EU-UNODC brochure


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.


14 September 2020: UNODC and FIFA partner to kick out corruption and foster youth development through football

Image © UNODCThe UN’s leading anti-corruption agency, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the world football’s governing body, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to step up their joint cooperation to address threats posed by crime to sport. The MoU, which was signed at UNODC’s Vienna-based headquarters by UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly and FIFA President Gianni Infantino during the ‘Tackling Corruption and Crime in and through Sport’ event, also pledges to consider ways in which football can be used as a vehicle to strengthen youth resilience to crime and substance use through the provision of life skills training.

"Sports support the development of children and youth, and we need sports more than ever in the COVID-19 recovery to make people healthier and happier, and bring jobs back. But in order to harness the power of sports we need to protect sports integrity," said UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly. "I believe that FIFA, the international governing body of football, the world’s game, and the United Nations, the world’s organization, make formidable allies, and I am very pleased that UNODC and FIFA have joined forces by signing this Memorandum of Understanding to safeguard football and sporting events from corruption, promote youth crime prevention, and keep children and young athletes safe from violence and exploitation."

“Since 2016, the new FIFA has taken significant strides in relation to good governance and in the area of football integrity, including the fight against match manipulation and safeguarding of children in football,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino. “Today’s signature of the Memorandum of Understanding with UNODC is a milestone for the organisation and underlines the absolute commitment of the new FIFA and myself to a zero tolerance policy on corruption in football: never again! It also shows our commitment to put football at the service of society and to use it as a tool to support the achievement of public policy objectives and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We are proud to have a partner like UNODC as we strive to strengthen further the integrity of football and to use the unique power of the beautiful game to promote values and life skills to foster youth development and crime prevention.”

The MoU foresees cooperation between UNODC and FIFA in a number of areas, including technical assistance and capacity building, policy coordination and awareness raising, and development of studies, training material and guidelines. Thanks to the new landmark agreement, UNODC and FIFA will focus their efforts on five broad areas of work:

  • Supporting capacity building and training programmes in the field of combatting and preventing the manipulation of sporting events;
  • Supporting the joint work related to good governance, the promotion of integrity and safeguarding of sporting events and organisations from corruption and abuse of power (e.g. effective control systems);
  • Supporting the use of sport as a tool for youth development, crime prevention and substance use prevention, including through the provision of life skills training;
  • Exchanging information and expertise with regard to preventing corruption in sport, and in particular competition manipulation (e.g. participation in conferences, regular meetings, contribution to studies);
  • Developing technical tools and publications.

Image © UNODCThe signing of the MoU comes amid intensified efforts to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on sport and a commitment to help football to recover from the crisis both in the short term and while the world adjusts to the ‘new normal’. Against this backdrop, discussions between the two organizations focused on several key areas of collaboration, including child safeguarding and the protection of vulnerable youth in football, anti-match manipulation and anti-corruption, the legacy of major football competitions, life skills development, anti-discrimination, and social inclusion through football in the context of youth crime prevention. The agreement also seeks to leverage the two organizations’ respective strengths to ensure a positive impact on the global fight against corruption and crime in and through sport, and to enhance the positive influence of football on the world’s youth, by building their resilience to violence and crime and promoting fair play, team work, non-discrimination, tolerance and respect.

This landmark agreement not only adds additional value, relevance and impact to the work that UNODC is currently providing worldwide to safeguard sport from corruption and crime at policy, research and operational levels, but also exemplifies the importance of establishing strong partnerships to effectively address the serious harms for global inclusive growth and sustainable development. To effectively address transnational organised crime and corruption inside the sport’s world, strong joint actions are indeed necessary. Effective cooperation requires the strengthening of multilateralism and the implementation of holistic, inclusive multi-stakeholder approaches where existing initiatives, UN entities, sports organizations, developing countries, regional and sub-regional bodies and other relevant actors, are brought together to promote knowledge development and capacity-building, as well as to complement and support the actions of Governments and other stakeholders in the area of sport and corruption.

With this overall objective, UNODC works in close contact with various like-minded partners, including the European Union. More specifically, the bilateral cooperation with the European Commission involves policy coordination and operational support through a three-year project on “Safeguarding sport from corruption in Asia and the Pacific”, signed in 2019. The main objectives of the project are: 

  • To raise awareness of corruption risks associated with sports, with a focus on match-fixing and preventing corruption in sports events, among officials Governments, sports organizations and other relevant stakeholders in Asia and the Pacific;
  • To raise awareness and to facilitate exchange of good practices and approaches to mitigate these risks among Governments, sports organizations and other relevant stakeholders in Asia and the Pacific.

The project seeks to achieve these goals through the organization of awareness raising seminars and capacity building workshops, as well as provision of technical assistance, in line with the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. This comprehensive approach will eventually contribute to mitigating economic, social and political negative impacts of illicit and illegal activities carried out in Asia and the Pacific, both in the EU territory and in the rest of world. More information on the EU funded project here

With this aim, UNODC stands ready to identify new policy areas and actions to tackle existing and emerging challenges in the field of sport and corruption and to reinforce the cooperation with all its partners, including the EU. 

Further information:

  • UNODC’s work in the area of corruption and crime in sport - here;
  • UNODC's global youth crime prevention initiative that builds on the power of sports as a tool for peace - here


8-9 September 2020: UN Security Council experts join UNODC to deliver webinars on key legal instruments against nuclear terrorism

Web-story originally published here.

