Welcome to UNODC South Eastern Europe

Our newsletters

 

What's New?

UNODC holds a conference on Financial Investigations and Asset Recovery in North Macedonia

23 November, Skopje, North Macedonia:  UNODC in cooperation with the OSCE Mission to Skopje organized a conference to support the implementation of the North Macedonia ’National Strategy for conducting financial investigations and confiscation of assets’ and the work of the newly formed National Commission for monitoring the implementation of the Strategy.

The main commitment of the strategy is to contribute to strengthening the capacities of the national institutions as well as their coordination in monitoring the illicit finances, as well as detecting possible concealment and transfer of illegally acquired assets.

The purpose of the conference was to present the activities within the strategy related to strengthening the institutional capacities to conduct financial investigations and confiscation of assets as well as to discuss the UNODC support to North Macedonia for the successful implementation of the strategy. Mainly, the conference served to kick off the process of the development of a national Asset Recovery Roadmap, which will provide the basis for assessing the existing capabilities and identifying gaps in the processes and resources allocated for conducting financial investigations and confiscation of assets in North Macedonia.

A number of national and international stakeholders in North Macedonia took part in the event, including the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Ministry of Interior, Financial police, Customs office, Agency for Management of seized assets, Council of Europe, German Development Agency (GIZ), embassies of Sweden, France, The Netherlands and UK as well as representatives from the National Commission for monitoring the implementation of the Strategy.

During the event, the participants recognized the need for donor coordination amongst international partners within the national Asset Recovery Roadmap with the aim to develop coherent approach to the implementation of the Strategy and to ensure improved and efficient use of resources in providing support to North Macedonia in conducting financial investigations and confiscation of assets.

The asset recovery activities within the project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery” in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the United Kingdom.

UNODC and OSCE course highlights the importance of financial intelligence in preventing and countering terrorism in Bosnia and Herzegovina

November 2021, Bosnia and HerzegovinaUNODC in cooperation with OSCE organized a three-day training course focused on how to undertake financial investigation to effectively cut off terrorism financing channels.  

Twenty participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina including senior experts and practitioners from the Ministry of Security, the Prosecutor’s Office, and other governmental bodies at all levels took part in the training course, which is part of a comprehensive, progressively advanced training programme on countering the financing of terrorism.

The training was delivered by seven local trainers who previously participated in the UNODC-OSCE train-the trainer programme and supported by lead experts.  As a result of the training, the participants learned about analytical techniques and methods that can be applied for the successful conduct of proactive and reactive financial investigations. The national experts together with the participants also practiced how to apply these techniques to realistic and localized scenarios.

The course represents the second module of the OSCE-UNODC training programme, which aims to build up the framework on countering the financing of terrorism in Bosnia and Herzegovina and increase the country’s capacity to detect and combat terrorist financing and strengthen compliance with international commitments and standards in this area.  

This work is conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe in cooperation with the UNODC Global Programme Against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime, and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML).

This course was organized with the financial support of the Governments of the United States and Italy.

UNODC meets the Albanian authorities to discuss cooperation infighting financial crime and corruption

15-16 November 2021, Tirana, Albania: As part of the regional initiative “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery” currently implemented in South Eastern Europe, UNODC conducted a series of meetings with the national authorities of Albania to discuss future cooperation in the area of asset recovery. The meetings were held with representatives from the High Court, Ministry of Justice, the Economic and Financial Crime Branch of the General Directorate of State Police, High Inspectorate for Asset Declarations (HIDAACI), Special Anti-Corruption Structure (SPAK), Financial Intelligence Unit, the Agency for Public Procurement and the Agency for Administration of Seized and Confiscated Assets (AAPSK).

During the meetings, UNODC provided an overview of the objectives and outcomes of the regional initiative related to asset recovery processes and shared plans in mapping out the priorities for each of the jurisdiction, ensuring coordination and synergy of efforts between technical assistance providers in Albania.

This regional initiative supports the Western Balkan jurisdictions, including Albania, in enhancing their capacities to seize proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, with a view to ensure future confiscation, enhance asset recovery capabilities, and pursue proceeds and instrumentalities of crime through national coordination and regional and interregional cooperation while enabling the collection of appropriate statistics on the different steps within the asset recovery process.

In addition, UNODC used this opportunity to discuss  the recently adopted Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap and the UNODC support to the Western Balkans jurisdictions, including Albania, in the implementation of the three  goals agreed under the Roadmap:

- preventing and countering corruption in public procurement;

- further strengthening conflict of interest and asset declaration systems;

- creating a regional network of specialized prosecutors, law enforcement and financial intelligence units.

The Albanian counterparts provided insights on the national priorities and plans, including the establishment of an Asset Recovery Office and highlighted the challenges and opportunities for the successful implementation of the asset recovery and anti-corruption efforts in the country. Other discussed topics included the applicable legal framework in the country as well as the identification of operational and capacity building needs for the relevant practitioners.

The asset recovery activities within the project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery” in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the United Kingdom.

UNODC and Montenegro discuss the next phase of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap

9 November 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro: Following up on the newly adopted Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap for the Western Balkans, UNODC in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice of Montenegro organized a consultation meeting with representatives of the Ministry of Interior, State Prosecutor’s Office, Public Procurement Directorate, Supreme Court, Police, Agency for the Prevention of Corruption and the Financial Intelligence Unit.

The follow-up consultation meeting focused on the next steps in the implementation on the Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap in Montenegro aimed to support a strong and sustainable anti-corruption framework development, contributing to achieving a continuous improvement in the citizens’ quality of life.

During the consultation, Montenegro’s national Anti-Corruption priorities were reviewed with the objective to strengthen and support the national efforts in preventing and combating corruption, in line with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) as well as to map the ongoing initiatives and implementing counterparts in the relevant areas under the Roadmap.

Accordingly, both parties discussed the outstanding priorities in the fight against corruption and agreed on the next steps and the continuation of the dialogue on the three shared priority goals of the Roadmap, which will result in the delivery of tangible anti-corruption/anti-illicit finance measures in line with the international standards.

UNODC holds the first operational meeting within the initiative "From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery" in Montenegro

8 November 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro: UNODC organized the first operational meeting in the framework of the regional initiative “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery” in Montenegro. The action supports the Western Balkan jurisdictions, including Montenegro, in enhancing their capacities to seize proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, with a view to ensure future confiscation, by supporting national law enforcement authorities and prosecutors to locate, identify, trace and seize the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, cutting the financial flows back into organized criminal groups and financially asphyxiating criminal activity.

During the meeting, UNODC provided an overview of the objectives and outcomes of the action related to detection, tracing and seizing of proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, as well as enabling the sharing of relevant information or evidence for their seizure and confiscation in other jurisdictions with increased regional and inter-regional cooperation, and introduction of datasets, research and evidence base.

The participants from the relevant institutions in Montenegro provided insights on the national priorities in conducting financial investigations and countering illicit financial flows and described the challenges and obstacles to the successful implementation of the asset recovery processes. The scope of the discussions included the applicable legal framework to asset recovery in the country as well as the identification of operational and capacity building needs for the practitioners.

Finally, the participants also agreed to start the work on the development of an Asset Recovery Roadmap for Montenegro, which will aim to map the country’s outstanding priorities in conducting financial investigations and asset recovery. Additionally, the Roadmap is intended to ensure coordination and synergy of efforts between technical assistance providers in the country, ensuring the ownership over the process and a tailor-made approach for stronger impact and efficiency. The meeting concluded with agreement on the next steps and timeline for the delivery of the envisaged activities.

The asset recovery activities within the project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery” in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

delegation of anti-corruption officials from Bosnia and Herzegovina on a study visit to Austria

4 November 2021, Vienna, Austria: A delegation from Bosnia and Herzegovina visited UNODC Headquarters in Vienna as a part of a broader study visit supported by the United States Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. The delegation comprised anti-corruption practitioners from the Agency for Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of Fight against Corruption of Bosnia and Herzegovina and other relevant institutions as well as representatives from the US Embassy in Sarajevo.

The UNODC Corruption and Economic Crime Branch (CEB) hosted the delegation and provided an overview of UNODC work in the area in line with its mandate as well as the available anti-corruption tools developed by UNODC to support Governments in the efforts against corruption. The ongoing and future anti-corruption work in the Western Balkans was also presented, with a special focus on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Accordingly, UNODC gave an overview of the work conducted with the Governments of the Western Balkans in establishing the Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap which was formally endorsed and adopted at the Ministerial level by the Western Balkan jurisdictions, including Bosnia and Herzegovina on 25 July 2021 in Ohrid, North Macedonia.

The three main goals of the Roadmap are:

(i)   Public procurement (including emergency procurement);

(ii)  Asset, income and interest disclosure systems;

(iii) Creation of a specialized operational network of corruption and economic crimes prosecutors, law enforcement and financial intelligence units for the region.

In addition, UNODC presented the  project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery”, currently implemented in South Eastern Europe, which aims to enhance capacities to seize proceeds and instrumentalities of crime with a view to ensuring future confiscation, enhance asset recovery capabilities and pursuing proceeds and instrumentalities of crime through national coordination and regional and inter-regional cooperation, as well as enable the collection of appropriate statistics on the different steps within the asset recovery process.

Finally, the UNODC representatives also used this opportunity to present the recently launched Global Operational Network of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities (GlobE) which offers a platform for information exchange between frontline anti-corruption law enforcement practitioners in all countries across the globe as well as the Mutual Legal Assistance Request Writer Tool.

UNODC will continue providing targeted programmatic support to authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to advance efforts in preventing and countering corruption and will promote the use of tools and knowledge products to this end, which were recognized by the practitioners as invaluable resources.

UNODC discusses asset recovery activities with Serbian authorities

2-4 November 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: UNODC met with the Ministry of Justice and the Judicial Academy of Serbia to discuss the activities under the initiative “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery”, a regional project in the six Western Balkans jurisdictions aimed to enhance the capacity of the addressed jurisdictions to recover the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime and strengthen the exchange of relevant information or evidence leading to seizures and confiscations across the participating jurisdictions.

UNODC presented the upcoming activities to be implemented in Serbia within this initiative, including the development of practitioners’ guides on different aspects of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) for the purposes of asset recovery; the development of asset recovery roadmap and data collection methodology in the asset recovery processes.

The counterparts agreed to pursue cooperation in the area of asset recovery to ensure the smooth implementation of the initiative.

The asset recovery activities within the project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery” in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

Global Firearms Programme held a workshop on the Criminal Code harmonization and UNTOC Review Mechanism in Serbia

3 November 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a workshop on the Criminal Code harmonization with UN Firearms Protocol and Serbia’s participation in the UNODC’s Mechanism for the Review of the Implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and Protocols thereto. The event gathered representatives from the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, the Prosecutor’s Office and the judiciary, as well as the EU Delegation, Embassy of France in Serbia and the academia. 

During the workshop, UNODC GFP presented its Gap Analysis on domestic criminal justice legislation and the Executive Summary on illicit trafficking offences in Serbia. This allowed the criminal justice practitioners and UNODC GFP representatives to have fruitful exchange of opinions and to evaluate the scope of harmonization of the firearms-related offences within the Criminal Code. The second session of the workshop was dedicated to UNODC’s Review Mechanism. The processes and the specialized system which will structure the online collaboration of reviewers were presented and discussed.

The main outcomes of the event were feedback from the representatives of the Ministry of Justice on formation of the Working Group that will be engaged on the Criminal Code amendments, potential timeframes and agreed modalities on UNODC GFP further technical assistance, in addition to facilitation of direct communication between national experts and UNODC experts in relation to the UNTOC Review Mechanism. 

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC and OSCE support North Macedonia in combatting terrorism financing

1-3 November 2021, North Macedonia: UNODC in cooperation with OSCE delivered a training on how to undertake financial investigations to better assess terrorist threats. In total, 17 experts from Ministries of Defense, Finance, Interior, Justice, Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecuting Organized Crime and Corruption, Customs, and the Intelligence Agency attended the training and learned about techniques and methods to assist in the successful conduct of counter-terrorism investigations. The national experts also practiced how to apply these techniques to realistic and localized scenarios.

A group of national trainers, supported by lead experts, delivered this analysis course. The trainers were prepared through a UNODC/OSCE train-the-trainer course held in Vienna in October 2021 where participants co-produced scenarios tailored to the context of North Macedonia.

This training is part of a comprehensive 2-year programme to support North Macedonia in detecting, investigating, and strengthening compliance with international commitments and standards in countering terrorism financing. 

This work is conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe in cooperation with the UNODC Global Programme Against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime, and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML) and is funded by the Government of the United States of America.

UNODC initiates a new project on addressing trafficking in persons in South Eastern Europe

October/November 2021, North Macedonia, Serbia: UNODC has completed the formation of the new team in the region who will support the UNODC efforts in the area of criminal justice response on countering trafficking in persons in South Eastern Europe. Accordingly, two National Project Officers and a Project Assistant have now joined UNODC in North Macedonia and Serbia and will also be covering UNODC's cooperation on this topic with Albania and Montenegro.

More specifically, the project team will support the implementation of the new project "UN.Locking Impunity of Traffickers and Supporting Justice for Victims of Trafficking in Persons in Southeastern Europe" (2021-2024). The project is in line with UNODC's overall objectives set out in the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, which aim to reduce transnational organized crime and related threats, enhance security and promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The project aims to accurately identify the gaps and weaknesses in the response to trafficking in persons at the national and regional levels through partnership and continuous interaction with the government, the judiciary, civil society, academia, regional/international organizations and other relevant expert practitioners, and to develop and provide sustainable and targeted capacity building support to relevant stakeholders.

Within the project, UNODC will conduct national reviews and analysis of recent trafficking cases to identify factors and vulnerabilities that contributed to inadequate investigation, prosecution and adjudication of cases. Based on findings, UNODC will develop thematic recommendations and training plans to foster victim-centered and trauma-informed investigations and prosecutions in each country. In addition, UNODC will support the addressed countries with multidisciplinary national and regional trainings and workshops for investigators, prosecutors and other stakeholders, and will develop and adopt a regional mentoring plan with Belgium and France as mentor countries.

The project is implemented by the UNODC Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section (HTMSS) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and with the financial support of the U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/ TIP).

UNODC meets the authorities and stakeholders in North Macedonia to further support the establishment of the inter-agency group at the Skopje International Airport

27-29 October 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) together with the UNODC Regional Serious and Organized Crime Advisor held a series of meetings with senior officials from the Border Police and Customs Administration of North Macedonia, the EU Delegation, as well as airline companies operating in the country and the private company TAV, which manages the Skopje International Airport. The discussions focused on the ongoing establishment of the inter-agency airport group (IAAG) at the Skopje International Airport.

The IAAG is composed of an AIRCOP Joint Airport Investigation Task Force (JAITF) focusing on passengers and a UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) focusing on cargo. During the meetings, the importance of adopting the IAAG Standard Operating Procedures and establishing the National Steering Committee to oversee and evaluate the results of the IAAG’s work was underlined. Furthermore, the parties explored the possibility of extending UNODC activities to the second international airport in North Macedonia, the Ohrid Airport.

In the same token, the meeting with the airlines’ representatives allowed to discuss the passenger information access modalities, including data protection and the different levels of cooperation among various stakeholders needed for a successful prevention and fight against transnational crime and terrorism.

Following the selection of the suitable premises for the IAAG, the construction work is planned to start soon to meet the infrastructure and IT requirements.

The above is part of the efforts within the EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control, which is currently being implemented in South Eastern Europe by AIRCOP and CCP in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe with the funding from the European Union.

UNODC conducted a workshop on information exchange on criminal procedural law applicable in firearms investigations in Bosnia and Herzegovina

28 October 2021, Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC through its Global Firearms Programme (GFP) conducted a workshop on information exchange on criminal procedural law applicable in firearms investigations. Nine criminal justice practitioners, including prosecutors, representatives of the State Investigation and Protection Agency and Border Police, have attended the workshop.

The objective of the event was to review trafficking cases adjudicated under Article 193 of the Criminal Code (CC) of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and identify criminal procedural challenges. The participants have noted that on several occasions court panels have reached different interpretations of the same facts and applicable law. Another important observation was the lack of clarity between the offences “Smuggling of good (Article 214, CC BiH)” and the “Illicit Trafficking in Arms and Military Equipment and Products of Dual Use (Article 193 CC BiH)”, which has led to dilemmas on how to qualify certain activities.

This activity is implemented with the financial contribution provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC meets with the authorities in North Macedonia to discuss cooperation

27 October 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC met with the Director of the Financial Intelligence Office (FIO) of North Macedonia to discuss further cooperation in a number of areas in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

During the meeting, FIO presented its activities in the country with a focus on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism stressing the connection between cryptocurrencies and the financing of terrorism and presented the country’s efforts in monitoring the latest trends in regulation of the crypto market.

The current regulatory framework for addressing illicit finance was also discussed and the need to be involved in international investigations tackling illicit finance recognized.

Accordingly, UNODC expressed its readiness to support the country’s efforts against illicit finance in various areas including the gambling industry, sports and the financing of terrorism, and explored opportunities for joint cooperation through capacity building trainings led by UNODC’s experts.

The counterparts further agreed to intensify cooperation in the upcoming period and highlighted the need for a regional approach to effectively counter illicit financial flows.

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in information exchange on criminal procedural law applicable in firearms investigations

21 October 2021, Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC conducted a third workshop on information exchange on criminal procedural law applicable in firearms investigations through its Global Firearms Programme. Eleven criminal justice practitioners, including prosecutors, State Investigation and Protection Agency representatives, and Border Police, attended the workshop.

The participants discussed a review of adjudicated trafficking cases under Article 193 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including facts of the case, profile of the perpetrators, type, and quantity of firearms, the qualification of the offense, the indictment, the arguments before the court and the appeal court, and the arguments in the final verdict.

The discussions resulted in identifying several challenges in applying the criminal procedure law and substantive criminal law. Examples of such challenges include court panels having different interpretations of the facts and applicable law. Mistakes made in the reports on special investigative actions or orders of seizure of objects lead to procedural errors and verdict acquitting the accused. 

This activity is implemented with the financial contribution provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC supports police officers in Bosnia and Herzegovina in preventing and responding to Gender-based Violence against Women

15 October 2021, online: UNODC organized a webinar for police officers in Bosnia and Herzegovina on preventing and responding to Gender-based Violence against Women (GBVAW) to enable a productive discussion on the topic and present the available tools to address this issue more effectively.

The event first elaborated on key, relevant international instruments and tools on police and GBVAW, including the joint UN Women, UNODC and International Association of Women Police (IAWP) Handbook on gender-responsive police services for women and girls subject to violence. The aim of the Handbook is two-fold:

  • To provide practical guidance to police (primary audience) to enable an effective and gender-sensitive response to violence against women and girls by sharing learning that promotes a culture of reflection and learning, leading to institutional transformation;
  • To promote a police service that seeks to balance effectiveness with accountability in their response to violence against women and girls through reviewing, evaluating and monitoring investigation tools, strategies, policies, and approaches, with the support of external actors in civil society, women’s and survivors’ organizations and academia.

This first part of the webinar serving as an introduction was followed by a brainstorming session on main gaps and challenges faced by the police officers in Bosnia and Herzegovina and solutions for effectively preventing and responding to GBVAW. A key concern for individual police officers or units was about women withdrawing GBV cases and the importance of improving communication with the victim from the beginning of the process and implementing training sessions for managers. At the structural or institutional level, participants identified the lack of female representation in the police as a key challenge but highlighted promising data on the use of protection orders, which showed a lower reoffending rate among perpetrators with a protection order against them. 

During this session, the participants, who represented the relevant law enforcement agencies at state and entity levels, had the opportunity to share their thoughts and challenges in relation to GBVAW in their line of work and get constructive feedback from the UNODC experts on the topic. The next webinar on GBVAW in Bosnia and Herzegovina is planned for December 2021.

UNODC and OSCE further strengthen capacity of Bosnia and Herzegovina to counter the financing of terrorism 

October 2021, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC in cooperation with OSCE held a three-day Foundation course on countering the financing of terrorism that was led by international experts alongside eight local trainers who have been trained through a UNODC-OSCE train-the-trainers programme. The participants included experts from the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the State Investigation and Protection Agency as well as institutions at the entity level.

The Assistant Minister of Security also attended the course and stated that “Coordination and better use of financial intelligence and operational data, as well as information derived from analyzes of law enforcement agencies, knowledge enhancement, enhanced cooperation between institutions and agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, can greatly contribute to effectively cutting off terrorist financing channels.”

The Foundation course was delivered with a high degree of participation by the national trainers and participants from a range of agencies. The international experts demonstrated robust experience in team building and delivering a localized course to a group comprised of a range of agencies and regional entities. More than half of the course was devoted to practical work using exercises and case studies specifically tailored to the country, emphasizing the key role of inter-agency cooperation in countering financing of terrorism. Western Union, a private financial services company was also convened to the training, and presented the importance of public-private partnerships in addressing this threat.

This work is conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe in cooperation with the UNODC Global Programme Against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime, and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML) and is funded by the Government of the United States of America.

UNODC and OSCE support North Macedonia in countering terrorism financing

11-13 October 2021, Vienna, Austria: UNODC in cooperation with OSCE held a train-the-trainer course as part of a multiannual training programme focused on strengthening North Macedonia’s capacities in countering terrorist financing. Eight national trainers from Ministries of Defense, Finance and Interior, the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecuting Organized Crime and Corruption, and Customs took part in the course, which focused on how the analysis of financial information can support counter-terrorism investigations and highlighted a range of analytical techniques.

Together with the lead trainers, the national experts co-produced scenario-based exercises to further localize and adapt the UNODC and OSCE training course to the needs of North Macedonia. The trainers also learned how to facilitate presentations and discussions with representatives from multiple agencies. The experts taking part in the train-the-trainer course, jointly with the lead trainers, will go on to deliver this course to other experts from national authorities of North Macedonia involved in countering terrorist financing.

This training is part of a comprehensive 2-year programme to support North Macedonia in detecting, investigating, and disrupting countering the financing of terrorism more effectively. Once the course is completed, the national trainers will gradually take over the training and maintenance of the programme in North Macedonia using a national curriculum that will have been developed with UNODC and OSCE assistance.

This work is conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe in cooperation with the UNODC Global Programme Against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime, and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML) and is funded by the Government of the United States of America.

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in implementing the Strong Families Programme

30 September; 1, 5 and 7 October 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina / online: UNODC in cooperation with the NGO Narko-Ne organized a series of online trainings on implementing the UNODC Strong Families Programme for 36 employees from institutions and organisations dealing with protection of children and families at risks in the Sarajevo Canton.

The Strong Families (SF) programme is a UNODC developed family skills programme designed to be implemented in all contexts of stress (including in humanitarian settings). The programme is evidence-based and backed by scientific evidence on its effectiveness in terms of developing family skills to support the healthy and safe development of children regardless of their gender and preventing drug use, violence (including against children), mental health and other negative social and health consequences.

The training was provided using the online “eLearning” platform developed in the Bosnian language by UNODC on how to implement the SF within their work. The participants, who are also future facilitators, learned how to deliver SF in terms of teaching both caregivers and children to overcome stress and be an effective facilitator.

After the certification, the participants will be able to integrate the acquired knowledge from the training into their work with families, delivering the training they received to their peers for maximum impact.

For more information:

Strong_families_Brochure.pdf (unodc.org)

Related publication:

Assessing the Feasibility of Providing a Family Skills Intervention, “Strong Families”, for Refugee Families Residing in Reception Centers in Serbia "2279 (unodc.org)

UNODC supports Serbia in implementing the evidence-based family skills programmes

29 September and 5-6 October 2021, Belgrade, Serbia / online: UNODC organized a series of events to support Serbian practitioners in implementing family skills tools and programmes. In September, UNODC delivered a webinar on the value of family and life and social skills per the UNODC-WHO International Standards on Drug Use Prevention in this educational sector. The webinar was hosted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological development and attended by many public institutions in Serbia. 

The available evidence-based family skills prevention programmes provided by UNODC were also introduced to the participants including the universal family skills package ‘Families UNited’, the selective family skills package ‘Strong Families’ (SF) designed for families living in stressful contexts (including parenting in refugees, displacement, conflict or events under COVID-19 related contexts). 

Furthermore, in October, UNODC organizeda training focusing specifically on the UNODC SF Programme for 36 school psychologists and pedagogues from selected schools in nine (out of the 18) districts of Serbia in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological development and the OSCE Mission in Serbia. 

The SF programme is an evidence-based programme, backed by scientific evidence on its effectiveness in terms of developing family skills to support the healthy and safe development of children regardless of their gender and preventing drug use, violence (including against children), mental health and other negative social and health outcomes. The programme can be easily adapted to serve families in challenged and stressful settings in different contexts. 

The training on SF particularly familiarized the participants with the content and means of implementation of the programme in their line of work including by teaching how to support parents and their children in overcoming the stresses that the adolescent period brings and what it means to be an effective facilitator and mediator illustrated by practical sessions. 

Following the completion of the training, the participants received a certificate and as a next step will incorporate the acquired knowledge into their work with families and will also go on to deliver the same training to their peers to reach maximum impact. 

An online “eLearning” platform of Strong Families was developed by UNODC in Serbian language to further support the facilitators during the implementation and scale up phases.  

For more information:

Strong_families_Brochure.pdf (unodc.org)

Family-UNited-leaflet-20200218.pdf (unodc.org)

Related publication:

Assessing the Feasibility of Providing a Family Skills Intervention, “Strong Families”, for Refugee Families Residing in Reception Centers in Serbia "2279 (unodc.org)

AIRCOP organizes its 7th Global Meeting in South Eastern Europe

4-7 October 2021, Budva, Montenegro / online: As part of its continued efforts to counter illicit trafficking and terrorism across the globe, UNODC, in partnership with WCO and INTERPOL, organized the 7th AIRCOP Global Meeting. The meeting was held virtually for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, while participants from the Middle East, North Africa and South Eastern Europe gathered in Budva, Montenegro.

The 7th AIRCOP Global Meeting brought together over 40 beneficiary, associate and interested countries from Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and South Eastern Europe; trainers and mentors from national law enforcement agencies; regional and international partner agencies such as CARICOM IMPACS and Europol; as well as donors, in particular the European Union (EU), in addition to WCO and INTERPOL, the two key AIRCOP implementing partners. 

The Global Meeting aimed at exchanging experiences and good practices among AIRCOP countries in their fight against illicit trafficking and terrorism via air routes in the entire airport platform (passengers, cargo and postal mail) as well as in deterring the travel of high-risk passengers, including foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), with a view to strengthen coordination of actions and sharing of information in the network of AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces (JAITFs). Topics such as new psychoactive substances in postal parcels, firearms trafficking, falsified and counterfeit medicines in the context of the COVID pandemic, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, trafficking in cultural property as well as human rights and ethics and integrity were discussed. The international experts presented the various communication tools and databases, the role of analysts and post-seizure investigations and ways to improve regional and international cooperation.

A large portion of the event was dedicated to the gender component. During the global sessions and sessions specifically for South Eastern Europe, the gender expert extensively elaborated on gender to increase understanding of the participants on the topic as well as the role of women in law enforcement at airports.To this end, many supporting solutions to address the unbalanced representation of men and women in AIRCOP task forces were promoted during the event. Over the last few months, AIRCOP has been actively engaged in developing a number of initiatives to promote gender equality in its programming and practical tools, to facilitate the understanding and implementation of gender equality in the airport context.  To enable female leadership roles the right physical environment needs to be created, with adequate facilities, internal policies, parameters in recruitment selections, career advancement and evaluation of gender, but also actions to counteract gender-based verbal and physical violence in the workplace.

The Global Meeting further aimed at identifying any challenges and proposing viable operational solutions with concrete recommendations. 

UNODC is currently implementing a joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports in South Eastern Europe, funded by the European Union and implemented by AIRCOP and UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

GFP held an online meeting with the Working Group on amending criminal law in North Macedonia

6 October 2021, online: UNODC through its Global Firearms Programme (GFP) continued to support the Working Group on amending the Criminal Code in North Macedonia by organizing an online meeting with its members.

In 2021, UNODC GFP presented a comparative analysis of criminalization of crimes linked to illicit trade in the Criminal Code, including Unauthorized Production and Release for Trade of Narcotics, Psychotropic Substances and Precursors – Article 215 of the Criminal Code; Human Trafficking - Article 418-a of the Criminal Code; Organizing a Group and Abetment in Performing Crimes of Human Trafficking, Trafficking with Minors and Smuggling of Migrants - Article 418-c of the Criminal Code; Child Trafficking - Article 418-d of the Criminal Code; Manufacture and Acquisition of Firearms and Means Intended for Committing a Crime - Article 395 of the Criminal Code and Unlawful Production, Possession, Mediation and Trade with Firearms or Explosive Materials from Article 396 of the Criminal Code.

The comparative analysis has identified the discrepancy in the implementation of international obligations by North Macedonia concerning harmonization of the criminal law with the criminalization provisions of the UN Firearms Protocol.

Accordingly, UNODC GFP also elaborated on the procedural aspects of the analyzed crimes. The focus was on the possibility of implementation of special investigative measures for every type of incriminated acts as part of the crime of Unlawful Possession, Production, Mediation and Trade with Firearms or Explosive Materials as regulated in the Criminal Code of North Macedonia. The comparative analysis and the meeting with the members of the Working Group have resulted in identifying solutions for further harmonization of the firearms provisions in the Criminal Code.

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

EMPACT and GFP jointly held a regional training on the detection of firearms in fast and postal parcels within the framework of Operation Armstrong

5 October 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The European Union through its European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) and UNODC through its Global Firearms Programme (GFP) organized a regional training on the detection of firearms in fast and postal parcels within the framework of Operation Armstrong.

Operation Armstrong implements the EU action plan on firearms trafficking 2020-2025 adopted by the European Commission in July 2020.

During the operation, police and customs authorities in the participating jurisdictions carry out enhanced controls of suspicious parcels and postal shipments.

UNODC GFP has developed a comprehensive methodology on the detection of firearms in fast and postal parcels and currently implements a project in Bosnia and Herzegovina supporting Customs, public and private post operators in the detection of illicit firearms, their parts, components and ammunition in fast and postal parcels. UNODC GFP has carried out needs assessments in Albania, Ukraine and North Macedonia on the same subject and plans to conduct an assessment also in Serbia and develop projects in these countries.

The training brought together customs and law enforcement representatives from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. In the first session of the event, UNODC GFP has provided detailed descriptions of its methodology for supporting the public and private sector in countering firearms trafficking in fast and postal parcels. The UNODC GFP representatives based in Belgrade, Skopje and Sarajevo provided specific information about the ongoing activities and preparations for future projects.

Accordingly, the lead of EMPACT FIREARMS shared information about the legal framework, strategy, organization, structure and operations of EMPACT. She presented in detail the various operations implemented under EMPACT and highlighted opportunities for the Western Balkan jurisdictions on how they can benefit from operational support provided by EMPACT. Similarly, the Action Leader of Operation Armstrong presented all relevant facts about the Operation Armstrong. He analyzed the results from the operation held in 2020 and provided specific examples of how the operation was implemented at national levels.

The last session provided an opportunity for sharing experiences among Western Balkan jurisdictions. Albanian and Macedonian representatives described the challenges and success stories from their participation in the Operation Armstrong. They also identified how their institutions benefited from participating in internationally coordinated operations with lessons learned.

In addition, representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia received feedback from the Action Leader, Albanian and Macedonian counterparts on specific details related to the exchange of information during the operational phase and coordination among national counterparts.

It was concluded that EMPACT and UNODC GFP will continue cooperating on Operation Armstrong and provide further information to interested third parties.

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC launches the Organized Crime Strategy Toolkit for the development of high-impact strategies and moves towards its implementation

1 October 2021, online: National and regional strategies against transnational organized crime play a key role in the global response to the threats presented by organized criminal groups. To maximize the efficiency of such strategies and increase their cumulative impact, it is vital to ensure that these documents are comprehensive, coherent and based on reliable evidence.

In October 2020, the mandate of UNODC in supporting States in this undertaking was reiterated by Resolution 10/4 entitled “Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and promoting its effective implementation”, adopted by the 10th session of UNTOC Conference of the Parties (COP). Through this resolution, UNTOC COP requested UNODC to provide to Member States, upon request, “assistance in the development of national strategies to prevent and fight transnational organized crime”.

In line with this mandate, UNODC Global Programme on Implementing the Organized Crime Convention, with the financial support from the United Kingdom, has created the Organized Crime Strategy Toolkit for the development of high-impact strategies, as well as two supporting issue papers on gender and human rights considerations in the implementation of UNTOC.

