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.


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.

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03.03.2020: 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.

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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

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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. 

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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. 

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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.