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.



30 July 2021: UNODC strengthens Belgian and EU partnerships in support of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons 

On the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and its partners across Belgium and at the European Union came together to underscore the importance of listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking.   

Under the theme of “Victims’ Voices Lead the Way”, this year’s UNODC-led Blue Heart Campaign highlighted the crucial role of survivors of human trafficking in establishing effective measures to prevent this crime, identifying and rescuing victims and supporting  them on their road to rehabilitation. 

“Belgium has long been a leader in the fight against human trafficking. But further action is needed,” noted Vincent Van Quickenborne, Belgian Minister of Justice. UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly and EU Commissioner Johansson also recommitted “to working together to stamp out trafficking in persons, to protect its victims and bring its perpetrators to justice” in their joint statement.

Image © UNODC In Belgium, the Blue Heart Campaign was launched by Minister Van Quickenborne, UNODC, NGO Payoke, and the Belgian Friends of the Blue Heart on 22 July in Bruges. Belgium has long played a leading global role in combatting human trafficking and in the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking. UNODC Goodwill Ambassador, Ozark Henry, participated 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.” Read more on human trafficking in Belgium in FR-NL-DE-EN.

Image © UNODC

Events on World Day kicked off with the photo exhibition “PHOTO-VOICE: Human Trafficking Through Victims’ Eyes” organised by the NGO PAG-ASA and UNODC at Brussels City Hall. Opened by the Ministries of Justice and of Foreign Affairs, the City of Brussels, UNODC, the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, and PAG-ASA, the event gave the spotlight to 24 victims to interpret their experiences through photography. 

At the occasion, EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, Diane Schmitt, underlined “combatting trafficking in human beings is a priority for the European Union. We have to listen to victims at all stages of our actions. They are in the centre.” “We need to work in partnership with them to promote a more victim-centred and effective approach to combating this heinous crime.,” echoed Yatta Dakowah, Representative of the UNODC Brussels Liaison Office.

Image © UNODC

During the day, Brussels landmark and folklore legend, Manneken-Pis, joined the events dressed in his 1047th costume inspired by the Blue Heart Campaign. Belgian partners and personalities, including former minister and new Board Member of the UN Voluntary Trust Fund Inge Vervotte, chocolatier Dominique Persoon, the football players of Club Brugge, and Belgian federal and embassy staff around the world, showed their solidarity on social media. 

At sunset, the European Parliament, Belgian federal buildings, and the cities of Antwerp, Brussels, Bruges, Ghent, Kortrijk, Leuven, Mechelen and Mons lit iconic buildings and monuments in blue 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 trafficked, while reminding us of the cold-heartedness of those who buy and sell fellow human beings.

Image © UNODC

This year, Antwerp top chef, Seppe Nobels, also lent his support to the campaign with a unique recipe for mussels that combines Belgian’s national dish with “masala” spices using the hashtag #MusselsAgainstHumanTrafficking. Developed each year by the NGO GATAM, Gatam-masala mixes spices from the most important countries of origin for migrants in Belgium. 

UNODC is also grateful for the partnership of the Smurfs, who again supported World Day against Trafficking in Persons with a tailored-made illustration for the Belgian Friends of the Blue Heart. 


13 July 2021: Launch of the Libya project under the regional programme “Dismantling human trafficking and migrant criminal networks in North Africa”

The State of Libya in partnership with the EU and the UN launched the Libya project under the regional programme “Dismantling human trafficking and migrant criminal networks in North Africa”.

Funded by the European Union, through the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), and implemented by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), it aims at strengthening the capacities of Libyan authorities to prevent all forms of organized crime, including human trafficking and migrant smuggling. The programme is fully in line with the EU’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum, which puts forward the need to promote tailor-made and mutually beneficial partnerships with third countries.

The 15 million Euro regional umbrella programme supports Libya, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, to counter criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking. As the guardian of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its supplementing Protocols, to which Libya is a state party, UNODC is a key partner of the EU in this endeavour, working closely with the Government of Libya.

The Libya project will focus on improving the detection and interception capacities of front-line officers and agencies including health and social workers, building the skills and knowledge of law enforcement agencies; jointly reviewing the legal framework; and strengthening the skills of criminal justice practitioners in cases of migrant smuggling and human trafficking, with an emphasis on regional and international cooperation.

The programme follows a human rights-based approach in line with the EU’s do-no-harm policy and international human rights commitments.


12 July 2021: Launch in Iraq of the new STRIVE action

The Government of Iraq, together with the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), launched the STRIVE Juvenile project in Iraq with the aim to develop and implement comprehensive national responses to prevent and counter-terrorism and violent extremism affecting children and juveniles.

In the past years, the international community has been increasingly confronted with the phenomenon of the association of children and juveniles with terrorist and violent extremist groups. Iraq is indubitably one of the countries most affected by terrorism and so-called violent extremism in recent years. The Islamic State (ISIL) recruited thousands of children and juveniles in Iraq, using them as front-line fighters, as suicide bombers, to manufacture and plant explosive devices, conduct patrols, as guards and spies, and for a variety of support roles. Hundreds of foreign children and juveniles were also associated with ISIL, either traveling to Iraq alone or brought by family members.

Since 2019, the Government of Iraq has been implementing stabilization, reconciliation, and accountability programs to strengthen locals’ ability to counter terrorist radicalization and recruitment. Nevertheless, many ISIL-alleged affiliated/associated children and juveniles remained in Iraqi custody along with Iraqi ISIL fighters. Therefore, the Government of Iraq has expressed the urgent need to tackle the situation of children and young people who are currently in detention for alleged affiliation/association with terrorist groups and has acknowledged that the promotion of their rehabilitation and reintegration, as well as the provision of fair and equal justice, are important to prevent future terrorist radicalization and violence. 

Through the new STRIVE Juvenile project funded by the EU, the Government of Iraq, represented today by the Honorable Mr. Ziad Al-Tamimi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice and Judge Laith Jabber Hamza, on behalf of the High Judicial Council, will closely work with UNODC, the executing agency, to strengthen national capacities to combat terrorist and violent extremism recruitment and exploitation of children and juveniles, while also increasing the resilience of vulnerable children and juveniles against terrorist groups agendas. 

Within the framework of UNODC’s strong mandate and expertise in violence against children, justice for children, and counter-terrorism, the Office has been addressing since 2015 specific objectives to increase the protection of children from terrorism and violent extremism and to ensure that children and juveniles are better served and protected by justice systems.

Building on national ownership, the STRIVE Juvenile project in Iraq will support the country in developing coherent strategies that better serve and protect children and juveniles by enhancing safe and resilient communities and seeking alternatives to prosecution, by prioritizing rehabilitative measures with the aim of reintegrating children and juveniles into society. The European Union acknowledging that children and juveniles can be extremely vulnerable to terrorist tactics, emphasized today the EU’s commitment to fighting children recruitment and exploitation by terrorist and extremist groups which requires coherent and comprehensive measures. The EU Ambassador to Iraq, H.E. Mr. Martin Huth, stated: “The joint EU-UNODC initiative, STRIVE, Juvenile, supports efforts in Iraq to protect children from threats associated with terrorism and violent extremism.”