The Toolkit was officially launched in a High-Level side event of the 76th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, addressed by Ms. Ghada Waly, UNODC Executive Director, who presented an overview of UNODC efforts in strategy development against organized crime and charted the way forward. Other distinguished speakers included H.E. Mr. Damian Hinds, UK Minister for Security, H.E. Ms. Helena Mateus Kida, Minister of Justice of Mozambique and Ms. Ivana Veselcic, Assistant Minister for Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In her remarks, the Assistant Minister for Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina welcomed the expansion of UNODC technical assistance to the process of development of national strategies to prevent and combat organized crime and underlined the way forward in this area in the country that is currently developing its new national strategy against organized crime for 2021-2024.

Relying on the Toolkit, UNODC will continue to support Bosnia and Herzegovina, among other States, in developing comprehensive responses against organized crime that respect human rights, incorporate gender considerations, and promote sustainable development. This will entail the organization of a regional dialogue on strategic priorities against organized crime for South Eastern Europe before the end of 2021 as well as national follow up activities with States in the region. This support will be provided by the UNODC Global Programme on Implementing the Organized Crime Convention in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

GFP supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in information exchange on criminal procedural law applicable in firearms investigations

30 September 2021, Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC conducted a workshop on information exchange in criminal procedural law applicable in firearms investigations through its Global Firearms Programme (GFP). Twelve criminal justice practitioners, including prosecutors, State Investigation and Protection Agency representatives, and Border Police, attended the workshop.

The participants had discussed the Review of adjudicated trafficking cases under Article 193 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which includes the facts of the case and arguments before the basic court, appeals court, and in the final verdict.

The discussions led to the identification of several challenges in applying the criminal procedure law and substantive criminal law. Examples of such challenges include the lack of deadlines for prolonging special investigative activities, which could lead to interruption of the criminal investigation. In applying Article 193 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, some courts have disagreed with the qualification of firearms trafficking activities at border crossing points to accomplish the trafficking offense. The current provision of Article 193 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina does not envisage the movement across the border as a substantive component of the crime. Instead, these activities have been qualified as an attempt for firearms trafficking.

Finally, the confiscation of tools used for committing the offense, such as vehicles, has been problematic in some cases. Courts requested the prosecution to prove ownership of the vehicle by the perpetrator. In cases of rented cars, this was not possible. As a result, the vehicle has been returned to its legal owner, which contradicts Article 193, paragraph 6 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which provides for confiscation of the means for transportation of the firearms.

This activity is implemented with the financial contribution provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC and North Macedonia discuss implementation of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap

30 September 2021, online: Following up on the meeting with the UNODC Executive Director in Vienna earlier this month, UNODC organized an online consultation with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for Fight against Corruption, Sustainable Development and Human Resources of North Macedonia.

The follow-up consultation focused on the newly adopted Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap for the Western Balkans and its implementation in North Macedonia in order to support long-term and sustainable anti-corruption framework development, which will help in achieving a continuous improvement in citizens’ quality of life. During the consultation, North Macedonia’s national priorities in Anti-Corruption and Asset Recovery areas were reviewed with an aim to strengthen and support the national efforts of preventing and combating corruption, in line with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) as well as mapping the implementing counterparts.

During the meeting both parties identified the outstanding priorities in the fight against corruption and agreed on the next steps and the continuation of the dialogue along with the three shared priority goals of the Roadmap, which will result in the delivery of tangible anti-corruption/anti-illicit finance measures in line with the international standards.

As part of the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe (2020-2023), UNODC in partnership with the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI) carried out consultations with the six Western Balkans jurisdictions to identify the most salient common priorities in the area of anti-corruption and illicit finance. As a result, on 25 June 2021 in Ohrid, North Macedonia, at a high-level meeting organized by UNODC, Governments of the region have formally adopted the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap.

UNODC and Serbia sign a Letter of Agreement sealing cooperation on enhanced border control

29 September 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: Organized crime, including trafficking in persons, firearms and drugs, and terrorism along with increasing levels of violence continue to pose major challenges for the jurisdictions in South Eastern Europe. Large volumes of narcotic drugs pass through the region, representing a major threat to the rule of law and economic development.

To support the region, UNODC pursues efforts in enhancing the capacities of South Eastern Europe in addressing border security threats and has been implementing a joint EU-UNODC initiative on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports since 2020. The initiative, funded by the European Union, aims to address all forms of trafficking and provide the necessary support at the national and regional level to tackle this threat.

After North Macedonia earlier this year, Serbia has now formally agreed to pursue cooperation in the area of enhanced border control through the signing of a Letter of Agreement (LoA) between the Government of Serbia and UNODC on the establishment of a nationally owned airport inter-agency group that will receive technical support from the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) and the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) with the support of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe. The inter-agency group will be composed of an AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) focusing on passenger threats, including foreign terrorist fighters, and a CCP Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) focusing on cargo threats at the Belgrade airport.

The establishment of the inter-agency group at Belgrade airport is aimed at strengthening the capacities of law enforcement agencies in Serbia to counter transnational organized crime and terrorism through the improvement of analysis, detection and investigation capacities in intercepting cargo and passengers, thus contributing to enhanced national security, air transport safety and competitiveness in international trade. The establishment of the inter-agency groups constitutes a key step in fighting regional organized crime.

During the ceremony, the UNODC representative underlined the importance of this commitment in the fight against cross-border movement of illicit commodities through both passenger and cargo channels and organized crime and said: “Transnational organized crime and terrorism pose threats to the security of Serbia and to regional cooperation and economic stability. These law enforcement challenges can be efficiently addressed with stronger inter-agency responses, international cooperation and the development of a common framework.”

Mr. Aleksandar Vulin, Minister of Interior, signing the LoA on behalf of the Government of Serbia, highlighted that the long-term cooperation with UNODC was extremely successful and that the establishment of AIRCOP and CCP would contribute to achieving international standards at Nikola Tesla Airport. The Minister further acknowledged the efforts that Serbian Law Enforcement is investing in the fight against cross-border crime, which represent a powerful blow to organized criminal groups, and are of great importance for the security of the entire region and beyond. Additionally, the Minister underlined that Serbia is a reliable partner in the fight against all types of crime.

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.

UNODC contributes to regional cooperation in South Eastern Europe within the Integrative Internal Security Governance initiative 

23-24 and 28-29 September 2021, Budva, Montenegro/online: UNODC participated in the regional Pillar Support Group Meetings for Pillars 2 and 3 of the Integrative Internal Security Governance (IISG) on Border Security and Countering Serious Crime respectively organized by the IISG Secretariat.

The meetings were convened following the development of the needs mapping analysis per each IISG Pillar by the IISG Secretariat and brought together a large number of stakeholders operating in South Eastern Europe, including the German Development Agency (GIZ), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Centre for Security Cooperation in South Eastern Europe (RACVIAC), Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance -Ljubljana (DCAF), UNODC as well as the relevant authorities from the six Western Balkans jurisdictions, Italy, UK and Greece.

Chaired by the IISG Secretariat, the Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI), the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) and Turkey, the meetings allowed to review the legislative, institutional and operational needs of the six Western Balkan jurisdictions identified through the mapping exercise and agree on the next steps for its finalization, including the operationalization of a secure database and the development of a response mapping.

The purpose of the needs mapping is to identify the legislative, institutional and operational needs of the Western Balkans to effectively prevent and respond to security threats in South Eastern Europe across the three pillars of IISG while adopting a coordinated approach among all stakeholders for strategic planning and effective programme delivery. 

The UNODC representatives provided an overview of UNODC work in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and reiterated the Office’s readiness to continue to support the region in the areas of border security and countering organized crime.

The needs mapping analysis per each IISG Pillar will result in the production of needs mapping reports to be proposed for adoption at the forthcoming 6th IISG Board meeting in December 2021.

For more information: https://wb-iisg.com/

UNODC and OSCE support North Macedonia’s countering terrorist financing capacities 

September 2021, North Macedonia: UNODC in cooperation with OSCE held a training course aimed at further strengthening the capacity of North Macedonia to counter terrorist financing (CFT). The training represented the CFT Foundation Course of the UNODC/OSCE training programme, which aims to assist North Macedonia in the implementation of international standards on countering terrorist financing, in particular, the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering’s recommendations and the OSCE commitments.

National trainers, trained by UNODC and the OSCE in summer 2021, delivered the course to experts from law enforcement, the Intelligence Agency, and the Financial Intelligence Office of North Macedonia.

Based on the country and region-specific scenarios, the training course included sessions on transnational, regional and national terrorist threats, sources of information available to financial investigators, and types of illicit money flows. The course was delivered through a range of modules, including knowledge inputs, exercises, and case studies.

This work is conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe in cooperation with the UNODC Global Programme Against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime, and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML) and is funded by the Government of the United States of America.

International stakeholders in the Western Balkans build synergies in the field of asset recovery

27 September, online: UNODC participated in a coordination meeting organized by the AIRE Centre and the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) Secretariat, as part of the project "Strengthening anti-corruption work in the Western Balkans through improving assets seizure measures" implemented by RAI and AIRE Centre. The aim of the meeting was to map current asset recovery technical assistance in the Western Balkans and to ensure further coordination and synergy of efforts among the international stakeholders. In addition, the meeting provided an opportunity for international organizations and implementing partners to share information on the planned activities in the region related to asset recovery. 

The meeting was attended by representatives of the German Development Agency (GIZ), Council of Europe, Centre for International Legal Cooperation (CILC), OSCE, UNODC and the United Kingdom among others. The counterparts representing OSCE, GIZ, Council of Europe and CILC shared information on the current work and future activities in the area of asset recovery, whilst UNODC presented its work on implementation of the initiative "From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery" conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

The participants agreed to continue this type of joint discussion to improve coordination of efforts in the Western Balkans, enhance synergy and avoid duplications in implementation of asset recovery related activities.

AIRCOP supports South Eastern Europe in addressing threats targeting airports

20-24 September 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro: With South Eastern Europe being a major commercial corridor handling a massive flow of goods and travelers, linking Western Europe with Asia, the region remains particularly vulnerable to organized crime and is used as a transit corridor for illicit trafficking. This phenomenon is exacerbated by the commercial development of airports and infrastructures, which can be easily exploited by criminal organizations, enhancing their possibilities for creating connections between sensitive areas.

Against this backdrop, the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) organized a regional workshop on the “Use of Passenger Information to Address Threats Targeting Airports” to support the authorities of South Eastern Europe in their efforts to disrupt criminal networks by targeting and intercepting high-risk passengers (including foreign terrorist fighters), illicit drugs and other illicit commodities, while facilitating legitimate movements.

The participants attending the workshop represented the relevant law enforcement agencies from Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia as well as Montenegro. Since 2020, AIRCOP in partnership with the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe have been leading the process of establishing joint airport inter-agency groups composed of a Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) focusing on passengers and an Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) focusing on cargo at the international airports of Skopje, Sarajevo and Belgrade the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on enhanced border control. This work could possibly be extended to the airports in Montenegro following the Government’s expression of interest.

Accordingly, the regional workshop aimed at raising awareness of the participating jurisdictions on the use of passenger information as a primary tool in the framework of risk-based processes implemented by the law enforcement agencies at borders. The workshop covered several aspects of processing passenger information, including profiling and the analysis of case studies with the contributions of experts from Brazil, Portugal and Belgium. Keynotes on the legal background and best practices related to the implementation of Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Records (API/PNR) management systems have been also delivered, in line with the available instruments provided by the United Nations.

Among the discussed topics and techniques were the frameworks of use and relevance of passenger information; introduction to manual profiling, its advantages and constraints illustrated with case studies; decoding passenger information with passenger manifests and tickets; international legal framework and good practices to prevent, investigate and prosecute foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs); international framework and standards on API/PNR; legal requirements to regulate the collection, analysis, storage, transfer, and protection of passenger data to prevent and counter terrorism and serious crime as well as the role, capabilities and working methodologies of the passenger information units.

Furthermore, the participants discussed synergies between Passenger Information Units (PIUs) and field operations, highlighting the complementarities with the AIRCOP/CCP interagency group and the added value of intra/inter-agency cooperation as the key bolstering factor for the coordination of efforts.

The regional workshop was carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC supports South Eastern Europe in implementing the United Nations Convention Against Corruption

20-22 September 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: UNODC in cooperation with the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) organized a multi-stakeholder workshop on the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and its Review Mechanism. The workshop brought together 28 civil society, private sector and government representatives from the Western Balkans and Moldova, as well as experts from the UNCAC Coalition and RAI for three-days of sessions and practical exercises aimed to build-up the participants’ capacities and knowledge on anti-corruption, specifically the UNCAC provisions, required to undergo and perform reviews as well as to address the observations emanating from the reviews.

More specifically, the workshop focused  on Chapter II (Preventive measures) and Chapter V (Asset recovery) of the Convention that are being reviewed during the second review cycle (2016-2024) and included a mock review exercise to provide the participants with practical experience of the review of selected articles, country visit and observations.

Furthermore, during the workshop, participants discussed how Civil Society Organizations can be better involved in the implementation of the UNCAC, the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument that promotes the active participation of civil society in the prevention and fight against corruption.

Non-governmental actors can be involved in the UNCAC review process if invited by their government. Workshops such as this one are instrumental in encouraging this participation by building knowledge on UNCAC and creating a platform where participants can engage in a constructive dialogue on its implementation in their respective jurisdictions, share good practices and lessons learned.

The workshop was organized under the UNODC-RAI joint programme “Southeast Europe - Together Against Corruption (SEE-TAC)” (2020-2023) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Austrian Development Agency.

UNODC held a second inter-institutional exchange of information meeting on firearms trafficking cases in Serbia

21 September 2021, Novi Sad, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a meeting to foster the inter-institutional exchange of information in firearms trafficking cases. The meeting gathered nine participants from prosecution offices, border and criminal police, and customs officers, competent for the border crossing points between Serbia and Hungary / Croatia.

The meeting presented an opportunity for an overview of the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code by the relevant practitioners. The adjudicated cases on firearms seizures at respective border crossings were presented, good practices and challenges were identified, as well as remedial solutions to address firearms trafficking and to improve information sharing.

The main outcomes of the event were consensus to strive towards the compliance of domestic criminal legislation with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and UN Firearms Protocol, profiling the needs of the first-line responders during pre-investigation, investigation and indicting stages of firearms-related cases, utilizing tracing procedures and international cooperation tools to address firearms trafficking.

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC supports the Customs of North Macedonia in detection of firearms in postal shipments

17 September, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) met with the heads of various departments within the Customs Administration to finalize process of needs assessment and situation analysis on the ground.

The Customs Administration of North Macedonia and UNODC GFP undertook a needs assessment to increase the capacity of the Customs Administration to detect firearms, their parts, components, and ammunition in postal and courier shipments. The assessment was requested by the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) as a precondition for making a project proposal.

The activities resulted in the identification of required technical assistance (equipment, software), mapping of the risk assessment procedures, identification of training needs, and development of proposals for standard operating procedures. The information from the gap and needs analysis will be used for the development of a project proposal for the implementation of the recommendations agreed by the Customs Administration of North Macedonia.

In addition, a gap and needs analysis (GNA) was carried out focusing on the review and identification of gaps in the processing of incoming and outgoing postal/courier shipments by public and private sector companies. The GNA also covered the knowledge and skills of staff to apply risk assessment, identify and detect postal/courier shipments containing firearms, their parts, components, and ammunition as well as a review of the existing equipment and its use, and formulation of recommendations for procurement of equipment.

UNODC also included stakeholders involved in the control of international mail and express courier traffic such as the national postal operator - “Macedonian post”, and private courier companies in the GNA and plans to involve them in future activities.

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC and OSCE discuss cooperation with police attachés in Belgrade

17 September 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: Among the principles of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe are national ownership, partnerships with international and regional actors, coordination and non-duplication. With this in mind, UNODC jointly with the OSCE-Mission to Serbia organized a coordination briefing for police attachés and liaison officers in Belgrade to discuss areas of common priorities.

Over 20 participants from Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Sweden, Spain and Italy attended the meeting, which focused on an array of security issues, including regional cooperation, corruption and economic crime, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, terrorism and violent extremism, cybercrime and cybersecurity, as well as small arms and light weapons (SALW).

During the meeting, the OSCE representative briefed the group on their current  work in Serbia while the UNODC representative provided an overview of the UNODC projects and priorities in the area of organized crime, including the ongoing EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control in South Eastern Europe, as well as  UNODC work on firearms trafficking, asset recovery, anti-corruption, and others. The UNODC representative also briefed the group on the UNODC‘s cooperation with the  Integrated Internal Security Governance (IISG) aimed to support the coordination of technical assistance provided to the region in the rule of law and security related areas.

The participants expressed appreciation for the update and agreed on the importance of coordination of activities in the spirit of non-duplication and increased synergies. UNODC and OSCE expressed willingness to participate in the next similar event planned for March 2022.

North Macedonia and UNODC discuss results of anti-corruption and border control cooperation 

15 September 2021, Vienna, Austria: The UNODC Executive Director met the delegation of North Macedonia led by the Deputy Prime Minister for Fight against Corruption, Sustainable Development and Human Resources to discuss cooperation within the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe with special focus on border control and anti-corruption.

The Deputy Prime Minister presented the country’s vision and efforts in the fight against corruption and related areas, including the recently adopted National Strategy for Strengthening of the Capacities of Financial Investigations and Confiscation of Illegally Acquired Assets 2021-2023, investments in the digital reform and updated legislative tools.

The Executive Director pledged UNODC’s support to North Macedonia in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme, which has further intensified in recent years and highlighted the importance of the rule of law and security in the region.

Accordingly, the parties discussed the recently adopted Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap for the Western Balkans and agreed on its future implementation along the three main goals:

(i)   Public procurement (including emergency procurement);

(ii)  Asset, income and interest disclosure systems;

(iii) Creation of a specialized operational network of corruption and economic crimes prosecutors, law enforcement and financial intelligence units for the region.

The Roadmap was adopted at the Ministerial level in Ohrid, North Macedonia in June 2021 by the six Western Balkans jurisdictions and is aimed to fast-track the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), GRECO evaluations, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations and EU Directives on Anti-money laundering and public procurement.

The counterparts underlined the importance of furthering the existing excellent cooperation in a number of fields, particularly strengthening border security, fight against organized crime as well as countering illicit financial flows and firearms control.

Ms. Waly further welcomed North Macedonia’s recent membership of the UNODC Blue Heart campaign and referred to the UNODC’s engagement with the Governments of the region on the topic of criminal justice response to trafficking in persons.

The parties have further discussed the progress and planned steps under the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, including the signed in January 2021 Letter of Agreement and the upcoming establishment of the airport inter-agency group at the Skopje International Airport composed of Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) and a Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF). The joint action supports more effective and coordinated responses to illicit trafficking and represents a step forward in the fight against cross-border movement of illicit goods and organized crime. 

UNODC held a meeting with Members of Parliament in North Macedonia to promote legislative changes in line with the UN Firearms Protocol

13 September, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) hosted a hybrid meeting with Members of Parliament raising awareness on the latest amendments to the Criminal Code of North Macedonia drafted in line with the UN Firearms Protocol. 

The primary goal of the event was to familiarize the Members of Parliament with the implementation of North Macedonia’s obligations as a result of the ratification of the UN Firearms Protocol and harmonization of the country’s Criminal Code with the criminalization provisions of the UN Firearms Protocol.

UNODC GFP presented its contribution to the Working Group on the Criminal Code under the Ministry of Justice resulting in the formulation of provisions for amending the Criminal Code in relation to firearms offences in line with the UN Firearms Protocol. The adoption of the amended Criminal Code was also discussed.

The counterparts expressed appreciation for UNODC support and explored the possibility of holding awareness raising events on firearms and organized crime after the country’s local elections in October 2021.

In addition, the parties discussed the upcoming process of the Review of the implementation of the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its Protocols, including the Firearms Protocol. North Macedonia ratified the Convention and all the Protocols and is part of the Review Mechanism. The country will be reviewed in 2021 by Romania and Lichtenstein.

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC and OSCE support Albania in countering the financing of terrorism 

8-11 September 2021, Pogradec, Albania: UNODC together with OSCE held a four-day course aimed at further strengthening Albania’s capacity to counter the financing of terrorism.

The course was co-delivered by Albanian trainers and UNODC/OSCE international experts for a group of participants from the Albanian State Police, the State Intelligence Service, and the General Directorate for the Prevention of Money Laundering. In total, 21 participants took part in the course, which raised awareness on the different methods and practices to evaluate and disrupt terrorist activity. More than half of the course was devoted to practical work where inter-agency teams examined the ‘business model’ of terrorist networks and learned how to apply techniques, including auditing and vulnerabilities analysis, to disrupt the financing of terrorism.

This course, organized with the financial support of the United States, is part of a comprehensive multi-annual training programme on countering the financing of terrorism, jointly implemented by OSCE and UNODC since 2018 in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and the UNODC Global Programme Against Money Laundering. The training programme is designed to support Albania to comply with international standards, in particular UN Security Council Resolutions, such as UN Security Council Resolution 2462 (2019), and Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) standards.

Container Control Programme supports Port Control Unit at Bijaca, Bosnia and Herzegovina during COVID-19

7-10 September 2021, Bijača, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) provided mentoring to the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land-border crossing Bijača conducted in partnership with national stakeholders in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

CCP continues the delivery of in-person mentoring activities to promote the development of PCUs in specific areas of their work and facilitate further exceling of the officers’ performance. Furthermore, mentoring visits contribute to an increased institutional knowledge and accountability in the work of customs and border police officers at land borders, particularly in the context of  everyday challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mentoring visit to PCU Bijaca also served as a succession planning tool aimed at ensuring further capacity building programming and CCP support to the frontline law enforcement agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The three-day in-person mentoring activity was implemented in the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in addressing violence against children

3, 6 and 10 September 2021, Bosnia and Herzegovina / online: The issue of child victims and witnesses of crime and in particular the issue of child sexual violence has been receiving increased national and international attention in recent years. Millions of children throughout the world suffer from harm as a result of crime and sexual violence. Yet, the rights of these children have not been adequately recognized or respected, and they may suffer additional hardship when assisted in the justice process.

Member States increasingly face challenges when attempting to combine effective prevention and responses to address this form of violence against children, and when adopting and implementing a child- and gender-sensitive approach that upholds children’s rights and safeguards public security. These challenges are exacerbated due to a lack of collection and analysis of segregated data, which limits identifying and addressing gender dynamics, as well as a failure to acknowledge that children (girls and boys) differ from adults (men and women) in their physical, mental and psychological developmental needs and vulnerabilities, and subsequently, differentiated responses and treatment should be directed solely at children.

Against this background, UNODC, as a key agency in supporting Member States in preventing and responding to  violence and crime and ensuring that children are better served and protected by justice systems, organized a series of three webinars on “Ensuring Child-Sensitive Communication and Appropriate Approaches for Child Victims”, targeting professionals and practitioners across Bosnia and Herzegovina who are in contact with child victims in order to strengthen their capacity to deal with cases involving sexual violence against children more effectively, focusing in particular on approaches, effective practices and concrete steps to protect better these children.

Over 30 participants attended the series of webinars which tackled the topic of prevention and response to sexual violence against children and provided participants with approaches and practical guidance to support government efforts already underway to treat child victims better in line with international law. The webinars also presented how practitioners can contribute to protecting children from re-traumatization and secondary victimization while in contact with child victims.

As a result of the webinars, the participants were able to increase their understanding of child development, children’s rights, and the negative impact of violence on children as well as on how to engage children as active participants in their own protection process and rehabilitation experience. In addition, they gained knowledge on the relevant international legal framework applicable to child victims and on how to engage with children and build trust through child-, gender- and victim-sensitive communication; and how to improve professional-child relationships by establishing positive communication.

This series of webinars were conducted by the UNODC Global Programme to End Violence against Children (Global Programme to END VAC) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

Container Control Programme supports Port Control Unit at Gradiška, Bosnia and Herzegovina

30 August-3 September, Gradiška, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) provided in-person mentoring to the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land-border Gradiška, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Following the completion of the basic theoretical and practical training in 2021 PCU Gradiška received the first CCP mentoring visit, engaging experienced WCO technical experts. This activity focused on the standards of the risk analyses and profiling of high-risk containers, as well practical aspects of the detailed cargo inspections performed by the border police and customs officers of the PCU.

During the mentoring visit, several containerized and other shipments entering the customs area of Bosnia and Herzegovina were inspected using the knowledge acquired on establishing risk profiles and all available data and information sources.

The mentoring activity was implemented in the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC held a workshop for Serbian judges on the firearms-related case law document

9-11 August 2021, Vrdnik, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a three-day workshop for the Serbian judges on the firearms-related case law document. Prior to the workshop, a review group of four judges was formed to be engaged on the final review and systematization of the firearms-related case law document and drafting of additional chapters for its content.

During the first day of the workshop, a new chapter on criminal offence of Unlawful Production, Trading and Possession of Forbidden Weapons was drafted, discussed and included in the document. Subsequently, the chapter of the document containing 30 firearms-related adjudicated court cases was reviewed and supplemented with comments.

During the next two days, around 20 excerpts – sentences – alongside the reasoning from selected judgements, related to contentious legal questions in firearms-related cases, were added to the document. The excerpts will form an additional chapter of the document, containing the official standpoints on contentious legal questions of the second instance courts in Serbia. Additionally, the narrative on domestic and international legislation was reviewed and discussed, resulting in a precise definition of the respective chapters.

The workshop resulted with the final version of the case law document, which will be formatted and printed prior to its distribution to the Basic and Higher Courts on the State level, with an aim to contribute to the harmonization of court practice and sentencing policy in firearms-related cases. 

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC continues to support the private sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina in addressing firearms trafficking in fast parcels

23-24 July and 6-7 August 2021, Banja Luka/Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) conducted two trainings for private courier companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina on detection of firearms in fast parcels. 

The training focused on the implementation of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the detection of firearms, their parts and ammunition by the private companies, including topics such as risk assessment, evidence handling, identification of firearms, health and safety. The participants have learned about the threat of firearms trafficking, expended their knowledge on applicable legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the requirements to counter firearms trafficking during the process of import and export of fast parcels.

These trainings were the third and fourth events respectively organized by UNODC GFP for fast courier companies. The engagement with private courier companies on detection of firearms in fast parcels contributes towards the efficiency of the Customs in Bosnia and Herzegovina as detections made by the private companies decreases the workload of the Customs contributing thereby to the overall efforts to counter illicit firearms trafficking.

These activities are funded by Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC holds a workshop on cooperation between the private and public sectors on detecting firearms in fast parcels in Bosnia and Herzegovina

30 July 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC’s Global Firearms Programme (GFP) conducted a workshop on cooperation between the private and public sectors on detecting firearms in fast parcels. The workshop was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA), the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Agency for Postal Traffic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Border Police and the Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as private sector representatives. 

The objective of the workshop was to identify areas where governmental institutions and private courier companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina can increase and improve cooperation in the detection of firearms in fast parcels and promote the information-sharing culture.    

UNODC GFP has presented a gap analysis on the cooperation framework between the Customs of Bosnia and Herzegovina and commercial sector entities, which has identified thirteen areas where cooperation could be further improved, including acknowledging the inputs of the private courier companies for the development of a regulatory framework, simplification of procedures when traders fulfil certain conditions, reduction of the documentation burden, and establishment of cooperation forums among other.

The event resulted in the endorsement of the proposed areas for increasing cooperation between the private and public sectors, and in the identification of several solutions that could improve cooperation. These included the identification of opportunities for increased consultations between the courier companies and the Customs in the process of developing new sector’s regulations; the identification of the relevant legislative framework that will provide preferential treatment by the Customs for companies that comply with specific conditions, and the possibility of signing a Memorandum of Understanding between private courier companies and Customs for exchange of information, based on risk indicators, which will regulate the type of information to be exchanged, the frequency and the format for sharing such information.

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

Bosnia and Herzegovina supported in addressing firearms trafficking in postal shipments

26-29 July 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a four-day training-of-trainers for the Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ITA) on detecting firearms, their parts and ammunition in postal shipments, with the focus on increasing efficiency and effectiveness in combating firearms trafficking.

The training was focused on developing training skills of the future trainers in understanding threats, identification of firearms, risk assessment and risk indicators. In total, 20 participants from ITA Headquarters, their Regional Centers in Banja Luka, Sarajevo, Mostar, as well as the Customs at Sarajevo Airport were trained over the course of four days.

As a result, the participants learned about the role of the trainer, the systematic approach to training and how to perform an effective training. All the participants took part in the practical exercise on the preparation and delivery of training sessions with an x-ray scanner providing the opportunity to combine practical skills and the knowledge gained through the lectures.

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

Workshop on information exchange on criminal procedural law applicable in firearms investigations in Bosnia and Herzegovina

27 July 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC through its Global Firearms Programme (GFP) conducted a workshop on information exchange on criminal procedural law applicable in firearms investigations. The workshop was attended by ten criminal justice practitioners, including prosecutors, representatives from State Investigation and Protection Agency, Border Police, and judicial police officers. 

Similarly to other meetings conducted in the Western Balkans under the regional project on Criminal Justice Response to Arms Trafficking implemented by UNODC, the methodology included a presentation and review of adjudicated trafficking cases under Article 193 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the facts of the case, the profile of the perpetrators, the type and quantity of firearms, the qualification of the offence and the indictment, the arguments before the basic court, the arguments before the appeal’s court and the arguments in the final verdict.

The discussions resulted in the identification of several challenges in the application of the criminal procedure law and substantive criminal law. Examples of such challenges include the lack of deadlines for making a decision on prolonging special investigative measures, which could lead to interruption of the criminal investigation. In the application of Article 193 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, some courts have disagreed with the qualification of firearms trafficking activities at border crossing points as the accomplishment of the trafficking offence. Instead, these activities have been qualified as an attempt for firearms trafficking. The qualification as an attempt was adopted although the current provision of Article 193 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina does not envisage the movement across the border as a substantive component of the offence.

Finally, the confiscation of tools used for committing the offence, such as vehicles, has been problematic in some cases. Courts have requested the prosecution to prove ownership of the vehicle by the perpetrator. In cases of rented cars, this was not possible. This has resulted in the return of the vehicle to its legal owner, which contradicts the provision of Article 193, paragraph 6 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which provides for confiscation of the means for transportation of the firearms. 

This activity is implemented with the financial contribution provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC continues to support the private sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina in addressing firearms trafficking in fast parcels

16-17 July 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) delivered a training for a private courier company on raising awareness of firearms trafficking in fast parcels. The training focused on trafficking in firearms, risk indicators, and inspection and detection of firearms as well as handling evidence and cooperation with the Customs. The participants have enhanced their knowledge of firearms trafficking threats and the requirements to counter firearms trafficking through fast parcels.

The engagement with private courier companies on firearms trafficking in fast parcels contributes to an increased awareness in the private sector.  Increased detection rate leads towards an improved efficiency of the Customs of Bosnia and Herzegovina contributing thereby to the overall efforts in countering illicit firearms trafficking.

This activity is funded by Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC held a workshop for judges on firearms-related case law in North Macedonia

15 July 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) hosted a workshop to present the case law of North Macedonia and discuss harmonisation of the court practice on firearms related cases. The audience of the workshop included judges and presidents of courts from across country as well as representatives from the Basic and Appellate courts from Skopje, Bitola, Gostivar, and Stip.

The primary goal of the event was to present the findings of the “Analysis of Verdicts for the Criminal Offenses of Illicit Manufacturing, Possession and Trade in Firearms”, which was prepared by UNODC GFP, followed by discussions on challenges during court proceedings such as the division of cases, the use of expert testimonies or the way the sentence is determined and the penal policy towards firearms related cases in general. The event also opened the possibilities to further supplement the Case Law collection and include the views of the judges and the court presidents in the updated version of the document. The participants noted the fact that the Case Law collection of the selected final verdicts for firearms-related offences is the first of its kind in the country, which covers the period 2014-2019.

Similar analyses focusing on court practice in firearms related cases are planned to be conducted in the neighbouring jurisdictions following which regional meetings among judges will be organized, with an aim to achieve greater harmonization of the court practice on the regional level and foster the exchange of experience among judges within the Western Balkan region.

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union. 

Prosecutors of Bosnia and Herzegovina supported in investigating firearms trafficking

13 July 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a training on identification and tracing of firearms aimed to strengthen the capacity of prosecutors to investigate firearms trafficking cases and address possible links to organized crime.

The training was conducted using the UNODC training video material containing four modules on (1) pistols and revolvers, (2) carabines and shotguns, (3) sub-machine guns and assault rifles and (4) firearms tracing to familiarize the participants with different firearms’ types, their parts and components, and illustrate how firearms markings can be used in the tracing procedure and how this information can support investigation against firearms trafficking.

Prosecutors from four Prosecutor’s offices in Bosnia and Herzegovina attended the training and enhanced their understanding on how firearms identification and tracing can contribute towards solving firearms related cases of transnational nature, contributing thereby to a more effective criminal justice response to firearms trafficking and organized crime and facilitating the implementation of the UN Firearms Protocol.

During the training, the participants also identified the challenges in the existing criminal justice legislation and practice by sharing their experiences in the detection, investigation and prosecution of firearms trafficking and/or organized crime cases.

