Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah Ann Lynch
Overseas Security Advisory Council Meeting
October 17, 2019, 9:00 AM
Hon. Ministers of Government [if needed]
Hon. Leader of the Opposition [if needed]
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
President and Members of OSAC
Members of Law Enforcement
Members of the Justice Sector
Members of the Private Sector
Esteemed Guests All
Ladies and gentlemen, a very pleasant morning to you all.
Thank you, Theo, for the warm welcome. I thank the organizers of the Overseas Security Advisory Council for inviting me to the largest meeting in the history of your council, and for the opportunity to share with you my deep appreciation of the issues and solutions discussed here today.
The theme for this meeting is Security, Risks, Trends & Impact. What an appropriate topic for where the private sector is in Guyana today. I am here to share some history and goals behind the founding of OSAC, and some of my thoughts on security in a Guyanese context, especially as it relates to the needs of the private sector. Thank you once again for having me.
Over the last 35 years, the increase in terrorism and other threats against U.S. interests overseas has sent many private organizations to the government, for advice and assistance. OSAC was created in 1985, a joint venture between the Department of State and the U.S. private sector, by then Secretary of State George P. Shultz under the Federal Advisory Committee Act to interact on overseas security problems of mutual concern. There are four objectives of this joint venture:
- to establish a continuing liaison between security officials in both the private and public sector;
- to provide for regular exchanges of information concerning developments in the overseas security environment;
- to recommend methods for planning and implementation of security programs abroad; and
- to recommend methods to mitigate risks to American private sector interests worldwide.
These objectives remain in the current OSAC Charter and guide Councils across the globe.
This relationship and information exchange is meant to be a two-way street. Thousands of personnel employed by U.S. international businesses and organizations abroad represent a vast pool of information pertinent to potential threats and incidents overseas. In response to one of OSAC’s most significant recommendations, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) created an electronic database in 1987 that is now the focal point for the exchange of information on security-related incidents and threats overseas between the Department of State and the private sector. The OSAC web site also includes cyber threat information, constituent forums, and specific traveler information.
In addition to the web site changes, OSAC recommended the creation of a threat information unit, the Research and Information Support Center (RISC), dedicated to security issues affecting the U.S. private sector overseas that develops geographically specific research for private businesses, and analysis and guidance on avoiding and mitigating current and emerging threats to personnel and assets. The RISC is able to provide “any enterprise incorporated in the United States doing business abroad” with timely security-related information of an unclassified nature by means of the web site, consultations, and information networks.
The private sector is encouraged to supplement this input with voluntary submissions about security and crime incidents affecting their own or other U.S. operations overseas. In some cases, these submissions may bring to light incidents not reported elsewhere. In other cases, they correct or flesh out information already entered into the OSAC web site. Information submitted by the U.S. private sector in the past has covered threats and attacks against U.S. personnel and property, thefts, kidnappings, other violent crimes, local unrest and natural disaster.
State Department’s Office of Diplomatic Security, working closely with OSAC, initiated a program in 1988 to assist the U.S. private sector with the establishment of “country councils” to implement the overseas portion of this unclassified security information-sharing concept. By establishing country councils in major cities abroad, OSAC encourages managers of U.S. private sector enterprises with security responsibilities to organize themselves to cope with security problems and threats. Key representatives of these councils and U.S. embassy security officers, as well as other post officials, are developing working relationships to create an exchange of information through which pertinent, unclassified security information is exchanged in a timely fashion. In addition, the country councils provide a forum to promote cooperation regarding any other security issues of mutual concern. And, that is why we are here today.
Yet some of you may ask, what does your work in the private sector have to do with security? Well, I am sure that many of you here would agree, from the police and CANU members, to all of our friends in the private sector, nothing says “consumer” confidence like a safe place to live, work and raise a family. Nothing says “investor” confidence like laws and procedures that attack corruption and trafficking. If bribes are the norm, and the borders are porous, if the ports are unsecure and the infrastructure can’t sustain the movement of goods, then how can we expect the economy to flourish? How can you expect your families to be safe?
I ask this assembly to ponder OSAC’s leadership role in pursuing a strengthened investment and trade relationship with the United States in support of our shared vision of sustainable security and sustainable prosperity for Guyana. We need you – leaders in your industries – to work together to make this vision a reality.
The U.S. Embassy is prepared to, and very much wants to, work with OSAC to connect your leadership with U.S. experts who can provide guidance on these critical key issues.
My goal this morning was to kick-start a dialogue on security issues so that OSAC and the Guyanese people can plan for the best long-term path to a secure, safe and prosperous Guyana. I hope I accomplished that goal. Guyana’s bright new future starts now, and I look forward to OSAC along with the government and other private sector actors, playing an active role in transforming Guyana into a vibrant economic leader. If you’re a private sector representative, and you haven’t already done so, please consider joining the OSAC council. At the very least, read the annual OSAC reports for guidance and best practices in the area of security. And finally, please register with the U.S. embassy to get the latest travel and security updates from the U.S. Department of State.
Across the globe, OSAC continues to grow, with over 5,500 U.S. private sector constituents. We look forward to having a robust Council in Guyana. Again, the Department of State and Diplomatic Security recognize the increasing need for OSAC to support the U.S. private sector. I wish you a successful meeting and look forward to hearing about upcoming plans.