Today’s launch of the STRIVE Juvenile project in Iraq, is a sign of the strong partnership between the European Union, UNODC, and the Government of Iraq, demonstrating their joint efforts to disrupt terrorist groups’ recruitment of children and juveniles and promote the rehabilitation and reintegration of children who have been associated with these groups, in full respect of human rights, gender equality, and international law. Mr. Ali El-Bereir, Head of UNODC Office in Iraq, pledged “STRIVE Juvenile supports the Iraqi Government in its efforts to prevent child recruitment by terrorist groups and to promote rehabilitation, reintegration and justice responses adapted to children and juveniles, bridging the gap between security interests and child rights."

More information


30 June 2021: Enhancing Port Security in Comoros

Image © UNODCThe country of Comoros comprises of three main islands and numerous smaller islands situated within the Indian Ocean, at the northern end of the Mozambican channel. The country's strategic location makes that the Comorian economy relies on its three main ports to benefit from maritime trade but this same maritime trade is also constantly threatened by illicit traffic from different smuggling routes.  Although Comoros does not present high levels of drug consumption, the islands are a significant trans-shipment point for heroin and other narcotics moving between Africa and Asia.

Since 2020, UNODC, the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC),  the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Interpol have been working together on the European Union funded Port Security and Safety of Navigation project in nine countries in the Indian Ocean, including Comoros.

Comoros has three main ports. The ports of Moroni and Mutsamudu are the largest and busiest of the country and strategic for the import and export of products and passenger traffic. The port of Fomboni, on the other hand, is a smaller, domestic port; however, the government plans to increase its maritime trade activity in the coming years. Economic development in the islands is highly dependent on the sea and its ports; in that sense, enhancing compliance with international norms on port security and safety of navigation could effectively increase maritime trade and promote Comorian shipping from North American and European ports.

UNODC conducted a total of six weeks of Port Security training tailored explicitly for Comorian's maritime and law enforcement agencies to enhance existing procedures for response to criminal activity in its ports and build safety compliance. During May and June 2021, more than 140 participants underwent theoretical training, practical exercises, a waterside/anchorage security assessment, port security advisory workshops, and emergency incident tabletop exercises. 

Additionally, UNODC GMCP has over the past year also delivered training sessions on United Nations Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), and maritime law enforcement mentoring sessions. The National Agency for Maritime Affairs (ANAM), Port Society (SCP), Coast Guard (CCG), Customs (DC), prosecutors' office, and other relevant agencies all have significantly benefited from these training sessions. UNODC GMCP is planning more trainings in Comoros on Maritime Domain Awareness and Maritime Law Enforcement in July 2021.

More information here


16 June 2021: During European Development Days, UNODC and partners call for repositioning in urgent battle against wildlife crime

Image © UNODC A grave concern across the globe, wildlife trafficking continues to represent a major form of organized crime. Fueling not only a danger of extinction for several species – a factor exacerbated by climate change and environmental degradation – but also the criminal networks behind this, trafficking is an existential threat everywhere. This includes in Europe, where the European Green Deal designed to address environmental challenges in the 21st century, also factors in the real threat of wildlife crime. At this year’s recent European Development Days forum – with its theme of ‘The Green Deal for a Sustainable Future’ – wildlife crime took centre stage. Convened by the European Commission, the forum brought together members of the development community with policymakers to share ideas and experiences and inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to pressing challenges.

During the forum, UNODC, on behalf of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), organized a high-level panel discussion on the role of the Green Deal and its potential to end wildlife trafficking.

Opening the event, Jorge Eduardo Rios, Chief of the UNODC Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime, stated that the importance of addressing wildlife trafficking under the Green Deal cannot be underestimated. UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly congratulated the European Union on its ambitious Green Deal and 2030 Biodiversity Strategy. “Now, more than ever, we need to address wildlife crime as a serious form of organized crime by making use of the international instruments at our disposal, and harmonizing legislation across regions to prevent traffickers from exploiting gaps.” Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen meanwhile spoke on the need for renewed efforts in this area: “Business as usual is not an option when it comes to fighting criminal networks involved in wildlife and forest crime,” she noted. “The fight against wildlife and timber trafficking links with our priorities on biodiversity, climate, support of vulnerable groups and fight against insecurity.”

Reflecting the importance of the topic, the panel included a number of high-level attendees. HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands moderated the discussion, with panelists Koen Doens, the Director-General for International Partnerships (INTPA); HRH Prince Emmanuel Merode, Director of the Virunga National Park; Cristián Samper, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS); and Nomsa Betty Kamanga, Young Leader from Zambia.

With wildlife under intense pressure from human activity and over-exploitation, the panellists offered their insights and perspectives into the destructive relationship of crime and corruption. They also flagged the deadly role of criminal groups and their dire impact on deforestation and the loss of multiple wild species, affecting whole ecosystems which continues to contribute to climate change, and negatively impact trade, economic development and security.

Weak governance was also highlighted, and panellists described how a lack of adequate responses have exacerbated the poaching crises in many biodiversity hotspots affecting both wildlife and communities dependent on natural resources. Indeed, pointing to this as she closed the event, HRH Princess Laurentien called on the international community to “rethink and reposition the urgent battle against wildlife crime, through true connection and cooperation at all levels to make this a top priority in the broader sense of climate change, nature conservation, health and many other aspects included in the Green Deal.”

The European Green Deal provides an action plan to restore biodiversity, cut pollution, and boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy. The plan outlines investments needed and financing tools available.

As an important partner for UNODC – and ICCWC members – the European Union has invested major resources into the protection of biodiversity, antipoaching and anti-trafficking efforts across Africa, Asia and Latin America. It is a key donor to UNODC’s Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime and ICCWC’s Strategic Programmes.

Additional information


16 June 2021: Morocco: Criminal intelligence analysis allows authorities to stay a step ahead

As law enforcement is faced with more complex challenges and transnational criminal networks continue to demonstrate great adaptability and flexibility in their operations, traditional reactive law enforcement models encounter serious difficulties in coping with contemporary threats. Criminal intelligence analysis is at the core of intelligence-led policing which provides a proactive approach, complementary to traditional policing methods to identify and counter transnational threats such as human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants. It entails the collection, review, and analysis of complex and voluminous information which results in tactical and strategic intelligence products that are used as a basis for informed and evidence-based decision-making.

Using specialized software, analysts can quickly organize, visualize and analyze large amounts of data which leads to more effective investigations. This sheds light on the importance for law enforcement agencies to be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge. UNODC, through the regional European Union-funded project “Dismantling human trafficking and migrant smuggling criminal networks in North Africa,” cooperates with the Moroccan Ministry of Interior (MoI) to strengthen its criminal intelligence analysis capacities. In this context, UNODC organized four certified trainings for Moroccan authorities on communications data analysis for 20 law enforcement officers to ensure a progressive and sustainable acquisition of skills on the Mercure V4 software.

These trainings allow the participants to deliver an enhanced impact in their day-to-day work by having learned about how to use the primary and then more complex features of the software to import and analyze itemized billings, cell site dumps, mobile phone memories and SIM cards. Used during investigations, the skills acquired can be mainstreamed in the criminal intelligence analysis cycle and support the dismantlement of migrant smuggling and human trafficking networks through better capabilities for the analysts to connect criminal actors and other entities involved.

Dismantling the criminal networks operating in North Africa and involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking" (link) is a three-year (2019-2022) €15 million regional joint initiative by the European Union and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) under the framework of the North Africa Window of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. The project consists of a regional intervention covering Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia to support the effective dismantling of criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking, while at the same time upholding the rights of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and vulnerable groups. 