The risk that non-State actors may acquire nuclear weapons or related materials for terrorist purposes has been highlighted as a serious threat to international peace and security by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and others on many occasions. To curb this threat, the international community has over the years adopted international legal instruments. These instruments aim at securing nuclear and other radioactive materials, preventing terrorists from acquiring them and investigating and prosecuting acts of nuclear terrorism, should they occur.

In line with its mandate, UNODC has worked for the past 20 years to promote the international legal instruments dealing with nuclear terrorism. In this context, UNODC launched in 2020 a series of webinars on countering chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism.

On 8 and 9 September 2020, UNODC conducted two webinars, held in French and Spanish. These webinars featured members of the Group of Experts supporting the work of the UNSC committee on UNSC resolution 1540 (2004). The resolution establishes wide-ranging measures for States to prevent the risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as their means of delivery and related materials, by non-State actors. The webinars focused on UNSC resolution 1540 and its relationship to three instruments which are key components of the international legal framework on nuclear security (the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its 2005 Amendment). These instruments include provisions to address the ever-present threat of nuclear terrorism, by criminalizing specific conduct involving nuclear or other radioactive material and ensuring that there is no safe haven for their perpetrators. The webinars discussed the complementary role played by these instruments and explored how UN Member States can fulfill relevant obligations stemming from resolution 1540 (2004) by incorporating their criminalization provisions into national legislation. Among the measures provided for by the resolution, is the adoption and enforcement of effective laws which prohibit non-State actors to engage in illicit acts involving nuclear weapons or related materials.

The webinars were funded by the European Union under UNODC’s project on universalization and effective implementation of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and were delivered on UNODC’s Counter-Terrorism Learning Platform. Future webinars of the CBRN series will be held in October and December 2020 and will address specific aspects of these legal instruments. 

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30 July 2020: UNODC Brussels & Belgian partners celebrate the World Day against Trafficking in Persons 

On World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and its partners across Belgium came together to raise awareness about the fight against human trafficking and to pay homage to the work of first responders to human trafficking. Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the UNODC-led Blue Heart Campaign against Trafficking in Persons, this year’s theme, “Committed to the Cause - Working on the Frontline to End Human Trafficking”, highlights the fundamental role of the first responders to human trafficking. These are the people who work in different sectors - identifying, supporting, counselling and seeking justice for victims of trafficking, and challenging the impunity of the traffickers. As highlighted by the Belgian Minister of Justice, Koen Geens, “Rebuilding the victims' self-esteem is essential in order to bring them justice and punish the perpetrators”. The statements of Minister Geens are available in French and in Dutch. With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the essential role of first responders has become even more critical. Nevertheless, their contribution is often overlooked and unrecognized.  

Philippe Goffin, Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs and of Defence - IMAGE MoFAThe Kingdom of Belgium has long been in the frontlines in the battle against trafficking in human beings. By leading global efforts through the UN Voluntary Trust Funds for Victims of Human Trafficking, Belgium supports the provision of much needed financial, humanitarian and legal assistance directly to victims in Countries of origin, transit and destinationThrough its participation in the Blue Heart Campaign, Belgium joins Countries around the world to send a clear message calling for strong solidarity with the victims of human trafficking. Given its transnational implications for human security and international stability, "Trafficking in persons is a global threat that requires a global response" said the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs and of Defence, Philippe Goffin. The statement of the Minister Goffin is available here.

Image © UNODCAs part of the celebrations for World Day, the key figure of Brussels folklore, Manneken-Pis, received from UNODC its 1047th costume inspired by the Blue Heart Campaign. The costume was unveiled to the general public in the presence of the Order des Amis de Manneken-Pis, UNODC's friends and partners - united in the fight against human trafficking. This included the Belgian Government represented by the Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs, the specialized shelters for victims PAG-ASA and Payoke, the Samila Foundation, the Smurfs, and many more. As outlined by UNODC Director, Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, Jean-Luc Lemahieu, “Manneken-Pis’ support to the global fight against human trafficking is iconic and sends a powerful message. Not only does it show the commitment of the City of Brussels to joint efforts against this heinous crime, but also highlights the fundamental need to protect children, being the most vulnerable victims around the world”.  

Philippe Close, Mayor of Brussels, and Jean-Luc Lemahieu, UNODC DirectorWith the intention of sending a powerful message of hope and solidarity, the UNODC costume incorporates a barcode and the words “I am not for sale” to spotlight the fate of people, trapped in a net of violence, abuse and exploitation by inhumane traffickers who should never be allowed to reap immense profits from pain, misery and suffering. "The insolence of Manneken-Pis is that of a free child in a free city that does not tolerate oppression. The new "Blue Heart" suit has its place in our little fellow's wardrobe. We are particularly pleased to involve the city of Brussels, of which it is the symbol, in the fight against all forms of trafficking and exploitation of human beings" underlined the Mayor of the City of Brussels, Philippe Close.The costume aims to bring visibility to the plight of trafficking victims and give a voice to those who have been unable to tell their stories of this hidden crime. During the handover ceremony of the costume hosted by Brussels City Hall, the Representative of the UNODC Brussels Liaison Office, Yatta Dakowah, echoed “As part of the rich, historical and cultural heritage of the Mannekin-Pis wardrobe, we hope that in the years to come, on 30 July this costume will remind the nation that the horror of human trafficking must end and be forever abolished.”

During the day, shadows of the victims covered the Carrefour de l'Europe in Brussels. With this initiative, PAG-ASA (the Brussels-based specialised shelter for victims of trafficking), in coordination with UNODC, wanted to symbolically reveal the presence of thousands of victims exploited in Belgium. A QR-code allowed to watch the stories of the victims behind the shadows. PAG-ASA employees and volunteers alerted passers-by to raise their awareness about the proximity and ordinariness of the crime.  “Each year we support more than 200 victims in their recovery process, but today we are here especially for all the invisible victims who remain in the shadow. We hope to open people’s eyes to see the victims and call us for support” said the Director of PAG-ASA, Sarah De Hovre.

