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Lewis Clayborne

Press Office of the Secretary of State

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Kobayashi-Diaz unveils new policies on diplomatic security

 

Secretary of State Sophia Kobayashi-Diaz has today announced a new series of policies on diplomatic security, using funds provided by the Bipartisan Budget Act. In addition to ensuring a proportionate increase in diplomatic security funding, Kobayashi-Diaz announced two new programs that she hopes will create a stronger long-term diplomatic security arrangement. 

 

Firstly, $200 million shall be invested in a pot of money to respond, quickly and rapidly, to changing security situations on the ground. Because of limited resources and bureaucratic malaise, often the State Department has struggled to properly reallocate security assets in the event of a deteriorating security situation in a part of the world. This "Rapid Diplomatic Security Realignment Fund", hereafter the Fund, shall allow money to quickly be invested, without needing to identify associated cuts, in areas that are urgently in need of heightened diplomatic security. 

 

Secondly, it is often the responsibility of a host country to ensure the safety of foreign diplomats. Many countries have the will and intention to protect such diplomats, but lack the fiscal resources and institutional strength. $50 million shall be appropriated to loans, grants, and investments in local economies, administered by a new "Local Security Program", to build up the capacity of local policing forces, and ensure they are independent and free from institutional corruption. The profits from investments in local economies shall be used to grow both the Fund and the Program. 

 

Secretary Kobayashi-Diaz has also instructed those responsible for securing contracts, in building, protecting and maintaining diplomatic offices for the US abroad, to use "best value contracting" to the greatest degree permitted by US law. They will consider not only price, in awarding contracts, but expertise, security, technical experience, past performance, and, in developing countries, economic benefits to the local area.

 

A review has been ordered of the safety of the children of US staff abroad, including at educational facilities, and authorised, as permitted and in cooperation with local security forces, the proportionate deployment of security assets to protect any such children that may be at considerable risk of danger.

 

The Secretary has also instructed the State Department to draft a list of "High Risk, High Threat" diplomatic posts, and the creation of a departmental wide working group to ensure such posts have their needs met, including the drafting of contingency plans for when crises arrive: such contingency plans shall include helping ensure the safety of US residents and commercial interests, and the safety of other foreign nationals within the country, and when possible efforts to use US materials to launch a speedy response to any humanitarian or political crises. 

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Kobayashi-Diaz announces US will reinterpret the Helms Amendment

 

The Helms Amendment is a statutory prohibition against using US foreign assistance funds for abortion as a family planning method. However, successive administrations have, with poor legal reasoning, interpreted this as a prohibition against any funding of abortion procedures, including in cases of rape, incest, and threat to the life and health of the mother. Secretary of State Sophia Kobayashi-Diaz today announced that the State Department would now interpret the language in accordance with standard precedent surrounding abortion funding restrictions, allowing such funding in cases of rape, incest, life endangerment, or serious medical issue. 

 

"Even most pro-life lawmakers accept that no woman should, whether by deprivation or legal restraint, endure an unwanted pregnancy that imperils her life or involves carrying the child of her attacker," Kobayashi-Diaz said in announcing the policy. "This updates US policy to reflect the letter of the law and the spirit of other provisions restricting abortion funding, and in no way involves funding those elective abortions which are such a lightning rod for controversy."

 

The policy will likely deliver significant improvements to the health and wellbeing of many of the world's most disadvantaged women. It will reduce the quantity of unsafe abortions committed - 22 million occur annually, 98% in the developing world. This results in 22,000 deaths and 8.4 million debilitating injuries worldwide, numbers that this decision will help reduce. It will provide invaluable assistance to the survivors of rape, including in war zones. Women who have been the victims of violence are twice as likely to seek abortion care, and because of the nature of their position, often feel forced to do so despite lacking safe options. This reinterpretation of policy will help these women and girls. 

 

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Kobayashi-Diaz announces new Interpol reform push

 

Tackling the growing crisis of transnational crime, a great evil in itself that also contributes to other perils such as terrorism, war and environmental degradation, is one of Secretary of State Sophia Kobayashi-Diaz's priorities. Interpol is the organisation responsible for facilitating international police cooperation, separate from the terrain of political and sectarian interference, and in improving the capabilities and functionalities of policing organisations throughout the world. Despite this, its budget is anemic, approximately $125 million per year, globally. It is clear that, to enable police forces, to tackle the supply lines in transnational organised crime and to track criminals that operate or escape across borders, we need a substantial increase in the capabilities of Interpol. 

 

Using increased resources at the State Department following the Bipartisan Budget, funding from the US will be increased to $100 million per year, with the proviso that the US contribution does not increase if it results in the US contributing more than 30% of Interpol's annual budget. This will allow Interpol to hire staff, improve the speed and quality of liaison and investigation efforts, and become a model for multinational cooperation. It will also ensure Interpol only grows substantially if other countries are willing to match the commitment. 

 

A current obstacle to the cooperation Interpol endeavours towards is a lack of trust between police agencies, that some police departments are infiltrated by or affiliated with criminals. The US shall push for reforms to amend this concern, namely by developing the capability to investigate complaints and compile reports on the conditions of police forces around the world. Corruption, criminal activity, political abuse, and infiltration by organised crime outfits may all reduce the trust in and effectiveness of different national police forces. Providing transparency internationally will increase trust, increase efficiency, and ultimately increase cooperation. Interpol will also be encouraged to report on the effectiveness and effort policing forces are putting into addressing both important and neglected areas of international crime.

 

Secretary Kobayashi-Diaz has confirmed that this will be the first stage of many in her transnational organised crime plan, which she will announce in full shortly. 

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