Follow the latest news on  


7 - 9 June 2021: UNODC Executive Director met with the European Commission and the Belgian government to discuss UNODC's cooperation and support in the fight against the interconnected problems and threats of drugs, organized crime, corruption and terrorism

UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly paid her first visit to Belgium. During a three-day visit, she met with the European Commission and the Belgian government to discuss UNODC's cooperation and support in the fight against the interconnected problems and threats of drugs, organized crime, corruption and terrorism. 

Image © Belgian Ministry of Justice Throughout her visit, Ms. Waly met with the Belgian Minister of Finance, Vincent Van Peteghem, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice and the North Sea, Vincent Van Quickenborne, and the Minister of Interior, Annelies Verlinden, to exchange views on how to deal with human trafficking, drugs, corruption, including safeguarding sport, and the rule of law; to strengthen the bilateral partnership; and to promote UNODC's work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and the Central African Republic. Ms. Waly also met the National Board Member of the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (UNVTF), Inge Vervotte, to step up support and raise awareness to effectively fight the trafficking in human beings, both in Belgium and in the rest of world. 

Images © UNODCOn the European Union side, the Executive Director met with the European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, the European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service in charge of Economic and Global Affairs, Helena König, and the Director for Foreign Policy Instruments Hilde Hardeman. These meetings aimed to share UNODC Strategy for 2021-2025, and its regional strategic visions - notably the Strategic Vision for Africa 2030 and the upcoming Strategic Vision for Latin America and the Caribbean, to promote alignment with the EU's drug and organized crime strategies and other relevant documents, and to strengthen and expand the joint partnership. Finally, Ms. Waly met with the Secretary General of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), H.E. Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, during which the two partners agreed to formalize a partnership agreement to be signed later this year.

Ms. Waly, who concluded her three-day mission in Antwerp, was joined by Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, in charge of anti-fraud coordination, Vincent Van Peteghem, the Mayor of Antwerp, Bart de Wever, and World Customs Organization (WCO) Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya, for a demonstration of customs inspections and to showcase the work of the UNODC-WCO Container Control Program at the Port of Antwerp. Ms. Ghada Waly called for increased joint partnerships between the international community and law enforcement agencies to disrupt drug trafficking.

As evidenced by the UNODC World Drug Report 2021, which will be officially launched on the occasion of World Drug Day on 26 June 2021, illicit drug supply chains are expanding and pose health and security threats. More than 66 tons of cocaine, the highest level ever seized, of which 39 tons were destined for the European market, have been seized in the port of Antwerp so far in 2021.

"As the UNODC World Drug Report 2021 will show, cocaine supply chains to Europe are diversifying and becoming more efficient, pushing prices down and quality up. These developments threaten to lead to a further expansion of the cocaine market, and action is urgently needed," Waly said. "Governments must reduce the demand for drugs, including through evidence-based prevention, education, treatment and other services, and we need stronger international cooperation and law enforcement partnerships to disrupt the supply of illicit drugs and dismantle the organized criminal groups responsible for them. Recent law enforcement actions clearly demonstrate the value of working together across borders".

The Container Control Program, which supports 120 port control units and air cargo control units in more than 70 countries around the world, helps improve port security and risk profiling to combat trafficking in narcotics, precursor chemicals, cultural property, protected wildlife and related goods, firearms and other contraband.  The support of the Port of Antwerp in this area is crucial and is bearing fruit.

Ms. Waly emphasized the need not only to continue on this successful path, but also to intensify action: "The interrelated challenges posed by drugs, organized crime, corruption and terrorism are on the rise, and have become more complex due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic recession.  Inequality and vulnerability demand rapid responses."

With integrated mandates on drugs, crime, corruption, and terrorism, UNODC is well positioned to help governments develop innovative responses to emerging criminal threats and tactics, from the rise of synthetic opioids to cyberattacks on ports.

Follow the latest news about the UNODC Executive Director, Ms Ghada Waly, on 


18 May 2021: Libya: Empowered national forensic services to bring justice to smuggled migrants and victims of human trafficking

Image © UNODCHuman trafficking and migrant smuggling are global and widespread crimes that use men, women, and children for profit. The organized networks or individuals behind these lucrative crimes take advantage of people who are vulnerable, desperate or simply seeking a better life. Forensics services are the main tool in gathering evidence which would be then used in court and within the criminal justice process to hold such organized networks or individuals accountable for their crimes and bring justice to smuggled migrants and victims of human trafficking.

UNODC organized in Libya the first in-person roundtable with national forensic services to empower their capacities as part of the UNODC - European Union (EU) funded regional project “Dismantling Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Criminal Networks in North Africa.” One of the main targets of this project is working with relevant authorities on advancing their knowledge and skills in forensic evidence collection and preservation, as well as the chain of custody, during in-depth investigations.

“I express our gratitude to the EU and UNODC. Building on the roundtables held in 2020, I sincerely hope we will have a roadmap ready by the end of the week to develop forensic medicine practice in collaboration with the public prosecutor for a unified shared vision,” stated Doctor Ilyas Mohamed Alhamrouni, Forensic medicine expert representing the Libyan delegation, during the roundtable opening ceremony. The roundtable was in collaboration with 10 forensic and prosecution representatives of the Ministry of Justice, including the Forensic Medicine Department of the Judicial Expertise and Research Centre (JERC), and the Ministry of Health.

Through looking at real-life human trafficking and migrant smuggling case studies, the participants expanded their knowledge on delivering sound forensic science, including the proper (physical/live) crime scene management, coordination, and chain of custody. “Forensically speaking, the first priority is to strengthen the crime scene management and chain of custody, through harmonious SOPs, coordination, and communication, including documentation, to ensure the integrity of the evidence, which support on the long run, sometimes years after the crime scene, the investigators and prosecution. Protocols minimizes the risks of the chain of custody gaps, minimizing the risks of mistrials or none-receivability in a court of forensic evidence,” Ms. Stephanie Caubet, UNODC’s Regional Forensics Advisor clarified.

By the end of the session, participants and UNODC experts developed an action plan and a roadmap that identifies immediate, medium, and strategic priorities in terms of capabilities, and decides on priority trainings, standard operating procedures, and related equipment. This ensures that forensic services in Libya are always provided by highly qualified and trained individuals, under clear legal, organizational, and operational frameworks. Forensic science, in its broadest advantages, not only offers investigative tools to guide police investigations, but also acts as an intelligence-gathering tool, to detect trends, patterns, and links or further information on the trafficking routes and organized criminal networks.

Commenting on the workshop’s outcomes, Doctor Ilyas Mohamed Alhamrouni confirmed that “I am very glad of the results: the roadmap and the action plan are going to strengthen the whole system, in particular communications and multisectoral coordination amongst judges, prosecutors and forensics doctors. If we establish common protocols through SOPs and unite all the procedures at the regional level, as a consequence, the safety of migrants and people in Libya will also improve.”  

Dismantling the criminal networks operating in North Africa and involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking" is a three-year (2019-2022) €15 million regional joint initiative by the European Union and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) under the framework of the North Africa Window of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. The project consists of a regional intervention covering Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia to support the effective dismantling of criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking, while at the same time upholding the rights of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and vulnerable groups.

Follow the latest news on  


27 April 2021: UNODC contributes to the DG NEAR consultations on 2021 Enlargement package 

UNODC participated in the consultations launched by the Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) to inform the 2021 Enlargement package, which consists of reports on the candidate countries and potential candidates, accompanied by a communication on EU enlargement policy. 

UNODC was invited to support the monitoring of the situation in the jurisdictions of the region and share their experience, updates and relevant assessments with the European Commission, as well as propose recommendations, along with other international and non-governmental organisations, such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Bank, Transparency International, and others.

