Yury Fedotov

Director General/Executive Director

Remarks at the launch of the Regional Programme for Eastern Africa

Nairobi, 29 August 2016

 

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for joining us for the launch of the new Regional Programme for Eastern Africa.

UNODC's Regional Programme is the product of close cooperation between our regional office, the Government of Kenya and other governments in the region, and enables UNODC to support countries in expanding their abilities to prevent and address threats to security and development.

One threat, in particular, that is the focus of this event today, is the increasing links between transnational organized crime, including illicit drugs, and terrorism.  

The challenges posed by terrorism and transnational organized crime to and originating from Eastern Africa and the Horn of Africa, are well documented.

The distinctions between terrorism and transnational organized crime are sometimes blurred but it is necessary to understand that terrorism and organized crime activities converge in many ways.

Terrorist organizations benefit from the proceeds of organized crime, receive material and logistical support or recruit and exploit citizens.  

They may also be involved in other criminal activities such as drug trafficking, theft, foraging of documents, kidnappings, extortion, fraud and financial crimes.

The intersection of criminal networks and terrorist organizations can be broadly grouped into three categories: coexistence, cooperation and convergence.

The activities of terrorist organizations in the Sahel, Eastern Africa and Horn of Africa regions provide examples of all three categories of interactions.

Research to be published by the UNODC Regional Office for Eastern Africa confirms this trend.

Examples highlighted in the report include trafficking of components for improvised explosive devices and small arms in Eastern Africa; illicit trade in charcoal and sugar as a means of income for Al Shabaab; and trafficking in heroin to Eastern Africa as a means of income for the Taliban.

The link between terrorism and transnational organized crime has dire consequences for the entire region, undermining the rule of law and sustainable development.

The new Regional Programme for Eastern Africa 2016-2021 aims to address this threat by focusing on enhancing national abilities to identify threats and areas of potential and actual convergence between terrorism and transnational organized crime related activities.

Another key element of the strategy outlined in the regional programme is the need to enhance national coordination and facilitate international cooperation, as transnational approaches are essential to counter transnational terrorism and organized crime.

By helping countries implement Security Council resolution 2195, which stresses the need for regional coordination to fight cross-border terrorism, it will strengthen the capacity of East African member states to detect, prevent and suppress these crimes at the national and regional level.

The programme further promotes a functional criminal justice system that is efficient and implemented by member states in accordance with the rule of law.

The regional programme also seeks to address social and health aspects of illicit drugs and organized crime - promoting sustainable and alternative livelihoods, drug demand reduction and treatment of HIV among prison populations and people who inject drugs.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our common objectives under the new programme are ambitious but not unrealistic, if all stakeholders actively engage in cooperation.

I encourage the countries of Eastern Africa to continue strengthening regional cooperation in order to break down the links between terrorism and transnational organized crime, including through the new UNODC Regional Programme.

I look forward to your continued support and cooperation in our common work.

Thank you.