Image © UNODCAt sunset, the Cities of Brussels, Bruges and Ghent lighted their town halls and other iconic buildings in blue, featuring a blue heart, to encourage governments, civil society, the private sector and individuals alike to take action. The blue colour refers to the Blue Heart, the international symbol against human trafficking, representing the sadness of those who are trafficked while reminding us of the cold-heartedness of those who buy and sell fellow human beings.

Image © the SmurfsTo further support the victims of human trafficking and to mark this year’s World Day, the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking,  managed by UNODC, together with the Rukus Avenue Music Group, aired a “live virtual concert” with the “Artists UNited against Trafficking in Persons”. Hosted by UNODC Goodwill Ambassador and actress Mira Sorvino, the concert was an opportunity to raise funds and donations for the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, which provides vital assistance and protection to the victims of trafficking through specialized organizations across the globe. The Belgian UNODC Goodwill Ambassador, Ozark Henry, participated in the concert and stressed “I am particularly attached to the World Day against Trafficking in Persons and the Blue Heart that I am wearing. Both are occasions to remind people of the conditions of victims of human trafficking.” Statement of Ozark Henry here.

The Smurfs also contributed to raising awareness about the World Day and the concert through the creation of tailored-made illustrations to support the cause. 


Further information on the World Day against Trafficking in Persons and the Blue Heart Campaign

- Stories of people working on the frontline to end human trafficking - here
- Message from the UNODC Executive Director Ms Ghada Waly - here.
- The interview with the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs and of Defence - here
- The Blue Heart Campaign - here
- The United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund - here


18 July 2020 – Nelson Mandela Day Commemoration across Central Asia 

Image © UNODCAs the custodian of the revised United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners – the so-called Nelson Mandela Rules, named in honour of the South African statesmen’s legacy and the 27 years he had spent in prison – UNODC field offices in Central Asia recently conducted several activities to mark the 5th anniversary of the  Nelson Mandela Rules.

The activities, which spanned the full range of UNODC’s works on prison reform worldwide, included promoting humane conditions of imprisonment; raising awareness around prisoners being a continuous part of society; and the value of prison staff, particularly in relation to COVID-19. These activities ranged from discussions on legislative reform to support prisoners' rehabilitation and reintegration activities to promoting capacity building for prison and corrections officers in the region.

To transition the Nelson Mandela Rules from paper to practice, the buy-in of prison and corrections officers is a significant pre-condition. With this in mind, UNODC’s Regional Office for Central Asia (ROCA), Programme Office in Tajikistan (POTAJ), and Programme Office in Kazakhstan (POKAZ) used the occasion to introduce the 'UNODC Interactive E-learning Course on the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.’ The course, which received an Excellence Award from the International Corrections and Prisons Association (ICPA) in 2019,  is now available in English, French, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic. The unique interactive videos and scenario-based course invites participants to not only memorise the rules but also apply it in their day-to-day operations. To encourage more officers to enrol in the course, a promotional video collage was developed with the first cohort of certified officers who completed the course. Since February 2020, over 500 prison officers from different regions of Kazakhstan have undertaken the course. Noting the value of this innovative tool, UNODC’s Regional Representative, Ms Ashita Mittal, remarked “it is important that we provide a better education of the penitentiary system staff so that they can also respond better.”

UNODC also works directly to support the enhancement of rehabilitation and reintegration programmes in prisons across Central Asia. To mark Nelson Mandela Day, UNODC put Kazakhstan prisoners' skills centre stage by hosting an online photo-exhibition of their works. Kazakhstan's eight pilot correctional facilities, which are involved in the ‘Supporting the Management of Violent Extremist Prisoners and the Prevention of Radicalizatence in Prisons’ project, took part in the competition and presented their works inspired by Nelson Mandela's fight for human rights. As a result of the competition, the photos of the ten best works were selected and posted on ROCA's Facebook page. In partnership with the Prison Committee, UNODC POKAZ also delivered a two-hour online master class on the basics of painting to prisoners located in eight  correctional facilities, spread across five regions of Kazakhstan. By introducing prisoners to the skill, UNODC and the Priso Committee hope that it will facilitate the construction of art stimuli, improve mental stimulation, reduce stress, and boost inmates’ self-esteem which would be beneficial for the overall rehabilitation programme. In Kyrgyzstan, UNODC supported the expansion of prison-based sewing and shoe-making workshops in two correctional facilities in addition to the earlier support provided for bakery production. UNODC and the State Prison Service selected these facilities as the pilot sites for assistance under the office’s Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration to enhance and expand on the existing vocational programmes. Aimed at transferring knowledge on baking skills, shoe-making, and clothes production, UNODC and the State Prison Service aim to prepare inmates for their release by providing them with commercially viable skills, whether the inmates decided to work for a store or as an entrepreneur after their release. The official opening ceremony for the two facilities is tentatively scheduled for 20 August 2020.

During this commemoration, UNODC highlighted how COVID-19 had posed an additional challenge for the Member States in implementing the Nelson Mandela Rules. To ease some of the pressure and challenges faced by the State Prison Service in Kyrgyzstan, UNODC provided 20,500 medical masks, 100 litres of disinfectant, 500 litres of ammonia, 100 sets of personal protective equipment, as well as glucometers. The PPE and support items were delivered to the State Service on Execution of Punishment of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, represented by the Deputy Chair of Prison Service, Mr Aivaz Kadyrov, on 16 July. Mr Kadyrov thanked UNODC for the timely support and remarked on the importance of the donated items in mitigating the risks of COVID-19 in correctional settings.