Accordingly, UNODC submitted written contributions, summarising information on the latest developments in the Western Balkans since June 2020, in line its sphere of activities and mandate, as well as actively contributed to the discussions on justice, anti-corruption, countering organised crime and related areas, which took place in a virtual consultations meeting on 27 April, by providing additional inputs on the state of play in the mentioned sectors and clarifying specific points. 

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

The adoption of the 2021 Enlargement package is foreseen for autumn 2021.

UNODC stands ready to support the future implementation and operationalisation of recommendations and relevant initiatives in the Western Balkans, jointly with the European Commission, relevant EU agencies and other counterparts. 

​More information:

  • The EU Accession Process - here
  • The UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe - here.


23.04.2021: Photography Exhibition in Tanzania Showcases UNODC's Work

A new photography exhibition promotes UNODC’s work on port security in the region under the European Union Program on Port Security and Safety of Navigation, as documentary photographer Abdu Nasser Naizi shares these moments through the lens.

Organized by UNODC, ‘Ports – Connecting People’ offers a glimpse into the bustling activity of seaside hubs; and the lives of people who depend on the business and trade ports bring, to sustain their livelihoods. Ports have long connected peoples and nations across borders; and art plays a very similar role, as a medium that can overcome any cultural or ideological barrier to connect people through a shared experience.

As the saying goes, pictures are worth a thousand words. And so, the exhibition serves to highlight the reality that lies behind the lens: ports’ function as an integral part of the ‘blue economy’.

The port and the activities surrounding it are a great source of income for the people of Zanzibar. The photographic exhibition serves to facilitate dialogue and highlight the stories and day to day lives of some of the island’s inhabitants; also, raising awareness on the importance of fostering a healthy blue economy as a key component in preserving the sustainability of ocean resources.

These very resources contribute to economic growth, improved livelihoods and job creation across United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Global Maritime Crime Programme (UNODC GMCP) beneficiary countries. Which is why the programme has actively contributed to the success of the exhibit.

The exhibition took place at the Old Dispensary in Stone Town, Zanzibar’s capital and was attended by Kheri Yangu Mgeni Khamis, Director with the Zanzibar Commission for National Coordination and Drug Control; Saada Mkerya Hassan, Minister of State; and Masatomo Yamaguchi, Project Coordinator with UNODC.

UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme was established in 2010 in response to United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for a concerted international response to address piracy off the Horn of Africa. The programme, then known as the Counter Piracy Program, played a central role in the establishment of a regional 'piracy prosecution model'. This involved providing comprehensive criminal justice support to states in the Indian Ocean region, which received suspected pirates for prosecution. Since then, the Counter Piracy Programme has expanded both thematically and geographically into the Global Maritime Crime Programme, covering a much wider spectrum of maritime crime within six ocean spaces globally Zanzibar being one of them.

‘Ports – Connecting People’ will hold two separate exhibitions over the coming months. The next one will take place in Antananarivo, Madagascar on 15 July 2021, followed by another in Mauritius on a date yet to be determined.

Highlights from the exhibition can be enjoyed in this video.


April 2021: Strengthening partnership to prevent violent extremism in prisons, Tunisia

Image © UNODCViolent extremism has evolved and taken on new forms and capabilities. The trends, means and patterns of radicalization to violence equally continue to broaden. Given the number of violent extremist prisoners currently incarcerated, there is no doubt that prisons have a significant role when it comes to tackling violent extremism.

Tunisia emphasized the need to enhance the capacity of the prison service to effectively address the challenge of violent extremism in prisons and joined the “Global Initiative on Preventing Violent Extremism in Prisons” as well as developed a national project “Tawassol” to facilitate social rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners back into society. UNODC, the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) and the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (UNCTED) provide Tunisian authorities with the required technical assistance. These initiatives received strategic and financial support of the European Union, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

In the framework of these initiatives, Tunisia’s General Committee of Prisons and Rehabilitation (CGPR) hosted four workshops targeting different topics on preventing violent extremism in prisons. The workshop participants benefitted from the knowledge of more than 20 experts from different countries on approaches to prevent the spread of violent extremism in prisons.

Four key questions were addressed to participants who, split in groups at the end of each workshop, shared ideas through brainstorming sessions and developed recommendations and solutions tailored to the Tunisian context, which the CGPR would consider while developing related interventions. 

How do we make sure we are designing effective rehabilitation programmes for violent extremist prisoners?

This is the first question posed to our participants, notably CGPR Directors in charge of rehabilitations and reintegration. Presentations of successful disengagement interventions were made by leading experts in this field Dr. Ioan Durnescu (Romania), Brigadier Dr. Tamer Al Maayta (Jordan) and Forensic Psychologist Dr. Catherin Creamer (the United Kingdom).

The answer looked at how the challenges posed by violent extremist prisoners must be addressed in full compliance with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) and other relevant international standards and norms, including from the age and gender perspective. Furthermore, countries can learn from each other to get fresh insights. Brainstorming discussions enabled participants to come up with their own definitions of effective rehabilitation programmes upon which rehabilitation strategies for the Tunisian context could be built.

How do we ensure that an optimal communications strategy is in place for preventing violent extremism in prisons?

Developing a communication strategy for preventing violent extremism in prisons is crucial, both externally as well as internally. As stated by one of the participants: “Communication is key within units and take different forms. Good prison conditions, contacts with the outside world, and effective rehabilitation programs cold greatly contribute to the prevention of radicalization to violence within prisons, ensure that prisoners disengage from future violence; and prepare those being released for their reintegration into the community. ”.

Amongst other key speakers, Communications Specialist Officers from both UNOCT and UNODC stepped in: Mr. Sultan Khudaibergenov from UNODC Office in Kazakhstan displayed communication tools implemented in the country whilst Ms. Amani Alkhiami and Mr. Haidar Laphcha (UNOCT), led sessions on different topics such as strategic communication, audience analysis, narratives and counter-narratives. Participants then split into groups and elaborated a set of recommendations for the drafting of an initial strategy that will be submitted to the CGPR and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

How can we better prevent radicalization in Tunisian prisons?

Violent extremism and radicalization in prisons is of increasing concern to Tunisian authorities and one which presents specific technical challenges: “Security is essential, but more important is to improve prisons conditions so that all prisoners can stay safe out of radicalization. We are working on embedding interventions to prevent violent extremism in prisons into broader prison reform agenda by improving prevention work and prison conditions from services and infrastructure, to social support” explained Mr. Sami Ennar, General Director at CGPR.

Key issues at the heart of the discussions were: prevention and detection of violent extremism, push and pull factors of violent extremism, specialized risk assessment tools, vulnerabilities, and models of recruitment in prisons.

How can we establish an evidence-based approach to violent extremism?

The concluding chapter of the participants’ journey addressed the upcoming launch of CRIMINO-TN, the first of its kind Tunisian Center for Research and Studieson violent extremism in prisons. Experiences in setting up similar institutions were evoked by several experts and helped the participants in designing the Development Plan of the Center for Research and Studies on Violent Extremism that will see the light of day in April at the National School of Prison and Rehabilitation (ENPR).

Reflecting on the results of the workshop Mr. Hichem el Ouni, General Director of Regional Affairs at CGPR underlined “The United Nations system, the European Union and the United Kingdom have shown an incredible amount of support for us and we hope this will continue. I am pleased and thrilled to congratulate and thank warmly those who have contributed to establishing of the Tunisian Center for Research and Studies which will greatly contribute to the development of evidence-based policies on preventing the spread of violent extremism in prisons.”

