20 years of partnership: UNODC and UNV signed a new Joint Action Plan to further develop their collaboration

This event was funded by the USA

Since the inception of the partnership in 1999 and, following a new Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2013 between United Nations Volunteers Programme (UNV) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), more than 150 UN Volunteers have served within UNODC, in 25 countries, including in Bolivia, Kenya, Niger and Senegal.

On 21 st May 2019, during the 28 th session of the Commission of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice held in Vienna, the Regional Office for West and Central Africa (ROSEN) organized a side-event on Volunteering For Justice in Terrorism cases, in the presence of Ms. Miwa Kato, Director, Division for Operations, Mr. Masood Karimipour, Chief, Terrorism Prevention Branch, Ms. Veronic Wright, Senior Legal Advisor and Head of the Justice Section at UNODC ROSEN, Mr. Toily Kurbanov, Deputy Executive Director, UNV Programme and Mr. Cheibou Samna, Prosecutor of the Specialized Judicial Pole on Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Organised Crime of the Republic of Niger. This side-event was the ideal occasion to sign a new Joint Plan of Action for UNODC and UNV which will foster the partnership between the two organizations.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Kato made a reference to a joint project of UNODC and UNV in Niger, stating that: " This project is a story of partnership, its impact illustrates what can be achieved when international partners and governments seek to work together to find innovative solutions to the issues they face". The project is implemented under the framework of the UNODC Sahel Programme which was set up in 2013 as part of UNODC's response to the United Nations Integrated Regional Strategy for the Sahel.

 

M. Toily Kurbanov and Ms. Miwa Kato, Vienna, 21 May 2019

In 2017, following the setting up of a Special Terrorism Court, Niger requested the support of UNODC to help deal with the overwhelming number of detained suspects, which were dramatically increasing after every operation against Boko Haram. In response, UNODC initiated a project that led to the deployment of 10 national UNVs in Niger to provide legal aid to persons held in pre-trial detention on terrorism charges, with generous funding from the United States Counter-Terrorism Bureau.

These young women and men oversaw the reviewing of the detainee's files, within a reasonable time, to decrease the length of pre-trial detention periods. The results are impressive as the total number of 1,600 pre-trial detainees in 2017 was brought down to 842 early this year. Mr. Samna confirmed these numbers during his presentation and thanked UNODC and UNV for their " direct impact on the lives of the people of Niger".

The combined work of UNODC and the deployed UN Volunteers has led to fewer detainees, supported the release of innocents, fostered national engagement through the deployment of Nigeriens UNVs and managed to directly impact the future of hundreds of people. This pilot project contributed to the decrease of detainees waiting for their trial thus supporting Niger in achieving a specific target of the SDG 16 related to promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.

This success story is also the result of the excellent collaboration between UNODC and the government of Niger. Indeed, Mr. Karimipour, highlighted this collaboration, insisting on our joint work on strengthening legal and criminal justice responses to countering terrorism. Essential to the success of this project are the UNVs deployed in Niger and Mr. Kurbanov, insisted on his wish to see this innovative project and partnership replicated elsewhere and highlighted that the signature of the UNODC/UNV Joint Action Plan was a testament to a bright future for our cooperation. This event concluded with the signature of the new Joint Action Plan by Ms. Kato and Mr. Kurbanov.

For more information:

The Sahel Programme

The United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel

Webstory: 600 detainees assisted by the United Nations Volunteers in Niger