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News

Please see below a non-exhaustive selection of news items to reflect the richness of contacts and joint activities happening between the EU and UNODC.

 

12 February 2019: Belgium and UNODC sign two-million-euro funding agreement to strengthen fight against corruption and wildlife crime in Africa

Image © Belgian MoFAOriginally published by UNODC Vienna.

Belgium and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have signed a new funding agreement worth two million euros to combat corruption and wildlife crime in Africa. The funds will boost UNODC's efforts in this area and allow for increased support to African Member States.

Criminals are known to net vast sums of money from wildlife and forest crime. These large amounts of criminally acquired funds are in turn used to support corruption, which consequently erodes the integrity of the government and facilitates distortions of economic activities that are not sustainable.

To prevent and fight wildlife and forest crime, sophisticated criminal networks need to be dismantled. Every link in the criminal chain has to be tackled, from the sourcing, transport and delivery of illegally harvested wildlife and forest products to the laundering of proceeds from these crimes.

John Brandolino, UNODC Director of the Division for Treaty Affairs, highlighted that "the crimes of wildlife trafficking and corruption are bad enough but together they are devastating, adversely effecting societies and development on a number of fronts".

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs and Minister of Defense Didier Reynders said that "Belgium is very proud to contribute two million euros to support UNODC's Programme in the Central African region, with a focus on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Virunga Park), Uganda, Chad and Cameroon."

Mr. Reynders emphasized that "this pledge is fully in line with our strong commitment to combatting illegal wildlife trafficking, which requires a global approach and international cooperation between source countries and importing countries." He also highlighted that "wildlife is an irreplaceable part of our planet's living natural resources. It must be protected for this generation and for those of tomorrow."

Combatting wildlife and forest crimes and the corruption which facilitates them, the Deputy Prime Minister said, "also benefits the development of local communities. By cutting  an important source of funding for criminal networks and armed groups, it is also crucial for regional governance and security."

Within UNODC, the Global Programmes for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime; and on Corruption have built a strong joint programme to address all the links in the criminal justice chain- from crime scene to courtroom- with a special emphasis on combating corruption and dismantling criminal networks.

UNODC's joint programme of technical assistance has been focusing on future proofing of wildlife management authorities in source countries against corruption, and on building capacity to conduct financial investigations linked to wildlife crimes.

The new Belgian contribution of two million euros will complement activities that are currently underway and will allow UNODC to expand the geographic scope of its work. UNODC will work with wildlife management authorities to identify corruption risks, develop mitigation strategies and establish Corruption Prevention Committees with mentorship support. In addition, the Belgian contribution will support efforts to build global knowledge and visibility on the subject as well as to support parallel financial investigations linked to wildlife and forest crime.  

 

Further information: 

UNODC Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime
UNODC's Action against corruption

 

12 February 2019: UNODC participates in the consultations on the EU Enlargement Package

UNODC took part in the EU Enlargement consultations, organized by the European Commission in the framework of Neighbourghood and Enlargement Negotiations on the topics of rule of law, justice, corruption, organized crime, migration and other topics with specific focus on the Chapters 23 and 24 of the EU acquis communautaires. These oral consultations, along with the written contributions of the active international partners in the region, including UNODC, will feed into the annual reports prepared by the Commission for each of the Western Balkans jurisdictions and Turkey. 

UNODC has pointed out, among other aspects, the active cooperation with the counterparts in the region in areas of countering illicit trafficking, including drug trafficking (and drug demand reduction), trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, firearms control, corruption, terrorism, money laundering and illicit financial flows, organized crime, as well as other related fields. 

Further information on UNODC's South Eastern Europe website here

 

07 February 2019: UNODC presents the first comprehensive National Drug Use Survey conducted in Nigeria to the EC 

Image © UNODCMs Angela Me, the Chief of UNODC’s Research and Trend Analysis Branch, visited Brussels on 7 February 2019 to address the Horizontal Working Party on Drugs at the Council of the EU under the Romanian Presidency. On the occasion, Ms Me seized the opportunity to meet with DG DEVCO counterparts in order to present the first comprehensive National Drug Use Survey conducted in Nigeria. The report funded by the EU under the 10th EDF as part of the UNODC implemented project, “Response to Drugs and Related Organised Crime in Nigeria”, was presented for the first time in Abuja on 29 January 2019.

