U.S. Policy Update for Tuesday, 24 May 2016

World map, political view

Today’s topics:    Combating Wildlife trafficking in Vietnam / Criminal Justice Reform / DoD, NATO on death of Mullah Mansur / Antiquities trade


Stoppping Illegal Trade in Antiquities

A statue destroyed by ISIS outside the Palmyra Museum in historic Palmyra, Syria
A statue destroyed by ISIS outside the Palmyra Museum in historic Palmyra, Syria (AP Images)

24 May 2016 Stopping the Black Market in Antiquities    Terrorists in Syria don’t just take sledgehammers to ancient temples and sculptures at cultural heritage sites they have overrun: They sell them. They loot coins, statues, tablets and other priceless artifacts and peddle them on black markets in the Middle East and beyond.

A new U.S. law could help keep these treasures from entering the American art and antiquities markets.

By some estimates, the terrorist group known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or Daesh) has raised at least $100 million for its war coffers from the sale of stolen antiquities.

The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act gives the U.S. president expanded authority restrict imports of archaeological or ethnological artifacts from Syria. A similar U.S. law helps protect and preserve Iraqi antiquities.



Wildlife Trafficking / Vietnam visit

23 May 2016 Joint Announcement of the United States-Vietnam Partnership To Combat Wildlife Trafficking On the occasion of the visit by United States President Barack Obama to Vietnam on May 23–25, 2016, the Governments of the United States of America and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam launched a new U.S.-Vietnam Partnership to Combat Wildlife Trafficking (the Partnership) guided by the following principles.

U.S. and Vietnam Announce Historic Partnership To Establish a Peace Corps Program in Vietnam
U.S. and Vietnam Announce Historic Partnership To Establish a Peace Corps Program in Vietnam

The United States and Vietnam recognized that the illegal trade in and illegal consumption of wildlife and wildlife products are threatening the world’s irreplaceable biodiversity and adversely impacting communities and economies around the globe. … Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the United States and Vietnam have decided to form a new Partnership to frame and advance joint activities to combat the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products.


NATO / Europe

23 May 2016  Deputy Secretary General: NATO ideally equipped to project stability beyond our borders  NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow stressed NATO’s role in projecting stability to the east and to the south at the House of Commons, UK Parliament, on Monday, 23 April 2016. Addressing the Henry Jackson Society, Ambassador Vershbow outlined NATO’s current security challenges and what the Alliance is doing to respond.


DoD, NATO on  Death of Taliban Leader

23 May 2016 Statement by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on U.S. Airstrike Against Taliban Leader Mullah Mansur    “Protecting American forces wherever they are in the world will always be one of my top priorities as Secretary of Defense,” Carter said. “The confirmation that our precision airstrike Saturday killed Taliban leader Mullah Mansur makes clear my commitment to address threats to our troops, NATO forces, Afghan military personnel and the innocent Afghan civilians who are working together so bravely to improve security in that country. Removing Mansur from the battlefield eliminates one roadblock to peace in Afghanistan.”

23 May 2016 Statement by the NATO Secretary General on Mullah Akhtar Mansur

Statement by the NATO Secretary General on Mullah Akhtar Mansur
Statement by the NATO Secretary General on Mullah Akhtar Mansur

Under Mullah Mansur’s leadership, the Taliban have continued to conduct brutal attacks across Afghanistan, leading to the death and suffering of countless Afghan civilians and security forces, and posing a major daily threat to the forces of the US and other NATO Allies and partners.

Mullah Mansur stood in the way of talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, blocking the prospects for progress towards peace and reconciliation for Afghanistan.

NATO and our partners remain fully committed to our mission to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces, so that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorism.


Syria Terror Attacks

23 May 2016 Da’esh Attacks in Jabla and Tartus and Regime Offensive Actions in Syria    The United States strongly condemns the horrific attacks today in the towns of Jabla in the northwest province of Latakia, and the port city of Tartus, for which Da’esh has claimed responsibility and where more than 60 civilians were killed and injured in multiple bombings that targeted bus stations and a hospital. We will continue to lead the global coalition to degrade and defeat Da’esh so that it can no longer brutalize those who reject its tormented worldview.

We also call for an end to the Asad regime’s escalating attacks on Aleppo and Daraya, as well as its besiegement of towns and obstruction of humanitarian access.


Criminal Justice Reform

23 May 2016 U.S. Delegation Aims To Advance Criminal Justice Reform at UN Meeting  A major focus of this year’s CCPCJ meeting will be criminal justice responses to prevent and counter terrorism. The Commission will bring together experts and practitioners from nations around the world to examine counterterrorism finance, the threat of foreign terrorist fighters, and the importance of building reliable criminal justice systems and institutions that promote human rights and the rule of law.

In addition, the United States is sponsoring a resolution to promote access to criminal legal aid, which is a necessary component of a fair, humane, transparent, and effective criminal justice system, as well as a key objective of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The United States will also host two side events during the Commission.

State Department

23 May 2016 Ambassador Russell Convenes Forum on Women and Energy