case and promote its social responsibility initiatives in Brazil’s 2014 games.  After all, it’s the same qualities that make watching the World Cup so enthralling – teamwork, leadership, integrity, innovation, heart, blood, sweat, and tears – which will bring us closer to achieving these universal goals. 


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