Of course, the implementation of the Nelson Mandela Rules has to be grounded on strong legislation and regulation. In Kazakhstan, UNODC interviewed the Vice-Chair of the country’s Prison Committee, Mr Ayubaev Meiram Akatovich, to discuss the implementation of the Nelson Mandela Rules nationally. The importance of comprehensively approaching the issues was also reflected in the opening remarks of Mr Yevgeny Kolenko, Head of Academy of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Uzbekistan, during the roundtable discussions on the topic, ‘Perspectives for the Development of Penal Legislation in Uzbekistan”. Mr Kolenko stressed the need to “improve the system for the execution of sentences, ensure the protection of convicts' rights, and enhance their prospects for reintegration to prevent reoffending.” Attended by Representatives from the Generals Prosecutor’s Office, members of the Expert Commission on the development of the new Criminal Executive Code, the Academy of the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOIA), the Main Department of Corrections under the MOIA, the National Center for Human Rights, as well as representatives of international organisations and civil society, the roundtable discussions aimed to exchange views on the issues of the development of the new Criminal Executive Code of Uzbekistan, as well as bring the Code in conformity with the international standards of the penitentiary system. During the discussion, UNODC briefed the participants on the introduction of alternatives to incarceration, the establishment of prison rehabilitation and social reintegration, and implementation of HIV prevention and harm reduction strategies in prison, all issues that were captured in the Nelson Mandela Rules. 

Nelson Mandela Day is a celebration of the life and legacy of the former President of South Africa and an invitation to “take action, inspire change, and make every day a Mandela Day.” As the custodian of the Nelson Mandela Rules, UNODC remains ready and committed to supporting penal reforms in Central Asia under its Programme on Criminal Justice, Crime Prevention, and Integrity (Sub-programme 2).

Further information: 


16 July 2020: UNODC Briefs the Council Of the European Union's Working Party on Non-Proliferation on Efforts To Prevent Nuclear Terrorism

Web-story originally published here.

The risk of terrorists acquiring nuclear or other radioactive material is a major threat to international peace and security. It is imperative that the UN and the international community work together to present a unified front and ensure a coordinated response to the threat of nuclear terrorism.    

On 16 July 2020, the Chief of UNODC’s Terrorism Prevention Branch, Mr. Masood Karimipour, virtually briefed the Council of the European Union's Working Party on Non-Proliferation (CONOP) on the progress made by UNODC on the implementation of Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/1939 of 10 December 2018 on Union Support for the Universalization and Effective Implementation of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT).

Adopted in 2005 by the United Nations General Assembly, ICSANT provides the basis for the harmonization of criminalization provisions across jurisdictions, thus enhancing the framework for, and facilitating, international cooperation against acts of terrorism involving nuclear or other radioactive material.

Since ICSANT’s adoption, UNODC has worked with Member States on the universalization and effective implementation of ICSANT. UNODC’s work has been crucial not only in increasing the number of States Party to ICSANT, but also in assisting requesting States to incorporate their provisions into national legislation. Currently, UNODC is promoting ICSANT under Council Decision 2018/1939 as well as a project on strengthening legal frameworks for nuclear security which is funded by the Government of Canada. Both initiatives are complementary and synergistic.

The EU project, jointly implemented by the United Nations Counter Terrorism Center (UNCCT) and by UNODC, does the following:

  • increase the number of States Parties to ICSANT and awareness among beneficiaries;
  • improve national ICSANT-related legislation;
  • develop training materials for technical legal assistance delivery;
  • develop an ICSANT dedicated website;
  • enhance the capacities of criminal justice officials and other relevant national stakeholders;
  • develop synergies with other relevant international legal instruments; and
  • strengthen the capacity of States to detect and respond to the threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear or other radioactive materials. 

Mr. Karimipour informed CONOP that despite the COVID-19-imposed restrictions, UNODC ensured that steady progress continues to be made and that the objectives of the project are met, noting that “we have turned pandemic-induced challenges into opportunities for innovative and sustainable assistance to our Member States”. Mr. Karimipour also added that “Council Decision 2018/1939, with the combination of direct outreach - including online events, legislative review and development of training tools, provides an excellent framework for delivery of assistance also in these challenging times.”

Under the project thus far, UNODC has: conducted a national visit to Uganda and has delivered seven webinars on different aspects of ICSANT; is reviewing the national legislation a requesting Member State vis-à-vis ICSANT; held consultations with several Member States on outreach and assistance; developed promotional material and is finalizing an e-Learning module on ICSANT, an ICSANT-dedicated website and a training manual on the Convention. The ICSANT dedicated email address ( is active and is used to respond to requests and questions provided by Member States. Over the next few months, UNODC is planning a series of virtual events, including a regional awareness raising webinar for African States not party to ICSANT.

Mr. Karimipour concluded his intervention by thanking CONOP, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) for their support to UNODC in working towards the shared objective of the universalization and effective implementation of ICSANT.


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9 June 2020: UNODC, GIZ and partners to continue Countering Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in the Horn of Africa 

Image © UNODCThe United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) recently signed a funding agreement to the value of EUR 6,5 million for UNODC to continue as implementing partner of the second phase of the Better Migration Management (BMM) programme from 2020-2022. This follows the successful implementation of phase 1 of the BMM programme between 2016-2019.