  • Video on 2020 achievements of the global joint initiative on preventing violent extremism in prisons.


20.04.2021: Advanced techniques to dismantle human trafficking and migrant smuggling criminal networks - Morocco

Image © UNODCFollowing in-depth training held in 2020 on data analysis to develop technical skills of law enforcement officers for effective and more rapid digital investigations, UNODC delivered 40,000USD worth of online investigative software to the cybercrime unit of the Moroccan General Directorate of National Security. The software provided, funded by the European Union (EU), are considered as essential tools of open source investigations used to facilitate collection and analysis of data. Such modern investigative techniques will surely allow for an effective and rapid response to identify and investigate cases of migrant smuggling and human trafficking.

According to the UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2020, traffickers have kept pace with technology, becoming adept at using the internet for their trafficking operations. In the early days of the web, they used stand-alone sites, before exploiting the potential of classified ad sites and then moving into social media. Traffickers exploit internet to operate in multiple locations simultaneously while physically exploiting the victims in just one location. The first case of online trafficking recorded by UNODC took place in the early 2000s, when a free-standing webpage was used to connect buyers with local agents.

Now, internet-based trafficking spans from the basic advertisement of victims online, to advanced combinations of smartphone apps in integrated business models to recruit victims and transfer profits. Technology is used not only for sexual exploitation but also to coerce victims into crime and forced labour, and to advertise the selling of kidneys harvested from victims they have trafficked. Internet tools have been integrated into the business models of traffickers at every stage of the process. In the recruitment phase, two types of strategy can be identified from court case summaries reviewed by UNODC – “hunting” and “fishing”.

Dismantling the criminal networks operating in North Africa and involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking" is a three-year (2019-2022) €15 million regional joint initiative by the European Union and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) under the framework of the North Africa Window of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. The project consists of a regional intervention covering Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia to support the effective dismantling of criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking, while at the same time upholding the rights of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and vulnerable groups.

More information

Project Brief (EN)  (FR) 

COVID-19: Cyber Threat Analysis (MENA Assesment and Actions) (AR)(ENG) (FR)

Follow us on  


15.04.2021: STRIVE Juvenile Launch in Nigeria

Image © UNODCThe Government of Nigeria and its Office of the National Security Advisor (ONSA), together with the European Union (EU) and UNODC, launched the STRIVE Juvenile project in Nigeria aimed to prevent and respond to violence against children by terrorist and violent extremist groups. Through this new STRIVE action funded by the EU, UNODC and the Government of Nigeria will take action to develop coherent strategies that better serve and protect children by enhancing safe and resilient communities, in which human rights and the rule of law guide the approach to combating violent extremism.

Opening the meeting, Rear Admiral Y.E.M Musa, Head of Counter Terrorism Centre, ONSA stated that “the launch of the STRIVE Juvenile project provides an opportunity to demonstrate the firm commitment of the Nigerian Government to counter terrorism and highlights our efforts when it comes to preventing and countering violent extremism affecting children”. In the past years, Nigeria has been gravely affected by child recruitment by terrorist and violent extremist groups. Under the framework of its ‘National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism’, the Government of Nigeria provides a clear policy environment to develop interventions that promote stabilization, rehabilitation, and reintegration, in particular, in the most affected communities.

Child recruitment and exploitation is also a global threat, and especially so in recent years, as terrorist and violent extremist groups’ capacities to target children have reached far beyond countries affected by armed conflict. This phenomenon presents considerable regional, national, and even local variations. In line with the four pillars of the new EU’s Countering Terrorism Agenda: Anticipate, Prevent, Protect, and Respond, STRIVE Juvenile in Nigeria will aim at disrupting terrorist groups’ recruitment of children and promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of children who have been associated with these groups, in collaboration with local communities.

Highlighting the European Union’s commitment to fight violence against children in all its forms, to protect children in vulnerable situations, and to promote child-friendly justice, Ms. Cécile Tassin-Pelzer, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to the Federal Republic of Nigeria & ECOWAS, declared: “By seeking to address this issue and to rehabilitate and reintegrate these children, who have already suffered so much, back into society, Nigeria can set an important example to a region that continues to be gravely affected by this complex phenomenon.” In turn, Ms. Alexandra Martins, Head of UNODC’s Global Programme to End Violence Against Children, stressed that “supporting effective prevention of child recruitment, investing in rehabilitation and reintegration efforts, and promoting justice responses adapted to children, and also to the context of counter-terrorism, present a unique set of challenges for national governments but also a great opportunity to strengthen conditions conducive to development and resilience towards violent extremism.”

As part of its general mission to contribute to the achievement of security and justice for all by making the world safer from crime, drugs, and terrorism, UNODC also has the specific mandate to support Member States in ensuring that children are better served and protected by justice systems and has been addressing specific efforts to increase the protection of children from terrorism and violent extremism, such as through the UNODC Roadmap on the treatment of these children. Drawing on its experience and under its Global Programme to End Violence Against Children, UNODC, as executing agency, has designed and will implement the STRIVE Juvenile’s intervention in cooperation with Nigeria and two other selected partner countries, Indonesia, and Iraq.

Today’s launch of the STRIVE Juvenile Partnership between the European Union, UNODC and the Government of Nigeria will help in taking the fight against terrorism further by preventing and countering violent extremism affecting children, in full respect of human rights, gender equality and international law. During her intervention, Mrs. Jummai Mohammed, Director Child Development, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, concluded “My heart bleeds to note that in times and history of 'terrorism and violent extremism', the special protection accorded to children by international law has been so widely disregarded (…). The life of children no longer has value for conflicting parties who use them! I feel so encouraged, however, by this joint initiative of the UNODC, the ONSA and sectoral priorities other relevant Stakeholders".

More Information


14.04.2021: Libya enhances its ability to investigate and prosecute corruption

Image © UNODCCorruption is a complex social, political, and economic phenomenon that affects all countries. Corruption undermines democratic institutions, slows economic development, and contributes to governmental instability. People are at the heart of combatting corruption such as authorities who are designated with daily anti-corruption efforts. UNODC, in collaboration with the Egyptian Administrative Control Authority (ACA)’s training arm, the Egyptian Anti-Corruption Academy, organized training for the Libyan national authorities to support Libya in strengthening its criminal justice response to corruption. As part of the European Union (EU) funded project “Building Libya’s National Capacity to Prevent and Combat Corruption and Money Laundering” taking place from 2020 to 2023 and implemented jointly with the United National Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), Libyan authorities and law enforcement are receiving the necessary tools and knowledge they need to better combat corruption and financial crimes. To achieve holistic impact and results and to foster greater inter-institutional collaboration, 19 participants representing law enforcement, prosecution and judiciary authorities and financial analysts received firsthand information and capacity building to:

  • Investigate and prosecute corruption
  • Trace, seize, and confiscate assets linked to high-level corruption, and
  • Obtain insight on the international obligations and good practices and the Egyptian experience in this field.

Furthermore, the foundation for effective cooperation and coordination in corruption investigation was covered in-depth, focusing on the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and other internationally recognized standards.

Libyan representatives in the training expressed their appreciation of the content, especially the use of case studies on real-life investigations and their wish to receive more advanced training.

UNODC’s collaboration with the Anti-Corruption Academy in Egypt holds an extensive amount of training and initiatives at national and regional levels with the aim of combatting corruption and enhancing integrity in the public and private sectors. 