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC held a workshop on Inter-institutional exchange of experience in North Macedonia

12 July 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) hosted a workshop to foster inter-institutional exchange of information in firearms related cases. The event gathered participants from three institutions competent for processing firearms related cases, namely the Prosecution, Ministry of Interior, and Customs Administration.

The primary goal of the event was to provide the practitioners with a platform to exchange experiences and an opportunity to review the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code. The participants shared their perspectives and challenges faced and held a discussion on the tools that the criminal procedure allows the practitioners to use, and also, what strategies and actions are available for the law enforcement and prosecutors.

During the workshop, good practices were identified, along with the remedial solutions to address firearms trafficking and improve the information sharing on a national level.

The participants recommended to further develop the exchange of information during pre-investigation, investigation, and indicting stages of firearms-related cases, as well as develop a platform for a fast exchange of information between customs, police, and prosecution. The need for a standardized format of information exchange between the institutions was emphasized as well as the potential support of UNODC in its development. 

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union. 

North Macedonia joins UNODC's Blue Heart Campaign against Human Trafficking

9 July 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: Joining 33 other countries across the globe, North Macedonia has become the latest state to adopt the Blue Heart Campaign in its efforts to tackle human trafficking. Announced this week during a session of the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Illegal Migration, the Blue Heart Campaign is now a central element of North Macedonia’s awareness raising drive to end this crime and protect those most impacted. 

Speaking at the session – which was also attended by the Commission’s National Coordinator, Magdalena Nestorovska – the Minister of Interior, Oliver Spasovski, flagged what this means for North Macedonia. “The Blue Heart Campaign aims to raise awareness of the problems and sufferings of victims of human trafficking and reminds us of the cold-bloodedness of those involved in these criminal acts,” he commented. “By joining this campaign, we express our commitment to the fight against this crime that undermines human dignity. Joining this global campaign for our country will represent another opportunity to get involved in global trends of prevention, awareness-raising, networking, exchange of experiences, joint activities with other countries, for all of us to oppose trade together with people.”

As a global awareness raising initiative to fight human trafficking and its impact on society, the Blue Heart Campaign seeks to encourage Governments, civil society, the private sector and individuals alike to act and help prevent this heinous crime. It also supports the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, which was established in 2010 within the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The Trust Fund itself raises and disburses funds to strengthen civil society organizations dedicated to human trafficking victims suffering from a variety of forms of exploitation, especially women and girls exploited by sex-related crime. Over the past decade, the Trust Fund has supported more than 100 grassroot NGOs in over 50 countries by providing tangible assistance to more than 5,000 victims of human trafficking every year. 

For more information:

Blue Heart Campaign

United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children

UNODC completes data collection in Bosnia and Herzegovina on illicit financial flows, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants

8 July 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina / online: UNODC finalized the data collection for the forthcoming UNODC research publication on Illicit Financial Flows, Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrants (SOM). The publication is intended to address the significant gap in knowledge of the subject which will support capacity and operational efforts of criminal justice actors and equip them with tools to target the illicit financial flows, thereby ensuring that effective financial investigations are initiated in TIP and SOM cases.

The data collection was conducted over April-June 2021 in partnership with the Government agencies of Bosnia and Herzegovina and involved preparation and conduct of interviews as well as processing of gathered information. With researchers based in the field, interviews have been conducted with national experts in specialized capacities. This involved interviews with representatives from the State Prosecutor’s Office, the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA), individual national experts, as well as with migrants on the move. The research has focused on the financial dimensions of TIP and SOM to analyze financial flows tied to the crimes. Data collection efforts focused specifically on networks operating between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, to or through Bosnia and Herzegovina, and directed towards the European Union.

The research was conducted in the framework of the Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT- Asia and the Middle East), a joint initiative by the European Union and UNODC implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). This project is funded by the European Union.

UNODC presents the World Drug Report 2021 to partners and stakeholders in South Eastern Europe

6 and 8 July 2021, online: The Paris Pact Initiative (PPI) organized formal presentations of the World Drug Report 2021 (WDR) for partners and stakeholders in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. The audience included Ministries of Health, Offices for Combatting Drugs, the Police officers, Customs Administrations, as well as Members of the Steering Committee of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, international and civil society organizations.

The presentations were held in the local languages and included two parts. The first part of the presentation focused on special points of interest in the WDR while the second part focused on drug trafficking, in particular along the Balkan route of heroin and the Western Balkans. For a wider outreach, the Executive Summary of the WDR (Booklet 1) and an extract on Opiate trafficking routes from the Booklet 3 were translated in the local languages and shared with the participants  along with the relevant information on the statistical annexes of the report and other materials. “Share Facts On Drugs, Save Lives”, the theme of the 2021 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking was also highlighted in the context of one of the main findings of the WDR 2021: “Cannabis is more potent but fewer young people see it as harmful”.

In addition, during the presentation of the report in North Macedonia, the Head of the UNODC Programme Office opened the session with the key message for this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and emphacised the importance of the greater investments in health, science, and data (including the awareness of the risks and access to evidence-based treatment and care) in the global fight against drug abuse. 

Over 70 participants attended the sessions, which were recorded and disseminated through usual channels in the region.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/wdr2021.html

Container Control Programme continues to support exchange visits between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro

6-7 July 2021, Bar, Montenegro: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) supported follow-up technical level meetings of the customs officials from the Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Revenue and Customs Administration of Montenegro.

The meetings in the Port of Bar in Montenegro allowed to further discuss enhancing cooperation between the two administrations and fostering most relevant and supportive technical assistance through information sharing and mutual technical assistance. The objective is to improve the quality and effectiveness of actions conducted with the aim of discovering, retaining and seizing counterfeit and/or illegally traded goods entering, or being in transit through, the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. The participants benefitted from an open exchange of ideas, knowledge, and sound practices resulting in several conclusions important for the future broader cooperation of customs and other officers.

In addition to the site visit at the Port of Bar, the Revenue and Customs Administration of Montenegro also hosted a visit to the land-border crossing Sukobin, at the border between Montenegro and Albania. The visit provided an insight into the joint work of Albanian and Montenegrin customs and border police services based on a special protocol signed between the Governments of Albania and Montenegro.

During the visit to the border crossing Sukobin, the visitors were able to observe random inspections conducted by the Mobile Units of the Revenue and Customs Administration of Montenegro, as well as regular controls of passenger traffic conducted by the customs officers at the site.

This activity was carried out within the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

South Eastern Europe and UNODC address trafficking in children for the purpose of forced criminality

6-7 July 2021, online: UNODC in collaboration with the National Anti-trafficking Coordination Office within the Ministry of Interior of Albania and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, held the Regional Expert Group Meeting (REGM) on “Addressing Trafficking in Children, particularly for the purpose of forced criminality in South Eastern Europe”.

The purpose of the REGM was to advance the discussion on effective action to prevent and combat trafficking in children, particularly for the purpose of forced criminality, through comprehensive approach in the countries of origin, transit and destination as well as to understand a variety of international and regional instruments in combating this form of human trafficking.

Moreover, the REGM served as a platform to exchange challenges and good practices in the field of bilateral, regional and international cooperation to provide a set of concrete actions for future engagement in order to tackle the issue of trafficking in children, particularly for the purpose of forced criminality in the most efficient manner.

Over 115 practitioners from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia, as well as Austria, France and the UK took part in the event and shared their experiences and best practices. The meeting was opened by the UN Resident Coordinator in Albania.

This event concludes the series of five REGMs, which form part of the Regional Initiative on Trafficking in Persons in South Eastern Europe aimed at supporting the region in this area during the COVID-19 pandemic. As an outcome of the REGMs, a document with Key Conclusions and Recommendations will be drafted and shared with all the participants for comments and subsequent endorsement. This document will further serve for developing a single report that will compile the reports and the outcomes of the five REGMs and consolidate the challenges and priorities pertaining to the five topics as they relate to the addressed countries in South Eastern Europe.

The financial support for this event was provided by the Governments of France and Sweden.

For more information:

https://twitter.com/UN_Albania/status/1412379275173449728?s=20

UNODC supports OSCE in their training of Serbian Police officers in addressing substance in school settings

5-7 July 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: The OSCE Mission in Serbia together with the Ministry of Interior’s Criminalistics Investigation Directorate and its Service for Prevention of Drug Addiction and Suppression of Narcotics, organized the first training in 2021 for police officers who also operate in schools. About 25 police officers from the Belgrade Police District (including 15 female police officers) attended the training and expanded their knowledge of risk factors for young people who develop drug dependence, correct application of police powers in a school environment and preventing drug use.

During the training, the Ministry of Interior together with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development and UNODC shared their knowledge (theoretical and practical) on such topics as: health risks from drugs, young people and drug-related offences, risk and protective factors for problematic drug use, responding to drugs incidents on or around school premises, the role of the police in reducing the harm from drugs and effective preventive practices.

On this occasion, the UNODC representative provided an overview of the Office’s work in the field of prevention, including the programmes implemented in Serbia and considered as best practices namely the Strengthening Families Programme 10-14 and the Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence. In addition, the UNODC representative inform the audience on the UNODC “Listen First” initiative which was released in Serbia on 25 June 2021, and is aimed to increase support for prevention of drug use that is based on science and is thus an effective investment in the well-being of children and youth, their families and their communities. 

Three additional training events for police officers and their supervisors are planned to take place by the end of 2021.

For more information:

https://www.facebook.com/osce.serbia

CCP continues the training cycle for the inter-agency group at Skopje International Airport 

29 June-1 July 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) organized the next segment of the theoretical training cycle for the customs and border police officers forming the inter-agency group composed of a CCP Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) and a UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) to be established at the Skopje International Airport and supported by CCP and AIRCOP.

Delivered through an online modality, the three-day Basic Theoretical Training (part 2) provided an overview of profiling and targeting techniques, detection of smuggling of illicit goods, air cargo safety and other topics covered in the previous training. A special emphasis was put on issues of smuggling and detection as well as insider threats that would help customs and border police officers understand and apply the relevant regulations and practices in their daily work.

The training was carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC organized a Strategic Trade and Export Control Training for Port Control Units in South Eastern Europe

21-25 June 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) delivered a Supplemental Online Strategic Trade and Export Control Training (STECT), for the frontline customs and border police officers of the Port Control Units (PCUs) at the sea-port Bar, Montenegro and the land border crossing Bijača in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The training also facilitated participation of officers from the customs and law enforcement agencies involved in the Working Group on strategic and dual-use goods within the Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This training is a follow-up to the training segment delivered for both Units in 2020.

CCP STECT is an intense training that explores the plausible risk that non-state actors may exploit the containerized supply chain, similarly to  drugs and other illicit commodities, to traffic or deliver weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or their component parts, comprising chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials. The training (phase 2), delivered in a hybrid format focused on industrial equipment and materials, chemicals, weapons and ammunition, and other topics to support effective profiling of containers and other consignments.

Integrating these important topics enhances the capacity of the PCUs to detect illicit trade within the containerized supply chain through their efforts that include detailed examination of pre-arrival information.

The five-day training was delivered by the UNODC CCP expert, carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

The governments of the Western Balkans adopt the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap

21-25 June 2021, Ohrid, North Macedonia: Over the past months the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in partnership with the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI) carried out consultations with the six western Balkans jurisdictions to identify the most salient common priorities in the area of anti-corruption with the aim to develop a Regional Roadmap on Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance.

The objective of the Roadmap is to fast-track the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), GRECO evaluations, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations and EU Directives on Anti-money laundering and public procurement, in support of the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 16 in the Western Balkans jurisdictions.

As a last step, the Governments of the region were convened to a high-level event organized by UNODC in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior of North Macedonia and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for the Fight Against Corruption, Sustainable Development, and Human Resources in Ohrid, North Macedonia whereby the representatives from the Ministries of Justice, Ministries of the Interior, Prosecution offices, anti-corruption bodies, financial intelligence units and procurement agencies agreed on  the following priorities for the Roadmap:

  • Public procurement (including emergency procurement);
  • Asset, income and interest disclosure systems;
  • Creation of a specialized operational network of corruption and economic crimes prosecutors, law enforcement and financial intelligence units for the region.

On 25 June, Ministers of Justice, Ministers of Interior, Deputy Ministers, State Secretaries and Heads of Anti-corruption agencies from the region have formally endorsed the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap for the Western Balkans.

This commitment to fight corruption and illicit financial flows is a significant step forward in the region to align the jurisdictions in the region with international anti-corruption standards and to operate more effectively in these targeted areas.

This platform builds on the momentum generated in the context of the Berlin process when the  Security Commitments Steering Group its third meeting on 31 January 2020 in Sofia, Bulgaria, agreed to create and deliver an illicit finance and anti-corruption roadmap to improve the implementation of existing illicit finance and anti-corruption commitments in a number of shared priority areas.

Accordingly, the jurisdictions of the Western Balkans, UNODC and RAI are looking forward to implementing the initiatives agreed through the Roadmap.

The UNODC work on the  Roadmap is funded by the Governments of the UK and Germany and is undertaken in the context of the decisions of the Security Commitments Steering Group of the Berlin Process, within which the Governments of the region have endorsed this initiative. It is implemented in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

Over 300kg of cocaine seized at Durres Port, Albania

24 June 2021, Durres, Albania: A seizure of 324.4kg of cocaine, with a locally estimated street value over 16 million euros, was made in a truck attempting to depart Albania but intercepted at Durres Port. Following the inspection protocols and the use of non-intrusive inspection techniques, anomalies were noted in the spare fuel tank of the truck. With the help of the Durres Port Control Unit (PCU) officers, trained in specialized search and examination techniques, 300 packages were recovered and field-tested positive for cocaine.

The routing of the truck showed that it entered Albania through the Qafa Thana Border Crossing Point (BCP), on the border with North Macedonia. The driver of the truck, a national of North Macedonia, was arrested and turned over to the Prosecution Office for further criminal investigation.

The PCU officers, some of whom also have judicial police functions, are actively involved in analyzing the risk indicators to determine elements associated with the origins, transit route and final destination of the vehicle. As a result of this analysis, officers will benefit from the various risk metrics refining thereby local risk indicators and building knowledge and experience for improved interdiction results and trade facilitation.

Since the beginning of 2021, the Durres PCU officers contributed to the seizure of over half a ton of cocaine.

The Durres PCU was established and is supported by the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme and contributions from various donors, the current one being the Government  of France.

Container Control Programme delivered the second part of the basic theoretical training for the Air Cargo Control Unit at Belgrade International Airport

22-24 June 2021, online:  The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) delivered the second part of the basic theoretical training for the customs and border police officers who will form part of the future Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) within the inter-agency group composed of a CCP ACCU and a UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF), supported by CCP and AIRCOP.

The online training further explored training topics included in the basic theoretical cycle, such as detection of smuggling and insider threats, and provided the opportunity to review new information and share best practices for successful identification and interdiction of illicit cargo coming across the Belgrade Airport.

The training was carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC participates in discussion on police cooperation in South Eastern Europe

17-18 June 2021, online: UNODC participated in the 7th Meeting of the Thematic Working Group on Joint Investigation Teams (JIT) Expert Network within the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe (PCC SEE) organized by the PCC SEE Secretariat and provided the opening remarks.

The PCC SEE Contracting Parties have from the onset deemed the field of JITs a central priority for their operational cooperation and have for this purpose established a dedicated working group, namely the JIT Expert Network. Over the past years and building on the advancements that have been achieved in this prominent field with the strong support of relevant EU agencies and partner organizations, the JIT Expert Network has been focusing on various JIT-related topics.

In this respect, the meeting was dedicated to the topics of organized property crime and fighting illegal immigration and attended by regional and international organizations including the European Centre for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL), IPA 2019 project represented by the Center for International Legal Cooperation (CILC) and the Italian Ministry of Interior, German Federal Police, Guardia Civil, EUROJUST JITs Network Secretariat, EUROPOL, OSCE, Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC), South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) and UNODC.

More specifically, the participants discussed EU initiatives in organized property crime cases, best practices and lessons learned in cross-border cooperation, cooperation within EU and beyond including JITs and other forms of cooperation in the fight against illegal immigration.

During his intervention, the UNODC representative underlined importance of JIT-related activities targeting the PCC SEE Contracting Parties by UNODC and presented the types of support UNODC offers in 2021 and beyond, through its Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, particularly in the area of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.

PCC SEE parties and partners exchange views on tackling organized crime in the region

16 June 2021, online: UNODC participated in the 21st Meeting of the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe (PCC SEE) Secretariat Committee of Ministers to discuss organized crime threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and cooperation to address irregular migration in the Western Balkans.

Among the key topics of this ministerial event was the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the situation whereby organised criminal groups not only continued to operate, but even intensified their criminal activities. Criminals quickly seized the opportunities presented by the crisis and adapted their illicit activities to the context of the crisis. As a result, the threats posed by counterfeit goods and various fraud schemes, financial and cybercrime have increased. Preventing the exploitation of the pandemic by organised crime has become a priority for law enforcement and the increasing complexity of cross-border threats has made closer security cooperation increasingly important at all levels.

In the same token, irregular migration remains a challenge still faced by the jurisdictions of the region which shows the continuing need for coordinated cooperation and mutual support in order to ensure a more effective joint action against the intensifying migratory situation, as well as to prevent the emergence of future migration crises.

Against this backdrop, the PCC SEE Secretariat convened a discussion with the Contracting Parties as well as regional and international organizations operating in the region, including UNODC, FRONTEX and others to share experience and lessons learned as well as to compare notes thus contributing to a more effective performance and policy dialogue. Accordingly, the participants explored measures assisting the promotion of operational cooperation.

During the event, the UNODC representative made an intervention, presenting the UNODC’s assessments of the COVID-19 impact on the law enforcement work, as well as mentioning inter alia the ongoing EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control whereby UNODC supports the establishments of control units at ports and airports aimed to support counter-trafficking action in the region to address the challenges posed by illicit drugs and organized crime where enhanced cooperation is needed. In addition, the UNODC representative reiterated the office’s readiness to further develop cooperation with PCC SEE Secretariat and the Contracting Parties to promote comprehensive security in line with the Memorandum of Understanding signed between both parties and underlined the role of PCC SEE Secretariat and Hungary, currently holding the Chairmanship-in-Office, as observers to the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

For more information: https://www.pccseesecretariat.si/

UNODC and OSCE kick off the project on Strengthening North Macedonia's Counterterrorism Finance System in 2021-2022

14-16 June 2021, North Macedonia / online: UNODC and OSCE jointly organized the first online foundation training course on Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) for participants from the Ministries of Defense, Finance, Interior, Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecuting Organized Crime and Corruption, and Customs of North Macedonia.

The course was delivered in the form of lectures, exercises, and case studies. Specific topics such as the difference between money laundering and terrorist finance, terrorism funding cycle, and the requirements of terrorist organizations were covered in detail, which provided participants with an enhanced understanding of CFT threats that they can then apply in the workplace.

The CFT Foundation Course is designed to raise awareness, establish key principles, and provide some fundamental elements required in CFT to a wide range of national government partners. This course is an important first stage in a wider curriculum of courses and learning that will provide participants with the knowledge and tools to contribute to important efforts in the development of intelligence and evidence to identify and prosecute terrorists as well as disrupt the activities of terrorist groups. The aim is to build an inter-agency group of CFT practitioners, called national trainers, who will be able to train their peers in CFT matters.

This training is part of a comprehensive 2-year programme to support North Macedonia in detecting, investigating and disrupting CFT more effectively. Once the course is completed, the national trainers will gradually take over the training and maintenance of CFT capabilities in North Macedonia using a national CFT curriculum that will be developed with UNODC assistance.

This project is conducted in the framework of UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe in cooperation with the Global Programme Against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime, and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML) and is funded by the Government of the United States of America.

North Macedonia and UNODC review next steps towards enhanced border control 

7-11 June 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) and the Head of the UNODC Programme Office in Skopje met with officials from the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office in charge of the Fight Against Corruption in North Macedonia as well as with senior representatives from Border Police and Customs Administration in North Macedonia and INTERPOL to finalize the next steps of the establishment of the Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) at the Skopje International Airport, to form part of the inter-agency group to be composed of an AIRCOP JAITF and a UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) within the EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control.

The meetings allowed counterparts to agree upon the official designation of officers by the law enforcement agencies, including the numbers of staff to be assigned to the inter-agency group with focus on gender balance. The allocation of an office space inside the main terminal building at the Skopje International Airport for the inter-agency group was also confirmed, which will enable the refurbishment of the premises.

In parallel to the meetings, UNODC conducted a full-day workshop in support of the production of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the JAITF component (General/Analysis/Field Operations) of the inter-agency group, which is a key element of the way the group will function and report. The draft SOPs will be prepared by UNODC and incorporated in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to be signed between the participating law enforcement agencies of the country in late 2021. 

This activity was conducted under the framework of the 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 implemented by the CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

South Eastern Europe and UNODC address trafficking in persons for the purposes of sexual exploitation through international cooperation

9-10 June 2021, online: UNODC in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior of Serbia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France organized the Regional Expert Group Meeting (REGM) on “Addressing trafficking in persons (TIP) for the purposes of sexual exploitation through international cooperation”.

The REGM allowed to advance the discussion on effective action to prevent and combat TIP for the purposes of sexual exploitation, through comprehensive approach in the countries of origin, transit and destination that includes international cooperation as well as to understand a variety of international instruments in combating this form of TIP. Moreover, the event served as a platform to exchange challenges and good practices in the field of bilateral, regional and international cooperation, and to provide a set of concrete actions for future engagement in order to tackle the issue of TIP for sexual exploitation in the most efficient manner.

Over 110 practitioners from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 as well as Austria, France, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland attended the meeting, thus providing for an exchange of experiences and best practices on the topic. International organizations, including the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (EUROJUST), EUROPOL, the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), INTERPOL, the Law Enforcement Agency against trafficking in human beings (OCRTEH), OSCE, the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe Secretariat (PCC SEE) and Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC) also attended and contributed to the discussions.

Among the discussed topics were the national practices in combating TIP for sexual exploitation through international cooperation, current efforts and approaches and international cooperation experiences to providing greater support to victims of TIP.

As an outcome of the REGM, a document with Key Conclusions and Recommendations will be drafted and shared with all the participants for comments and subsequent endorsement.

This REGM is the fourth in the series of five, which form part of the Regional Initiative on TIP in South Eastern Europe aimed at supporting the region in this area during the COVID-19 pandemic. The next REGM will focus on addressing trafficking in children, particularly for the purpose of forced criminality to be held in July 2021.

The financial support for this event was provided by the Government of France and the Government of Sweden.

UNODC held an inter-institutional exchange of information meeting on firearms trafficking cases in Serbia

9 June 2021, Nis, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a meeting to foster inter-institutional exchange of information in firearms trafficking cases for ten participants from prosecution offices, criminal and border  police, and customs officers operating at  the border crossing points between Serbia and Bulgaria / North Macedonia.

The meeting presented an opportunity to review the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code by the relevant practitioners. Consequently, the adjudicated cases on firearms seizures at respective border crossings were presented, and good practices and challenges were identified along with the remedial solutions to address firearms trafficking and improve the information sharing.

The main outcomes of the event were the achieved consensus on compliance of domestic criminal legislation with the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime  (UNTOC) and the UN Firearms Protocol; profiling the needs of the first line responders during pre-investigation; investigation and indicting stages of firearms-related cases; utilizing tracing procedures and international cooperation tools to address  firearms trafficking.

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme supports cross-border cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro

8-9 June 2021, Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) supported technical level meetings between the customs officials from the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Revenue an Customs Administration of Montenegro, as well as Coordinators of the Port Control Units (PCUs) in Gradiška and Bar respectively.

The meetings allowed to discuss further development of cooperation through information exchange and mutual support in operational matters with the focus on profiling and identifying high risk containers and other shipments with the aim of discovering, retaining and seizing counterfeit and/or illegally traded goods entering, or being in transit through, the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

The significance and expected success of enhanced mutual support and cooperation in operational work has been assessed as considerable by the officials of both administrations, as it will support not only law enforcement, but also the business industry in both countries.

Furthermore, both administrations agreed to further support the designation of contact offices within the respective customs authorities who will be responsible for further cooperation enhancing and promotion of the specific goals relevant to the law enforcement measures.

The counterparts from Montenegro also visited the PCU Gradiška, one of the most recent PCUs established in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and regionally. The visit provided an opportunity for detailed discussions among the PCUs Coordinators on challenges and specifics of work in the seaport (Bar) and land-border (Gradiška), and resulted in an agreement to continue cooperation among the PCUs in the region.

This monitoring activity was carried out within the framework of the 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 conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s efforts in countering trafficking and counterfeiting supported

7 June 2021, Gradiška, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) conducted a monitoring visit to the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land-border crossing Gradiška, as part of the Programme’s standard methodology aimed at supporting the unit through direct engagement with PCU officers on implementation and challenges faced.

In addition to regular support and discussions on CCP implementation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and activities to be delivered in the second half of 2021, the visit allowed to discuss and analyze the recently achieved significant result of the PCU in interdicting a machine for packaging cigarettes that was deceptively reported for import to Bosnia and Herzegovina as a machine for food products packing.

According to intelligence and open source data collected by the unit, the machine had the capacity of producing 2000 cigarettes/minute, or more then 1.000.000 cigarettes per working day. The production of cigarettes was, most likely, intended for sale at the EU market.

This monitoring activity was carried out within the framework of the 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 conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe

Private sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina supported in addressing firearms trafficking in fast parcels

5 June 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) delivered a training for the private courier company operating for UPS in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the detection of firearms in fast parcels.

The training focused on the implementation of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the detection of firearms, their parts and ammunition by the private company, as well as topics such as risk assessment, evidence handling, identification of firearms, health and safety. The participants have enhanced their knowledge on firearms trafficking threats and the applicable legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the requirements to counter firearms trafficking during the process of import and export of fast parcels. 

This training was the first event organized by UNODC GFP for a fast courier company in the country. The engagement with private courier companies on the detection of firearms in fast parcels contributes to an increased detection rate leading towards an improved efficiency of the Customs of Bosnia and Herzegovina contributing thereby to the overall efforts in countering illicit firearms trafficking.

This activity is funded by Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

Bosnia and Herzegovina supported with equipment to address firearms trafficking

4 June 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) supports the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) of Bosnia and Herzegovina to increase knowledge and skills in detecting firearms in postal parcels. The UNODC activities in this area are part of the joint project conducted in cooperation with UNDP in Bosnia and Herzegovina on “Halting Arms and Lawbreaking Trade” (HALT).

The project’s  overall objective is to improve the security and safety in Bosnia and Herzegovina by  supporting the country in reaching the goals established under the Roadmap for a sustainable solution to the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and their ammunition in the Western Balkans by 2024. Accordingly, the provision and deployment of equipment for intercepting firearms trafficking in postal shipments is part of the support provided by UNODC to ITA.

In this context, UNODC GFP organized a handover ceremony to transfer the first batch of equipment to BH Poste, HP Mostar, Poste Srpske and Customs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which included five laptops, to be followed by x-ray scanners and field test kits. The ceremony was held in the presence of the ITA Customs and Law Enforcement department representatives.

This activity is funded by Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

Bosnia and Herzegovina supported in addressing firearms trafficking in postal parcels

4 June 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) conducted the second workshop for representatives from the Public Postal Offices in Bosnia and Herzegovina and from the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) on developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the detection of firearms in postal parcels. The objective was to present and review the comments provided by BH Pošte, HP Mostar, Pošte Srpske and ITA on the draft SOPs prepared by UNODC GFP.

During the workshop, UNODC GFP underlined the importance of common set of rules for processing mail traffic and presented to the participants additional suggestions, highlighting the importance of harmonization of the SOPs with ITA’s operating procedures. Progress towards the final SOPs text has been made by identifying the additional information to be reflected in the SOPs, which will be approved by the heads of the addressed institutions.

This activity was funded by Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC held an online training on identification and tracing of firearms for Serbian prosecutors

4 June 2021, online: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a training on identification and tracing of firearms for 19 prosecutors from the Serbian Prosecutor’s Offices specializing in different fields on the state level.

The event was conducted using four UNODC’s training video modules on: pistols and revolvers; carabines and shotguns; sub-machine guns and assault rifles; and firearms tracing. The playback of each module was subsequently followed by a UNODC GFP presentation on the specific topic, allowing the prosecutors to make remarks, ask for clarifications and share their experiences. 

As a result of the training, the prosecutors acquired the basic knowledge on different types of firearms, their components and ammunition, and were familiarized with using firearms markings in tracing procedures, which will be useful in the investigations of illicit firearms trafficking and recognizing possible links to organized crime. The video material will be handed over to the Judicial Academy to ensure sustainability in the capacity-building of Serbian prosecutors.

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UN welcomes creation of GlobE Network to end cross-border corruption

3 June 2021, Vienna, Austria/online: The first ever UN General Assembly special session against corruption welcomed the launch of a new global network today to “develop a quick, agile and efficient tool for combatting cross-border corruption offences.”

The Global Operational Network of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities (GlobE Network) offers UN Member States and States parties to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) the ability to connect anti-corruption practitioners with their counterparts in different countries. It provides channels for secure and informal information exchange on specific cases, legislation, intelligence and anti-corruption tools.

“The Network will enable law enforcement authorities to navigate legal processes through informal cooperation across borders, helping to build trust and bring those guilty of corruption to justice,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a special video message. “We expect the Globe Network to empower all countries with practical solutions and tools to track, investigate and prosecute corruption, complementing existing frameworks.”

The GlobE Network was officially launched at an in-person event at the Vienna International Centre, along with an online option. More than 340 representatives of Member States, including Montenegro, anti-corruption authorities and law enforcement networks participated. They discussed the importance of timely cross-border cooperation to end corruption and the unique role of the GlobE Network.

“Conceived during the G20’s first-ever ministerial meeting on anti-corruption in 2020, this network will put into action an important provision of the Convention: the improvement of direct cooperation between law enforcement authorities,” said Ms. Ghada Waly, Executive Director of UNODC.

“Many countries are still not able to access anti-corruption networks whether due to decentralized processes or lack of capacity and resources”, said H.E. Mr. Mazin Ibrahim M Al Kahmous, President, Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority, Nazaha, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. “The G20 ‘Riyadh Initiative’ to create the GlobE Network, is meant to address this gap.”

Initial funding for the GlobE Network was provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia during their G20 Presidency and as the chair of the Anti-Corruption Working Group of the G20. The GlobE Network will be headquartered in Vienna under the auspices of the UNODC.

The Global Operational Network of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities (GlobE Network) is a platform for secure peer-to-peer information exchange and informal cooperation to better track and prosecute cross-border corruption offences and recover stolen assets. Founded in 2021, the GlobE Network is open to anti-corruption law enforcement authorities in all UN Member States and States parties to the UNCAC.

For more information:

https://globenetwork.unodc.org

UN welcomes creation of GlobE Network to end cross-border corruption (unodc.org)

Intelligence & Targeting Risk Management Training held in Bosnia and Herzegovina

31 May-3 June 2021, Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina / online: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) organized the Intelligence & Targeting Risk Management Training for the officers of Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) of Bosnia and Herzegovina who form part of the Port Control Units (PCUs) operating within the CCP framework, and other officers involved in ITA work in the areas of intelligence, risk analyses and targeting high-risk shipments imported/exported and/or transiting through Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Delivered in a hybrid  modality, the training set the occasion for experienced trainers from UNODC, UK border and customs authorities, the Customs Administration of Croatia, as well trainers from ITA to present and discuss current trends, methodologies and experiences in fighting organized crime and smuggling across international borders. In addition, the topics of transnational organized crime, challenges and responses of the law enforcement agencies (LEAs), profiling and analyses processes and regional cooperation among LEAs were presented during the training.

The training also provided the opportunity to observe models of regional and international cooperation among the PCUs in the region of Central Asia that contribute to the real-time exchange of information and enhance cooperation and support among the participatory customs and other law enforcement administrations.

The training was carried out under the framework of the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme, supported by the Government of the UK. 

UNODC supports prosecutors on firearms-related case law in North Macedonia

2 June, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) hosted an online workshop to present the Case Law of North Macedonia and harmonisation of the court practice regarding firearms cases. The participants included prosecutors and defense attorneys, as well as representatives from the basic and higher prosecution offices in Skopje, Bitola, Gostivar, and Stip who covered all four main prosecutorial areas.

The primary goal of the event was to present the findings of the report on the “Analysis of Judgments for the Criminal Offenses of Illicit Manufacturing, Possession and Trade in Firearms”,  prepared by UNODC GFP, and provide a forum for discussion and feedback  to further supplement the Case Law collection document, which covers 2014-2019 and is the first of its kind in the country.

The participants recommended to further develop the document by supplementing it with the recently adjudicated cases so as to create a periodic mechanism for analysis and systematization, to be updated every year. They also endorsed the promotion of the document at the regional level in order to provide a comparative approach with similar studies from other jurisdictions in the region thus contributing to a greater harmonization of the case law across the Western Balkans.

