UNODC is finalizing its Regional Programme for West Africa (2016-2020) 

West Africa is affected by a wide range of factors which have made it a region particularly vulnerable to the specific security challenges of transnational organized crime (TOC), terrorism and corruption.

As part of its mandate, the United Nations Office against Drugs and Crime (UNODC) supports both regional and sub regional institutions together with the governments of the region to fight against the main threats currently affecting it, among them: drug trafficking; the development of laboratories manufacturing amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS); the import of controlled precursor chemicals; increased local consumption of all types of drugs; rising threats from terrorists and jihadists; strengthened links between organized crime and terrorism; intra- and interregional trafficking of firearms, cigarettes and counterfeit drugs; trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants; as well as maritime crime and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and along the West African coast.

Following the implementation of the Regional Programme for West Africa 2010-2014, UNODC is now working on developing a new programme for the period from 2016 to 2020 to continue its collaboration with the Economic Community of States of West Africa (ECOWAS) and countries of the region in the fight against the scourges that affect it.

Participants during the plenary session

To do so, UNODC invited the representatives of ECOWAS, its member States and Mauritania to an experts' consultation meeting to discuss UNODC future directions, its objectives and activities in the region to be included in the new Regional Programme.

This meeting brought experts from ECOWAS together with the Ministries of Interior, Justice and Health of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. Representatives of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) were also present during the meeting.

The Regional Representative of UNODC, Mr. Pierre Lapaque opened the working sessions stating: "The challenges are enormous but our common will is real, and the solutions that we offer must be clear and pragmatic." He also recalled that UNODC will align its new regional programme with the priorities defined in the new ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on the fight against illicit drug trafficking, organized crime is related and drug abuse in West Africa 2016-2020, of which the finalization is being coordinating by the ECOWAS Commission, with the support of UNODC.

The experts worked in small groups on the five pillars identified as the main areas of work in the region:

I.     Strengthening criminal justice systems

II.    Preventing and countering transnational organized crime and illicit trafficking

III.   Preventing and countering terrorism

IV.   Preventing and countering corruption

V.    Improving drug prevention and drug dependence treatment and care

Experts, representatives and UNODC staff surrounding the Regional Representative, Mr Pierre Lapaque

Divided into three groups for two half-days according to their area of ​​expertise, the experts then gathered in the plenary room to make recommendations that will be included in the future Regional Programme. The importance of data collection through advanced technologies, the involvement of civil society organizations, the extension and strengthening of cooperation with ECOWAS, and, the concern about corruption were also retained as the most important points to be included in this future Regional Programme. Finally, the establishment of a Steering Committee was recommended to allow consultation meetings all along the implementation of this programme.

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