30.03.2021: UNODC Concludes Webinar Series on Countering Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Terrorism  

Image © UNODCInternational legal approaches and criminal justice responses to the threat of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism were the focus of a webinar series conducted by UNODC between 2020-2021. The series aimed to strengthen the capacity of UN Member States in detecting and responding to the threat of non-State actors acquiring CBRN materials or weapons; to raise awareness on the international legal framework against CBRN terrorism; and to enhance capacities in investigating, prosecuting and adjudicating CBRN terrorism cases. Emphasis was given to promoting implementation and enhancing knowledge of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT). This convention is a key component of the international nuclear security architecture and aims at preventing and repressing nuclear terrorism by criminalizing illicit and unlawful acts involving radioactive material, radioactive devices or nuclear facilities. 

The webinars, conducted by UNODC and invited experts from international organizations and national institutions, analyzed different aspects of ICSANT ranging from its criminalization provisions to its relationship with other relevant legal instruments, to national experiences with the implementation of the convention.

The last webinar of the series was delivered on 30 March 2021 and focused on mechanisms of international judicial cooperation in ICSANT and the other international legal instruments against nuclear terrorism. The event was opened by Ms. Anne Kemppainen, Head of the UN Section at the European Union (EU) Delegation to the UN in Vienna, who highlighted the importance of ensuring the safe, secure and sustainable use of nuclear energy and nuclear applications and the need to minimize the risk of access by non-State actors to CBRN materials and weapons of mass destruction, which constitutes a severe threat to international peace and security. Ms. Kemppainen reiterated the EU’s support to the universalization of the legal instruments against nuclear terrorism and praised UNODC for the work and technical assistance carried out in this regard. She underlined the central role played by international cooperation, including information sharing and the exchange of best practices.

The series of 13 webinars was delivered through UNODC’s Counter-Terrorism Learning Platform (CTLP) in different UN official languages (English, French and Spanish). The series gathered more than 300 practitioners from over 50 Member States and several international and non-governmental organizations. The webinar series was made possible thanks to the financial support of the EU and the Government of Canada. 


16.03.2021: UNODC participated in the MEPs for Wildlife event on “the Environmental Crime Directive, acknowledging wildlife crime as a serious criminal activity”

Flyer EP This event organized by Members of the European Parliament (MEP), in collaboration with civil society organizations (IFAW, Human Society International) brought together European Union (EU) policy makers from the EU Commission, Europol, the European Environmental Bureau as well as Slovakian law enforcement representatives and academics. Over 400 participants attended the event online.

Jorge Rios, Chief of the UNODC Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime, stressed that “wildlife crime is often times overlooked and a very lucrative type of business for transnational organized criminal networks”. Mrs. Hilde Vautmans, Member of the European Parliament (MEP), pointed out that Europe is the third largest destination for illegal trade of wildlife. The UNODC World Wildlife Crime report highlights that 18% of global wildlife seizures occurred in Europe. Catherine de Bolle, Head of Europol, reported that the number of environmental crime cases newly initiated was multiplied by four in Europe between 2018-2020.

Wildlife crime has an impact not only on biodiversity but also on the loss of revenue and public health. The COVID-19 crisis highlighted the potential links between wildlife crime and the spread of zoonotic diseases due to the lack of sanitary controls. Wildlife crime can also be linked to other forms of transnational organized crimes. Daan Van Uhm, Assistant Professor at the Willem Pompe Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology, stressed that there is evidence of convergence between wildlife crime and arms, drugs and other forms of contraband and further research is needed.

Wildlife crime has been perceived too often as an African or Asian problem. Mr Rios explained that wildlife crime is still not unanimously considered a serious crime. For instance, a German court condemned an individual to 20 months of suspended prison for the smuggling of 1.2 tons of ivory. In the meantime, African countries have taken substantial steps to make wildlife crime a serious crime. Last year, a Zambian court sentenced an ivory poacher to 7 years of imprisonment. The fact that sanctions are still low in Europe “reinforces the idea that environmental crime is not serious” according to Francesca Carlsson, Legal Officer at the European Environmental Bureau.

Although “criminal law is very close to Member States’ sovereignty” as pointed out by Dr. Wouter van Ballegooij, Legal Officer at the European Commission, the EU Environmental Crime Directive is an opportunity for the EU to use a wide range of tools, techniques and resources at its disposal. Mr. Rios emphasized that wildlife must be considered as a serious crime to have a deterrent effect and to reflect not only the market value of the wildlife products but also its impact on biodiversity and health. Law enforcement, prosecutors and members of the judiciary must work together to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate these crimes as serious crimes.

Further information about the Global Programme for Combating Wildlife Crime can be found here.

Follow the latest news on  


03.03.2021: UNODC - EP Launch of the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons

Image © UNODCThe UNODC and European Parliament (EP) Intergroup on the right of the Child co-hosted the launch of the fifth Global Report on Trafficking in Persons in Brussels. The report draws on data from 148 countries and explores issues of particular relevance in the current COVID-19 crisis, including the impact of socio-economic factors, drivers of child trafficking and trafficking for forced labour, and traffickers’ use of the internet. 

The Global Report, presented by Ms Kristiina Kangaspunta, UNODC Chief of the Crime Research Section, paints a picture of urgency as the COVID-19 crisis widens disparities in our societies and deepens economic woes, leaving millions of women, children and men at risk of being trafficked. Most alarmingly, the Report finds that one in every three detected victims of trafficking around the world is a child. This share has tripled in the past 15 years. Children account for half of all detected victims in low-income countries, most of them coerced into forced labour.

Mr Jacob Flärdh, Secretary General of Child10, emphasized the significance of the GLO.TIP report which paints a horrifying picture of current situation which should act as a global call for action to all actors. He called Governments, international and regional institutions to step up and join forces together with civil society and the private sector to create holistic, efficient and durable solutions. “Only by working together, across countries, across sectors and across political agendas we can eradicate trafficking in human beings” he added.

Mr Evin Incir, Vice-Chair of the Intergroup on Children's Rights, opened the meeting recalling the importance to protect children from abusers and traffickers. The COVID-19 crisis has made it all too clear that we must urgently accelerate efforts to prevent and tackle human trafficking, and protect victims.

In her introductory remarks, Ms Yatta Dakowah, the Representative of the UNODC Liaison Office in Brussels, stressed the importance of data and research to ensure more effective programmes and targeted responses. UNODC’s Global Report on Trafficking in Persons steps up to this challenge as the primary resource on trafficking patterns and trends worldwide. “We need to step up international cooperation and technical assistance to implement the existing international frameworks, including the Convention of the Right of the Child and the Trafficking in Persons Protocol” she added, calling  everyone to come together, like the “Team Europe” approach, to build up a strongest international anti-trafficking community that leaves no one behind.

These remarks were echoed by Mr Olivier Onidi, DG HOME’s Deputy Director General and EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, who called for a comprehensive approach. He further added that “Partnership for joining action within the EU and on international level will support strategic and operational action, including against child trafficking. Partnership with private sector, civil society and international organizations will advance further our effort. The EP brings important focus to the anti-trafficking agenda.”

Mr Rodriguez Ramos, Rapporteur for the FEMM committee of the European Parliament resolution on Implementation of the Anti-Trafficking Directive recalled that  “Trafficking in human beings is a crime deeply rooted in structural inequality, discrimination and violence against women. Women, girls and boys, are an easy target for traffickers as they are the most vulnerable. The 2020 UNODC Global Report highlights how unaccompanied and separated children on migration are at the highest risk of trafficking, along the migratory routes and in camps.” She called the EP, the EC, the Member States together with the UN - to join efforts in fighting effectively against this crime.