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC held an online training on identification and tracing of firearms for Montenegrin prosecutors

1 June 2021, online: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) and the Centre for training of judges and prosecutors in Montenegro held a joint training on the identification and tracing of firearms for 15 prosecutors,  representing  different specialties  and territorial competencies at the state level.

The event was conducted using four UNODC training video modules on: pistols and revolvers; carabines and shotguns; sub-machine guns and assault rifles; and firearms tracing. The playback of each module was subsequently followed by a UNODC GFP presentation on the specific topic, allowing the prosecutors to make remarks, ask for clarifications and share their experiences. 

As a result of the training, the prosecutors acquired the basic knowledge on different types of firearms, their components and ammunition, and were familiarized with using firearms markings in tracing procedures, which is useful in the investigations of illicit firearms trafficking and recognizing possible links to organized crime. The video material will be handed over to the Centre, in order to assure sustainability in the capacity-building of Montenegrin prosecutors.

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC held the third workshop with judges towards completion of the case law document in Serbia

28 May 2021, Novi Sad, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held the third workshop with the Serbian judges on firearms-related case law. The objective of the event was to complete the development of UNODC’s case law collection and to introduce new firearms-related court cases linked to firearms seizures at border crossing points between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Croatia respectively. The newly obtained cases will cover the court practice in firearms-related cases along Western Balkan Route.

The participants agreed to supplement the case law collection with content on domestic legislation in compliance with United Nation Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its Firearms Protocol, and official statistical data on sentencing policy. In the upcoming period, a review group will be formed with the participating  judges with an aim to finalize the case law collection followed by  subsequent meetings  with the Supreme Court, High Judicial Council and Judicial Academy to coordinate the  publication and distribution of the case law collection.    

This activity is implemented with the financial support provided by Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Norway through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund and supported by the European Union.

UNODC introduces the Asset Recovery initiative in South Eastern Europe

26 May 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC met with the Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s office of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Ministry of Justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina to introduce the Asset Recovery project, a regional initiative in the six Western Balkans jurisdictions aimed to enhance the capacity of the region to recover the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, as well as to strengthen the exchange of relevant information or evidence leading to seizures and confiscations across the participating jurisdictions.

On this occasion, UNODC presented the upcoming activities to be implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina within the Asset Recovery project, including the development of an Asset Recovery Strategy/Action plan; development of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) – Asset Recovery guide; the drafting of the Modus Operandi Manual for international cooperation; and the development of methodology for the collection of data relevant to the asset recovery process.

The Asset Recovery activities in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

Bosnia and Herzegovina supported in the fight against corruption with the development of the Regional Roadmap on Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance

24-26 May 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC in cooperation with the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI), convened a series of meetings with the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss the activities for the development of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap (Roadmap), including the Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Agency for Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of the fight against Corruption (APIK), the Public Procurement Agency, the Ministry of Security and the State Agency for Investigation and Protection (SIPA).

Through the Roadmap, UNODC will support the six Western Balkans jurisdictions in streamlining their anti-corruption and illicit finance obligations and the recommendations of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and its Review Mechanism, the European Commission progress reports, the Council of the Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Moneyval).

The meetings allowed to present the objectives of the Roadmap and discuss the relevant priorities, including in the areas of public procurement with an emphasis on procurement in the health sector and to secure further cooperation in these areas.

Further development and formal adoption of the Roadmap will take place in North Macedonia in June 2021, whereby the main stakeholders from the region will be convened and agree on the way forward with the Roadmap implementation thus ensuring the ownership of the jurisdictions and tailor-made approach for stronger impact and efficiency.

The UNODC work on the  Roadmap is funded by the Governments of the UK and Germany and is undertaken in the context of the decisions of the Security Commitments Steering Group of the Berlin Process, within which the Governments of the region have endorsed this initiative. It is implemented in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

Bosnia and Herzegovina supported in investigations and adjudication of foreign terrorist fighter cases

24-25 May 2021, online: UNODC participated in the seminar on ‘Investigations and adjudication of foreign terrorist fighter cases’ organized by the Centre for Judicial and Prosecutorial Training of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and provided the opening remarks.

The seminar allowed to review some of the main aspects of the phenomenon of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF), including the current international legal framework, the use of the internet for terrorism purposes, and the role of Special Investigative Techniques and digital evidence in the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases concerning FTF.

During the event, UNODC presented an overview of its work in this area and linked the seminar with the outcomes of the recently completed UNODC project on “Strengthening the Legal Regime Against Emerging Terrorist Threats, Including Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF) in South Eastern Europe” co-funded by the United States of America.  

The project aimed to support together with the Centre for Judicial and Prosecutorial Training of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and other judicial academies from South Eastern Europe, the development of a specialized training module for criminal justice practitioners on the prosecution of FTFs, and the implementation of this module in the training curricula of the jurisdictions in the region, the seminar being an example of this work.

In addition, UNODC produced a Manual on FTFs for Judicial Training Institutes of South Eastern Europe within this project in 2017, which was updated in 2019, with funding from the European Union, and translated into the languages of the region allowing for a bigger outreach.

For more information and access to the Manual:

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/terrorism/latest-news/2017-ftf-manual.html

https://www.unodc.org/pdf/terrorism/Foreign_Terrorist_Fighters_Handbook/EN_Foreign_Terrorist_Fighters_Ebook.pdf

UNODC supports practitioners in South Eastern Europe and Italy in addressing drug use disorders among youths

17-24 May 2021, online: UNODC organized a regional capacity development workshop on “Treatnet Family: Elements of Family Based Treatment for Youths with Drug Use Disorders including in Contact with the Criminal Justice System: Creating Societies Resilient to Drugs and Crime” for practitioners in South Eastern Europe and Italy with the kind support of the Government of Italy.

Adolescence is a time when an individual pattern of biopsychosocial risk and protective factors might increase or reduce vulnerability for the initiation of substance use or involvement in delinquency. Family can be both a risk and a protective factor and Treatnet Family is designed to enhance and strengthen the protective potential of family interactions in families with adolescents using substances including drugs. Treatnet Family is a science-informed training package on elements of family therapy, intended to support practitioners in the health, social and criminal justice sectors who work with youths and their families in resource limited settings, including those in contact with the criminal justice system. Treatnet Family is part of UNODC’s overall Treatnet training package for the treatment of drug use disorders and the initial development was supported by the government of Japan. Implementation has previously shown positive effects in reducing substance use, improving family functioning and mental health.

© Nick Danziger for the UNODC-WHO programme on Drug Dependence Treatment and Care

“Human connection is the opposite of addiction” could have been the motto of the UNODC Treatnet Family workshop with countries from South Eastern Europe and Italy: 35 practitioners from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, working with adolescents with substance use problems in their daily practice, joined the online meeting and in a participatory way enhanced their knowledge and skills on addressing issues related to drug use disorders among youths and related problems associated with family settings. The Treatnet Family trainers Molly Bobek and Hendrik Roozen in this workshop are experienced family therapies and trainers.

© Nick Danziger for the UNODC-WHO programme on Drug Dependence Treatment and Care

Treatnet Family focused on theoretical foundations and core assumptions of family therapy, the spectrum of substance use and substance use disorders and mostly on family therapy core strategies such as reframing and the phases of family therapy work. The five-day online workshop provided ample opportunity for exchange between professionals and to discuss ways to address drug use disorders, particularly among youth, as well as associated challenges.

Participating substance use disorder treatment professionals from the region enhanced their understanding of substance use problems in a systemic perspective and in various role plays learnt to help families break negative cycles in their interactions and instead explore new ways of more supportive interactions and taking care of each other. A practical example of a perspective change and challenging gridlocked family interactions is captured in the phrase “Catch your child doing something nice” instead of looking out for a problem behavior. The event provided the opportunity for exchange and mutual support also at the regional level despite language barriers: the training was supported by simultaneous interpretation into seven languages.

When presenting their follow-up plans, many practitioners indicated their interest to support further expansion of substance use treatment services for adolescents, including through elements of family therapy, in their countries.

For more information:

UNODC Treatnet Family Brochure

UNODC Treatnet Training Package

UNODC Treatnet Family Feasibility Study Report (Indonesia) 

UNODC contributes to the Berlin Process

19 May 2021, online: The fifth Berlin Process Security Commitments Steering Group meeting, under the joint Chairmanship of the United Kingdom and North Macedonia, took place to address important regional topics, including international cooperation which is essential to address existing challenges posing a direct threat to collective security in the region of South Eastern Europe and beyond.

The event was formally opened by Baroness Williams of Trafford, Minister of State (covering Security Minister), UK Home Office, alongside Mr. Oliver Spasovski, Minister of Interior of North Macedonia, and facilitated by the UK Home Office.

The Berlin Process Security agenda was launched at the London Summit in 2018, and brought together for the first time Interior and Security Ministers in signing a Joint Declaration on information exchange in the field of law enforcement, alongside a commitment to deeper regional and international cooperation on tackling transnational organised crime and corruption.

Since then, the Security Commitments Steering Group (SCSG) has been established to facilitate and oversee implementation of these commitments and to bolster relationships between participating states and organisations. With Western Balkan jurisdictions at the centre of focus, the SCSG has convened four meetings in London, Skopje, Sofia and online.

Building on the existing Security Commitments made by the Ministers of the region, the agenda of the fifth SCSG meeting reviewed such topics as the development of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap, led by UNODC, other anti-corruption topics, the Small Arms and Light Weapons roadmap, irregular migration, IISG coordination and donor mapping in the region. The meeting also reviewed the preparations for the Interior and Security Ministers’ meeting, the Berlin Summit and beyond.

UNODC briefed the participants on the development of the Regional Roadmap on Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance in the region and the consultations convened with the regional authorities to identify the main anti-corruption priorities. This work has been undertaken in cooperation with the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI), who provided support and worked jointly with UNODC. The UNODC presentation at the event was also contributed to by the Head of RAI.

The overall objective of the Roadmap initiative is to accelerate the effective implementation of existing anti-corruption and illicit finance commitments such as:

  • United Nations Convention against Corruption Review Mechanism;
  • MONEYVAL Evaluations;
  • GRECO Evaluations;
  • European Commission Reports;
  • Berlin Process Anti-corruption pledges.

The conceptualization of the Roadmap initiative foresees that common challenges identified through the above are best addressed through common solutions that would allow to maximize effect and increase efficiency. While the priorities and main themes chosen for the future interventions will be common to all jurisdictions in the region, different levels of implementation are observed in each of them and the interventions will be tailored to the needs of the respective counterparts.

The participants of the event confirmed their support to the identified below priority topics and the way forward:

  • Public Procurement, including emergency public procurement, including in the health sector;
  • Asset Declarations, conflict of interest, illicit enrichment and beneficial ownership;
  • Creation of a specialized network of corruption and economic crimes prosecutors.

The next step in the development of the Roadmap is the regional event in North Macedonia in the week of 21 June 2021 to conduct the negotiations on the adoption of the technical Roadmap for the identified priority topics.

The UNODC work on the Roadmap is funded by the Governments of the UK and Germany and is undertaken in the context of the decisions of the SCSG.

UNODC held consultations with the authorities in Albania to discuss the Regional Roadmap on Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance

17-19 May 2021, Tirana, Albania: UNODC in cooperation with the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI), convened a series of meetings with the Albanian authorities to discuss the activities for the development of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap (Roadmap), including the Ministry of Justice, the Special Anti-Corruption Structure, the Public Procurement Agency, the High Inspectorate on Declaration and Audit of Assets and Conflicts of Interest (HIDAACI) and the Financial Intelligence Unit of Albania.

Through the Roadmap, UNODC will support the six Western Balkans jurisdictions in streamlining their anti-corruption and illicit finance obligations and the recommendations of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and its Review Mechanism, the European Commission progress reports, the Council of the Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Moneyval).

The meetings in Tirana allowed to present the objectives of the Roadmap and discuss the relevant priorities, including in the areas of public procurement and anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) aimed at countering corruption and illicit financial flows in Albania.

Further development and formal adoption of the Roadmap will take place in North Macedonia in June 2021, whereby the main stakeholders from the region will be convened and agree on the way forward with the Roadmap implementation thus ensuring the ownership of the jurisdictions and tailor-made approach for stronger impact and efficiency.

The UNODC work on the  Roadmap is funded by the Governments of the UK and Germany and is undertaken in the context of the decisions of the Security Commitments Steering Group of the Berlin Process, within which the Governments of the region have endorsed this initiative. It is implemented in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC presents the Asset Recovery project in South Eastern Europe

17-19 May 2021, Tirana, Albania: UNODC met with the Ministry of Justice and the Special Anti-Corruption Structure of Albania to introduce the Asset Recovery initiative, a regional project in the six Western Balkans jurisdictions aimed to enhance the capacity of the addressed jurisdictions to recover the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime and strengthen the exchange of relevant information or evidence leading to seizures and confiscations across the participating jurisdictions.

On this occasion, UNODC presented the upcoming activities to be implemented in Albania within the Asset Recovery project, including the development of practitioners’ guides on different aspects of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) for the purposes of asset recovery; the development of asset recovery roadmap and data collection methodology in the asset recovery process; research on the state of play of asset recovery efforts in the Western Balkans; and training on asset recovery agreements.

The counterparts agreed to pursue cooperation in the area of asset recovery to ensure the smooth implementation of the initiative.

The Asset Recovery activities in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

Bosnia and Herzegovina supported in capacity building on enhanced border control and firearms trafficking

17 May 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: As part of building capacities of the officers of the Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) at the Sarajevo International Airport, the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) organized a CCP Air Cargo workshop for 21 customs and border police officers, as well as representatives from the Directorate for Civil Aviation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Sarajevo Airport.

The workshop, held in the hybrid (online and in-person) modality, provided the participants with the opportunity to review training topics covered in previous training events, while  introducing new information and approaches to successfully identifying and interdicting illicit cargo transiting through the Sarajevo International Airport.

The human rights module, which is part of the Basic Theoretical Training for the ACCU, was also introduced to the participants, focusing on key aspects of human rights in relation to law enforcement. Topics covered included, among others, human rights instruments, the code of conduct for law enforcement officials, application of human rights law and principles and measures pertaining to law enforcement violations of human rights.

In addition, and building on cooperation with other programmes, the UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) also attended the event and presented activities implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the project “Halting Arms and Lawbreaking Trade” (HALT). The UNODC GFP representatives informed the participants about the gaps and needs analysis conducted jointly with the Customs of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the detection of firearms in postal and fast parcels and the standard operating procedures developed for the public and private sectors on the detection of firearms in postal and fast parcels.

The UNODC GFP also introduced its training tools on the identification of firearms, their parts and ammunition and shared information on two court cases concerning the trafficking of firearms across the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina and through a postal parcel. The participants received feedback on the process of collecting evidence in arms trafficking cases and its importance for convicting arms traffickers, which resulted in the raised awareness of the criminal procedure requirements for the successful prosecution of firearms related cases. The activities of UNODC GFP in the framework of the HALT project are supported by Germany, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, France and Norway, and the EU through UN’s Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund.

The workshop was carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC discusses enhanced border control with Montenegro

10-13 May 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro: UNODC conducted consultations with its counterparts in Montenegro in the framework of the EU-UNODC joint action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at airports (border control action), funded by the European Union and implemented by the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme and the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe. 

The UNODC’s continued support to the established with UNODC’s help Port Control Unit (PCU) at the Port of Bar is seen as useful and relevant by the Montenegro authorities, as was reiterated inter alia at the border control action’s Steering Committee meeting in October 2020, whereby the Government’s willingness to be part of the AIRCOP and CCP-Air components was expressed. 

On this basis, UNODC convened meetings with the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Revenue and Customs Administration, Criminal Police Directorate and Border Police Directorate as well as with the management of the Police Administration, the UN Resident Coordinator and the EU Delegation in Montenegro. The meetings allowed to review the existing cooperation with the counterparts within the border control action, discuss common priorities and explore the possibility of extending UNODC activities to the airports in Montenegro.

The consultations with the authorities were welcomed and allowed not only to strengthen the ongoing cooperation but also to secure formal support from the Government for the potential future expansion of the UNODC activities in the area of border control, which would entail the creation of inter-agency groups at airports, composed of an AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) and a CCP Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU).  

In addition, UNODC also met with the UN Resident Coordinator in Montenegro and the EU Delegation to present the ongoing work within the border control action as well as the Government’s request for the expansion of these activities.

For more information:

https://twitter.com/PolicijaCG/status/1392864844039311363?s=08

UNODC supports South Eastern Europe in addressing trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation, especially women and girls, through addressing demand

11-12 May 2021, online: UNODC in collaboration with the Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France organized a Regional Expert Group Meeting (REGM) on “Trafficking in Persons (TIP) for sexual exploitation, especially women and girls, through addressing demand in South Eastern Europe”.

States’ obligations to address demand for TIP for sexual exploitation have been recognised in a number of global and regional international instruments. At the global level, the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol), supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), in its article 9 para. 5 obliges States Parties to “adopt or strengthen legislative or other measures, such as educational, social or cultural measures, including through bilateral and multilateral cooperation, to discourage the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation of persons, especially women and children, that leads to trafficking.”

However, despite a number of international instruments that require states to address the demand side of human trafficking, including through criminalization, the efforts of the states have not yielded significant results and the number of convictions against users of services provided by victims of TIP for sexual exploitation is marginal.

The purpose of the REGM was to advance the discussion on addressing the demand that fosters TIP for the purpose of sexual exploitation, especially women and girls and serve as a platform to discuss the international obligations, conceptual approaches and policy responses to demand factors relating to TIP for sexual exploitation, and to exchange challenges and good practices in addressing it.

Over 140 practitioners from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Kosovo (UNSCR 1244) as well as France, Germany, Spain and Sweden attended the event, which focused on hearing the perspectives of the different stakeholders on various issues related to TIP for the purpose of sexual exploitation. This included interventions on current efforts on this topic, national practices, contemporary approaches, the involvement of the private sector and civil society as well as recent initiatives on research, policy and advocacy.

As an outcome of the REGM, a document with Key Conclusions and Recommendations will be drafted and shared with all the participants for comments and subsequent endorsement.

This REGM is the third in the series of five, which form part of the Regional Initiative on TIP in South Eastern Europe aimed at supporting the region in this area during the COVID-19 pandemic. The next REGM will focus on addressing trafficking in persons for the purposes of sexual exploitation through international cooperation to be held in June 2021.

The financial support for this event was provided by the Government of France and the Government of Sweden.

UNODC introduces the Asset Recovery initiative in South Eastern Europe

10-12 May 2021, Priština, Kosovo (1): UNODC met with the Coordinator for Economic Crime Enforcement of Kosovo to introduce the Asset Recovery project, a regional initiative in the six Western Balkans jurisdictions aimed to enhance the capacity of the region to recover the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, as well as to strengthen the exchange of relevant information or evidence leading to seizures and confiscations across the participating jurisdictions.

On this occasion, UNODC presented the upcoming activities to be implemented in Kosovo within the Asset Recovery project, including the development of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) – Asset Recovery guide for practitioners; the drafting Modus Operandi Manual for international cooperation; and the development of methodology for the collection of data relevant to the asset recovery process

The counterparts agreed on the importance of the asset recovery in the fight against organized crime and corruption, and the need for an improved coordination and regional and interregional cooperation.

The Asset Recovery activities in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

(1) All references to Kosovo should be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).

UNODC continues the preparatory work to develop the Regional Roadmap on Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance in South Eastern Europe

10-12 May 2021, Priština, Kosovo (1) : UNODC in cooperation with the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) continued the consultation process for the development of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap (Roadmap) with the authorities of Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 and convened a series of meetings to advance the implementation of this initiative.

Through the Roadmap, UNODC will support the six Western Balkans jurisdictions in streamlining their anti-corruption and illicit finance obligations and the recommendations of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and its Review Mechanism, the European Commission progress reports, the Council of the Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Moneyval).

During the meetings, UNODC presented the main findings and the relevant priorities in the fight against corruption and illicit financial flows identified during the initial consultations with the relevant stakeholders.

Further development and formal adoption of the Roadmap will take place in North Macedonia in June 2021, whereby the main stakeholders from the region will be convened and agree on the way forward with the Roadmap implementation thus ensuring the ownership of the jurisdictions and tailor-made approach for stronger impact and efficiency.

The UNODC work on the Roadmap is funded by the Governments of the UK and Germany and is undertaken in the context of the decisions of the Security Commitments Steering Group of the Berlin Process, within which the Governments of the region have endorsed this initiative. It is implemented in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

(1) All references to Kosovo should be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).

UNODC contributes to police cooperation in fighting transnational organized crime in South Eastern Europe

11 May 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro / online: UNODC participated in the first hybrid general assembly meeting “Police Cooperation in Fighting Transnational Organized Crime in the Southeast Europe Police Chiefs Cooperation (SEPCA) Region” organized on the basis of the recommendations stemming from the SEPCA Threat Assessment Report 2019.

SEPCA is an organization of police directors, established in 2002, functioning on the Statute signed in 2007 by 10 police services from nine states of the region.

The meeting was organized to discuss ways to identify and establish future models of cooperation in the work of law enforcement agencies for an improved exchange of operational data and implementation of joint activities to counter threats related to property crime, illegal migration, human trafficking, illicit drug trafficking, cybercrime and other forms of organized crime, which are a priority for both the Western Balkans and the European Union.

The meeting was attended by the SEPCA member states and its partners including, Austria, Italy, USA, INTERPOL, EUROPOL, OSCE, the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe Secretariat (PCC SEE), the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL), the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC), the Berlin Process and others as well as UNODC.

During his intervention, the UNODC representative commended the benefits of a strengthened international police cooperation and presented the current UNODC initiatives in the region, including the joint EU-UNODC action on enhanced border control and the development of a Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap. UNODC remains committed to contributing to international cooperation between law enforcement agencies through various fora, including SEPCA.

Montenegro supported in enhanced border control

10 May 2021, Bar, Montenegro: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) conducted a monitoring visit to the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the Port of Bar, as part of the Programme’s established methodology aimed at supporting the Unit through discussions and direct engagement with PCU officers on implementation and challenges faced.

As a part of the visit, the CCP Coordinator for South Eastern Europe met with the officials of the Revenue and Customs Administration and the Border Police Directorate to discuss the CCP implementation in Montenegro and activities to be delivered further in  2021. The PCU at the Port of Bar also received additional tools, equipment and gear as a part of the effort to support the Unit’s operational needs in conducting physical inspections of suspicious containers.

This mentorship activity was carried out within the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

United Nations Volunteers support UNODC in South Eastern Europe 

10 May 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Since 1999, UNODC has been partnering with the United Nations Volunteers (UNVs) programme to place young professionals in support of the UNODC efforts in researching, counteracting and preventing illicit drugs, crime and terrorism. Volunteering abroad is an opportunity for interested persons to serve as a global citizen. International UNVs promote peace and development in communities around the globe, including South Eastern Europe, while upholding the ideals and aspirations of the United Nations. International UNVs come from 160 countries, representing many cultures and backgrounds. They bring a wide variety of perspectives and approaches which lends dynamism to the experience. 

Since 2019, two UNVs have been supporting the implementation of the UNODC mandate in South Eastern Europe, thus contributing to actions towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals, in particular the SDG 16 and 17 on justice and partnerships.

In North Macedonia, a UNV Specialist from South Korea was part of the UNODC Programme Office in Skopje and was engaged in the daily work of the office and assisting with research and analysis, among other topics.

The UNV Youth from the Czech Republic has been supporting the UNODC Programme Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina during her one-year-long assignment with UNODC as a Regional Programme Associate by contributing to the implementation of the UNODC mandate in the country and assisting in actions and tasks aimed at the visibility of the UNODC work in the region of South Eastern Europe. As this assignment is coming to an end in May 2021, the UNV has shared her views on this experience: “Serving as a UNV with UNODC in Bosnia and Herzegovina has turned out to be a life-changing experience both personally and professionally. I would recommend becoming a UNV to everyone wishing to expand their career in an international environment and keen to contribute to achieving the SDGs.”

UNODC is looking forward to the continuation of the cooperation with the UNV programme and the Member States in this regard in the future.

UNODC continues the consultation process in Montenegro for the development of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap

5-7 May 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro: UNODC in partnership with the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI) held a series of meetings with the authorities of Montenegro, including the Ministries of Interior and Finance (Public Procurement Directorate), the Financial Intelligence Unit and the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption to discuss the next steps and priorities for  the preparation of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap (Roadmap).

Through the Roadmap, UNODC will support the six Western Balkans jurisdictions in streamlining their anti-corruption and illicit finance obligations and the recommendations of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and its Review Mechanism, the European Commission progress reports, the Council of the Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Moneyval).

The meetings in Podgorica allowed to discuss the main findings stemming from the initial consultations with the relevant stakeholders in the country and present the future Roadmap priorities, including in the area of public procurement with an emphasis on the procurement in the health sector.

Further development and formal adoption of the Roadmap will take place in North Macedonia in June 2021, whereby the main stakeholders from the region will be convened and agree on the way forward with the Roadmap implementation thus ensuring the ownership of the jurisdictions and tailor-made approach for stronger impact and efficiency.

The UNODC work on the Roadmap is funded by the Governments of the UK and Germany and is undertaken in the context of the decisions of the Security Commitments Steering Group of the Berlin Process, within which the Governments of the region have endorsed this initiative. It is implemented  in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC introduces the Asset Recovery initiative in South Eastern Europe

5-7 May 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro: UNODC met with the High State Prosecutor’s office and the Supreme Court of Montenegro to introduce the Asset Recovery project, a regional initiative in the six Western Balkans jurisdictions aimed to enhance the capacity of the region to recover the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, as well as to strengthen the exchange of relevant information or evidence leading to seizures and confiscations across the participating jurisdictions.

On this occasion, UNODC presented the upcoming activities to be implemented in Montenegro within the Asset Recovery project, including the development of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) – Asset Recovery guide; the drafting of the Modus Operandi Manual for international cooperation; and the development of methodology for the collection of data relevant to the asset recovery process. The meetings also allowed to explore the possibility to create a case law book on Asset Recovery for Montenegro as part of the methodology development for collecting statistical data on the asset recovery process.

The Asset Recovery activities in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

UNODC supports regional anti-corruption dialogues in South Eastern Europe

6 May 2021, online: UNODC participated in the presentation of the reports of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) on "Political Economy of Organized Corruption and Anti-Corruption in the Western Balkans" and "Western Balkans anti-corruption pledges monitor". The launch convened with the participation of a number of stakeholders, including the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI), academia, UK as well as UNODC.

The reports focus on political economy of corruption and anti-corruption monitoring in the region, and provided the basis for a discussion on the current challenges but also ways forward in the area of anti-corruption, as well as the opportunity to gauge progress since the launch of the Berlin Process in 2014, an initiative aimed at stepping up regional cooperation in the Western Balkans and aiding the integration into the European Union, and the anti-corruption pledges made by the governments of South Eastern Europe during the London Summit in 2018.

During the event, the UNODC expert presented the office’s work in anti-corruption in the region, particularly the development of the Regional Roadmap on Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance aimed to deliver tangible improvements to the implementation of existing national anti-corruption/anti-illicit finance measures, international standards and recommendations. In these efforts, UNODC is consulting with all relevant counterparts in the region, including the GI.

For more information:

Western Balkans anti-corruption pledges monitor | GITOC SEE-Obs (globalinitiative.net)

Infrastructure-of-integrity-24-GITOC.pdf (globalinitiative.net)

Infrastructure-of-integrity-34-GITOC.pdf (globalinitiative.net)

UNODC met with the Ministry of Interior of North Macedonia to discuss cooperation in firearms trafficking

6 May 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a meeting with the Head of the Unit for Firearms in the Ministry of Interior and member of the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW). The discussions focused on international and bilateral cooperation in firearms cases, primarily with bordering jurisdictions and the possibility of forming Joint Investigative Teams (JITs) building on the progress of the previous successful operations of the police forces of North Macedonia and neighbouring jurisdictions.

The counterparts agreed on the importance of involving the prosecution in the process of international cooperation in firearms trafficking given their leading role in the investigation. The Ministry of Interior of North Macedonia also expressed readiness to participate in future trainings and workshops focusing on the new trends in firearms trafficking as well as different types and components of firearms organized by UNODC as well as to nominate a focal point for firearms at the Ministry for an improved cooperation and coordination of efforts. 

This activity was conducted in the framework of the regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Arms Trafficking supported supported by Germany, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, France and Norway, and the EU through UN’s Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Trust Fund.

Container Control Programme supports development of Standard Operating Procedures for law enforcement agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina

4-6 May 2021, Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) supported a workshop for officers of the Border Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Indirect Taxation Authority to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the Port Control Units and the Air Cargo Control Unit operational in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The SOPs represent a written document / a set of instructions that outline the steps involved in a specific procedure or process. According to the global good practices, well-developed SOPs contribute to, among other elements, increased productivity through consistency, optimized quality control processes, the retention of expert knowledge and continuous improvements through enhancement based on experience and technological advancements.

This workshop represents the continuation of online meetings and desk review activities conducted during April 2021, which engaged experienced customs and border police officers in the drafting of the new SOPs document. The workshop enabled participating officers to further discuss and analyze all elements of the SOPs to be included.

The workshop on the development of the SOPs was implemented within the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC participates in a conference on preventing document fraud – cooperation in the Western Balkan region

29 April 2021, online: UNODC joined the conference organized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Transnational Threats Department in close cooperation with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) Center of Excellence to exchange views on the prevention of document fraud in South Eastern Europe.

The conference gathered participants from the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Migration Asylum Refugee Regional Initiative Regional Centre (MARRI), Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC), Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe Secretariat (PCC SEE), and national law enforcement authorities from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.

The main objective of the meeting was to present a draft document as a joint product of the participating organizations originating from the conclusions of the initial conference on the subject in 2019. The draft document is intended for the decision-makers as a reference for assessing the existing capabilities and identifying gaps in the processes and resources allocated for document check-in border control. All the participants recognized that document and identity fraud remain one of the biggest challenges for international and national security as it is a key element of various criminal activities.

UNODC acknowledged the potential to incorporate teaching activities regarding document fraud in its current programme work, particularly in the framework of the EU-funded border control action implemented by UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP), in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe

UNODC holds a workshop on WCO CENcomm and INTERPOL capabilities 

26-29 April 2021, online: In cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) organized a four-day online workshop on WCO CENcomm and INTERPOL capabilities for 28 customs and borders police officers in North Macedonia. As communication often represents one of the major challenges faced by law enforcement agencies worldwide, the capacity to exchange and disseminate information in a secure environment is imperative for any law enforcement agency during border clearance-related operations.

In this context, WCO’s CENcomm and INTERPOL’s I-24/7 were conceived as secure communication systems allowing a closed user group of officers to exchange messages securely, in real time, for the duration of an operation or project. These tools enhance the information sharing capabilities of the law enforcement, while keeping connected different task-forces located worldwide through a safe network and allowing access to global criminal databases which facilitate the identification and detection of high-risk passengers, cargo and mail. They also connect national law enforcement authorities with other countries at the regional and international levels and offer the possibility to extend action beyond borders.

Delivered by experienced international experts from both WCO and INTERPOL, the workshop aimed to enhance the knowledge on WCO and INTERPOL capabilities in terms of law enforcement support, familiarizing the participants with CENcomm and I-24/7 secured communication systems, specific search tools and global crime databases, highlighting the best practices and lessons learned from previous operations. The workshop also raised the awareness toward the adoption of a risk-based approach against the threats targeting international airports.

A number of the participants of the workshop will be part of the future AIRCOP Joint Airport Investigation Task Force (JAITF) which forms part of the inter-agency group along with the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) at the Skopje International Airport,  formally established following the signing of the related Letter of Agreement between UNODC and the Government of North Macedonia, in January 2021.

This activity was conducted in the framework of the EU-UNODC joint action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe. 

Webinar for Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams on Voluntary Local Reviews

28 April 2021, online: UNODC participated in the Webinar for Resident Coordinators (RCs) and UN Country Teams on Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) organized by the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the United Nations Development Coordination Office. The aim of the webinar was to hold an informal exchange on subnational reviews of SDG implementation, also called the VLRs, conducted by cities and regions.   

The webinar was intended to help guide the support of the RCs and UN Country Teams in VLRs preparation. It provided a succinct overview of the VLRs and available guidance materials and knowledge products for the process and showcase how the different UN Country Teams have been involved in the VLR preparations. While the VLRs are not directly mandated by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, these reviews can help cities and regions to update and transform their SDG implementation.  

During the webinar, an overview of VLRs was provided by the UN DESA, who underscored the multiple benefits of the VLRs in enhancing the implementation of the SDGs for cities and regions. Even though the reviews do not currently hold an official status at the UN, they can: support integrated policy-making; coordination within the governments; serve as a catalyst for increased engagement with multiple stakeholders and boost a data collection; serve as a communication tool between different levels of government and strengthen multi-level governance; or provide an opportunity for local governments to find new partners for resources and collaboration.  