More than 10 million people in and around the Horn of Africa have been forcibly displaced within their own countries or are seeking refuge in neighbouring states. In the absence of effective and regularised migration mechanisms and infrastructure, smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons are widespread, resulting in the exploitation, violation, and death of countless people from across the region. In this regard, the BMM programme aims to improve the management of safe, orderly and regular migration in the region and will continue to support national authorities in addressing the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons within and from the Horn of Africa. However, countering and prosecuting the criminal networks responsible for trafficking and smuggling of people require effective legislation, criminal justice capacity, and cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination.

As implementing partner and as guardian of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its supplementary Protocols, in particular the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children and Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, UNODC will focus extensively on supporting beneficiary countries to align their national legislation on trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants with the provisions of the Convention and Protocols, and to enhance the capacity of criminal justice practitioners to effectively investigate and prosecute trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants cases with a victim-centred and human rights-based approach.

The EUR 35 million-programme, funded by the European Union (EU) Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), is being implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), British Council, CIVIPOL, UNODC, and GIZ as lead implementing partner. UNODC is implementing BMM programme activities through its Regional Office for Eastern Africa (ROEA) in Nairobi, Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa (ROMENA) in Egypt and its Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section (HTMSS) in Vienna. In Eastern Africa, UNODC will be implementing programme activities within the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for Eastern Africa (2016-2021) and its regional Countering Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Trafficking Programme.

Further information: 


31 March 2020: EU Funded UNODC action in Lebanon to respond to COVID-19 in Prisons 

Image © UNODCIn response to the growing health concerns posed by COVID-19, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa launched an awareness raising campaign for the juvenile wing in Roumieh Prison, the Moubadara facility for girls and the Barbar Khazen Prison for women in Beirut. The uncertainty of the extent of COVID-19 has provoked anxiety and fear, especially among prisoners who are in closed settings and are worried about their health and the health of their families, with an increased feeling of isolation. Moreover, with the suspension of rehabilitation activities that include group interaction, watching the TV remains the only means of distraction. To address the unexpected Coronavirus outbreak in Lebanon, prison authorities adopted preventive measures to ensure the safety of the inmates at an early stage, such as suspending all service providers activities and reducing family visits to the prisons. To further back the capacity of prison authorities to prevent and contain the spread of the virus, UNODC provided awareness raising material on recommended standard hygiene practices in accordance with the guidance of the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) with prison settings in mind. 

Additionally, UNODC supported the prison with a comprehensive package of preventive and protective tools such as hygiene detergents, disinfectants, sanitizers, masks and gloves with a clear Standard Operating Procedure (SoP). Mobile SIM cards were made available for inmates to maintain the contact with families. Such action has contributed to the reduction of anxiety and helped both authorities and inmates gain a sense of control over the virus spreading, especially with the clear instructions on how to protect themselves and practice good hygiene.

Further information


3 March 2020: Celebrating World Wildlife Day in Brussels 

Image © UNODCWorld Wildlife Day 2020 was celebrated under the theme "Sustaining all life on Earth", encompassing all wild animal and plant species as key components of the world's biodiversity. This aligns with UN Sustainable Development Goals 1, 12, 14 and 15.

This year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) supported the United Nations Regional Information Centre (UNRIC) to hold a screening of Richard Ladkani’s award-winning documentary ‘Sea of Shadows’ in Brussels. Sea of Shadows documents how Mexican drug cartels and Chinese traffickers join forces to poach the rare totoaba fish in the Sea of Cortez. Their deadly methods threaten to destroy virtually all marine life in the region including the most elusive and endangered whale species on Earth, the vaquita porpoise. Sea of Shadows follows a team of dedicated scientists, high-tech conservationists, investigative journalists and courageous undercover agents as well as the Mexican Navy as they put their lives on the line to save the last remaining vaquitas and bring the vicious international crime syndicate to justice. The documentary is a poignant case study on the role organized criminal groups play in wildlife crime, showing the inter-linkages between conservation, poverty alleviation and the challenges faced by law enforcement. 

Over 200 people attended the event in Brussels. The screening was followed by a panel discussion on criminal threats to biodiversity as well as solutions to tackle wildlife crime. The discussion was moderated by Antonio Ferrari, from UNRIC. Members of the audience asked questions and contributed to the discussion.

Director Richard Ladkani highlighted the need for proper criminal investigations to protect endangered species worldwide. As a film maker, Ladkani said he felt obliged to raise awareness on worrying issues, showing hidden realities to inspire people to take action. He commented that political support and good governance are necessary in the fight against corruption and transnational organized crime, to bolster the efforts of individuals and organizations on the ground.

Grace O’Sullivan, Green Party MEP, highlighted that the problem of vulnerability of species cannot be solved in isolation. She called on the new European Parliament to take strong action for the conservation of species, ocean health and protection of the environment. O’Sullivan invited everyone present to act against the mass extinction of many species the world is now witnessing because of illegal trade and transnational organized crime. She called on local government and authorities to step up their actions and guarantee sufficient strong law enforcement and infringement procedures against criminals. By taking on the responsibility of environmental challenges, schools, communities, local authorities, governments, NGOs and international organizations such as the United Nations should work together to guarantee future generations the right to a protected and healthy environment.

Image © UNODCJenna Dawson-Faber, manager of UNODC’s Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime, explained the need for an approach that goes beyond enforcement - a balanced approach focusing on demand, supply and livelihoods. She stressed the importance of smart partnerships and highlighted UNODC’s close coordination with the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, the World Bank and the World Customs Organization under the International Consortium for Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC). As a Consortium, it forms a unique pool of technical and programming expertise, bringing the skills and knowledge of five organizations together to tackle wildlife trafficking. 