Mr Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the LIBE committee and rapporteur for of the EP resolution on the Implementation of the Anti-Trafficking Directive added that "ten years after the adoption of the anti-trafficking directive, we call on the EC to revise it to improve the measures for the prevention and prosecution of all forms of trafficking and to explicitly criminalise the use of all services provided by victims of trafficking. The EP urges EU countries to guarantee the identification of potential victims of trafficking in the context of migration flows and facilitate their access to the asylum procedures".

The Report also highlights how the internet has become a hunting ground for traffickers.  Technology enables and facilitates the abuse they inflict on their victims, while maximizing their income. This has been denounced also by the EP in its resolution of 10 February 2021. In the same resolution, MEPs alert about the vulnerability of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, in particular women and unaccompanied minors. They highlight the very low number of registered victims in international protection procedures and call on the member states to ensure that anti-trafficking and asylum procedures are interconnected.

Now, more than ever, we need to come together as an anti-trafficking community that leaves no one behind. 

  • The 2020 UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons - here.
  • The PowerPoint Presentation of the Global Report - here


01.03.2021: COVID-19 decontamination units in Tunisia

Image © UNODCAs Part of the United Nations coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Tunisia, UNODC has equipped five border posts with decontamination units providing protective and medical equipment to isolate and test travelers with symptoms. "Prior to this equipment being provided, we were testing up to 2,000 people a day outdoors," commented a front-line doctor at a border post in Tunisia.

During the handover ceremony held at the Tunis-Carthage International Airport, the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Arnaud Peral, stated that “the pandemic has had an enormous impact on our societies. The one thing that we may have learned is solidarity. To be able to overcome COVID-19’s negative consequences, we must act together and support one another in an inclusive way. Today this solidarity becomes a reality thanks to the flexibility displayed by the EU in redirecting funds to the COVID-19 response. Flexibility and inclusion have also shown by Tunisia by assuring that nationals as well as foreigners and migrants, will be included at all stages of the upcoming vaccination campaign.”

The event, organized by UNODC in line with the World Health Organization’s health and safety measures, brought together officials from the Tunisian Ministries of Health, Interior and Transport.

The EU Ambassador to Tunisia, Mr. Marcus Cornaro, claimed that "the border posts, as well as the Tunis Carthage airport, are essential to ensure the security of international travel and access to the country. They are also a priority for Tunisia and the recovery of its travel industry. The provision of this equipment to Tunisia will help to ensure a rapid return to normal for its hard-hit tourism sector".

Since its emergence, the COVID-19 crisis has had an unprecedented impact on societies. To address these consequences and help countries contain the spread of the pandemic, UNODC has had to mobilize resources and assist national institutions to continue operating safely and effectively. Henceforth, the border posts of Bouchebka, Malloula, Tunis-Carthage Airport, Dehiba and Hizoua have received fully equipped isolation units, allowing health personnel and border authorities to safely isolate and test travelers with COVID-19 or those presenting symptoms and to liaise with hospitals for transfers if a case of COVID-19 is suspected or detected. These units also help ensure the safety of other travellers who may otherwise be exposed to the virus.   

Image © UNODC"We express our gratitude to UNODC, WHO and the EU for the 5 isolation units that will be crucial in the fight against COVID-19 as well as for any future health crisis. We also look forward to receiving the COVID-19 vaccines and we trust our partners for the support they will bring to obtain them", added Mr Faouzi Mehdi, Minister of Health of Tunisia. "I would like to thank all colleagues involved as well as our partners for their efforts and for this excellent example of partnership and coordination," said Ms Caroline Burgers, Head of the UNODC Programme Office in Tunisia. 

The support of the European Union has been fundamental in achieving such a significant success. Funds from two joint EU-UNODC projects on "Dismantling criminal networks for human trafficking and migrant smuggling in North Africa" and "Strengthening the legal regime against foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) in the Middle East, North Africa and South-Eastern Europe" were reallocated to equip border crossings.

Follow the latest news on 


04.02.2021: Digital Evidence as a key tool in dismantling human trafficking and migrant smuggling criminal networks

Image © UNODCAs technological advancement increases so does the need for using digital evidence in investigations to bring more criminals to justice. This increase sheds light on the importance of law enforcement agencies being equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge. UNODC, through the regional European Union-funded project “Dismantling human trafficking and migrant smuggling criminal networks in North Africa,” cooperates with the Moroccan Ministry of Interior (MoI) to strengthen its research, identification, investigation and judicial technical capacities. In this context, UNODC organized three certified trainings for Moroccan authorities on “telephone database analysis and reporting.”

The first trainings offered detailed insight on the mastery of telephone technology’s investigation tools such as the Mercure V4 software, which is a cellular technology that provides investigators with numerous clues and investigation axes. Aiming to effectively utilize all the functions of the Mercure V4 software, a second training was held to explain to participants how to read, interpret data, and how to use the analysis modes and other different working methodologies, such as demarcation, extraction, and selection list.

In enhancing the developed digital investigation skills, a third workshop was organized for cybercrime investigators. The third training focused on explaining the Block-chain technique, which is a structure that stores transactional records of public information in several databases. While Block-chain has long been perceived as only the cryptocurrency “Bitcoin,” yet its impact exceeds this. The session aimed to explore the techniques and operating principles of Blockchain and cryptocurrencies, understand the role of cryptocurrencies in the economy and the technical, financial and legal risks associated with cryptocurrency.

Dismantling the criminal networks operating in North Africa and involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking" is a three-year (2019-2022) €15 million regional joint initiative by the European Union and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) under the framework of the North Africa Window of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. The project consists of a regional intervention covering Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia to support the effective dismantling of criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking, while at the same time upholding the rights of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and vulnerable groups.

Follow the latest news on 


29.01.2021: Improving port security in Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean

Image © UNODCThe first training organised under the  EU funded Port Security and Safety of Navigation Programme concluded today in the seaport of Mombasa, Kenya. Through its Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP) and Container Control Programme (CCP), UNODC will be supporting maritime, port, customs and police administrations, and other stakeholders responsible for maritime and port security and safety in nine countries in the region over the next four years. 

“In this course we focus on inter-agency cooperation and an integrated, multi-agency approach to port security. Inter-agency collaboration is key to improve security in the port environment,” UNODC GMCP expert, Mr. Scott Anbuen Naidoo, explained. 

Over the past few years, maritime trade routes in the Indian Ocean have become critical to the economic development and prosperity of the ‘Global South’. Linking East Africa, the Middle East, and South/Southeast Asia, these routes have also been exploited by criminal syndicates to move illicit goods such as narcotics, counterfeit products and CITES-protected wildlife from one continent to another. Gaps in maritime law enforcement and compliance with international standards for safety and security, and insufficient regional cooperation, has rendered the region’s seaports highly vulnerable to illegal trafficking. More than 30 officers from the Maritime Law Enforcement, Port State Control, Kenya Port Security, Kenya Port Authority, Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Maritime Authority and Kenya Wildlife Service gathered in a conducive environment to interact and build a solid ground for future cooperation during the training that commenced on 18 January. 

“From the discovery of criminal activities in the seaport or within national waters to the prosecution of the suspected authors, this training has really broadened our scope in the whole crime scene process," PCU Mombasa Team Leader, Kenya Revenue Authority, Mr. Khamis Mbarak, said. 