Likewise, the Global Guiding Elements for VLRs developed by UN DESA and other guidance materials were also presented. These guiding elements draw upon the Secretary-General’s Voluntary common reporting guidelines for Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), which have proven useful for member States’ efforts in reporting on their progress.

Committed to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the countries of South Eastern Europe, including Albania (in 2018), Bosnia and Herzegovina (in 2019), North Macedonia (in 2020), Montenegro (in 2016) and Serbia (in 2019), published the VNRs in the past providing the information on progress made in achieving the global goals.

UNODC joins RACVIAC’s Multinational Advisory Group meeting

28 April 2021, Ohrid, North Macedonia/online: The UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe virtually participated in the 45th Multinational Advisory Group (MAG) Meeting of the Centre for Security Cooperation in South Eastern Europe (RACVIAC) held in a hybrid format in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the meeting, the members of RACVIAC reiterated the importance of the regional cooperation and expressed their commitment to supporting the various existing processes, including through the regional organizations promoting dialogue and cooperation on security issues in South Eastern Europe. They underlined that despite the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, it is important to remain committed to continued efforts aimed at practical results. Furthermore, an overview of RACVIAC’s 2020 Annual Report was provided in addition to a review of the implementation of the RACVIAC 2020 Programme, as well as the adoption of the updated 2021 Programme and the projection for the 2022 Programme.

MAG supported the proposal of the Republic of Albania and concluded to prolong the mandate of the RACVIAC Director for an additional year, while inviting Romania to provide a nominee for the position of MAG Chairperson in view of the alphabetical rotation principle. The members agreed to hold the 46th MAG meeting on 12 October 2021 in RACVIAC premises in Rakitje, Croatia.

Cooperation between UNODC and RACVIAC is based on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2013 stipulating that the Parties will aim to consolidate, develop and detail their cooperation and effectiveness to achieve the common objectives in the field of rule of law and security.

UNODC meets with the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss enhanced border control

27-28 April 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC met with the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss the implementation of the EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control and agree on the next steps for the implementation of the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) component. The meetings were attended by representatives from the Ministry of Security, Border Police, Indirect Taxation Authority, Directorate for Coordination of Police Bodies, the State Investigations and Protection Agency, the Directorate for Civil Aviation and the EU Delegation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The discussions with the authorities focused on the establishment of the AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force at the Sarajevo International Airport and the related topics including staff and space allocation, working methodology, information sharing and inter-agency cooperation with a view to establish solid grounds for the implementation of the action, which would materialize through the signature of a Letter of Agreement between UNODC and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The authorities acknowledged the importance of the border control efforts in the country.

Similarly, the meeting with the EU Delegation provided an opportunity for exchange on the latest developments in relation to the action, including the visibility efforts and hear about the EU activities in the country.

The meetings were convened in the framework of the EU-UNODC joint action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by AIRCOP and UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe. 

Container Control Programme supports COVID-19 responses in Montenegro

26-28 April 2021, Bar, Montenegro/online: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) provided online mentoring support to the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the Port of Bar, Montenegro aimed at adapting to the everyday challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the global pandemic, virtual environments for meetings and training have become a reliable modality for providing highly effective remote support to PCUs. Online mentoring continues to provide a platform for the transfer of knowledge on a variety of topics and courses provided by the CCP for customs and border police officers. The use of online mentoring provides flexibility in order to manage various schedules and offers convenience and the opportunity to engage with more officers in activities, thus expanding the benefits of the programme throughout participating agencies.

During this activity, the PCU at the Port of Bar conducted regular controls of incoming container shipments, including document checks, detailed physical inspections and rip-off controls. The online mentoring was implemented with the support of experienced WCO experts.

The online mentoring activity was implemented within the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC contributes to the DG NEAR consultations on 2021 Enlargement package 

27 April 2021, Brussels, Belgium/online: 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 with 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. 

​For more information:  

Enhancing the accession process - A credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans 

https://www.unodc.org/brussels/news.html 

UNODC holds a coordination meeting with Serbian Ministry of Interior 

23 April 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) organized a coordination meeting on capacity building activities with representatives of the Ministry of Interior from the Sector for International Cooperation, Section for Suppressing Hi-Tech Crime, and Sector for Criminal Investigations.

The objective of the meeting was to update the plan for delivering trainings in Serbia and present UNODC tools that will be used in the process. The counterparts updated the plans for conducting trainings on e-evidence by using the UNODC Guide on Gathering E-evidence Across Borders, and agreed upon the modality for further distribution of the Guide as well as  to support needs assessments that will contribute towards increasing the efficiency of the investigations and addressing illicit firearms trafficking and organized crime threats.

This activity is conducted in the framework of the regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Arms Trafficking supported under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

UNODC supports prosecutors in Montenegro with capacity building tools

22 April 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) organized a meeting with Montenegrin prosecutors to present the developed training materials and review and prioritize the planned training activities within the regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Arms trafficking taking into consideration the COVID-19 restrictions.

During the meeting, UNODC GFP introduced the training materials on identification and tracing of firearms that have been developed for an online format, including the case law collection in firearms-related cases and the Guide on collection of e-evidence across borders.

As a result of the meeting, the proposed training materials and training plan were endorsed by the counterparts and the Centre for Training of Judges and Prosecutors in Montenegro was identified as a partner for the implementation of capacity building activities within the project.

This activity is conducted in the framework of the regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Arms Trafficking supported under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway. 

Container Control Programme completes a training cycle at the land-border crossing Gradiška

19-23 April 2021, Gradiška, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Working towards the fulfillment of the objectives of its training methodology, the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) delivered the second part of its basic practical training for customs and border police officers of the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land-border crossing point Gradiška.

Complementing the first practical training, this session focused on risk analysis-based profiling of containers and other shipments and the illegal cross-border movement of goods and other criminal activities in the international trade supply chain. In particular, the training provided insights into recent cases of identification and interdiction of illegal tobacco and cigarettes found in cargo.

By completing the practical training, PCU Gradiška is advancing through the CCP training cycle and will be receiving  region- focused trainings to further strengthen capacities of customs and border police structures. The practical training was delivered within the framework of the joint 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 conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC supports prevention of drug use, violence and mental health in the context of COVID-19 and its aftermath

15 April 2021, online: On the margins of the 64th session of Commission on Narcotic Drugs, UNODC and the Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF) organized a side-event on "Social and Emotional Learning for prevention of drug use, violence and mental health: Needs and lessons learned in the context of COVID-19 and its aftermath".

The event aimed to highlight the lessons learned during the pandemic and the youth-centered practices and strategies put forward by the UNODC-Lions Club partnership to deal with current and upcoming challenges, despite impediments.

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) skills in youth reinforce mental resilience and emotional well-being. These are key and critical protective factors for healthy development and substance use prevention. Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence (LQSFA) is an evidence-based SEL tool that effectively prevents substance use, promotes positive mental health, reduces violence, and promotes positive school environments for better educational attainment. The COVID-19 pandemic directly affected the stress and mental health of students, teachers, and parents making such SEL packages more timely than ever. Furthermore, the pandemic made the implementation of such programmes in schools difficult to implement. However, the adaptation of lesson plans for online learning, consistent with learning outcomes, made the implementation possible.

Following the opening remarks by the LCIF chairperson, and the Chief of the UNODC Drug Prevention and Health Branch, the event panelists presented and discussed SEL in the context of COVID-19 as well as its adaptation to the online environment. UNODC contributed to the event by presenting SEL and drug use and violence prevention, specifying its value in the COVID-19 times. In addition, perspectives and practices from Croatia on the value and implementation of LQSFA were shared by the teacher at primary school Kralj Tomislav Našice and one of its 8th graders.

Container Control Programme supports COVID-19 responses for Port Control Unit at Bijača, Bosnia and Herzegovina

12-15 April 2021, Bijača, Bosnia and Herzegovina/online: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) provided online mentoring to the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land-border crossing Bijača, Bosnia and Herzegovina aimed to support the officers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CCP offers online mentoring for customs and border police officers as a way of adapting to the everyday challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The planned, well-organized online CCP mentoring, conducted in partnership with the national stakeholders in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is an impactful tool that continues to provide capacity-building programming and support during times of unprecedented restrictions.

The online mentoring activity was implemented within the framework of the 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 conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC supports social and emotional learning as a systematic prevention approach

14 April 2021, online: In the margins of the 64th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the Government of Slovenia in cooperation with the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), the Institute for Research and Development Utrip and the UNODC Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section, organized a side-event called "Social and emotional learning as a systematic prevention approach, not merely an intervention".

Recent findings show that social and emotional learning is of key importance in successful early prevention. Social and emotional learning principles have progressed in the last decade in terms of research and practical tools for different target groups. With the development in parenting skills programmes, early prevention starts in kindergarten, and in school-based prevention interventions. The event enabled the discussion on preventive health care and health education as well as the need to scale up these services for all key target groups, including pregnant women, parents, children and adolescents. The event further aimed to stimulate a conversation on how to provide a systemic approach to prevention at several levels within educational, social and health systems, among all relevant stakeholders and around the globe.

Following the introductory remark by the Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the UN in Vienna, UNODC presented social and emotional learning in the context of the UNODC-WHO International Standards on Drug Use Prevention. The presentation focused on the vulnerability model, described by these Standards, that encourages policy makers to focus on evidence-based programmes supporting the social and emotional skills of the individuals during different ages of development from birth onwards. Such social and emotional programmes are designed to build resilience in the individual him/herself as well as the resilience of the social institutions supporting this individual as an added layer of prevention. The main social institutions of concern that UNODC supports are the family and the schools. A description of the UNODC family skills programmes and initiatives' effectiveness and implementation settings globally (Strong Families, Family United, Listen First and the parenting under stress and under COVID-19) was offered. The value of school-based life and social skills programmes was also availed. In this context, the UNODC evidence-based prevention strategies, as promoted in and by Slovenia, reflecting national commitment, were commended and other countries were encouraged to follow suit.

Social and emotional learning as a tool for prevention and a key component of the Lions Quest Programme was described by the panelist representing the LCIF, who provided a thorough overview of the initiative including the collaboration with UNODC. The Lions Quest Programme is the flagship programme of the Foundation, aiming to reduce bullying, increase student's connectedness to school, help children choose conflict resolution over aggression, lower the rates of substance use and truancy, and build healthy relationships in the community and among peers. The programme is monitored and evaluated globally and, as part of this LCIF-UNODC partnership was first launched in the region of South Eastern Europe, where it showed positive results, particularly related to the improved refusal skills and the overall reduction of substance use along with the reduction of the intention to use substances among students. Following the excellent results achieved in South Eastern Europe as well as in Central America and West Africa, the programme is expanding to Slovenia next school year.

The event also included interventions reflecting on the Slovenian experience and advocacy for early prevention programmes focusing on Social and Emotional Skills programmes. This was reflected on the governmental level (by the Slovenian National Institute of Public Health) as well as the non-governmental/civil society level (by Utrip NGO). The presentations focused on the values of programmes within the health and school system with a focus on the promotion of mental health of the family in its beginnings by the national coordinator of health education for children. The importance of social and emotional learning was further explained and underlined by the general secretary and project coordinator at Institute Utrip and a psychology and psychiatry expert.

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in countering trafficking in persons for labor exploitation in South Eastern Europe, particularly children

13-14 April 2021, online: UNODC in collaboration with the National Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Illegal Migration of Bosnia and Herzegovina organized a Regional Expert Group Meeting (REGM): “Trafficking in Persons for Labor Exploitation – in particular children in South Eastern Europe”.

The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (the Trafficking in Persons Protocol), defines trafficking in persons (TIP) and provides a normative framework to combat TIP at international and national levels. The complex definition of TIP, which includes multiple possible ways of exploiting victims, includes labor exploitation, which is the second most frequent form of TIP behind sexual exploitation. Children are particularly vulnerable to labor exploitation, especially for forced begging and other forms of forced labor.

Against this backdrop, the event aimed to address the issue of TIP for the purpose of labor exploitation, particularly the exploitation of children given the prevalence of this phenomenon in South Eastern Europe as well as review the national mechanisms for controlling TIP for labor exploitation, including children and best practices of criminal justice institutions, inspection bodies, NGOs and other actors in the field of processing these forms of exploitation and protection of victims.

Over 150 practitioners, including the private sector and workers associations, from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244, as well as France, Greece and Slovenia attended the event, which was opened by the UN Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who emphasized the need to pursue cooperation with the relevant stakeholders to turn policy into practice.

The discussions among the participants focused on labor exploitation as a form of TIP in international and regional frameworks and review of the most important instruments of suppression; national instruments within the criminal justice system, labor inspectorates and other control and supervisory mechanisms; best practices in detecting and processing labor exploitation with a focus on child exploitation.

Furthermore, the participants discussed the protection of victims of labor exploitation, especially children who are forced into begging and other forms of forced labor; protection mechanisms in supranational and national frameworks, especially children; inter-institutional (criminal justice, labor inspectorates and others) and intersectoral (NGOs and formal control bodies) cooperation in the detection and protection of victims of labor exploitation and prevention of labor exploitation within the framework of labor and related legislation and practice.

As an outcome of the REGM, a document with Key Conclusions and Recommendations will be drafted and shared with all the participants for comments and subsequent endorsement.

This REGM is the second in the series of five, which form part of the Regional Initiative on TIP in South Eastern Europe aimed at supporting the region in this area during the COVID-19 pandemic. The next REGM will focus on addressing the demand side of TIP planned to be held in coordination with the National Anti-TIP Coordinator of Croatia in May 2021.

The financial support for this event was provided by the Government of France.

For more information:

https://twitter.com/MacdonaldIngrid/status/1381938967206051840

UNODC launches the 2021 training cycle for the officers of the AIRCOP/CCP inter-agency group at the Belgrade International Airport

12-13 April 2021, online: The UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project  (AIRCOP) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe organized the first two-day theoretical workshop for customs and borders police officers at the Belgrade International Airport. The training was delivered online due to the current COVID-19 restrictions and brought together 13 officers from various law enforcement agencies.

AIRCOP delivered the training on the module “World of Drugs - 1” enhancing the knowledge of the participants on all the aspects of cocaine trafficking. The goal was to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the current counter measures and current detection methodologies, raising the awareness towards the adoption of a risk-based approach against the threats targeting international airports. 

The workshop was delivered by experienced international experts and marks the beginning of the 2021 training cycle for the officers, who will form part of the future AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) in Serbia.

The future AIRCOP JAITF will form part of the inter-agency group along with the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) at the Belgrade International Airport, which will be formally established following the signing of the related Letter of Agreement between UNODC and the Government of Serbia, planned for mid-2021.

This activity is conducted in the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.  

UNODC participates in meeting on the key developmental challenges and the way forward in Montenegro

12 April 2021, online: UNODC participated in the “Montenegro – Key developmental challenges and way forward” meeting which was aimed at fostering stakeholder discussions on Montenegro’s Common Country Analysis (CCA).

During the meeting, the UN Resident Coordinator in Montenegro provided an overview of the CCA, inviting stakeholders to present their views on the existing gaps and challenges in the country, which impede the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by Montenegro. The Resident Coordinator underlined that the recommendations identified in the CCA will feed into the development of the upcoming UN Sustainable Development Framework for Montenegro for 2022-2026 and that it will serve as the main tool through which the UN will strive to make a difference in the country.

Following the presentation made by the Montenegro Resident Coordinator’s office, six breakout groups were designated. The UNODC representative, participating in the discussions in Group 5 on governance, rule of law and human rights, underlined the importance of strengthening the law enforcement capacities in Montenegro as they are vital in countering the threats posed by illicit narcotics trafficking and organized crime. Furthermore, it was mentioned that the geographical location of the region makes it a transit zone for illicit flows and that improvements in infrastructure without improvements in law enforcement and border management will merely increase the efficiency of traffickers, and thus a comprehensive approach towards enhancing the capacities of the country are required.

UNODC’s work in Montenegro is carried out in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and focuses on border control, prevention of firearms trafficking, countering human trafficking and migrant smuggling, anti-corruption, drug use prevention and treatment.

UNODC supports Serbia in harmonizing court practice for firearms-related offenses 

9 April 2021, Nis, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held the second workshop for judges on firearms-related case law at the Court of Appeals in Nis, Serbia. The objective of the workshop was to identify areas for harmonization of the court practice and further develop UNODC’s case law collection by introducing new firearms-related court cases linked to firearms seizures at border crossing points between Serbia/North Macedonia and Serbia/Bulgaria.

The workshop presented an opportunity for the judiciary to highlight disputable legal questions stemming from the case law under Article 348 of the Criminal Code of Serbia on criminalizing firearms related offenses and share experience from court practice contributing towards UNODC’s case law collection, which will serve as guidance for the  judges  in adjudicating firearms-related cases.

This activity is conducted in the framework of the regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Arms Trafficking supported under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in countering firearms in international postal and courier parcels

8 April 2021, Jahorina, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) organized  a workshop for the Postal Operators in BiH - BH Pošta, Pošta Srpske and Hrvatska Pošta Mostar - to review the draft Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the detection of firearms, their parts and ammunition in postal and fast courier parcels.  The draft SOPs have been developed by the GFP on the basis of the Gap and Needs Analysis (GNA) conducted in 2020.

During the workshop, UNODC GFP underlined the importance of developing and adopting a common set of rules for processing the mail traffic and highlighted specific aspects of the draft SOPs. The three Postal Agencies’ representatives highlighted the added value of draft SOPs to their workflows and stressed the need for more frequent mutual meetings that help better communications.

The financial support for this activity is provided under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

Port Control Unit and Air cargo Control Unit make consecutive seizures at Albania's borders

March/April 2021, Durres/Tirana, Albania: The Port Control  Unit (PCU) at Durres Port and Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) at Tirana International Airport (TIA) in Albania are the two law enforcement entities established under the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) charged with securing Albania’s sea and air borders. Their priorities are to intercept high-risk inbound and outbound consignments and cargo and to undertake intelligence-led operations in cooperation with other law enforcement departments of the Albanian Customs, Police and Prosecution Office.

The CCP team in Albania regularly analyzes seizures made by both units. Trends between January and April 2021 suggest that cocaine shipments targeted Durres Port as the final destination with somewhat uncharacteristic routings, while airport cargo inspections illustrated that this type of crime , particularly when inbound, is becoming increasingly diversified, introducing new smuggling risks on carriers bound to Albania.

The first quarter of 2021 was a success story for the CCP in Albania as a result of numerous training activities, implementation of the CCP methodology (particularly with regard to risk indicators), as well as the exchange of information and the commitment of the PCU and ACCU officers.

This success can be seen in the Units’ seizures, which include 192 kg of cocaine at Durres Port and 11,720 GBP and 71 cloned credit and debit cards at TIA.

These results indicate that the capacity of both Units has increased and encourage to pursue coordinated efforts among the national authorities to tackle criminal organizations involved in illicit trafficking and thus building on the momentum.

The Container Control Programme in Albania is generously supported by the Government of France.

UNODC enhances cooperation with international stakeholders in South Eastern Europe 

30 March 2021, online: The UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP)  participated in the 2nd Western Balkans Stakeholder meeting, organized by the EU Western Balkans Training Project which provides a coordination platform for the international stakeholders operating in South Eastern Europe to enhance synergy of efforts and avoid duplications.

Building on the outcomes of the previous meeting held in January 2020, the meeting, which was attended by the Center for International Legal Cooperation (CILC), Europol, Interpol, International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe Secretariat (PCC SEE), UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), UNODC as well as UK and US focused on ongoing and planned activities in the area of border security as well as on the related challenges in South-Eastern Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the meeting, the UNODC expert contributed to the discussion by presenting the ongoing EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control in South Eastern Europe as  best practices and an effective way to counter illicit cross-border  activities. Since the launch of the action in 2020, AIRCOP and the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) in cooperation with UNODC Regional Programme for South-Eastern Europe have been jointly working on the establishment of joint airport inter-agency groups composed of an AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) and a CCP Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU). The JAITF component has been indeed widely recognized as a relevant synergy with the  international stakeholders  engaged in the development of Advance Passenger Information/Passenger Name Record (API/PNR) programs in the Balkan region, as well as a valid operational asset aimed at tackling threats targeting airports.

The UNODC representative also outlined the relevance of such fora as an effective tool to facilitate communication, coordination, and cooperation between international stakeholders while capitalizing on the impact of EU-funded programmes in the region.

The EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control is funded by the European Union and implemented by AIRCOP and CCP in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC initiates the implementation of the Asset Recovery initiative in South Eastern Europe

23-26 March 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC held a series of meeting with the national authorities of North Macedonia to introduce and discuss the new Asset Recovery initiative, a regional project in the six Western Balkans jurisdictions, including North Macedonia, aimed to enhance the capacity of the addressed jurisdictions to recover the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime.

The project is implemented by UNODC and focuses on:

a) developing practitioners guides on different aspects of mutual legal assistance (MLA) for the purposes of asset recovery;

b) developing asset recovery roadmaps at the national and regional levels;

c) developing action plans to improve the collection of data system in respect to the asset recovery statistics; and

d) research on the state of play of asset recovery efforts in the Western Balkans.

The authorities convened to the meetings included the Vice Prime Minister in charge of the Fight Against Corruption of North Macedonia, the Ministry of Justice as well as the State Public Prosecutor of North Macedonia and Public Prosecutor and Head of the newly established Asset Recovery Office.

During the meeting with the State Public Prosecutor and Head of the Asset Recovery Office, the counterparts discussed and agreed upon the proposed priority areas for the creation of the national Asset-Recovery Roadmap, which were also previously discussed with and endorsed by the Ministry of Justice and the State Commission for the Prevention of Corruption of North Macedonia.

As part of the next steps, UNODC presented the upcoming activities under the Asset Recovery initiative that will be implemented in North Macedonia in 2021:

  • Development of the MLA-asset recovery guide;
  • Drafting of the Modus Operandi Manual for international cooperation;
  • Development of the methodology for the collection of data relevant to the asset recovery process.

The Public Prosecutor stated that this kind of support is very significant for the Asset Recovery Office and expressed readiness to provide support in the implementation of these activities. The same feedback was received from the Ministry of Justice.

The Asset Recovery activities in South Eastern Europe are conducted in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the Government of the UK.

UNODC conducts consultations on the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap in North Macedonia

23-25 March 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC held a series of meetings with the authorities in North Macedonia, including the Vice Prime Minister in charge of the Fight Against Corruption, the Ministries of Interior, Finance (Public Procurement Office) and Justice, Customs Authorities, the State Commission for the Prevention of Corruption as well as international organizations to discuss the next steps in the implementation of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap (Regional Roadmap) in North Macedonia and identify a list of priorities for this purpose.

During the meeting with the Vice Prime Minister and his cabinet, UNODC put forward the proposal for North Macedonia to host the regional forum for the development and adoption of the Regional Roadmap by the six jurisdictions of the region in June 2021, which was welcomed by the Vice Prime Minister and his cabinet. Consequently, the Vice Prime Minister presented the newly adopted Anti-Corruption Plan of the Government of North Macedonia and expressed readiness to work together with UNODC on identifying potential synergies with the UNODC Roadmap.

In addition to this meeting, UNODC was convened to a meeting with the Vice Prime Minister along with the Customs Office to raise awareness on the importance of the Customs office and their operations in the fight against corruption and illegal financial flows. The meeting was organized at the land border crossing Tabanovce, at the Serbian border.

On this occasion, the Director of the Customs Office presented the activities undertaken by the office in strengthening the integrity of the office as well as the important role of the Customs office in investigating corruption-related offences at the border checkpoints and the establishment of a “hotline“ service for reporting corruption. During the event, flyers with information of how to report corruption on the border crossings, were distributed to the passengers of the vehicles crossing the border.

UNODC used this opportunity to present best practices in mitigating corruption in Customs such as corruption risks mapping, prevention of corruption strategies and investment in institutional integrity measures. The role of customs in deterring financial illicit flows was also addressed.

Furthermore, during the meeting with the Public Procurement Office at the Ministry of Finance, UNODC discussed the existing and future priorities related to the fight against corruption in public procurement as well as procurement in times of crises with an emphasis on the procurement in the health sector. The counterparts agreed to work with UNODC on the existing recommendations related to public procurement in the context of the development of the Regional Roadmap.

During the meeting with the State Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, UNODC presented to the Commission the Riyadh Initiative, the primary goal of which is to build a network of anti-corruption law enforcement experts. These priorities were also identified by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice as fully relevant.

The meeting with the Ministry of Interior allowed to coordinate with the counterparts the planned UNODC activities, including the organization of the regional forum for the adoption of the Regional Roadmap and the identification of priorities to be part of the Roadmap.

Finally, UNODC attended an advocacy event organized by the Kochani municipality, where the Vice Prime Minister presented the Anti-Corruption Plan of the Government of North Macedonia, and how it supports the local self-governments in the fight against corruption. UNODC used this opportunity to share best international practices on the impact of the local community in fight against corruption and the importance of the development of local anti-corruption plans to foster the integrity of the local self-government and improvement of the quality and quantity of services provided to the citizens. This intervention was followed by a discussion between the members of the local community on topics that are important to the municipality such as public procurement, taxes and simplification of administrative procedures.

Building on these consultations, UNODC will be working closely with the counterparts in North Macedonia on the implementation of planned activities in the context of the Regional Roadmap.

The UNODC work on the Regional Roadmap is funded by the Governments of the UK and Germany and is undertaken in the context of the decisions of the Security Commitments Steering Group of the Berlin Process, within which the Governments of the region have endorsed this initiative and in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe

UNODC attends the signing ceremony of the International Treaty on Exchange of Data for the Verification of Asset Declarations by Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia 

19 March 2021, Belgrade, Serbia: UNODC attended the signing ceremony of the International Treaty on Exchange of Data for the Verification of Asset Declarations that took place in the Serbia Palace (Palata Srbija) in Belgrade. The said treaty was signed by the President of the State Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, the Minister of Justice of Montenegro and the Minister of Justice of Serbia.

The Treaty was developed and negotiated under the Southeast Europe Regional Programme on Strengthening the Capacity of Anti-corruption Authorities and Civil Society to Combat Corruption and Contribute to the UNCAC Review Process, implemented by the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) in partnership with UNODC.

The basis of the Treaty is the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and States Parties Resolution 6/4, which encourages Member States to consider the possibility of concluding multilateral agreements on civil and administrative matters relating to corruption.

The purpose of the International Treaty on Exchange of Data for the Verification of Asset Declarations is to prevent and to combat corruption by providing for direct administrative exchange of information concerning asset declarations between the Parties of the Treaty. The Treaty will enable anti-corruption bodies to communicate formally with each other regarding data on foreign assets and interests, and thus significantly enhance verification of declarations.

Albania is supported in air cargo control during COVID-19

16-19 March 2021, Tirana, Albania: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme organized a mentorship mission for the officers of the Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) at the Tirana International Airport (TIA). Mentorship activities are one of the essential elements in the implementation of CCP in Albania and allow for inclusive participation of the law enforcement officers on the ground.

The main goal of the recent mentorship mission was to encourage the mentoring habits for the ACCU officers in particular in the view of the current global pandemic situation. The mentorship activities involved the ACCU officers and an observer representing TIA within the ACCU. The participants actively joined the review of various topics and actual case scenarios, including with regard to easing customs control on imports and exports to leverage the COVID-19 crisis when dealing with consignments of medical supplies.

The mentors provided a list of measures that ACCU and Customs Administration officers should implement to support the economy and sustain supply chain continuity. These measures, which became immediately applicable, implied:

  • Set up crisis designated officers/group within the ACCU to ensure the overall performance of the customs tasks including measures to guarantee permanent personnel availability for operations at 24/7 customs clearance system;
  • Designate an officer to serve as a focal point to resolve issues faced by importers/exporters;
  • Advocate for sustaining an end-to-end supply chain continuity, including the smooth and unhampered movement of goods inland;
  • Apply risk management to keep physical inspections to the minimum necessary and to speed up customs clearance;
  • Designate priority lanes for freight transports and introduce measures to guarantee supply chain continuity;
  • Optimize the use of non-intrusive inspection equipment;
  • Introduce facilitative measures with regard to the requirements to submit original documents or to stamp documents.

It was also recommended to review the proposed measures within the Customs Administration, Police and TIA to enable their use as tools to support operational work of the relevant law enforcement agencies.

UNODC conducts an assessment and consultations with the authorities in North Macedonia on border control action

14-17 March 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) met with officials from the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office in charge of Fight Against Corruption, National Coordination Center for Border Management, Border Police, Customs Administration, Public Security Bureau Director, and the EU Delegation in Skopje, to discuss and promote the next steps of the establishment of a Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force at the Skopje International Airport to form part of the inter-agency group composed of an AIRCOP JAITF and a Container Control Programme (CCP) Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) within the UNODC-EU joint action on enhanced border control.

During the meetings, the counterparts discussed the development of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), the staff selection of the inter-agency group, as well the allocation of office space at the Skopje International Airport for this purpose.

During the visit, UNODC  also performed a technical assessment of the Skopje airport for the selection of the suitable premises at the passenger terminal, which would enable the settlement of the AIRCOP/CCP inter-agency group and the subsequent UNODC procurements aimed at its operationalization. The physical assessment of the airport was postponed by a year due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 and the related travel restrictions.

The EU Delegation considered the visit and meetings as excellent progress in terms of effective action implementation, particularly during the ongoing pandemic. The government counterparts also highlighted the benefits of the action as an effective solution to address threats targeting airports and expressed their commitment to actively participate in improving border security systems.

This activity was conducted under the framework of the 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 implemented by the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and AIRCOP in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

UNODC launches the 2021 training cycle for the Air Cargo Control Unit at the Belgrade International Airport

8-10 March 2021, Belgrade, Serbia:  The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) organized the first part of the Basic Theoretical Training for the officers of the Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) to be established at the Belgrade International Airport.

Organized online (due to  the current COVID-19 restrictions) the training gathered 14 officers, enhancing their knowledge on issues such as risk indicators, profiling and targeting shipments and their examination, air cargo safety, drug smuggling, abandoned shipments and insider threats as well as other matters concerning air cargo shipments, delivered by the experienced international experts from the WCO, the implementing partner of the joint with UNODC Container Control Programme.

The three-day training was carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe. These activities represent the start of the training cycle for the officers of the a joint CCP’s Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) and Airport Communication Project’s (AIRCOP) Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) at the Belgrade International Airport.

UNODC marks the International Women’s Day in Albania

8 March 2021, Tirana, Albania: UNODC marked the International Women’s Day in Albania through participation in a joint campaign led by UN Women around this year’s theme “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” The theme celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Women stand at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, as health care workers, caregivers, innovators, community organizers and as some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combating the pandemic. The crisis has highlighted both the centrality of their contributions and the disproportionate burdens that women carry.

For the campaign in Albania, UN agencies reached out to the women who have supported their communities during the pandemic while facing its challenges to hear their voices on their experiences. On this occasion, UNODC reached out to Ms. Irena Ceko Marko, an Addictologist and Clinical Toxicologist in Addictology & Clinical Toxicology Service, at the University Hospital Centre "Mother Teresa" in Tirana, and a part-time lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine of Tirana, who worked with UNODC on the organization of the Universal Treatment Curriculum (UTC) trainings aimed at reducing problems associated with substance use disorders. The trainings took place in February and September/October 2020 and were aimed to reduce the significant health, social and economic problems associated with substance use disorders by building international treatment capacity through training.

Ms. Marko shared some of her experiences during the pandemic, including by mentioning: “During this difficult period I found myself facing many ethical dilemmas: on the one hand, my profession as a physician, serving patients, and to be safe and to protect myself and my family.”

This and other experiences have been relayed through social media to convey the message of the strong women supporting their societies and communities in Albania during the pandemic marking the International Women’s Day.

For more information:

https://twitter.com/UN_Albania/status/1368239294947749888

https://www.facebook.com/UnitedNationsAlbania/photos/a.120491618115791/1803913259773610/

https://twitter.com/unwomenalbania/status/1367845449860800516

UNODC participates in the conference marking the International Women's Day in Bosnia and Herzegovina

8 March 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC participated in the conference marking the International Women's Day and entitled “Gender Equality beyond 2020: Empowerment of women and creating a safer environment”. The event was organized by the Agency for Gender Equality of Bosnia and Herzegovina in cooperation with the Commission for Gender Equality of the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The conference brought together representatives from national and international institutions and organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees and the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, UN offices and agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EU delegation and EU Special Representative, Council of Europe, Embassies of Sweden, U.S., France, Austria, Germany, UK as well as representatives of the civil society and NGO sector.

The event panelists presented and discussed the transformative approach to meeting the obligations under the Beijing Declaration, a UN resolution adopted to promulgate a set of principles on gender equality and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women with a focus on mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and eliminating gender-based violence, as well as promoting economic empowerment of women, security and participation in decision making. A special thematic discussion was dedicated to gender-based and sexual harassment in light of the recent response to the prevalence of sexual harassment in Bosnia and Herzegovina and region with “You are not alone” and “I didn’t ask for it” movements.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina highlighted three priorities in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, namely women's participation in all recovery measures, commitment to strengthening the "care economy" and a more active and effective response to violence against women and girls.