In closing, the expert panellists reiterated that we must work together and stop turning away from the problem of wildlife trafficking and biodiversity loss because we are now out of time. 


UNODC implements a comprehensive Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime, working with actors along the criminal justice chain to effectively investigate, prosecute and adjudicate such crimes. While each criminal market has its own drivers, beyond specificities there are common characteristics. The trafficking of totoaba, pangolins, ivory, rhino horn, high value tree species, amongst other examples, is only possible due to a series of common vulnerabilities. UNODC works to mitigate these vulnerabilities, by working with key actors to strengthen legislation and build capacity; prevent and mitigate corruption; strengthen regional and international cooperation; and conduct assessments to understand context, patterns and trends. UNODC works with countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America to address these issues and build their capacity to prevent and combat wildlife, forest and fisheries crime.

Follow the latest news on UNODC's Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime   


25 February 2020: Addressing Security threats such as Terrorism and Cyber security and crime 

Image © UNODCUNODC was invited to address the South-South Cooperation Symposium hosted by the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States: "Building Alliances to Strengthen Multilateralism through South-South & Triangular Cooperation". The objective of this symposium was to share experience and take stock of the progress made by the ACP Group and its partners in addressing challenges in implementation of the SDGs of Agenda 2030;and to identify ways which existing and new partnerships can contribute to building blocks for a comprehensive approach to more effectively engage in strengthening multilateralism. The symposium also aimed at exploring ways to promote partnerships that would enhance ACP’s capacity and institutional mechanisms to scale up best practices and technology transfer for the benefit of ACP countries and regions.

Ms Yatta Dakowah, the Representative of the UNODC Brussels Liaison Office, participated in the Panel "Addressing Security threats such as Terrorism and Cyber security and crimes" and she recalled that for over forty years, UNODC has been the technical and operational arm of the UN addressing the hybrid threats related to illicit drugs, transnational organized crime, corruption and terrorism, towards achieving health, security and justice for all.UNODC Representativehighlighted that the changing nature of security is entangled with many typologies of crime. When there are few rules, when governance fails, when impunity allows one to walk away, crime flourishes. She affirmed that there is no doubt that transnational organized crime is one of the big winners of economic globalization. Organized crime groups and criminality do not respect borders and use multiple routes across land, sea and air. Moreover, Cybercrime is an evolving form of transnational crimes that takes place in the borderless realm of cyberspace and is compounded by the increasing involvement of organized crime groups. Ms Dakowah also provided a brief overview on how UNODC sees some of the threats evolving and the South-South Cooperation initiatives that could be further scaled up in the ACP countries, and expressed UNODC’s readiness to formalize and strengthen cooperation with the ACP Group. 


10 February 2020: Arab Regional Workshop on National and Regional efforts to Combat Human Trafficking

Image © UNODCHuman trafficking is a complex crime and a violation of human rights that is committed with the intention to exploit. Such exploitation can  be for, inter alia, forced labour, sexual exploitation, organ removal, forced criminality, domestic servitude, begging and forced marriage. The latest UNODC Global Trafficking in Persons (TiP) report found that globally 25,000 victims of human trafficking have been detected and reported from 2003 to 2018. Recent new research through Multiple System Estimates (MSE) in selected countries has shown that per each detected victim, there exist 5 to 8 more victims. Therefore, a lot of work remains to be done and UNODC collaborates continuously with several partners to stop such a crime from taking place.

As part of these partnership efforts and together with the League of Arab States (LAS) and the European Union (EU), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) organized a workshop on "National and regional efforts to combat human trafficking in the Arab region" on the 10 th of February 2020 at the LAS headquarters in Cairo, Egypt. The event brought together a diverse list of participants and aimed at weaving different perspectives to offer a set of recommendations on the way forward for efforts to address human trafficking while keeping a victim centered human rights approach.

The event was attended by Government senior experts from Arab countries representing Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Ministries of Interior, Ministries of Justice and Ministries of Human Rights. In addition, the workshop included representatives  from non-governmental human rights institutions in the region, such as the Arab Institute for Human Rights in Tunisia, the National Human Rights Institution in Lebanon, and the Arab Bridge Center for Human Rights Development in Jordan. Furthermore, the workshop included  participants from the Office of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the European Union (EU) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

"Human trafficking is a cruel, unspeakable violation of  human rights and therefore the  response to it must put the human rights of victims and survivor at the heart of the response, recognizing and acting upon the root causes for trafficking in the form of discrimination, unjust distribution of power, demand for goods and services derived from exploitation, as well as acting forcefully against  prevailing impunity," Ms. Cristina Albertin, UNODC Regional Representative for the Middle East and North Africa commented.

Panel discussions focused on the international policies and legal frameworks present, such as The United Nations Convention against Transitional Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its supplementary Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, in particular of women and girls.

The workshop focused on implementing the recommendations of the 46 th regular session of the Permanent Arab Committee for Human Rights (7/7-1/8/2019), especially those issued under the item entitled "Developing regional cooperation efforts in the field of migration to combat human trafficking, especially children and women."

A set of recommendations was prepared as a result of the workshop's in-depth deliberations to advance future action to end human trafficking in the Arab region. The recommendations focused on implementing tailored approaches for victims of human trafficking amongst vulnerable populations, establishing national referral mechanisms to identify, refer and protect victims and regional referral mechanisms for addressing cross border and transnational cases, and undertaking a human rights-based approach to trafficking.  

