UNODC strengthens its partnership with Peacekeeping Operations in West and Central Africa

UNODC and the Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) are key partners in the fight against drugs and crime as deeply interconnected with peacekeeping. In West and Central Africa, UNODC has been working closely with peace keeping operations such as the United Nations Integrated Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), the Unite Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) and, more recently, with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

Indeed, building on the successes of the existing partnerships with the MINUSCA and MINUSMA, UNODC signed cooperation agreements with both organizations (7 March and 15 March 2018 respectively) to further strengthen their collaborations. These two milestone agreements are the first between UNODC and UN Peacekeeping Operations, whereby UNODC receives dedicated budgets to support the justice sector. "The pooling of our specific skills will enable us to reach together and in a quicker fashion concrete results as deserved by the Malian and the Central African populations" stated Mr. Pierre Lapaque, UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa.

UNODC and the MINUSCA

     

On 10 April 2014, the Security Council, with its resolution 2149 (2104), established the MINUSCA after months of violence that led to wrecked State institutions, leaving millions on the brink of starvation and thousands of dead and injured.

Under MINUSCA mandate, a Special Criminal Court (SCC) was created in June 2015 by Organic Law no. 15-003 to "conduct criminal enquiries and pre-trial investigations, and to pass judgment upon those serious violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law committed in Central African Republic (CAR) territory since 1st January 2003, (…), in particular the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, which are the subject of ongoing and forthcoming investigations."  This SCC is key in the context of CAR crisis as it will represent a possible way to achieve reconciliation and social cohesion after the conflict. In July 2017, MINUSCA reached out to the UNODC to join its efforts to support the SCC. This request followed a visit in Bangui conducted by a UNODC delegation in July 2016, during which UNODC met with MINUSCA and CAR officials to better understand the security and justice situation in CAR and how UNODC could contribute to reconstruction efforts.

UNODC then conducted a more detailed mapping mission in October 2017 that led to the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed on 7 March 2018 between UNODC and the MINUSCA. UNODC will assist the MINUSCA with two critical aspects of the Special Criminal Court, namely, support the implementation of a victim and witness protection program; and a legal aid program.

In CAR, witness protection and legal aid are of critical importance. Given the weakness of the national government and the recent history of violence, protecting victims and witnesses is crucial to move forward and provide the information the SCC requires to function and deliver justice. It implies to hold closed hearings, and to protect victims' and witnesses' identity. As for legal aid, it is indispensable both to ensure that the rights of the accused are respected and that the requirements for a fair trial are met and to encourage victims to step forward as plaintiffs and ensure the effective protection of their rights.

UNODC and the MINUSMA

     

To combat insecurity in Mali, while also promoting human rights, national political dialogue and reconciliation, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was created in 2013, in close partnership with a number of UN agencies, including UNODC.

Since 2013, UNODC and the Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) have forged a close and complementary relationship, based on each organization's mandates, expertise and added value. As a result of this partnership, Malian law enforcement officers have participated to joint training workshops to build their capacities to efficiently combat transnational organized crime and terrorism in Mali. Several results obtained by Malian authorities in the past years, including seizures and arrests for instance, can be attributed not only to their hard work, but also to the complementary assistance provided by the MINUSMA and UNODC.

Representatives of MINUSMA and UNODC have been in close contact in recent years, and have met regularly to discuss their partnership, lessons learnt, and results obtained. For example, on the picture above Mr Lapaque met Mr Annadit, Head of the MINUSMA. The cooperation agreement signed in March 2018 will build on the existing cooperation between the two organizations, and will strengthen their partnership, to more efficiently assist Malian authorities in their fight againt crime and terrorism.

For instance, it will serve as a basis for both agencies' support to the specialized judicial unit, responsible for the prosecution and investigation of cases related to terrorism and transnational organized crime. The specialized judicial unit has been operational for over a year now, and has received over 80 cases.

MINUSMA and UNODC remain committed to further strengthening their partnership, by continuing to collaborate on many projects, from carrying out assessments and identifying partners, to designing and implementing training workshops and curricula.

For more information:

Department for Peacekeeping Operations of the United Nations

United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)

United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA)

UNODC and DPKO collaborate to strengthen law enforcement in Mali

UNODC Contribution to the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (Arabic)