It is my pleasure to welcome you to this reception on the occasion of the re-launch of the Suriname branch of the Overseas Security Advisory Council or, as we refer to it, “OSAC”.
I want to thank all of you for joining us today, but especially the representatives from the American private sector community that are here with us today.
Also, a special thanks to our OSAC Co-Chairs, the Embassy’s Regional Security Officer, Lisa Mackar, and Newmont Mining’s Senior Director of External Relations, Shirley Sowma-Sumter for organizing this wonderful evening.
Two major events happened in 1985. First that was the year I began work as a U.S. diplomat
It was also the year OSAC was created as a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the private-sector community to support the safe operations of U.S. organizations and personnel overseas.
I have been assured that the two events were not casually connected or otherwise had anything in common.
Seriously, This event tonight supports the most fundamental role an Embassy plays:
To support our citizens overseas.
OSAC is part of keeping our people safe anywhere in the world.
We are reminded today, September 11, of the important role of security and the work that we do to keep people safe.
We remember the lives lost on this tragic day in 2001.
Important lessons from 9/11 include the critical importance of information sharing to prevent such tragedies from happening again.
Events can surprise us anytime and anyplace, as we saw here on February 17.
But we have shown that when we remain vigilant, we can make sure those who threaten security do not succeed.
The OSAC Program Office is headquartered in Washington, DC.
It is guided by an executive council of 34 private-sector Global Security Directors and the Department of State, along with technical advisors from the U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Department of Commerce – Foreign Commercial Service, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
The OSAC community collaborates in regional and sector specific groups to keep members informed, connected, and better equipped to manage the complex security challenges around the world.
OSAC members receive information on crime, terrorism, natural disasters, and political, economic, and cultural issues that impact the local and regional security environments.
And private and international organizations have joined forces on countless occasions with the U.S. government to coordinate evacuations and medical support during and in the wake of a crisis.
It is noteworthy that this is the first OSAC event in Suriname since 2020 following the COVID pandemic.
This event exemplifies the embassy’s commitment to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Suriname in all areas, including security.
We see a close link between economic prosperity and security.
As we have recently seen, As Suriname struggles with its economic crisis, security forces have been called out to manage demonstrations and violent crime.
Without a vibrant private sector and opportunities in the formal market, we see people turn to drug, weapons, and wildlife trafficking to supplement their income.
Embassy Paramaribo continues to work with the Government of Suriname, especially the Ministry of Justice and Police, to strengthen the professionalism of local law enforcement, both with equipment and training.
We remain engaged with Surinamese officials and non-governmental organizations to help combat these challenges through outreach and training provided to officials from across the government and civil society.
Many times, however, the best information on security comes from you, the private sector, spread across Suriname and often working in remote areas of the country.
Your insights afford more granularity on interior atmospherics, transnational crime, political unrest and a myriad of trafficking challenges.
Sharing that information makes everyone in this room more secure.
As you will hear, as an OSAC member, your company will receive direct access to and information from the U.S. Embassy Regional Security Office.
In the event of a security incident or crisis, you will receive communications from the embassy.
The information that we share can help keep you, your people, and your operations safe.
Today is just the first of the events that we have planned for OSAC as we build and strengthen our networking and improve information sharing.
So thank you for taking the time to join us.
And now OSAC Co-Chairs Lisa Mackar and Shirley Sowma-Sumter will give you more information about how OSAC works and what role you can play in it.
I thank you in advance for your willingness to become part of a network of like-minded professionals and businesses working to grow Suriname’s economy in a secure environment.