During the conference, the participants stressed that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on social, emotional and economic well-being further widened pre-existing gender inequalities especially for women and girls. Research findings on well-being and safety of women presented at the event found that 3 out of 10 women experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime. Unfortunately, only 3% of victims felt able to report to the police what they had experienced. The importance of women to have a seat at the decision making table was also discussed as the frame of generation equality and strengthening gender parity.

The representative of the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina concluded that this year should be a turning point for the accelerated realization of gender equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls to become a priority in adopting and implementing public policies at all levels of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

UNODC meets with judges to discuss harmonization of the court practice in Serbia

5 March, Belgrade, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) organized a coordination meeting with the judges of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and Higher and Basic Courts in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Nis, to initiate the work on the case law document, containing specific adjudicated cases and highest courts’ instances opinions and aimed to harmonize the court practice in firearms-related cases.

The meeting presented an opportunity for UNODC GFP to collect information from the judges for the further development of the case law document as well as to assess the needs of the judiciary in adjudicating firearms-related cases. 

The next steps of the process have been defined with the further formulation of the case law document with the participation of the judges and inclusion of the criminal cases from specific territorial competences to highlight the challenges related to illicit firearms trafficking. This work was positively welcomed by the judiciary representatives.

This activity is conducted in the framework of the regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Arms Trafficking supported under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway. 

UNODC launches the 2021 training cycle for AIRCOP/CCP inter-agency group at the Skopje International Airport

1-5 March 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe organized the online theoretical training for the customs and border police officers of the AIRCOP/CCP inter-agency group at the Skopje International Airport, which will be composed of a Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) and an Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU).

The training was delivered online  (due to the current COVID-19 restrictions) to 31 officers from the Customs Administration and the Ministry of Interior / Border Police Directorate of North Macedonia. During the first part of the training, CCP delivered a three-day Basic Theoretical Training (part 1) presenting topics such as risk indicators, profiling and targeting, detection of smuggling of illicit goods, air cargo safety and other relevant matters concerning air cargo shipments. This part of the training was followed by the two-day AIRCOP delivery of the module “World of Drugs - 1”, which enhanced  the knowledge of the participants on cocaine trafficking, highlighting strengths and weaknesses of the current counter-measures and current detection methodologies, raising the awareness towards the adoption of a risk-based approach against the threats targeting international airports.

These activities represent the start of the training cycle for the officers of the two components of the joint AIRCOP/CCP inter-agency group in North Macedonia, and were delivered by experienced international experts from the World Customs Organization (WCO) and UNODC under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe

The implementation of the action involving the establishment of a joint inter-agency group at the Skopje International Airport has been sealed through the signing of a Letter of Agreement between UNODC and the Government of North Macedonia in January 2021.

UNODC supports North Macedonia in the collection of data on firearms

4 March, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) met with representatives of the analytical Sector of the Ministry of Interior of North Macedonia and members of the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) to discuss the UNODC activities on firearms trafficking.

UNODC GFP summarized its activities in the country and underlined the importance of criminal justice data, particularly on firearms. The meeting participants emphasized that the lack of an international system for standardized reporting on the scale, technologies, routes and methods of illicit trafficking in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition is a major barrier to more effective international cooperation and the identification of global and regional firearms trafficking trends and patterns.

Against this backdrop, the participants of the meeting agreed that the Illicit Arms Flows Questionnaire (IAFQ) developed by UNODC and distributed annually to the Member States is critical to collecting firearms related data in a uniformed and standardized manner.

The representatives from the Ministry of Interior emphasized their readiness to further improve the quality and quantity of firearms related data and committed to work closely with UNODC towards this goal, also by means of involving additional organizational units within the Ministry to streamline the process of data collection.

The main aim of the IAFQ is to enable Member States to monitor the illicit trafficking flows of firearms, improve information exchange, and cooperate with a view to effectively address firearms trafficking and reduce arms flows.

This activity is conducted in the framework of the regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Arms Trafficking supported under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway. 

UNODC develops toolkit on the investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons for organ removal

3-4 March 2021, Vienna, Austria: Trafficking in Persons (TIP) for organ removal is a serious crime which demeans human dignity and the value of human life by exploiting vulnerable persons for the financial gain of the traffickers. The number of persons reported to be trafficked for the purpose of organ removal is steadily growing. According to UNODC’s 2020 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, North Africa, followed by the Middle East, has the highest share of detections of victims trafficked for the purpose of organ removal.   

TIP for organ removal has its roots in the growing demand for organs worldwide. Disparity between the need and supply of organs has resulted in ill patients trying to obtain an organ illegally. Victim testimonies confirm that, as with human trafficking for other exploitative purposes, victims of trafficking for the purpose of organ removal are frequently recruited from vulnerable and/or impoverished populations, often with the help of facilitators who organize the illicit transplants, as described in this testimony:

“I lived in the same district as Mr. B, who was well aware that I struggled to feed my family. Mr. B approached me and told me I could donate a kidney for money. He said that extracting one kidney would not make a difference to my health (…) After my return, my health quickly deteriorated. I could not work, and I was physically as well as mentally weak.”

Keen to provide criminal justice practitioners with guidance and practical tools to enhance detection, investigation and prosecution of TIP for organ removal cases domestically and internationally, as well as to better identify, assist and protect victims, action was taken under the framework of the EU-funded Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT) project.

Early work included research, victim assistance and facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogues between medical professionals, law enforcement and civil society, leading to the development of a comprehensive toolkit on the investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons for organ removal. The toolkit consists of a 360° virtual reality crime scene investigation tool which allows law enforcement to better identify and collect evidence from medical surgeries and clinical settings, a comprehensive investigation and prosecution manual and a victim interview protocol.

To obtain feedback on the first draft of the toolkit from major stakeholders, partners and independent experts, GLO.ACT facilitated two online expert group meetings (EGMs) targeting different regions of the world, including South Eastern Europe with the participation of Albania.

Addressing the over 100 participants of the EGMs, the GLO.ACT Project Coordinator pointed out that the participation of surgeons, law enforcement and prosecution experts, civil society, as well as key partners such as IOM, WHO, OHCHR, OSCE, COE, and EUROJUST, truly makes these EGMs multi-disciplinary which will undoubtedly benefit the final product. The coordinator also outlined that the transplant industry is very regulated, so this toolkit cannot address all aspects in a country-specific way but instead focuses on common areas of inquiry and tools to use.

Following the opening segment, the meeting progressed to breakout group discussions, in which participants collectively provided inputs and feedback into the draft toolkit.

The toolkit is foreseen to be launched in May 2021. The project is fully committed to mainstreaming Human Rights and Gender Equality considerations across all of its activities, and is funded by the European Union.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/glo-act2/index.html

UNODC supports access to effective remedies for the victims of trafficking in persons in South Eastern Europe

3-4 March 2021, online: UNODC in collaboration with the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Illegal migration of North Macedonia organized the Regional Expert Group Meeting (REGM) on “Access to Effective Remedies for Victims of Trafficking in Persons in South Eastern Europe”.

The event provided an opportunity to examine the right to effective remedies for victims of trafficking in persons (TIP), with a specific focus on South Eastern Europe, scope of its application, and the practical challenges that arise in providing remedies to victims. The main aim of REGM was to provide practical recommendations for solutions to improve access to remedies for victims of TIP by harnessing good practices presented at the REGM.

Over 98 participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244, as well as France, Greece and Slovenia attended the event.

Among the discussed topics were regional and international initiatives enhancing access to effective remedies for victims of TIP; national practices on procedural rights to access justice for victims of TIP presented through practical cases; civil society practices on provision of procedural rights for victims of human trafficking; as well as national mechanisms for remedies of victims of TIP and civil society practices on provision of protection and assistance for victims of TIP for rehabilitation and recovery.

As an outcome of the REGM, a document with Key Conclusions and Recommendations will be drafted and shared with all the participants for comments and subsequent endorsement.

This REGM is the first in the series of five, which form part of the Regional Initiative on TIP in South Eastern Europe aimed at supporting the region in this area during the COVID-19 pandemic. The next REGM will focus on TIP for the purpose of labour exploitation in South Eastern Europe and will be held online on 13-14 April 2021 and co-hosted by the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

The financial support for this event was provided by the Government of France.

UNODC participates in a discussion on COVID-19 and Organized Crime in the Western Balkans organized by International Institute for Strategic Studies

3 March 2021, online: UNODC was part of an expert panel discussion on COVID-19 and Organized Crime in the Western Balkans with presenters from the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center, the Syracuse Institute, and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

UNODC presented some salient aspects of crime and corruption in the region and outlined possible policy responses and priorities for governments in terms of asset recovery and illicit financial flows. The jurisdictions in the region have come a long way to adhere to international standards and the EU Acquis, with for example, progress  made through the adoption of a new normative that foresees extended confiscation measures and the creation of beneficial ownership registries in some of the jurisdictions of the region. Yet, it remains difficult to ascertain the effectiveness of new policies and measures due to the lack of available data. Revisiting the methodologies to gather asset recovery-related data would allow to have better knowledge of the state of the play and adapt public policies accordingly. 

Additionally, it would be useful if illicit enrichment is criminalized in those instances where it has not been considered and that non conviction-based (NCB) confiscation laws are adopted.  While the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) does not categorize both measures as mandatory, its adoption would increase the legal tools available to practitioners to fight organized crime and corruption. Nevertheless, the UNCAC requires as a minimum that all States parties should be in a position to support mutual legal assistance requests from countries that have adopted NCB systems.

UNODC supports North Macedonia in countering firearms trafficking in postal and fast courier shipments

18 February 2021, online: UNODC through its Global Firearms Programme (GFP) organized an online meeting with the Customs Administration of North Macedonia to discuss the upcoming Gap and Needs Assessment (GNA) intended to increase the capacity of the Customs of North Macedonia to detect firearms, their parts, components and ammunition in postal and fast courier shipments. The GNA, together with the training needs analysis and the equipment needs analysis, will provide a baseline for establishing priorities, reflecting the needs, and identifying the technical assistance required by national counterparts.

UNODC GFP has shared with Senior Customs representatives a draft Joint Action Plan related to the implementation of the GNA and has presented the scope of the assessment. One of the main outcomes of the meeting was the formation of a Working Group to facilitate the implementation of the GNA, which will be composed of officials from the Customs Administration and the National Postal Operator.

This activity is supported under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.   

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in the criminal justice response against firearms trafficking 

17 February 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC through its Global Firearms Programme (GFP) organized discussions with the Deputy Minister of Justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina on legislative analysis of the criminal law and criminal procedure law and its harmonization with the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition (Firearms Protocol) and United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC).

The UNODC GFP presented its work on the gap analysis of criminal legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and highlighted its links to the ongoing Review Mechanism for the Implementation of UNTOC and the UN Firearms Protocol. The scope of the discussions included also the activities of the GFP for supporting the efforts of Bosnia and Herzegovina in implementing the regional Roadmap for a sustainable solution to the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and their ammunition in the Western Balkans, including training on collection of electronic evidence and the importance of the Mutual Legal Assistance procedure in this process. The Deputy Minister expressed his support for the activities of UNODC GFP.

The financial support for UNODC’s GFP activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina is provided under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

UNODC supports partnership with the private business operators in border control in Albania

17 February 2021, Tirana, Albania/online: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) in Albania organized a one-day workshop on the enhancement of cooperation and partnership between the Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) operating at Tirana International Airport (TIA) and the private business operators.

The workshop, which was held in a hybrid manner brought together the officers of the ACCU, representatives from the Customs Administration and State Police, teams of experts from UNODC and WCO and representatives from the operators of fast parcels and postal correspondence couriers. The workshop was also attended and opened by the Director General of the Albanian Customs Administration, who acknowledged the importance of Customs-ACCU-Business partnership as an integral part of a broader undertake for good governance and effective border controls.

The workshop constituted a good opportunity to foster the networking among ACCU officers and business operators and the sharing of knowledge on the ACCU role in the context of improved controls, accountability and facilitation of legitimate trade.

The UNODC and WCO experts demonstrated through various examples the different scenarios which would assist the ACCU officers and the business operators in elaborating a continued consultative process and a robust partnership.

The workshop also promoted the Standard Operating Procedures related to the functioning of the ACCU while familiarizing the business representatives with the new approaches in handling pre-arrival information for building risk profiles and undertaking effective and timely cargo controls.

Following active discussions, the participants agreed on producing an action plan for the cooperation and exchange of information and agreed to organize follow-up meetings to build a solid partnership aimed at facilitating border control procedures and securing borders.

UNODC supports South Eastern Europe in countering organized crime

15-17 February 2021, online: UNODC organized a multi-stakeholder virtual event aimed at discussing strategic priorities to prevent and combat organized crime in line with the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC). Made possible by the generous financial contribution of the United Kingdom, the event was organized under the umbrella of UNODC Programme on “Implementing the Organized Crime Convention: from Theory to Practice”. This Global Programme envisages the provision of targeted assistance to States for the development and implementation of relevant strategies, policies and plans to address transnational organized crime. The Programme also supports States in adopting or amending legislative instruments to implement the UNTOC and/or follow up to the UNTOC Review Mechanism observations.

Within this framework, UNODC is finalizing a strategy toolkit intended to support States in the development of comprehensive strategies to fight against the full range of organized crime threats. The toolkit will be aimed at establishing a whole-system approach encompassing the local, national, regional and international levels, with a view to aligning collective efforts to combat organized crime more effectively.

Relying on the provisions of the UNTOC, the strategy development toolkit will focus on both prevention and response. It will encompass actions aimed at preventing organized crime from (re) infiltrating communities, the economy and political institutions as well as protecting people in a situation of vulnerability. It will also focus on strengthening a coordinated and harmonized action at the State level to pursue organized criminal groups and their illicit gains, through proactive investigation, and effective prosecution, adjudication, confiscation and seizure for offences related to organized crime. Finally, it will examine the promotion of relevant partnerships and collaboration within and beyond national borders to achieve these goals as well as the need to incorporate gender considerations and human rights compliance across all interventions.

Against this backdrop, the virtual event focused on peer-to-peer exchanges around good practices for the development of strategies against organized crime to ensure that relevant lessons learned from different parts of the world are reflected in the toolkit and shared across borders.

The event brought together over 120 participants, primarily national experts from over 45 countries around the globe but also experts from international, regional and civil society organizations as well as the private sector. National experts from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia also participated in the three-day event and time was dedicated to the presentation of and discussions around the 2017-2020 Strategy for the fight   against organized crime of Bosnia And Herzegovina as well as the ongoing efforts to develop a  new strategic document.

On the basis of discussions held in the course of this event, UNODC will proceed to finalize the strategy development toolkit and provide concrete technical assistance and capacity building to States in the development of national strategies to prevent and combat organized crime, as requested by the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties to UNTOC in resolution 10/4.

UNODC coordinates activities with partners in North Macedonia

8 and 16 February 2021, online: UNODC participated in the donor coordination meeting organized by the US Embassy in Skopje, providing an opportunity for international organizations and donor countries to share details of the planned activities for 2021 in North Macedonia and ensure coordination of efforts. Representation at the meeting included the German Development Agency (GIZ), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), OSCE, UNODC as well as the UK among others. The counterparts representing OSCE, GIZ, and the UK shared information on future work in the areas of anti-corruption, asset recovery, and digital evidence while UNODC presented its work on enhanced border control, asset recovery, and firearms.

In the same token, UNODC met with the counterparts from the regional project “IPA 2017 Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans” implemented by German Development Agency (GIZ), Italian Ministry of Interior, and Center for International Legal Cooperation (CILC) to discuss the coordination of activities and possible synergy related to the introduction of the Advance Passenger Information/Passenger Name Record (API/PNR) in North Macedonia within the joint EU-UNODC action on enhanced border control. The counterparts agreed that, with EU funding, the establishment of mutual trust, institutionalized cooperation, and the timely exchange of information remain critical elements in the further development of the international fight against serious crime and terrorism across the region and pledged to continue working together in this direction.

These meetings further contribute to an improved coordination of efforts on the ground in the spirit of non-duplication and synergy of efforts with the international partners in North Macedonia. 

UNODC presents cooperation within the EU-UNODC Border Control Action in South Eastern Europe as best practice

11 February 2021, online: The UNODC-INTERPOL-WCO Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP)  chaired a panel at the SMI 14th Border Security Conference 2021 on Securing Land Borders, Improving Biometric Technology, and Optimising the Airport Security Experience.

The event brought together representatives from the EU Commission, law enforcement agencies from various countries, as well as international organizations including UNODC, INTERPOL, WCO and a representative from the UNOCT Countering Terrorist (CT) Travel Programme.

With COVID-19 spreading across the globe, the security and integrity of a nation’s borders has rarely been more important than now. Security protocols have been thrust into the global spotlight as border professionals have had to adapt and change their usual approaches while ensuring that their effectiveness is not compromised; a successful response has frequently hinged on the ability of a nation to prevent infected individuals from entering the country.

Amid this disruption, the problems of migration, cross-border criminality, and smart-borders have become even more critical as rogue elements seek to exploit the situation. Addressing these issues was at the core of this conference.

During the event, the panel discussion covered all the aspects related to the AIRCOP Global Programme and the key synergies with the CT Travel Programme, highlighting complementarities and operational procedures aimed at maximizing the impact of the operationalisation of inter-agency structures.

The key points of the discussion focused on the benefits of the adoption of risk-led procedures aimed at integrating the law enforcement sector in the framework of a developing aviation industry, the establishment of strong inter-agency agreements and the enhancement of international cooperation to scale up efforts  against criminal organizations at the regional/international level.

The UNODC AIRCOP expert made an intervention to present the ongoing EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control in South Eastern Europe, implemented through the cooperation with the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL AIRCOP with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe  as a best practice aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of the One UN approach and action.

The EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control in South Eastern Europe is funded by the European Union.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

http://www.smi-online.co.uk/defence/europe/border-security

UNODC helps strengthen Bosnia and Herzegovina’s customs control for arms trafficking in international parcels

9 February 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) organized a workshop for Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ITA) with the objective to review the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for detection of firearms, their parts and ammunition in international postal and courier parcels. The SOPs have been developed by the GFP based on the Gap and needs analysis (GNA) conducted in 2020.

During the workshop, the UNODC GFP underlined the importance of developing and adopting common set of rules for processing mail trafficking and highlighted specific aspects of the draft SOPs, which contribute to increasing the capacity of ITA, including the good practices addressed in the SOPs linked to  evaluation of risks, treating evidence, health and security. The ITA representatives highlighted the added value of UNODC’s draft SOPs to their workflows and specifically emphasized the usefulness of the sections on health and security as well as the commercial sector. These sections will be included in all SOPs of ITA.

The financial support for this project is provided under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

UNODC held meetings with the authorities in North Macedonia following the signing of the Letter of Agreement establishing cooperation on border control

4 February 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC held a meeting with the new Director of Customs Administration and a meeting with the Director of Bureau for Public Security of North Macedonia.

During the meetings, the counterparts  welcomed the signing of the Letter of Agreement (LoA) between UNODC and North Macedonia on the establishment of an airport inter-agency group composed of Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) and a Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) and concluded that an important milestone in increasing and fostering border security was achieved. Both offices also reiterated their support to the EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control, which provides the framework for this cooperation and expressed willingness to be actively involved in the action’s upcoming activities in full capacity, recognizing its benefits for the country and the region.

In the same token, UNODC seized this opportunity to discuss details for the creation of the airport inter-agency group with a focus on the team composition, location of the office space, and offered support for the development of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), which will  serve as an inter-agency cooperation agreement between all national law enforcement agencies to form part of  the airport group. UNODC also informed the relevant stakeholders of the upcoming activities in the area of combating the financing of terrorism.

The EU-UNODC joint 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

For more information: https://customs.gov.mk/index.php/mk/informacii-mk/vesti-mk/2804-unodc-2

UNODC participates in the 5th Security Board meeting of the Integrative Internal Security Governance

2 February 2021, Sarajevo/online: UNODC participated in the 5th Security Board meeting of the Integrative Internal Security Governance (IISG), which was the first meeting under the new Terms of Reference adopted in 2019 by the Ministers of Interior/Security of the six Western Balkan jurisdictions and under the umbrella of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC).

The meeting was chaired by the Acting Director-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) and a senior representative of the RCC. The event was attended by the Western Balkans partners represented at the ministerial level (Ministers for Security/Internal Affairs) and by international partners, including the Governments of Austria, Slovenia, France, Croatia, UK, Germany, Italy as well as the European Commission and other EU Institutions, the Police Cooperation Convention of the Southeast Europe Secretariat (PCC SEE) and others. The meeting aimed to present and discuss several topics that are essential to the new IISG phase, including the IISG working methodologies, the new workplan, new members, the development of the secure database and website, the objectives and the state of play of the IISG and its Pillars and the role of the members.

The UNODC representative confirmed the Office’s support to the initiative and underscored the importance of ownership by the Governments in the region as well as the coordination of efforts of the various actors in the South Eastern European region.

For more information: https://www.rcc.int/working_groups/50/integrative-internal-security-governance--iisg#

UNODC scales up efforts in addressing trafficking in persons in South Eastern Europe

February 2021, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Serbia: In line with the workplan of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, the UNODC Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section (HTMSS) is leading the Regional Initiative on Trafficking in Persons in South Eastern Europe, as part of the overall implementation of these areas of work in this region. The initiative was developed by HTMSS as a contingency plan to cover the period February-July 2021, using a combination of online meetings and increased physical presence in the region as an alternative delivery modality during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The workplan includes five online regional workshops and the engagement of local experts in the four countries (Albania, Bosna and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia) to ensure regular contacts with the national authorities when international travel is restricted. This will support the countries of South Eastern Europe in addressing TIP in line with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its supplementing Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish TIP, Especially Women and Children.

The five multi-disciplinary regional workshops on TIP will be focused on different thematic issues, namely:

-          access to effective remedies to victims of TIP;

-          TIP for labour exploitation;

-          addressing the demand side of TIP;

-          TIP in children in particular for the purpose of forced criminality; and

-          addressing TIP in prostitution through international cooperation.

The first regional workshop “Access to Effective Remedies for Victims of TIP in South Eastern Europe” will be held on 3-4 March 2021 and co-hosted by the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Illegal Migration of North Macedonia.

This initiative is funded by the Governments of France and Sweden.

UNODC and Partners launch new Programme: Southeast Europe Together Against Corruption (SEE-TAC)

29 January 2021, Vienna/online: The UNODC report on Measuring Organized Crime in the Western Balkans has shown that corruption and organized crime are mutually reinforcing, leading to systemic weaknesses in the rule of law. The corrosive effects of organized crime and corruption on state institutions is a matter of great concern to all Western Balkan States, as corruption is a crucial facilitator for organized crime and a preeminent factor for explaining the inefficiency of policy interventions.

To assist Member States in the region, UNODC successfully launched and implemented a five-year programme in 2015, the Southeast Europe Regional Programme on Strengthening the Capacity of Anti-Corruption Authorities and Civil Society to Combat Corruption and Contribute to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) Review Process.

Following an external evaluation and capitalizing on the results achieved during the programme, UNODC together with the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) have designed a new programme: Southeast Europe – Together Against Corruption (SEE-TAC), funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA).

An online meeting introducing the new initiative gathered over 80 participants, to mark the launch of three years of activities towards strengthening the resilience of Southeast Europe and combating corruption. This will be achieved by enhancing the capacity of governments, civil society organizations, the private sector and the media; to prevent and fight corruption while effectively implementing the UNCAC.

At the opening of the event, Laura Stefan, RAI Chairperson, noted that the first phase of the programme will identify challenges and successes from the previous programme, which were integrated into the design of the new initiative. Ms. Stefan also extended her appreciation for the support of ADA and other donors.

From her part, Michaela Flenner, Programme Manager for South Eastern Europe with the ADA, pointed out that the current programme deals with much more than anti-corruption matters, delving deeply into the cross-cutting issues of gender equality and social inclusion, while emphasizing a human rights-based approach.

At the core of the SEE-TAC programme is the UNCAC: the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument, and one that recognizes the important role of cooperation between the private sector and civil society in combating corruption.

During the virtual launch, Virginia de Abajo-Marqués, UNODC Regional Asset Recovery and Anti-Corruption Advisor for the Western Balkans, underlined that the experiences and technical expertise of non-governmental stakeholders make them essential partners in the prevention and fight against corruption. She further observed that the two UNCAC country reviews undertaken in the region thus far – namely in Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia – involved committed non-governmental actors. This result she proudly attributed to the success of UNODC’s multi-stakeholder workshops.

A private sector representative, Ardita Seknaj, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce in Albania, mentioned that due to UNODC and RAI’s efforts, the private sector has joined forces with civil society organizations and built collective action initiatives in the country, which led to a notable improvement of national anti-corruption strategies and an alignment with the best international practices.

Under the auspices of the SEE-TAC Programme, 25 public institutions, 40 business representatives and 175 civil society representatives will be working together alongside the UNCAC Coalition and the WB6 Chamber Investment Forum, on the implementation of a wide range of activities throughout the upcoming years.

Enhancing the capacity and involvement of civil society in anti-corruption activities – notably in relation to UNCAC – is part of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, which provides the framework for UNODC initiatives throughout the region.

UNODC conducted a mentorship visit to the Port Control Unit at the land-border crossing Gradiška in Bosnia and Herzegovina

25-29 January 2021, Gradiška, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Building on its previous achievements, the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) continued the implementation of the basic training cycle for the customs and border police officers of the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land-border crossing Gradiška.

As part of  the staged training cycle provided by the CCP programming worldwide, the practical training component for the staff of PCU Gradiška focused on risk analyses-based profiling of containers and other shipments, identification and interdiction of high-risk cargo, illegal cross-border movement of goods and other criminal activities observed in the international trade supply chain. The training offered practical exercises on real-time cases, complemented by interactive discussions on contemporary modus operandi used by criminal groups in trafficking of drugs and chemical precursors, firearms and other illicit goods.

The practical training was delivered in the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC supports the implementation of its Strong Families Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina

28 January 2021, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina/online: The Community Service Organization Narko-Ne, with the support of the Government of Norway and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organized the online conference aimed to address the challenges faced in the work with families at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference was enhanced with the UNODC expertise, in collaboration with the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The conference allowed to discuss the structure and evidenced value of the Strong Families Programme, as well as the results achieved during the pilot phase (November 2020), when the Programme was introduced in the country through the online training delivered to the relevant professionals who then tested its effectiveness via the application of the Programme on 18 chosen families. The results of the pilot phase reaffirmed the commitment of the institutions and local community in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the application of evidence-based prevention strategies and further strengthening of the country’s capacities to sustain and expand prevention efforts.

During the event, some of the beneficiaries’ experiences were relayed through quotes, for example from a child beneficiary saying: “All people in my group were very positive and dear. I liked so much that we have worked and learned through games. The most useful were the stress-releasing games showed by our facilitators, and we have started immediately to use them at home. They are very helpful, we get along better, and we are controlling the stress situation better now”. Similarly, caregivers’ perspective on the Programme were also presented, one of them having shared: “I have learned more about how to approach my kids when they are sad and when they are happy. I believe that every caregiver should have the opportunity to go through this programme. I have changed my expectations from the caregiver’s perspective and realized that we can achieve what we want in a different and a better way”.

The conference is part of a larger project “Enable Beneficial Civil Society Environment– EMBRACE” supported by the Government of Norway and implemented by UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina.

UNODC holds a regional meeting of the Network of Anti-Trafficking Coordinators of South Eastern Europe

26-28 January 2021, Bucharest, Romania/online: UNODC in cooperation with the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) in its role as the Network’s Secretariat jointly organized a regional meeting of the Network of Anti-Trafficking Coordinators of South-East Europe (NATC SEE) hosted by the National Agency against Trafficking in Persons (ANITP) of Romania.

This regional meeting was entitled “The Way Ahead: After the 10th Anniversary of the NATC SEE and the 20th Anniversary of the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol’’ and aimed to mark and celebrate the two important anniversaries in order to take stock of the achievements of the previous two decades and set the way ahead for the next years.

The event brought together 79 participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 as well as Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Greece, Moldova, Romania and Slovenia.

In addition, representatives of regional and international organizations, civil society organizations, academia as well as European Commission were present, including the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator’s Office , France Anti-Trafficking Coordinator (MIPROF), the Council of Europe, the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe Secretariat (PCC SEE), Migration, Asylum, Refugee Initiative (MARRI), the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC) and OSCE.

The regional meetings allowed for fruitful discussions among the participants, who shared their experience, challenges, good practices and lessons learnt in the implementation of the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol, particularly investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons and the victim centered approach as well as the role of the NGOs in criminal justice response. The regional meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Trafficking in Human Beings in the South Eastern Europe.

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

26 January 2021, Skopje, North Macedonia/online: According 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.

UNODC conducted a mentorship visit to the Port Control Unit at the land-border crossing Bijača in Bosnia and Herzegovina

19-22 January 2021, Bijača, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) delivered the first in 2021 mentorship visit to the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land-border crossing/customs point Bijača. Mentorship visits  provide PCUs worldwide with continuous support and the visit to the PCU Bijača aimed in particular to enhance the operational capacities of the PCU and address challenges specific to land-borders.

During the four-day visit, a CCP expert observed the daily routines of the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) and Border Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina officers assigned to the Unit and provided support related to risk profiling of containerized shipments and identification of potential high risk assessments, as well as physical inspections. The mentorship also served as an opportunity for discussions on common challenges and emerging threats related to organized crime and other criminal activities that frontline customs and border police offices encounter in their daily work.

Other topics addressed during the visit was the tracking and tracing of the movements of container shipments, trends in concealments and modus operandi used by criminal groups and further development of regional and global cooperation among customs and police administrations within the CCP framework. Several containers and trucks, that were entering or leaving the customs territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, were profiled and physically inspected.

The mentorship activity was carried out in the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC holds a conference on drug use prevention strategies for Slovenian health professionals

18 January 2021, online: UNODC in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Slovenia organized an online conference for the national professionals on the drug use prevention strategies. 

Over 30 participants attended the meeting representing various national institutions and civil society organizations, which was particularly welcomed as it fosters a multifaceted approach to respond to the challenges of substance abuse.

The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss in details the value of the UNODC-WHO International Standards on Drug Use Prevention as well as to present two evidence-based prevention strategies such as the family skills UNODC Strong Families programme and the social emotional learning skills programme Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence.

UNODC demonstrated the value of such evidence-based strategies, and in particular the results achieved in South Eastern Europe, in support of further strengthening of the national prevention systems in Slovenia. UNODC will continue to engage and support the country in their further local application.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/res/listen-first/parenting-under-covid-19_html/Strong_families_Brochure.pdf

https://www.unodc.org/res/listen-first/parenting-under-covid-19_html/Family-UNited-leaflet-20200218.pdf

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/listen-first/parenting-under-covid-19.html

https://www.preventivna-platforma.si/na-podrocju-preventive-je-v-sloveniji-se-vedno-prevec-neucinkovitih-ali-celo-skodljivih-pristopov-in-praks/

https://www.preventivna-platforma.si/informacije-za-starse-in-skrbnike-v-casu-karantene-tudi-v-slovenscini/

UNODC advances the Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence programme in Croatia

11 January, Osijek; 12 January, Zagreb; 14 January, Split and Zadar; 15 January 2021, Rijeka, Croatia: In the framework of the Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence (LQSFA) programme UNODC in partnership with the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education and the Agency for Training and Education conducted the second round of five (online) follow-up LQSFA sessions.

The LQSFA programme is an evidence-based social and emotional learning tool aimed at preventing drug use among adolescents, which has proved to be an effective strategy in reducing substance use and risky behaviors of the target groups as well as rightly influencing their normative beliefs on substance use. While the programme has been active in South Eastern Europe since years, in Croatia UNODC has launched it in December 2019 with the envisaged implementation period of two academic years until June 2021.

Within this monitoring cycle and despite the COVID-19 outbreak, the programme remained active in 35 out of 41 elementary schools across Croatia, reaching students in 64 classes in total. The follow-up sessions have not only provided an opportunity to collect data and make assessments, but also to discuss different modalities on how the programme can be implemented using online platforms and sharing the best practices.

The next follow-up sessions are planned for May 2021. The programme implementation in Croatia is using the good results achieved in the region so far through the UNODC’s partnership with LCIF and in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme in Albania holds its Annual Steering Committee Meeting and donates border control equipment to Customs and Police

28-29 December, 2020, Korce/Tirana, Albania: The Annual Steering Committee  Meeting of the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) was held with the participation of the representatives of the Albanian State Police, Customs Administrations and officers  of the Port Control Unit (PCU) at Durres Port and of the Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) at Tirana International Airport. Due to the COVID-19 related restrictions, attendance to the event was limited to ten participants.