The Survey provides the first ever large-scale robust data on the extent and patterns of drug use in Nigeria at the national level and by geo-political zones and states as well. It welcomes the opportunity to strengthen drug demand reduction strategies with a focus on evidence-based drug use prevention, treatment in the new edition of the National Drug Control Master Plan for the period 2020 to 2024, currently being formulated in Nigeria.

Based on data collected from 38,850 respondents in the household survey and 9,344 high risk drug users across all states of the country, data suggests that the prevalence of past year drug use in Nigeria is more than twice the global average of 5.6% and the number of drug users is estimated at 14.3 million people aged between 15 and 64 years. The report also shows that there is a gap in meeting the needs for treatment and care for people with drug use disorders. With close to 3 million Nigerians living with some level of drug dependence, the extremely limited availability of drug counselling and treatment services exacerbates this health crisis.

Further information:    

National Drug Use Survey Executive Summary 
National Drug Use Survey 

 

31 January 2019: Belgium and UNODC discuss the Container Control Program

Image © UNODCThe Container Control Program, also known as CCP, is implemented by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The Program aims to establish container profiling units in major ports around the world to identify high risk containers and facilitate legal trade. The program has set up units in 16 countries in the Latin America and the Caribbean and will start-up in the first quarter of 2019 eleven (11) new units in Colombia and two (2) new units in Bolivia. Both are important cocaine producing countries. The units are mostly composed of National Police and Customs officers, as well as other specialized agencies depending on the country.

Through 2018, this region has seized over 51 tons of cocaine. Of the 51 tons of cocaine seized, around 40 tons were destined to European countries, for the most part the port of Antwerp in Belgium, the ports in Spain and the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Other destined European countries were Sweden, Germany, Italy, Albania, France and the United Kingdom.

Belgium supports the CCP by providing seconded experts such as Mr. Bob Van den Berghe, Belgium Police officer in charge of the UNODC CCP Regional office in Panama and Belgium Trainers Experts to WCO. 

On 31 January, Mr. Van den Berghe visited Belgium to hold meetings with the law enforcement Belgian authorities, the Ambassadors, Consuls and Heads of mission in Northern America, Latin America and the Caribbean during ‘ the Diplomatic days 2019 meeting’  in Brussels, and with the Belgian Deputy prime minister and minister of Finance and minister of Development Cooperation, Mr. De Croo, the Administrator General of Customs, Mr. Vanderwaeren, and the Mayor of the city of Antwerp, Mr. De Wever.

The regional coordinator entertained some interesting discussions with national authorities, who reiterated their interest in collaborating with the CCP. Those meetings were meant to look for the build-up of synergies between the Belgian Authorities and the CCP. Having the same interest in deterring illicit trade practices and facilitating trade, both parties should achieve a mutual understanding to continue, coordinate and weave their actions in the fight against criminal networks.

The CCP is also part of a large joint Norwegian supported Law Enforcement Assistance Program with INTERPOL and the NGO Rhipto, to address deforestation and timber trafficking in South East Asia and Latin America. Fighting illegal logging and deforestation and trade will not only benefit biodiversity and the global climate, but also help national and regional stability and development by making business more difficult for those involved in forest crimes and associated criminal activities. There is increased acknowledgement of the link between forest crimes and other types of crime such as corruption, drug trafficking, finances crime, human trafficking and cybercrime. The UNODC WCO Container Control Programme encouraged the Belgian Authorities to establish a close cooperation with the timber trade and business community operating in the port of Antwerp and, additionally, develop a closer cooperation and information exchange mechanisms with foreign law enforcement officials including the other countries in the project.

Please follow the CCP    for more information

Read our past stories here.