In close collaboration with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and INTERPOL, and under the coordination of the Indian Ocean Commission, UNODC will be implementing the EU Port Security and Safety of Navigation Programme in the following nine countries: Angola, Comoros, Kenya, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles and Tanzania. The inception phase began in 2020 with field visits and virtual meetings with national counterparts to discuss the modalities for implementing this important Port Security and Safety of Navigation Programme. 

More information:


26.01.2021: UNODC and North Macedonia seal cooperation on enhanced border control in South Eastern Europe

Image © UNODCAccording to reports of the UN, the EU and some of the regional organizations, the Western Balkans continue to face serious challenges from criminal networks engaged in the trafficking of controlled substances, firearms and persons, the smuggling of migrants, illicit financial flows, corruption, terrorism, and related threats. In part, this is to do with the region’s location as it constitutes the shortest corridor in the world between source and destination countries for heroin, and a prominent route from countries experiencing war and instability and European states that may offer international protection. These threats are interconnected as many of these crimes are being committed by specific organized crime groups that have diversified their operations over time and rely on land, air and maritime routes to conduct their criminal activities.

Against this backdrop, in January 2020 UNODC launched an EU-UNODC joint action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and aimed at addressing all forms of trafficking and supporting the national and regional capacities to tackle this threat. The initiative is supporting more effective and coordinated responses to illicit trafficking at seaports, land border crossings and international airports in the Western Balkans to fight organized crime, namely in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244.

The action is implemented through the cooperation with the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, UNODC continued the delivery of its activities and consultations with the authorities in the respective countries and jurisdictions to establish the necessary legal frameworks for the implementation of the action.

In North Macedonia, the Government represented by the Ministry of Interior and UNODC formally agreed to pursue cooperation in the area of enhanced border control in the framework of the EU-UNODC initiative by signing a joint Letter of Agreement (LoA), which stipulates that both entities agree on the implementation of the AIRCOP and the CCP in North Macedonia and in particular on the establishment of a nationally owned airport inter-agency group that will consist of a CCP Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) and an AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) at the Skopje International Airport.

The LoA was signed by Mr. Oliver Spasovski, the Minister of Interior of North Macedonia and Mr. John Brandolino, Director of the Division for Treaty Affairs of UNODC in the presence of Mr. Ljupcho Nikolovski, the Deputy Prime Minister of North Macedonia and Mr. Saso Tasevski, Director of Public Security Bureau of North Macedonia.

During the ceremony, the signees underlined the importance of such a commitment in the fight against cross-border movement of illicit goods and organized crime. The Minister of Interior expressed appreciation to UNODC for supporting the Government agencies through capacity building and stated that the LoA “reinforces the architecture of the fight against organized crime” in the country while the Director of the Division for Treaty Affairs reiterated UNODC’s readiness to support to North Macedonia in addressing cross-border illicit activity.

The signature of the LoA further supports the implementation of the UN Conventions on drugs and crime and the EU Acquis, notably Chapters 23 and 24 addressing serious organized crime, rule of law, good governance and security. This initiative improves effectiveness and develops synergies between law enforcement actors at the national, regional and international levels and builds bridges between various thematic areas, as well as between the Western Balkans and other regions, improving the security situation in the Western Balkans and Europe as a whole.

More information:


03.01.2021: Joint Global Initiative on Preventing Violent Extremism in Prisons - Highlights 2020 Success

Despite COVID-19 challenges, the joint global initiative on preventing violent extremism in prisons ended 2020 by highlighting the many successes of the project in supporting Member States to address the complex challenges of addressing violent extremism in prisons which have been made all the more difficult by the COVID pandemic. 

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

In 2020, UNODC and the implementing partners continued supporting national officials in Kazakhstan, Tunisia and Uganda, implementing 45 activities despite the health restrictions. These activities included building more effective dynamic security and intelligence frameworks, developing prisoner classification systems, and creating a rehabilitative environment in prisons. National officials noted the importance of these activities, with General Major Meyram Ayubayev, Deputy Chairperson, Kazakhstan Prison Committee emphasizing at the national coordination meeting that “Dynamic security, or maintaining relationships of mutual respect and trust between staff and prisoners, is by far the best way of keeping prisons safe and secure, as well as encouraging prisoners to engage willingly to rehabilitation programmes.”

In Tunisia, a country workplan of assistance was endorsed, and the first Programme Steering Committee meeting held with the participation of Minister of Justice for Tunisia, the Honorable Mohamed Boussetta. At the event, the Minister stated that “The signing of the global and national initiatives reflects the Tunisian Government’s commitment to the global approach on preventing violent extremism.”

Promoting governments’ ownership and sustainability were at the core of programme implementation in 2020. In Kazakhstan, UNODC worked with prison officials to establish a Prison Staff Training Centre on Preventing Violent Extremism in Prisons and built the capacity of national trainers to delivery courses on PVE. By the end of 2020, the Centre had surpassed its annual goal of training more than 200 prison officers. In Uganda, training modules on preventing violent extremism in prisons were developed and integrated into the Prison Academy and Training School basic curriculum while building the skills of Ugandan prison trainers to deliver the courses. In addition, prisoner classification frameworks were developed jointly with the prison authorities of Kazakhstan and Uganda to differentiate prisoners who present different security, custody and treatment needs and therefore have different correctional management and intervention requirements.

Supporting COVID-19 preparedness and response the programme also provided technical guidance, protective equipment and supplies to allow national prison administrations to operate safely during the pandemic crisis.

During 2020, UNODC and implementing partners worked closely to build strategic relationships, supporting national prison officials to engage with civil society organizations to support the rehabilitation and social reintegration of prisoners and to establish local stakeholder networks for preventing and combating violent extremism. The programme also promoted the critical role of rehabilitation and social reintegration of violent extremist prisoners during an event at the 2020 Virtual United Nations Counter-Terrorism Week.

Highlighting the critical role prisons can play in ensuring public safety, including through the effective rehabilitation and social reintegration of prisoners back into society, UNODC Executive Director, Ms. Ghada Waly, remarked on Nelson Mandela Day, “The COVID-19 crisis has put the spotlight on prison overcrowding, poor conditions and lack of resources, and the acute risks these deficiencies pose to 11 million people in prisons worldwide, and the health of all communities. We have a collective responsibility for prisoners’ humane treatment and social reintegration. And we need to value the work of prison staff, who deliver a social service that too often goes unrecognized.”

On behalf of the European Union, Mr. Oliver Luyckx, Head of Unit for Security in the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), in the European Commission, noted that “Preventing and managing violent extremist prisoners is an important priority for the European Commission since we know the potential risks these individuals pose, especially upon release. This important endeavour requires a multi-agency approach between prison and probation administrations, judicial authorities, police forces, local governments, social workers and other local actors, including local communities. In this field, UNODC is showing sustained dedication and leadership through our joint programme, implemented in Kazakhstan, Tunisia and Uganda”.

Reflecting on the results of the programme implementation in Uganda in 2020, Dr. Johnson Omuhunde Rwashote Byabashaija, Commissioner General, Uganda Prisons Service underlined that “The generous funding from the European Union, the Netherlands and the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism contributed to the successful social reintegration of ex-prisoners through promoting access to justice and good prison management.”

More information:

  • 2020 achievements of the global joint initiative in this video
  • Supporting the Management of Violent Extremist Prisoners and the Prevention of Radicalisation to Violence in Prisons - project here


Read our 2020 stories here.