The meeting was co-chaired by the Director of the Anti-Trafficking Directorate of the Customs Administration and the Police Director of the Tirana International Airport. At the opening of the event, the Government’s commitment to the implementation of the Programme in Albania was underlined, while highlighting the importance of the role of the relevant stakeholders, including the private sector, in border control and combatting organized and cross-border crime.

The meeting reviewed the results of work in 2020 and the objectives to be addressed in 2021, including the creation of effective national and regional actions; establishment of linkages with other border control and anti-organized crime entities; ensuring sustainability; ensuring the Government’s support and raising awareness of the private sector for a better support to the PCU and ACCU functioning. Cross-cutting issues, such as human rights, environment and gender mainstreaming, were also highlighted. The meeting has approved the 2021 workplan.

Furthermore, with the aim of supporting the work and the enforcement interventions of the PCU at Durres Port and of the ACCU at Tirana International Airport, CCP donated operational equipment to the Units, i.e. 20 container trackers/GPS and one vehicle. The Directors General of the Customs Administration and State Police noted that the donated equipment would assist the Units, particularly in their efforts to fight infringements and trace illicit consignments.

The implementation of the CCP in Albania is generously supported by the financial contributions of the Governments of Germany and France.

UNODC held consultations with the authorities in Montenegro to discuss the Regional Roadmap on Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance

22 December 2020, online: UNODC continues the preparatory work for the development of the Regional Roadmap on Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance in South Eastern Europe and held the related consultations with the authorities in Montenegro to identify the main anti-corruption priorities in the country.

The initial discussion with representatives from the Ministry of Justice, the Agency for Prevention of Corruption (APC), the Financial Intelligence Unit, and the Procurement Office focused on a variety of topics related to received recommendations in the context of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) Review Mechanism, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Moneyval) evaluations as well as the anti-corruption pledges in order to identify a long list of anti-corruption and illicit finance priorities in Montenegro.

The meeting was also attended by the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI), who provided an overview of its current Whistleblower Protection programme and the International Treaty on Exchange of Data for the Verification of Asset Declarations, of which Montenegro is part.

The event provided an opportunity for UNODC to present the purpose of the Roadmap and ensure support from the authorities to further actions aimed at addressing the outstanding priorities in countering corruption and illicit financial flows in Montenegro.

The UNODC work on the Roadmap is funded by the Governments of the UK and Germany and is undertaken in the context of the decisions of the Security Commitments Steering Group of the Berlin Process, within which the Governments of the region have endorsed this initiative.

UNODC joins the UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia in a meeting with the new Minister of Interior of Serbia

22 December 2020, Belgrade, Serbia: Following the recent appointment of the new Minister of Interior of the Republic of Serbia, the UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia and the Head of the UNODC Programme Office in Serbia had a meeting with  the new Minister to discuss a number of  key priorities for the UN and  Serbia, including in UNODC mandated areas such as countering trafficking in persons, firearms and wildlife, combating corruption, illicit financial flows and asset recovery as well as other important topics such as addressing violence against women, hate speech,  protecting human rights and supporting Serbia in their commitment to the international conventions.

During the meeting, UNODC presented to the Minister the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe (2020-2023), which provides the framework for the UNODC involvement in the region and gave an overview of the activities currently implemented in Serbia as well as the upcoming initiatives.

The counterparts also discussed opportunities for an enhanced partnership between the Ministry of Interior and the UN and its agencies in Serbia including UNODC and agreed on the importance of further cooperation and strengthening collaboration on key priority areas in the country. The Minister expressed his support in this regard as well as commitment to the joint efforts in achieving results in the mentioned areas.

UNODC builds capacity of North Macedonia in risk-led approach to address threats at international airports

14-17 December 2020, online: The UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) organized an online training on risk-led approach to address threats at international airports for 50 participants from the Customs Administration and the Ministry of Interior of North Macedonia. The expertise on intelligence principles, risk management fundamentals, passenger information, integrated approach and their application in law enforcement was delivered by an expert of the Belgian Passenger Information Unit (PIU).

The training aimed to reinforce the understanding of intelligence, risk management, risk mitigation and their relevance and role in the law enforcement. Through the lens of inter-agency based action, the training focused on passenger information, the structure and the functioning of analysis processes aimed at identifying suspicious patterns from both known and unknown high-risk passengers. Based on the best practices of a European PIU, the participants also had the opportunity to understand the targeting rules, watchlists, data gathering challenges and the integrated approach to tackle criminal organizations and disrupt their networks.

The training was conducted using the UNODC E-Learning platform with the course structured over 14 hours and four consecutive days. During the training, the participants were able to exchange views and experiences using multiple questions/answers sessions, instant polls and practical exercises. The training also included a final comprehension test, the completion of which generated a certificate of attendance/proficiency for the trainees.

The online training was conducted in the framework of the 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 implemented by the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and AIRCOP in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC holds the Paris Pact Expert Working Group meeting on Investing in Families for Effective Drug Prevention and Treatment

15-16 December 2020, online: UNODC organized the Paris Pact Expert Working Group (EWG) on Investing in Families for Effective Drug Prevention and Treatment with the presence of delegates from the Paris Pact Initiative partner countries and organizations, including from the countries of South Eastern and Eastern Europe: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia and Ukraine.

During the event, some of the recommendations from the previous Expert Working Group meetings under the Pillar IV of the Vienna Declaration on drug prevention and health were elaborated and updated and new ones were formulated.

The meeting also included a series of interactive sessions to discuss existing policies, strategies and programmes related to drug treatment services in the participating countries. The focus was set on the role of families in the prevention and treatment of drug use and drug use disorders, as well as other problem behaviours.

UNODC and experts from Paris Pact partner countries and organizations presented evidence-based programmes, including family prevention and treatment programmes that have been developed by UNODC, and good practices in involving families in effective drug prevention and treatment strategies.

The outcomes of this meeting will be presented and reviewed at the next Paris Pact Policy Consultative Group Meeting.

UNODC and OSCE hold a joint virtual regional training on organized crime, confiscation and social re-use of assets in South Eastern Europe

15-16 December 2020, online: UNODC and OSCE organized a joint virtual regional workshop on organized crime, confiscation and social re-use of assets in South Eastern Europe in the framework of the UNODC Education for Justice Initiative, a component of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration on “Integrating crime prevention and criminal justice into the wider United Nations agenda to address social and economic challenges and to promote the rule of law at the national and international levels, and public participation” and the OSCE project on “Strengthening the fight against transnational organized crime in South-Eastern Europe through improved regional co-operation in assets seizure, confiscation, management and re-use”.

The workshop was aimed at raising awareness on the security threats posed by organized crime to societies, the benefits of social re-use of assets confiscated in organized crime and corruption cases, and the role that academia and youth in particular can play in this context. Officials from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia attended the event with representatives of the criminal justice system, including law enforcement and asset management agencies, ministries of education and youth, representatives of youth associations, civil society organisations, think tanks, academia and higher education institutions.

The event also provided the opportunity to present the UNODC report on Measuring Organized Crime in the Western Balkans, which is the result of a multi-year initiative to develop and pilot an analytical framework to measure and assess organized crime in the region, which further bolstered the discussion and exchanges among the participants.

The workshop contributes to an enhanced understanding by the members of the academia, civil society and youth organizations in the Western Balkans of the organized crime and their role in the fight against it, particularly in connection with confiscation and the social reuse of assets. In this sense, it also stimulated a reflection on how to integrate these topics into their future work, whether that entails academic teaching or providing a platform of discussion and collaboration.

UNODC held consultations with the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss the Regional Roadmap on Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance

15 December 2020, online: UNODC continues the preparatory work for the development of the Regional Roadmap on Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance in South Eastern Europe and held the related consultations with the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to identify the main anti-corruption priorities in the country.

The initial discussion with the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of the Fight Against Corruption of Bosnia and Herzegovina (APIK) focused on a variety of technical priorities including the possible support in developing strategies/action plans for the Roadmap over 2020-2024, which would be aligned to the national strategy once approved; capacity building of the preventive anti-corruption bodies; support to develop an electronic database to help verify asset and conflict of interest declarations; whistleblower protection; support to digitalization and other important issues.

The meeting was also attended by the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI), who provided an overview of its current Whistleblower Protection programme and the International Treaty on Exchange of Data for the Verification of Asset Declarations, of which Bosnia and Herzegovina is part.

The event provided an opportunity for UNODC to present the purpose of the Roadmap and ensure support from the authorities to further actions aimed at addressing the outstanding priorities in countering corruption and illicit financial flows in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The UNODC work on the Roadmap is funded by the Governments of the UK and Germany and is undertaken in the context of the decisions of the Security Commitments Steering Group of the Berlin Process, within which the Governments of the region have endorsed this initiative.

UNODC Launches Comprehensive Regional Report on Organized Crime in the Western Balkans

14 December 2020, online: UNODC launched a comprehensive report which sheds light on the nature, characteristics, and level of organized crime in the Western Balkans.

Using qualitative and quantitative data from several sources —including administrative records and court verdicts, as well as interviews with experts, victims, and prisoners— the report offers a comprehensive overview of the structure and modus operandi of criminal groups in the region. It further provides an in-depth analysis of devices that criminals resort to in order to evade justice —such as obstruction of justice and corruption— as well as the different forms of communication they use.

The increasing availability and quality of the data featured in this report make it a go-to reference on organized criminal group involvement in smuggling of migrants, drug production and trafficking, human trafficking, and trafficking in firearms in the Western Balkans. The publication also provides insight into women’s roles in organized crime in the region; a topic often discussed, but rarely researched so far. 

When examining persons convicted for offences typically associated with organized crime, it was found that 12 per cent of them were also convicted for being part of an organized crime group. However, marked discrepancies between recorded statistics and qualitative interviews suggest that data on convictions related to organized crime groups may underestimate the true nature of their role within illegal marketplaces.

Covering Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo UNSCR 1244, the report aims to improve responses to organized crime. This is particularly important, as the rate for convictions in cases related to organized crime show a steady decline throughout the region. While in 2013 there were 744 convictions, by 2017 this number dwindled down to 491 convictions. 

Prosecutions, on the other hand, increased by more than six-fold. While there were 217 prosecutions in 2013, in 2017 the number of cases prosecuted grew to 1,328. The Report concludes that the discrepancy between the number of convictions and prosecutions suggests a gap in evidence gathering, constructing successful prosecutions, and properly adjudicating organized crime cases.

The report serves as a useful reference tool for local policy makers, but also acts as a blueprint for any country or region performing systematic assessments of organized crime.

Further information:

UNODC Report | Measuring Organized Crime in the Western Balkans

UNODC and CEPOL compare notes on actions in South Eastern Europe

11 December 2020, online: UNODC and the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) met to discuss the respective initiatives in South Eastern Europe with the aim to ensure complementarity of capacity building actions in the region.

During the meeting, UNODC provided an overview of the ongoing EU-UNODC joint action promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports in South Eastern Europe launched in January 2020 and expressed readiness to cooperate in the spirit of non-duplication and synergy of efforts.

Subsequently, CEPOL informed about its project on Partnership against Crime and Terrorism (CEPOL WB PaCT) initiated in October 2020 aimed to enhance the capacities of authorities in the Western Balkans to fight against organised crime and terrorism including preventing and countering violent extremism by enhancing cooperation within the region and with the EU.

At the end of the meeting, the counterparts agreed to continue updating each other on respective activities to avoid duplication of efforts and enhance complementarity of actions in the region, the former being the principle of the UNODC Regional Programme of South Eastern Europe, under which the UNODC activities in the region are conducted.

OSCE and UNODC help Bosnia and Herzegovina to detect and combat terrorist financing

9-11 December 2020, online:  The OSCE Secretariat in cooperation with the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina and UNODC organized a train-the-trainer course with the aim of strengthening Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capacities to analyze terrorist financing risks and threats.

Senior experts and practitioners from the Ministry of Security, the Prosecutor’s Office, the State Investigation and Protection Agency and other authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina took part in the training, which emphasized the key role of inter-agency and international cooperation and of multi-stakeholder approaches in countering terrorist financing. Participants further went on to adapting, together with leading trainers, the OSCE-UNODC training course to the needs of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The senior experts participating in the train-the-trainer courses, jointly with OSCE and UNODC lead trainers, will go on to train fellow experts from relevant authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the coming years.

The multi-year training programme on countering terrorist financing aims to increase the country’s capacity to detect and combat terrorist financing and strengthen compliance with international standards in this area.

UNODC strengthens Serbia's capacity to address threats at the international airports

7-10 December 2020, online: The UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) organized an online workshop on intelligence and risk-led approach to address threats at international airports for 13 experts and officials from the Ministry of Interior, the Customs Administration, and the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructures of Serbia. The event was attended by the UNODC Global Firearms Programme with a view to enhance synergies within the EU-UNODC joint action on enhanced border control, under which the workshop was delivered.

The workshop aimed to enhance the knowledge of the participants in intelligence and risk assessment as effective operational approach to tackle criminal organizations and disrupt their networks; the operational environment and assessing the key elements for full integration of border clearance procedures in international airports; and learning how to adapt the law enforcement countermeasures against the rising threats impacting borders.

The training outlined different operational scenarios and illustrated different border clearance methodologies, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses and raising awareness on the adoption of a risk-based approach against the threats posed by criminal organizations at international airports.

The workshop was conducted using the UNODC E-Learning platform. The participants had the opportunity to exchange ideas and thoughts using the live sessions integrated into the course with multiple questions/answers sessions and instant polls. The training also included a final comprehension test, the completion of which generated a certificate of attendance/proficiency for the trainees.

The workshop was delivered in partnership with the Interpol Regional Counter-Terrorism Node for Eastern and Southern Africa (ESAF) and Europe and conducted under the framework of the 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 implemented by the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and AIRCOP in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC discussed risks and mitigating measures amid upcoming distribution of COVID-19 vaccines on International Anti-Corruption Day

9 December 2020, online/Skopje, North Macedonia : On the occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day, UNODC participated in an online expert discussion called “United Against Corruption Panel Discussion: Preventing corruption in a time of health and economic crises, strengthening inter-agency coordination efforts, increasing public awareness, and holding officials accountable” hosted by the US Embassy in Skopje, North Macedonia.

The event brought together senior officials from the Government of North Macedonia, including the Deputy Prime Minister for the Fight Against Corruption, Sustainable Development, and Human Resources and the President of the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption as well as  the UN Resident Coordinator in North Macedonia, who opened the event and international counterparts.

During the event, the statement of the United Nations Secretary General on the occasion of the International Anti-corruption Day was highlighted, particularly the part on corruption in the context of COVID-19 where he stated that “Corruption is criminal, immoral and the ultimate betrayal of public trust.” And “It is even more damaging in times of crisis – as the world is experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic”.

This is all the more important as countries across the globe are preparing for the deployment of a vaccine, and as it is crucial to ensure that it is affordable, safe and efficient and administered in a rapid and fair manner.

In view of this, the UNODC Anti-Corruption Advisor presented the potential risks related to such a large-scale endeavor and spelled out the tools available to address them. She stressed that when reliable and effective COVID-19 vaccines are approved for use, the scale and complexity of their manufacture, allocation and distribution globally will be unprecedented. And thus, this will also present corruption risks that may threaten vital public health goals. These risks include the entry of substandard and falsified vaccines into markets, theft of vaccines within the distribution systems, leakages in emergency funding designated for the development and distribution of vaccines, nepotism, favoritism, and corrupted procurement systems.

These corruption risks, and others, should be identified and mitigated by public institutions to help advance access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines by the population, including the most vulnerable and marginalized groups.

The advisor said that “The governments, the private sector and civil society must adopt and apply more robust systems for accountability, transparency and integrity without delay”. The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), of which UNODC is the custodian agency, provides a solid global framework for these efforts.

UNODC coordinates action with the Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans Project 

9 December 2020, online: UNODC participated in the first Project Steering Committee meeting of the Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans – IPA 2019 (CSCWB – IPA 2019) project. During the meeting, the project team presented the initiative and its structure while the participants provided their perspectives on its implementation. It was also noted that the project will aim to avoid overlapping in the implementation of activities in the region and closely liaise with the relevant actors to further improve cooperation.

UNODC’s participation in the meeting was in line with the same goal of coordination and identification of synergies. UNODC emphasized that it will continue to liaise with the CSCWB project to explore possible collaborations in the future. The UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe 2020-2023 and the CSCWB project indicate each other as partners, including in their respective webpages.

UNODC conducted a refresher training for Air Cargo Control Unit at the Sarajevo International Airport

2-3 December 2020, Bosnia and Herzegovina/Montenegro: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) delivered an online refresher training for the officers of the Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) at the Sarajevo International Airport. The training revisited modules and topics delivered during previous training events and presented new law enforcement materials and practices of the law enforcement structures on successful prevention of smuggling and detection of illegal activities in air cargo operations.

Delivered by the trainers from UNODC and WCO, the training was attended by the appointed ACCU officers comprised of the Border Police and the Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as officials of the Sarajevo Airport Authority.

The training was carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC meets the Judicial Academy in Serbia to discuss cooperation

2 December, Belgrade, Serbia: UNODC’s Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a meeting with the Director of the Judicial Academy in Serbia. The meeting presented an opportunity for UNODC GFP to explore the potential for partnership with the Judicial Academy on countering illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms in Serbia and the region, within the framework of UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and UNODC’s regional project “Criminal Justice Response against Arms Trafficking”. The scope of engagement and upcoming publications were discussed, in order to ensure national ownership and maximum impact. The GFP’s efforts were welcomed and future cooperation with the Judicial Academy will secure the sustainability in strengthening the capacities of judges and prosecutors in Serbia.

The activities in Serbia are supported under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/firearms-protocol/news-and-events.html

UNODC launches the development of a Regional Roadmap on Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance in South Eastern Europe 

1 December 2020, online: During the first meeting of the Interior and Security Ministers of the Berlin Process hosted by the United Kingdom on 9 July 2018, the Ministers concluded that corruption, money laundering and financial crime are shared security threats and committed to deepening regional cooperation and strengthening collective response. To drive the delivery of the security commitments agreed through the Berlin Process, the Security Commitments Steering Group (SCSG) was established and meets regularly.  

At its third meeting in January 2020 in Sofia, Bulgaria, the SCSG agreed to create and deliver the Regional Roadmap on Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance (“the Roadmap”) to improve implementation of existing anti-corruption and illicit finance measures in a small number of shared priority areas. This initiative was inspired by the Small Arms and Light Weapons Roadmap which was endorsed during the 2018 London Berlin Process Summit. The SCSG also agreed that UNODC should lead the facilitation and design of the Roadmap for ministerial consideration and approval at the 2020 Berlin Process Summit in Sofia. This way forward was reviewed and confirmed in the SCSG meeting in October 2020.  

Accordingly, UNODC initiated the preparatory works to develop the Roadmap for the six jurisdictions of South Eastern Europe and held the first consultation meeting with the authorities of Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 to identify top anti-corruption priorities. In preparation of the meeting, UNODC produced a desk-based analysis of the most relevant recommendations stemming from the voluntary gap analysis of Kosovo’s implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) (elaborated following the recommendations of the implementation review mechanism), the 2018 Anti-corruption Pledges, the European Commission, the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and the MONEYVAL through the Project against Economic Crime in Kosovo under UNSCR 1244. 

The consultation, which was organized in cooperation and full coordination with UNMIK, allowed for the UNODC experts to inform the authorities in Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 of the purpose and objectives of the Roadmap and identify the first set of priority areas that would benefit from the initiative.  

Similar meetings will be held in other five jurisdictions of the region, in order that is allowed by the COVID-19 related situation, resulting in the production of the preliminary findings reports for each jurisdiction on establishing the Roadmap. 

The UNODC work on the Roadmap is funded by the Governments of the UK and Germany and is undertaken in the context of the decisions of the Security Commitments Steering Group of the Berlin Process, within which the Governments of the region have endorsed this initiative.

UNODC undertakes a fact-finding mission on trafficking in cultural property in South Eastern Europe

November/December 2020, online: UNODC in cooperation with the Government of Italy, in particular the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage, organized a fact-finding mission to review the situation on countering trafficking in cultural property in South Eastern Europe, in the form of online meetings with the relevant authorities in the region.

UNODC consulted key stakeholders on the existing administrative and criminal legal frameworks, collection of statistics, databases, coordination mechanisms and measures to investigate, prosecute, adjudicate and recover trafficked cultural property. UNODC also gathered information on laws, regulations and statistics and analyzed reports and data available to partners and in open sources and can provide recommendations on the legal and institutional frameworks, and areas for their improvement in line with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the International Guidelines for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses with respect to trafficking in cultural property and other related offences.

The overall purpose of the fact-finding mission was to provide UNODC with a better understanding of the current situation with regard to trafficking in cultural property in the region and the potential areas for UNODC’s involvement in supporting institutional and legislative capacity as well as regional cooperation on this topic. Possible future UNODC’s engagement in this topic will be on the basis of the requests of the Governments and subject to other factors.

UNODC discusses cooperation in countering arms trafficking in North Macedonia

27 November 2020, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC met with the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of North Macedonia including the Republic’s Chief Public Prosecutor and Public Prosecutor specializing in firearms cases to discuss cooperation in the area of countering arms trafficking.  

The participants discussed the Regional Roadmap for a sustainable solution to the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and their ammunition in the Western Balkans by 2024 and other initiatives and agreed on the need to work together to achieve tangible results. The mentioned areas for cooperation included developing Guidelines for investigating and prosecuting firearms trafficking, capacity building for the prosecutors on electronic evidence and identification of firearms, as well as inter-agency information sharing also involving the customs administration, the judiciary and the border police.  

The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) and Republic’s Public Prosecutor’s Office also discussed creating a legal framework for cooperation between the offices through a Memorandum of Understanding, to be developed and signed in the future.  

During the meeting, UNODC GFP took the opportunity to share with the counterparts the UNODC Practical Guide for Requesting Electronic Evidence Across Borders, translated in the Macedonian language.   

The activities in North Macedonia are supported under the Western Balkans Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

OSCE and UNODC support Bosnia and Herzegovina in countering the financing of terrorism

23-25 November 2020, online: OSCE and UNODC organized an online train-the-trainer course with the aim of strengthening Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capacities in countering the financing of terrorism.

Senior experts and practitioners from the Ministry of Security, the Prosecutor’s Office, the State Investigation and Protection Agency and other authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina took part in the course.

Together with the OSCE lead trainers, the participants co-produced scenario-based exercises, adapting the OSCE-UNODC training courses on countering terrorist financing to the needs of the country. They also learned how to facilitate presentations and discussions with representatives from multiple agencies at the upcoming training courses.

As part of a sustainable training programme delivered by  OSCE and  UNODC, the senior experts participating in the train-the-trainer courses, jointly with the OSCE and UNODC lead trainers, will go on to train further experts from relevant authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the coming years.

The multi-year training programme on countering terrorist financing aims to increase the country’s capacity to detect and combat terrorist financing and strengthen compliance with international standards in this area. These international standards are embedded in relevant international conventions, UN Security Council Resolutions, UN norms, OSCE commitments that promote human rights-based approaches in countering terrorist financing, the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) and their interpretive notes.  

The train-the-trainer course emphasized the key role of inter-agency and international cooperation and of multi-stakeholder approaches in countering terrorist financing.

For more information:

http://www.sarajevotimes.com/osce-strengthens-bosnias-capacities-in-countering-the-financing-of-terrorism/

UNODC provides legislative advice in anti-corruption field

24 November 2020, online: UNODC participated in the open consultations of the Ministry of Justice of Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 on the draft law on the Prevention of Corruption Agency. This bill establishes a broad mandate to implement the Law on the Prevention of Conflict of Interest in Exercising Public Function, Law on Declaration, Origin and Control of Assets and Law on Protection of Whistleblowers. It also covers administrative investigations and support to the corruption risk assessments, anti-corruption strategies and legislative initiatives. 

The draft law also aims to strengthen the mandate of the Prevention of Corruption Agency, change its status and goals as an independent and specialized body for the implementation of state policies for the prevention of corruption that fall within its scope as well as changes and innovations in terms of status, redefining and redesigning the competencies of the Prevention of Corruption Agency and scope of the Agency in the area of corruption prevention. 

UNODC provided advice on various matters related to the structure of the agency, recommended timelines to conduct investigations, the role of the agency to support Kosovo's anti-corruption legislative initiatives, accountability and transparency measures as well as advice on good practices. 

UNODC participates in the 4th Local Coordination Meeting on the SALW Roadmap in Bosnia and Herzegovina

20 November 2020, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) participated in the 4th Local Coordination Meeting on the Roadmap for a sustainable solution to the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and their ammunition in the Western Balkans by 2024. The meeting was held online and hosted by the SALW Coordination Board of Bosnia and Herzegovina to review the progress of the implementation of the SALW Strategy as well as to discuss challenges brought by the COVID-19 crisis.  

The participants, including the representatives of governments of France and Germany, the European Union Delegation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC), national counterparts, and other stakeholders were briefed on the progress achieved in the corresponding areas of the Roadmap to date and next steps to be taken. The meeting also highlighted the findings of the 4th Roadmap Progress Report, presented by SEESAC. Finally, the representatives of local and international organizations had an opportunity to give an overview of ongoing and planned activities and contributions related to the implementation of the Roadmap in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

UNODC GFP supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in countering illicit firearms trafficking through the implementation of the joint UNODC – UNDP project on Halting arms and lawbreaking trade (HALT) and the UNODC regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Arms Trafficking. During the meeting, UNODC provided an update on the status of its activities within the two projects. The financial support for UNODC GFP’s activities is provided under the SALW Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, United Kingdom, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.  

UNODC joins the EMPACT meeting on Tackling Illegal Waste Disposal and Shipment

19 November 2020, online: UNODC participated in the Operational Meeting of the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) on Tackling Illegal Waste Disposal and Shipment, organized by the Austrian Criminal Intelligence Service and the Embassy of France in Vienna.  

The event brought together the relevant experts from Western and South Eastern Europe, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 as well as representatives from EUROPOL, INTERPOL, OSCE, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UNODC. The UNODC expert provided an overview of the Office’s mandate and ongoing initiatives in the relevant area, such as the development of a legislative guide on illegal waste, as well as the UNODC approach in addressing other crimes that have an impact on the environment, i.e. wildlife, forest and fisheries crime.

The UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and the UNODC Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime are jointly exploring possibilities to support the Governments of South Eastern Europe in preventing and countering wildlife and forest crime and waste trafficking through strengthening their national capacities and promoting cooperation.

UNODC participates in the anti-corruption academic workshop of the Southeastern European Anti-Corruption Academic Initiative (SEE ACAD) 

17-18 November 2020, online: UNODC took part in the Academic Group Meeting of the SEE ACAD Initiative, organized by the Washington and Lee University School of Law and the University of Tirana, Albania, Law Faculty in cooperation with the Beirut Arab University and La Sagesse University Faculties of Law in Beirut, Lebanon.

The meeting was aimed at enhancing the capacity of participating professors, academics, and students to deliver and participate in high-quality anti-corruption education and activities in their respective institutions. The discussion was led by academics from the Western Balkans, the United States and Lebanon, the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI), the European Public Law Organization (EPLO), the Rule of Law & Anti-Corruption Center (ROLACC) in Geneva and UNODC.

The UNODC expert contributed to the discussion by presenting the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap, an initiative conducted in partnership with RAI, which aims to build and foster partnerships and create a regional roadmap in the Western Balkans to fast-track the implementation of existing anti-corruption and illicit finance commitments in the region, including the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

The second day of the meeting was dedicated to a discussion among students with presentations on practical anti-corruption clinical legal education from the students’ perspective.

UNODC builds capacities of the border control officers in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro

16-18 November 2020, Bosnia and Herzegovina/Montenegro: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) delivered a Joint Condensed Refresher Training for the officers of the Port Control Units (PCUs) at the port of Bar and the land border crossing/customs point Bijača. Due to the current COVID-19 situation, the training was conducted in a hybrid manner using an online platform combined with in-person attendance of participants at locations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

The three-day course presented to the PCU officers included topics related to smuggling modus operandi, updates related to container tracking, drug precursors and inter-agency and international cooperation. A specific segment was dedicated to the issue of dangerous goods storage and security lessons learned from the ports in Tianjin, China and Beirut, Lebanon, and the devastating consequences in the case of latter.

The training was also used to discuss future training prospects for both PCUs and joint activities to be implemented over the course of 2021, carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC supports the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in countering trafficking in persons for the purpose of forced labour

27-29 October 2020, Jahorina/10-12 November 2020, Jahorina, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC in collaboration with the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Centers for Judicial and Prosecutorial Training of Bosnia and Herzegovina organized two multidisciplinary trainings on Identifying and Investigating Cases of Human Trafficking for the Purpose of Forced Labour in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The discussions were led by academia and the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and included topics such as legal concept of trafficking in persons (TiP) with focus on forced labour from international, domestic and comparative perspectives; identification of victims of TiP for the purpose of forced labour, indicators for identification and interagency cooperation as well as etiology and root causes, risk factors and victims’ vulnerability, methods of prevention and role of private sector, victim's rights and possibilities of compensation. In addition, the participants discussed the investigative approach to TiP through presentation of procedures for interviewing, evidence collection and investigative measures, and crime scene management and indictment preparation and conduction of a mock trial.

Over 29 officials in October and 25 officials in November including judges, prosecutors law enforcement officers and labour inspections representing the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina attended the trainings and actively participated in the work group exercises and mock trials.

The financial support for the trainings was provided by the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

UNODC holds a regional expert group meeting on combating trafficking in human beings in South Eastern Europe

26-27 November 2020, online: UNODC organized the first Regional Expert Group Meeting on “Facilitating Cooperation Between the Public and Private Sector in Combating Trafficking in Persons in South Eastern Europe” in collaboration with the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings of Bulgaria and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France.

The meeting provided an opportunity to enhance substantive knowledge of the participants about the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), of which UNODC is the custodian, and its Review Mechanism, as well as the Trafficking in Persons Protocol.

The participants focused on how partnership with the private sector can assist the concerned jurisdictions in South Eastern Europe in their implementation of UNTOC and its Trafficking in Persons Protocol with the view to tackle transnational organized criminal activities in the region while protecting the human rights of victims of trafficking in persons (TIP) and ensuring prosperous societies.

In addition, the meeting provided an opportunity to collect inputs for the Compendium of Promising Practices on Public-Private Partnership to Counter Trafficking in Persons, which is one of the main results of the UNODC project “Public-private partnerships: Fostering engagement with the private sector on the implementation of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its Trafficking in Persons Protocol” under which the event took place.

The meeting was attended by 41 experts (police, prosecutors, other government departments, private sector, civil society) from ten countries of origin, transit and destination of TIP victims (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, France, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, United Kingdom). In addition to UNODC, other international and regional organizations were also present (Council of Europe, INTERPOL, OSCE) as well as representatives of civil society (eLiberare NGOs (Romania), Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime (branch in Bosnia and Herzegovina), Animus Association and Centre for the Study of Democracy (Bulgaria), La Strada (North Macedonia), Astra and Atina (Serbia) and the private sector (Western Union, MSC Cruise, Uber, American Express).

The  participants took part in the discussion to analyse the current challenges, exchange good practices and share experiences on new trends in addressing organized crime, particularly countering TIP, including for sexual exploitation, at the country and/or regional level with a specific focus on supply chains, financial sector, and technology sector.

UNODC introduces the Strong Families programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina and scales up drug use prevention

9-12 November 2020, online: In partnership with the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the NGO Narko-Ne, UNODC supported the organization of an online training for educators in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the UNODC Strong Families programme.

The Strong Families Programme is a family skills programme for challenged settings, that provides an evidence-informed prevention response, building family skills that benefits the health and safe development of children. The main component of this programme is to strengthen the family structure and functions to help families prevent drug use, violence and other negative social consequences in their children. The Programme was developed by the UNODC Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section in collaboration with international experts as a low cost, adaptable and easy-to-use prevention intervention.

Once trained, the professionals will be asked to test the effectiveness of the online training approach with the application of the Strong Families programme directly with the chosen group of families. This pilot initiative will allow additional cultural adaptation of the training materials to the national context and customization of the implementation methodology of the programme accordingly.

The group of professionals trained online will be invited to the in-person trainings, once the COVID-19 situation allows for it, to talk about their experience and support further development of the Strong Families programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This initiative is financially supported by the UNDP office in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Norwegian Embassy in Sarajevo with the overall support of the NGO Narco-Ne and UNODC Programme Office in Serbia. 

PCC SEE Secretariat and UNODC convene a regional dialogue in support of Joint Investigation Teams in South Eastern Europe

3-4 November 2020, online: UNODC and the Secretariat of the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe (PCC SEE) held the PCC SEE 6th Meeting of the Thematic Working Group on Joint Investigation Teams (JITs) Expert Network for Southeast Europe under the auspices of the Croatian PCC SEE Chairmanship-in-Office and in cooperation with the former Bulgarian PCC SEE Chairmanship-in-Office.