For more about regional efforts to address trafficking in persons 


5 February 2020: UNODC participates in the DG NEAR consultations on 2020 Enlargement package

Image © UNODCUNODC joined the consultations of the Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) on the 2020 Enlargement package, adopted each year by the Commission, which sets out the way forward and takes stock of the situation in the candidate countries and potential candidates. The package is in line with the new European Union methodology for enlargement released on the same date which provides for more resources and more scrutiny of the EU accession processes in the Western Balkan.

UNODC, including its Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, remains one of the active actors in the Western Balkans as it supports the Governments of the region in their efforts towards the fulfillment of the Copenhagen criteria, particularly in the areas of Chapters 23, 24 and 28 of the EU acquis communautaire

Further Information: 


30 January 2020: Fifth CRIMJUST Project Steering and Coordination Committee

Image © UNODCImplementation agencies, partners and donors met at the UN House in Brussels, to review CRIMJUST’s impact and achievements to date, as well as coordinate its further implementation. Representatives of CRIMJUST’s strategic partners, the European Union, UNODC, INTERPOL, Transparency International, COLIBRI, CORMS, the European Judicial Network, and COPOLAD participated in the meeting.

The meeting began with welcoming remarks from Ms. Andreaa Schmidt, the European Union’s Global Illicit Flows Programme Manager, who highlighted CRIMJUST’s strong efforts towards achieving the project’s objectives and acknowledges the success of its efforts to strengthen transnational criminal justice cooperation between countries affected by the cocaine supply chain in Latin America, the Caribbean, West Africa and Europe. She also stressed the important role of this project in complementing the Global Illicit Flows Program (GIFP), particularly in strengthening criminal justice cooperation beyond interdiction activities. Ms. Yatta Dakowah, Representative and Chief of UNODC Liaison Office Brussels recalled the importance of implementing multilateral strategies given the transnational nature of organized crime. To this end, she thanked partner networks and programs for their participation and collaboration, ensuring that CRIMJUST capitalizes on existing platforms to strengthen trust, networking opportunities and knowledge building.

During the meeting, CRIMJUST presented the status of implementation reviewing the outcomes achieved in 2019. Global Project Coordinator, Mr. Glen Prichard, highlighted three CRIMJUST flagship initiatives, including its series of Transregional Investigative Case Forums, its strengthening of cooperative working relationships with prosecutorial networks and finally its technical trainings for institutional reinforcement against cocaine production and trafficking. The actions of Interpol in strengthening the exchange of information between law enforcement agencies was also highlighted. The solid achievements of strengthening institutional integrity through the efforts of UNODC’s Corruption and Economic Crime Branch and Transparency International were also presented.

Subsequently, participants discussed the issues arising from implementation and evoked areas for improvement, detailing necessary future actions to ensure that CRIMJUST continues to work towards promoting transregional criminal justice cooperation beyond seizures. Partner programs and organizations offered inputs and feedback, ensuring that priorities and objectives are strategically aligned.

The CRIMJUST team also presented the priorities for 2020, which will continue to focus on promoting post seizure investigation actions transregionally along drug trafficking routes, through the facilitation of additional transregional investigative forums between source, transit and destination countries along drug trafficking routes. CRIMJUST will continue to strengthen institutional integrity among these countries and strengthen prosecution networks working along trafficking routes.

Finally, participants assessed potential risks and challenges arising from implementation. Mainly, the importance of maintaining two-way communication at all times was stressed, as was providing informal channels to build trust and enable intelligence sharing despite the overlap of various political and legal systems and languages.

A number of recommendations were made as a result of this Project Steering Committee, with partners committing to enhancing CRIMJUST “post-seizure seizure” approach. The PSCC is a pivotal event during the CRIMJUST year ensuring its action remains aligned and coherent with the objectives of the Global Illicit Flows Programme (GIFP).

CRIMJUST is funded by the European Union under the framework of the Global Illicit Flows Programme (GIFP) and by the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). It seeks to enhance law enforcement and judicial counter-narcotic strategies beyond interdiction activities and to foster transnational responses targeting each stage of the drug supply chain. 

Further Information:


25 January 2020: Uganda develops prisoner classification framework

Image © UNODCThe Uganda Prisons Service actively engaged in the implementation of the joint global programme on “Supporting the management of violent extremist prisoners and the prevention of radicalization to violence in prisons” and hosted a workshop on the development of a comprehensive prisoner classification system in Kampala, Uganda.

The joint programme is implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) in coordination with the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (UNCTED) and co-funded by the European Union, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

As part of the national effort to counter violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations, the Uganda Prisons Service (UPS) has increasingly focused on developing more effective strategies to reduce the appeal of terrorism and limit the pool of potential recruits in prisons. The UPS hosted a workshop on the development of Prisoner Classification Framework (21-23 January 2020, Kampala) tailored to the Ugandan context.

During the opening remarks Mr. Wilson Francis Magomu, Commissioner of Prisons Custodial Duties, Safety and Security for the Uganda Prisons Service emphasized that “prisoner classification has a direct impact on many aspects of prison management, including the safety and security of prisoners, prison staff and the general public, the humane custody of prisoners and the ability to individualize case and sentence planning”. 

“The proper risk assessment of prisoners is one of the fundamental components of good prison management policies, it enables the efficient use of resources, individualization of sentences, protection of the public and upholding the human rights of the prisoners,” stated Ambassador of the Netherlands to Uganda, Mr. Henk Jan Bakker. He mentioned that “investment made in developing and implementing effective evidence-based instruments can also enable prospects of getting violent extremist prisoners to disengage.” Ambassador Henk Jan Bakker reiterated the commitment of the Netherlands to enhance resilience of vulnerable young people against violent extremism and radicalization to violence”.

The Uganda context has prison regulations that identify classes of prisoners and the ability to transfer between classes, however, it is necessary to perform risk assessment that are informed by a sophisticated understanding of the characteristics of any organization to which the violent extremists prisoners belong to and their motivation. 

Ms. Sharon Nyambe, UNODC Programme Coordinator, noted that “successful development, implementation and management of a prisoner classification system is dependent of several infrastructural requirements, particularly those related to physical structure of prisons, policies and guidelines, staff resources and an established system of documentation and record keeping”. She further commended the Uganda Prisons Service’s commitment to addressing manifestations of violent extremism in prison settings by understanding underlying conditions conducive to terrorism and formulating clear steps to counter violent extremist ideologies in prison settings. 

Further information:


23-24 January 2020: UNODC staff on a seminar on EU rules and procedures for a better cooperation

Image © UNODC

The UNODC Brussels Liaison Office delivered a two days seminar in Belgrade, Serbia on “How to build and sustain a successful partnership with the EU”. The audience included mostly the HQ and field staff of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe to ensure the best implementation of the recently signed EU contribution agreement in the region. The seminar was designed to give UNODC staff a good understanding of the most relevant rules and procedures considered essential to promote a smooth cooperation with the EU and to minimize serious risks of non-compliance and reputation damage. Approximately 22 UNODC staff dealing with the EU funded projects or interested in the EU as a potential or actual operational partner participated in the seminar.  This included project managers and project staff, financial staff and other substantive staff interested in EU partnership.

The first session focused on UNODC specific cooperation matters with the EU including the latest political and policy developments, background to the EU-UN partnership and the evolution of the Financial and Administrative Framework Agreement (FAFA), and EU-UNODC cooperation and policy priorities. The UNODC BRULO gave an overview of the EU role on the international scene so as to highlight the need for the field offices to better understand the EU’s functioning and priorities to support their dialogue with the EU delegations. The second session focused on the EC-UN FAFA which governs UN partnership with the EU. A third session presented the surveys conducted by the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) and by UNODC on EU-UNODC cooperation and opened the floor for the participants to share challenges they are facing in the field. The aim of this session was to identify challenges faced but also generate a discussion on how to overcome them.  The last session presented the future programming phase and EU Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) for the period 2021-2027 with a focus on the Instrument for Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) and the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI).  


16 January 2020: UNODC-EU discussions on Terrorism Prevention

UNODC Chief Terrorism Prevention & CEPOL Executive Director  - Image © UNODCThe Chief of UNODC’s Terrorism Prevention Branch, Mr. Masood Karimipour, was invited by the Croatian Presidency to address a joint meeting by the Council's Working Party on Terrorism - International Aspects (COTER) and the Council’s Working Party on Terrorism (TWP). Mr Karimipour delivered a presentation on UNODC’s work on terrorism prevention. The presentation showcased several of UNODC technical assistance initiatives and recapped its successes in 2019. Some of these notable highlights include UNODC’s work in Nigeria that led to 366 terrorism suspects being convicted and 882 being discharged as well as 550 cases having been digitized by the Prosecution Department of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan following UNODC assistance. Moreover, the presentation shed light on a number of UN joint initiatives in which UNODC is a co-implementor, namely on countering terrorist travel (API/PNR), the role of parliaments in addressing terrorism and violent extremism leading to terrorism as well as the universalization and effective implementation of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT). As part of his mission to Brussels, Mr. Karimipour also partook in several bilateral meetings with the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, the EU counter-terrorism coordinator, the law enforcement and security unit of DG HOME as well as the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL).  

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16- 17 January 2020: UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme discussions with EU and Belgian partners 

Image © UNODCThe Law Enforcement Expert of the Container Control Programme (CCP), Mr. Bob Van den Berghe, came to Brussels for meetings with delegations from the European Commission to discuss issues related to the fight against organized crime and EU-funded cooperation projects. The objective of the meetings was to increase awareness and to promote stronger synergies between the EU Policy Cycle for serious and organised crime 2018-2021 and the CCP. 

Mr. Bob Van den Berghe also held a meeting with the Director General of Belgian Customs in Brussels outlining the excellent cooperation between Belgian Authorities and the CCP. CCP’s training activities also benefit from in-kind contributions, including those from Belgium.


The Container Control Programme (CCP) counters the cross-border movement of illicit goods and is jointly implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Customs Organization (WCO). Every year, more than 750 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) are recorded in the global containerized trade supply chain, accounting for around 90 per cent of the world's cargo. The vast majority of containers carry licit goods; however, some are used to smuggle drugs, weapons, and other illicit goods. As a response, the CCP assists governments in building the capacities of national agencies at the border to detect illicit goods in sea, land and air cargo consignments. It thereby helps to strengthen international supply chain security and contributes to facilitate legitimate trade.

The CCP is currently operational in more than 51 countries; Further expansion of this joint initiative of WCO and UNODC is in progress. In 2019, the work of the Port, Land and Air Cargo Control Units established via the cooperation with WCO and UNODC resulted in a total of 77 tons of cocaine, and seizures of heroin, precursor chemicals, detections of strategic goods, millions of cigarettes and numerous other illicit and / or smuggled goods.

The donors of the Programme are Australia, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, DCAF/Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.


Recently, officers of the formed (Dry-) Port Control Unit of Bolivia identified a container with wood which met several risk parameters. This container was destined for Belgium and the Bolivian authorities were encouraged to inform their Belgium counterparts about the suspicious shipment and the subsequent control of this container. The control of the container in Bolivia led to the detection of 1435 kg of cocaine. The implementation of the CCP activities in Bolivia is funded by the European Union and Germany.

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Read our 2019 stories here.