The field of JITs remains a central priority for the operational cooperation of the PCC SEE Contracting Parties. This JIT Expert Network represents the working group, established to facilitate the setting up and organization of JITs in practice and discuss relevant practical and legislative issues pertaining to the cooperation among the EU and non-EU Contracting Parties to the PCC SEE.

The meeting brought together the PCC SEE Contracting Parties and the relevant stakeholders in the region, including CILC, EUROJUST JITs Network Secretariat, EUROPOL, Guardia Civil, SEESAC, SELEC and others to discuss the countering illicit trafficking and use of firearms as well as controlled deliveries.

The first day of the event focused on the cooperation within the EU and beyond and allowed the EU agencies and other partner organizations to present their activities in the field of JITs. Emphasis was also placed on achievements and lessons learnt by the PCC SEE Contracting Parties. The next day's first session was dedicated to the criminal justice response to countering illicit trafficking and use of firearms. UNODC briefed the participants on fighting trafficking in firearms, their illicit possession and use. The second session, focused on the controlled deliveries, was facilitated by UNODC and other partners.

The event provided an opportunity for fruitful discussions on the practical and operational ways of further improving cooperation in the field of JITs with specific emphasis on firearms and control deliveries. The participants shared their experience, discussed the legislative and operational challenges in practice and the importance of partnerships.

According to the Head of the PCC SEE Secretariat “JITs have become a reality not only in the EU, but also in the non-EU Contracting Parties to the PCC SEE. Taking into consideration the advancements that have been achieved in this prominent field with the strong support of relevant EU agencies and partners present in this meeting, and the new experience on part of the PCC SEE Contracting Parties, the discussions in this working group have visibly moved towards addressing very specific opportunities and challenges in setting-up and operating JITs. All in all, a joint success story.”

The activity is co-funded by a PCC SEE project granted by the Royal Norwegian Government. The event is in line with the 2020 annual workplan of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and the UNODC-PCC SEE Secretariat Memorandum of Understanding signed in April 2019.

For more information: https://www.pccseesecretariat.si/

Coordination meeting with UNODC counterparts in Serbia

3 November 2020, Belgrade, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a project coordination meeting with the national authorities of Serbia including the Ministries of Interior, Justice and Foreign Affairs, the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office, the High Judicial Council the Customs Administration.

The meeting presented an opportunity for the GFP to discuss its contribution towards countering the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms in Serbia and the wider region, in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and the UNODC regional project on “Criminal Justice Response against Arms Trafficking”. The GFP efforts in Serbia were welcomed by the authorities and concrete suggestions were discussed to ensure effective implementation of the planned activities.

In the upcoming period, the specific activities and the scope of engagement of the GFP in Serbia will be defined in cooperation with the national authorities.

The activities in Serbia are supported under the Western Balkans Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/firearms-protocol/news/2020/Jan/coordination-meeting-with-unodcs-counterparts-in-serbia.html

AIRCOP participates in the 4th OSCE-wide Seminar on Passenger Data Exchange

29-30 October 2020, online: The UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) participated in the 4th OSCE-wide Seminar on Passenger Data Exchange organized jointly by the OSCE and the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT). The event was held to discuss ways to responsibly use passenger data and promote the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2396 (2017), which focuses on preventing the return of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) by mandating States to adopt and use both Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) data systems.

The objective of the event was to further support the States in developing passenger data collection tools and provide opportunities to identify potential partnerships by focusing on several thematic areas, such as use of API/PNR for public health in times of crisis; building a Passenger Information Unit (PIU); collecting and analyzing the data along with collaboration with the CT Travel Programme and the related goTravel software.

The seminar brought together over 150 passenger data experts and representatives from international organizations and the private sector who stressed the importance of information sharing, interagency cooperation and the adoption of a risk-based approach aimed at fully integrating the civil aviation requirements with law enforcement needs in terms of border clearance.   

Several experts briefed the participants on legislative considerations and provisions for collecting and using passenger data for public health purposes. The event enabled the exchange of experience and best practices with the OSCE and other partners with regard to the UNODC ​mandate in this area in South Eastern Europe (SEE).  AIRCOP also contributed to the seminar by presenting its activities on border control at global level, including the action in SEE, aimed at strengthening the capacities of international airports to detect and intercept drugs, other illicit goods and high-risk passengers.

The AIRCOP Project is expanding in South Eastern Europe since 2020 under the EU-funded action on border control in the region, with the objective to promote the rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at airports in the region.    

The joint efforts of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme and the AIRCOP Project aim at strengthening the capacities of international airports, ports and land border crossing points to target and intercept high-risk passengers, cargo and mail, as a contribution to the fight against illicit drugs and other illicit commodities (such as wildlife products or falsified medical products), terrorism-related threats (such as arms or potential foreign terrorist fighters), trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants. It also aims at facilitating communication and coordination between origin, transit and destination countries to disrupt cross-border illicit flows and criminal networks.   

UNODC organized trainings on Strategic Trade and Export Control in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro

26-29 October 2020, Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina; 2-5 November 2020, Bar, Montenegro: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) delivered Strategic Trade and Export Control Training (STECT) for frontline officers of the Port Control Units (PCUs) at the land border crossing Bijača in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Port of Bar in Montenegro.

The STECT is an intense training that explores the risk of non-state actors exploiting the containerized supply chain, as is regularly seen with drugs and other illicit commodities, to traffic or deliver weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or their component parts, comprising chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials. As part of the integral CCP training cycle for PCUs participating in the Programme, the STECT contributes to exploring the relationship between effective profiling of containers and its implications for the economy, and aims at building the capacity of PCUs to detect illicit trade within the containerized supply chain through the detailed examination of pre-arrival information.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, in addition to the officers of PCU Bijača, the training was also attended by a number of customs and law enforcement officers involved in the Working Group on strategic and dual-use goods within the Indirect Taxation Authority, which was established to facilitate the work of frontline customs and other relevant officers by providing guidance and support in matters related to strategic and dual-use goods.

In Montenegro, the event was used to review topics and content introduced in the first STECT delivered in 2019 and also present new topics related to the proliferation of CBRN materials and explosives, as well as other challenging subjects, such as military hardware identification.

These two four-day trainings, delivered by a team of experienced UNODC trainers, were carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC meets with the national authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss cooperation in criminal justice response against arms trafficking

21-23 October 2020, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) met with the national authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the Chief Prosecutor, the President of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council and the Director of the Judicial and Prosecutorial Training Center to discuss the implementation in the country of the UNODC regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Arms Trafficking. The scope of the discussions included the applicable legal framework to arms trafficking in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the identification of trainings and capacity building needs for judges and prosecutors. Through this project, UNODC GFP aims at tackling the immediate needs of the national authorities, building on past and ongoing efforts and initiatives carried out in the Western Balkan region in countering illicit firearms trafficking and organized crime.  

During the discussions, the counterparts welcomed the support of UNODC GFP in Bosnia and Herzegovina while agreeing on future cooperation focusing on training and capacity building. 

Strengthening the capacity of national authorities in the Western Balkans to detect, investigate and prosecute firearms trafficking and its links to other serious crimes is recognized to be very important as it contributes to the reinforcement of the rule of law. The importance of harmonization of national legislation with the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crimes and its Protocols has been emphasized as it is an essential pre-requisite for effective and sustainable efforts to effectively control firearms and prevent the diversion and trafficking.

Currently, the UNODC GFP is implementing two projects in South Eastern Europe: 

  • HALT – aimed at enhancing the capacities of the Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina to better combat illicit arms trafficking through development of standard operating procedures, provision of training, and procurement of specialized equipment for the detection of smuggled firearms.  
  • A regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Arms Trafficking, aimed at supporting the six Western Balkan jurisdictions in strengthening their criminal justice response to firearms related criminality, particularly illicit arms trafficking. 

The financial support for these projects is provided under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway. 

UNODC held the first Steering Committee Meeting of the border control action

22 October 2020, online: UNODC organized the first Steering Committee Meeting of the joint EU and UNODC action promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and seaports in South Eastern Europe (border control action). The action supports the Governments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244. It is aimed at enhancing the capacities of authorities in the Western Balkans to fight organized crime, by supporting more effective and coordinated responses to illicit trafficking by border law enforcement at land and port border crossing points and international airports in the region. The action is funded by the European Union (EU) and is implemented by the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

The meeting was held online due to the COVID-19 restrictions, and was attended by key stakeholders of the action, including the Focal Points of the action, senior representatives from the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR); implementing partners of the action (WCO and INTERPOL) and the European Union Delegations in the region.

This first session of the action’s Steering Committee Meeting was moderated by UNODC and addressed by UNODC and EU senior officials in its opening session. In his opening remarks, the Head of Western Balkans Regional Cooperation of the DG NEAR provided the context for the EU engagement in the region, particularly in terms of economic convergence and stressed that economic development in the Western Balkans requires strong rule of law and that this joint action is instrumental in that respect. 

Subsequently, UNODC provided an overview of the objectives and goals of the action, as well as an update on the implementation and status of activities including the impact on (border) security, foreign trade and its repercussions in the areas of international and regional cooperation; inter-institutional agreements; information exchange and dialogue between national stakeholders and partners to share good practices and experience; and cooperation with other relevant national stakeholders, donors and the private sector.

The Governments’ perspectives were heard with the addressed jurisdictions’ updates on progress, successful operations in the framework of cooperation with UNODC and next steps within the action, specific to each jurisdiction and allowing to target priorities and tailor the project activities accordingly.

Finally, the action workplan for 2021 was discussed and is to be endorsed by end of 2020 by the national and local authorities of the region as well as the EU to ensure coordination and synergy of efforts in the upcoming action implementation. The meeting concluded with an overview of the action’s visibility work to date and future undertakings.

The action’s Steering Committee is aimed at providing specific guidance and support to the action as it allows for all the stakeholders to meet and discuss key issues aimed at reviewing the progress of the action and deciding on future undertakings. In doing so, the national ownership of the governments in the region is ensured leading to greater coordination and coherence in the action implementation. The action Steering Committee meetings will be held annually.

For more information: 

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

UNODC supports the regional efforts in countering trafficking in cultural property in South Eastern Europe

20-21 October 2020, Venice, Italy/online: UNODC attended a sub-regional impact-assessment meeting on the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property organized by UNESCO. The event was organized in the context of the 50th anniversary of the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the 25th anniversary of the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects, and brought together the main UNESCO partners in this field, including the Italian Carabinieri TPC (Department for the Protection of Cultural heritage), INTERPOL, the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT), the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and UNODC as well as representatives from the relevant authorities from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Romania.

The meeting was aimed at taking stock of the results following the approval of the Regional Strategy for Cultural Cooperation (Ohrid Strategy) by the Council of Ministers of Culture of South-East Europe – Enhancing Culture for Sustainable Development in 2014, that included the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property as a priority and called for reinforced regional action on capacity-building, knowledge sharing and awareness raising; as well as the five training workshops organized at country level for the benefit of the present countries and Moldova in the period running from 2014 to 2018.

During the first session of the event, the participants provided insights on national experiences in countering the illicit trafficking of cultural property, describing the challenges and putting forward proposals while the second session focused on the endeavors that have been undertaken by the international organizations to tackle this issue. A number of measures that could help counter this crime were highlighted, including the appointment of focal points in each relevant agency, the importance of legislative harmonization, capacity building, database development and digitalization, protection of sites, greater control of auction houses and law sensitivity and awareness of the public and relevant institutions.

The UNODC expert presented elements of the UNODC criminal justice response in South Eastern Europe to address transnational organized crime, including trafficking in cultural property, in the region as well as the tools available for this purpose, including the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the International Guidelines for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. The main UNODC programmes working in this direction in the region were also mentioned, including the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) and the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) currently involved in the joint EU-UNODC action on enhanced border control in South Eastern Europe in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe. Finally, UNODC emphasized the importance of partnership to achieve a comprehensive, sustainable and measurable action in effectively countering the illicit trafficking of cultural property.

UNODC provides practical training on the use of preliminary drug test kits for border control officers in Bosnia and Herzegovina

20 October 2020, Sarajevo/30 October 2020 Gradiška, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP)  delivered a hands-on training on the use of drug identification kits, which were donated to the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land border crossing Gradiška and Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) at the Sarajevo International Airport to further support the operational capacities of the Units. The training falls within the CCP training curriculum that follows the “Crawl-Walk-Run” approach - a staged training cycle delivered to PCUs and ACCUs worldwide.

The hands-on training was delivered in cooperation with the Federal Police Directorate – Center for Forensic and Information Technology Support and its experts, who trained representatives from the Border Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Indirect Taxation Authority on the use of drug identification kits and other practical techniques required in field conditions. As part of the training, the participants were provided with practical demonstrations on the use of the kits, allowing for their active participation. 

The UNODC test kits, developed and produced by the Laboratory and Scientific Section, are intended to provide law enforcement officers with rapid and simple color tests for the preliminary field identification of drugs and precursors most commonly encountered in the illicit traffic. The high-end scales have multiple features and are a valuable tool in precision weighing, which is necessary for the precise measurement of the quantity of seized drugs.

The donation and hands-on training were carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe

For more information: 

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/scientists/druge-kits-new.html 

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in countering illicit firearms trafficking

20 October 2020, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) held a meeting with the Assistant Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss the activities under the joint UNODC – UNDP project on Halting arms and lawbreaking trade (HALT). The counterparts discussed the importance of raising awareness in the private sector on prevention of arms trafficking and the organization of two workshops by the end of 2020 for the private transportation and parcel deliveries sectors to help improve their procedures, increase cost savings and reduce operational risks. This will result in more efficient, smooth and closer cooperation of the Government with the private sector.  

Currently, the UNODC GFP is implementing two projects in South Eastern Europe: 

  • HALT – aimed at enhancing the capacities of the Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina to better combat illicit arms trafficking through development of standard operating procedures, provision of training, and procurement of specialized equipment for the detection of smuggled firearms; and
  • a regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Arms Trafficking, aimed at supporting the six Western Balkan jurisdictions in strengthening their criminal justice response to firearms related criminality, particularly illicit arms trafficking. 

The financial support for these projects is provided under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway. 

UNODC meets with the new Ambassador to the European Union in North Macedonia 

20 October 2020, Skopje, North Macedonia: In line with the continued UNODC-EU dialogue in the region, the Head of the UNODC Programme Office in North Macedonia met with the new Ambassador of the European Union in the country to discuss the cooperation in the region, including in the context of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and the EU-funded joint EU-UNODC action on enhanced border control in the region, as well as other UNODC initiatives. 

UNODC briefed the Ambassador on the overall framework of the UNODC-EU partnership and the progress and implementation of the said action to date. The Ambassador acknowledged the UNODC commitment to delivery at such a difficult time and pledged his support to the UNODC efforts in North Macedonia. The Ambassador also expressed interest in maintaining a strong cooperation, and potentially considering expanding it to other areas within other UNODC programmes.  

UNODC joins RACVIAC's Advisory Group meeting

20 October 2020, Rakitje, Croatia/online: The UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe virtually participated in the 44th Multinational Advisory Group (MAG) Meeting of the Centre for Security Cooperation in South Eastern Europe (RACVIAC) held in a hybrid format in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the meeting, the members of RACVIAC reiterated the importance of the regional cooperation and expressed their commitment to supporting it, including through the regional organizations promoting dialogue and cooperation on security issues in South Eastern Europe. They underlined that, despite the ongoing pandemic, it is important to remain committed to continued efforts aimed at practical results. The results of work in 2020 and plans for 2021 were presented, along with the new RACVIAC Strategy for 2021-2026 which aims to further deepen the security cooperation and strategic dialogue between countries in the region, build stronger ties with regional and international organizations as well as enhance the exchanges with the civil society and academia.

The members approved MAG Chairmanship by North Macedonia for the next year, while expressing appreciation to Montenegro for their MAG Chairmanship during these demanding times. The next MAG meeting is planned to take place in North Macedonia in April 2021.

Cooperation between UNODC and RACVIAC is based on the Memorandum of Understanding, signed in 2013, stipulating that the parties will join efforts in supporting the region in their respective mandated areas and strengthen cooperation and effectiveness to achieve the common objectives in the field of rule of law and security.

UNODC supports Serbia in treatment of adolescents with substance use disorders

15 October 2020, Belgrade, Serbia: UNODC supported the development of a guiding document on “Mapping of services for the treatment of adolescents with substance use disorders” in cooperation with the Ministry of Health of Serbia, the national Expert Committee for Addiction Diseases and with the support of international experts in the field of treatment of substance use disorders. 

This tool, which was released in English and Serbian, is providing further analysis on the national capacities of treatment services for persons with substance use disorders in Serbia, including their availability and variety. It also identifies the areas for improvement in the treatment of adolescent groups and effective care using a comprehensive approach to treatment involving all relevant actors. 

Following the release of this guiding document, evidence-based treatment modalities were suggested for consideration by the Ministry of Health of Serbia with a view to improve and further strengthen the national treatment system in line with the International Standards for the treatment of persons with drug use disorders. 

The next steps should entail the development of a national Action Plan along with the identification of key partners, institutions, technical documents and timelines to scale up treatment services for adolescents with substance use disorders on the basis of the identified recommendations.

For more information: 

The results of study: Mapping of services for the treatment of adolescents with substance use disorders (English)

The results of study: Mapping of services for the treatment of adolescents with substance use disorders (Serbian)

UNODC participated in the webinar on Southeast Europe / Mediterranean Border Challenges 

14 October 2020, online: The UNODC Regional Serious and Organized Crime Advisor participated in a webinar on Border Challenges in the Southeast Europe-Mediterranean Region in the Context of Counter-Terrorism and Related Transnational Organized Crime organized by World Border Security Congress and United Nations Centre for Counter-Terrorism (UNCCT). 

The UNODC representative briefed the participants on the regional border control challenges and provided an overview on UNODC involvement and its efforts in the region in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, as well as the EU and UNODC joint action promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports. 

The event brought together counter-terrorism coordinators, border and law enforcement experts and practitioners, as well as experts from international, regional and sub-regional organizations to share their experience and ideas for addressing the existing challenges. 

The event aimed to virtually delve into the region-specific context and explore threat landscapes, border security and management challenges, as well as discuss response measures and mechanisms related to countering terrorism and transnational organized crime. 

The discussions included presentations from key experts from the region, with particular focus on current threats, the nexus between transnational organized crime and terrorism, main gaps and challenges for border management, and the need for border security strategies, plans of action, and processes that incorporate counter-terrorism components as well as crisis and risk management mechanisms within the current pandemic context. 

UNODC assesses the Belgrade airport to support enhanced border control in Serbia

5-9 October 2020, Belgrade, Serbia: The UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Programme (AIRCOP), in cooperation with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP), conducted a technical assessment of the Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport in view of the establishment of the joint team composed of a Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) and an Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU). The mission, which was previously postponed in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, has been carried out given the recent lifting of some of the COVID-19 restrictions and provided an opportunity to discuss the progress and future steps within the border control action during the meetings with the Ministry of Interior, Customs Administration, Ministry of Communication and Infrastructure and Directorate for Civil Aviation of Serbia as well as international stakeholders, including the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the OSCE.

The meetings with the national and international counterparts in association with the technical assessment of the Belgrade airport helped establish a commitment to the action and presented an opportunity to better address the foreseeable implementation steps, discuss administrative details and build relationships installing confidence on both sides and enhancing the cooperation at international level. 

This assessment was carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe

UNODC joins the OSCE-wide conference on Combating the Threat of Illicit Drugs and the Diversion of Chemical Precursors: Strengthening Effective Prevention of Drug Use among Youth through Community Policing

6 October 2020, Vienna, Austria and online: Under the auspices of the Albanian 2020 OSCE Chairmanship and the OSCE Secretariat, the 2020 OSCE-wide Conference on Combating the Threat of Illicit Drugs and the Diversion of Chemical Precursors: Strengthening Effective Prevention of Drug Use among Youth through Community Policing, was held in a hybrid format and provided a platform for experts of OSCE participating States and Partners for Cooperation, including UNODC, to discuss collective responses, including by means of community policing, to prevent youth from drug use and abuse, and to reduce the risk of them getting involved in criminal networks engaged in drug trafficking, supply and/or distribution.

Substance use and its negative consequences can have a profound damaging impact on the development of youth, and compromise their educational paths, work life and contribution to society. Police alone cannot provide the sole solution to the drug problems our communities face. Cooperation and coordination between the police, the public and private sector, and civil society lie at the heart of strong partnerships, including community policing. These partnerships complement traditional drug law enforcement and strengthen effective measures to prevent and reduce drug problems in the long-term. The best way to fight against the use of illicit drugs by young people is to prevent it. While traditional policing focuses on supply reduction and increasing the cost of drug use, community policing can embrace a broader, more effective approach that links supply and demand reduction by including prevention and treatment efforts.

The conference targeted experts from national drug control structures, representatives of relevant international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including youth.

A senior UNODC official addressed the event and highlighted the importance of the evidence based response system to effectively address vulnerability to use substances during different ages of development. Moreover, in line with the envisaged multifaceted approach to substance use prevention among youth, Law Enforcement and Community Policing are playing constructive role in addressing these vulnerabilities. Implementation and enforcement of effective laws and policies on drug prevention and promoting a healthy and safe community environment that protects adolescents against substance use are contributing elements to effective prevention outcomes.

UNODC counterparts from the region of South Eastern Europe participated at the conference’s session on preventing youth narcotism and recidivism through community policing and collective partnerships.

For more info: https://www.osce.org/chairmanship/464676

UNODC continues cooperation with the Berlin Process for the Western Balkans

6 October 2020, online: UNODC has contributed to the Fourth Conference of the Berlin Process Security Commitments Steering Group (SCSG) held under the joint presidency of Bulgaria and North Macedonia. The meeting followed up on the outcomes and discussions of the previous SCSG conference in Sofia, Bulgaria, in January 2020, reported by UNODC earlier this year.

Within the event’s first session, which focused on the progress on regional initiatives agreed under the auspices of the Berlin Process, UNODC briefed the participants on its work within the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap, where UNODC acts as the independent secretariat, leading the Roadmap’s development and implementation.

The initiative aims to build and foster partnerships and create the Regional Roadmap to fast-track the implementation of existing anti-corruption and illicit finance commitments, including the United Nations Convention against Corruption, in support of Sustainable Development Goal 16. The overall objective of the Roadmap is to accelerate the effective implementation of these commitments by leveraging regional capacities and knowledge, assisting jurisdictions and development partners to fast-track existing commitments, including UNCAC implementation priorities (also GRECO, MONEYVAL, etc.), and carrying out activities that serve to achieve tangible results in advancing jurisdictions’ efforts to implement anti-corruption and illicit finance commitments.

The work of the Regional Roadmap is in line with the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and compliments the large-scale new UNODC project in the asset recovery area, which is being launched in the region of South Eastern Europe. The UNODC’s engagement in the Regional Roadmap is supported by the Governments of the UK and Germany and the work on asset recovery – by the Government of the UK. 

UNODC efforts highlighted in the United Nations Annual Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization 2020

1 October 2020, online: The UN released the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization 2020, which showcases how the United Nations Secretariat translates resources into impact. This year’s edition draws on data, infographics, maps and imagery to highlight progress of the past year as well as the collective work to drive the Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals, amplify climate action, promote gender equality, protect human rights, advance peace and security, coordinate humanitarian assistance, promote international justice and law, further disarmament, increase drug control, crime prevention and combat international terrorism, and accelerate and consolidate United Nations Reform.

For the first time, it also provides a sampling of the work of the broader United Nations family as well as the system-wide efforts to help respond to COVID-19 and to build a more inclusive and sustainable world.

Among the examples, UNODC work in the area of anti-corruption was highlighted, particularly the eighth session of the Conference of the State Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) held in 2019, where the UNODC Civil Society Team, as part of an all-woman panel, presented ideas and best practices in collective action initiatives for the implementation of UNCAC in South Eastern Europe in partnership with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). During the event, UNODC had mentioned conducting three multi-stakeholder workshops in South Eastern Europe and training over 70 CSOs, 40 private sector entities and governments on the Convention and on the way to make good governance more effective. The workshops proved to be instrumental in fostering multi-stakeholder collaboration in the region. The panel was a follow-up to the UNODC project in South Eastern Europe to support the anti-corruption work of civil society organizations.

UNODC work in South Eastern Europe is conducted in the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

For more information:

https://www.un.org/annualreport/files/2020/09/Annual-report-SG-2020-EN-Chapter-0.pdf

https://www.un.org/annualreport/files/2020/09/Annual-report-SG-2020-EN-Chapter-8.pdf

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/corruption/index.html?ref=menuside

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/frontpage/2019/December/fight-corruption-to-achieve-sustainable-development-progress_-un-convention-against-corruption-conference-begins-in-abu-dhabi.html?ref=fs5

UNODC donates equipment to the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina

October 2020, Sarajevo/Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC handed over IT, basic search and protective equipment, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the inter-agency Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) at Sarajevo International Airport and the Port Control Unit (PCU) of the Gradiška land border crossing, consisting of members of the Indirect Taxation Authority and the Border Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

The donation is part of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe. It is also part of the continuous support of the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) in Bosnia and Herzegovina aimed to assist domestic institutions in establishing a sustainable inter-agency joint team working to reduce the risk of container misuse for the purpose of illicit commodities, organized crime and other forms of illegal activities. UNODC strives to build capacity of the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina with a view to improve security in the licit economy, promote cooperation with the private sector and strengthen controls at state borders. 

UNODC expands legal framework for cooperation in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the border control action

July-October 2020, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: In the framework of the joint EU-UNODC border control action launched in January 2020, the activities of the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) in Bosnia and Herzegovina were broadened to include new locations for the Programme’s implementation in the country. Consequently, UNODC developed an Addendum to the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the CCP and national authorities to establish the relevant legal foundation. The original MoU was signed between UNODC and the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina represented by the Ministry of Security in 2014, to launch the implementation of the CCP activities in the country, i.e. the establishment of the Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land border crossing Bijača at the border with Croatia.

Consultations on the Addendum to the existing MoU with the relevant authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the Ministry of Security, the Border Police and the Indirect Taxation Authority, were initiated in March 2020, and ensured the national ownership and focus on priority areas for future action implementation.

In July 2020, the parties finalized and signed the Addendum, thus providing for the establishment of the second PCU in the country – at the land border crossing Gradiška – and an Air Cargo Control Unit at Sarajevo International Airport, which will both contribute to effectively countering illicit cross-border activity and enhance the border security in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region. The establishment of both units is well underway.

This work falls under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports in South Eastern Europe, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.  

UNODC supported the second training on treatment of persons with drug use disorders in Albania

28 September-2 October 2020, Tirana, Albania: UNODC supported the organization of the second Universal Treatment Curriculum (UTC) walkthrough training workshop for 25 national professionals and academic experts from Albania and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244. 

The training was facilitated by two certified national UTC trainers. The participants, who took part in the first training on drug dependence treatment and care covering modules 1-4 of the UTC programme in February 2020, went over modules 5-8 focusing on intake, screening, assessment, treatment planning and documentation; case management; crisis intervention and ethics for addiction professionals.

The aim of the training series is to reduce the significant health, social and economic problems associated with substance use disorders by building international treatment capacity through training, and so expanding the professional global treatment workforce.  

The five-day walkthrough training was funded by the Drug Advisory Programme (DAP) of the Colombo Plan - Chilean Office and coordinated by the University of California San Diego. It uses the UTC training package, as the internationally certified compendium of the evidence-based services and information for the skill development of treatment professionals. This work is supported by the Government of the USA. 

UNODC meets with the Deputy Prime Minister of North Macedonia

30 September 2020, Skopje, North Macedonia: The Head of the UNODC Programme Office in North Macedonia and the UNODC Regional Anti-Corruption and Asset Recovery Advisor held a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister of North Macedonia in Charge of Fight Against Corruption and Crime, Sustainable Development and Human Resources, as well as the Head of the National Coordination Center for Border Management.

The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the UNODC involvement and its efforts in the region in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, to give a thorough overview of the ongoing action on enhanced border control, funded by the European Union, as well as to update the national counterparts on the UNODC ongoing and upcoming activities in the areas of asset recovery and anti-corruption in the region, supported by the Governments of the UK and Germany. The Government of North Macedonia is and will continue to be actively involved in the implementation of the UNODC Regional Programme, including the mentioned thematic areas. The meeting, thus, presented an opportune moment to discuss the modalities of this involvement and good practices thereof.  

The Deputy Prime Minister welcomed the continuation of the UNODC‘s efforts in the country and expressed the Government’s full support for the implementation of the ongoing activities and further cooperation. UNODC expressed its appreciation for the excellent cooperation with North Macedonia and pledged its future engagement.

New OSCE training programme on countering terrorist financing initiated in Bosnia and Herzegovina in cooperation with UNODC

28-30 September 2020, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and online: The OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department started a new online train-the-trainer course on countering terrorist financing in cooperation with the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina and UNODC. The course is aimed at highlighting national and regional terrorist threats, introducing the participants to financial investigations and terrorist network analysis techniques, in order to more effectively disrupt terrorist networks. The participants of the training session were senior experts and practitioners from the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina and other security sector bodies at all levels in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

The training programme is specifically focused on increasing the capacities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to enhance the terrorist financing aspects of its National Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism Risk Assessment, and to detect and combat terrorist financing and strengthen compliance with international standards in this area. This includes the UN Security Council Resolution 2462 (2019) on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts - terrorism financing, the relevant Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF)’s standards, the UN norms and the OSCE commitments to promote human rights-based approaches in countering terrorist financing. Among other topics, the train-the-trainer course emphasized the key role of inter-agency and international cooperation and of multi-stakeholder approaches in countering terrorist financing. The train-the-trainer methodology provides for sustainability of the efforts beyond the involvement of the international organizations.

For more information:

http://www.sarajevotimes.com/osce-held-training-programme-on-countering-terrorist-financing-in-bih/

UNODC and Bosnia and Herzegovina discuss partnership

22 September 2020, Vienna, Austria: The UNODC Executive Director met with the Deputy Chair of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss the overall partnership between UNODC and Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the areas of mutual cooperation, including ongoing and future activities implemented in the context of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, such as the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP), the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP), the UNODC-led work on firearms control, anti-corruption and asset recovery, countering financing of terrorism, drug demand reduction as well as various other areas of UNODC’s mandate.  

The counterparts also discussed the expansion of UNODC presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of the UNODC's wider engagement in the South Eastern European region and agreed on further cooperation. The Deputy Chair and Minister expressed her appreciation for the UNODC’s efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the work of the Programme Office in Sarajevo, and welcomed the opportunities for further partnership.  

UNODC participated in the webinar on Firearms Trafficking in the EU, Eastern and South Eastern Europe

21 September 2020, online: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) regional team for South Eastern Europe (SEE) and Ukraine participated in a webinar for frontline officers, who will take part in the Joint Action Day (JAD) – an international operation of law enforcement agencies on countering illicit firearms trafficking. The webinar was organized by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) and the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT).

The meeting was attended by members of law enforcement agencies from the EU, Moldova, Ukraine and the Western Balkans. Representatives from FRONTEX, EMPACT, EUROPOL, UNDP/SEESAC, INTERPOL and UNODC delivered presentations on subjects relevant to the JAD operation. They provided a situation summary on the illicit firearms trafficking between EU and the SEE jurisdictions, including modus operandi and trafficking routes. In addition, FRONTEX introduced the Handbook on Detection of Firearms for Border Guards and Customs officers, which is a useful tool for provision of capacity building activities.

The UNODC GFP expert provided an overview on illicit firearms trafficking to, across and from the EU, including examples on how the efforts of the frontline officers contribute to the development of analytical tools used for operational and political decision making as well as an overview of the activities in support of data collection and analysis under the UNODC regional project for the Western Balkans “Criminal Justice Response to Arms Trafficking”. These activities are supported under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme completed the basic training cycle for the Port Control Unit at the land border crossing Gradiška

16-18 September 2020, Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) delivered part two of the Online Basic Theoretical Training designed for appointed officers of the newly established Port Control Unit (PCU) at the land border crossing/customs point Gradiška. The training falls within the CCP training curriculum that follows the“Crawl-Walk-Run” approach, which is a staged training cycle delivered to PCUs worldwide. 

During the three-day program, the training revisited some of the previously introduced topics and presented new ones,such as risk analyses, modus operandi of container concealment, the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), use of closed and open sources of information, and others. The trainees from the Indirect Taxation Authority and Border Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina expressed satisfaction with the high professional standards of the training delivered by experienced international experts from the WCO and UNODC.

The training was carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted under the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC holds the Second Joint Online Basic Theoretical Training in Bosnia and Herzegovina

14-18 September 2020, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) jointly organized the second Online Basic Theoretical Training for airport inter-agency officers of the newly established Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) and the Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) to be established at Sarajevo International Airport and comprised of the Border Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Indirect Taxation Authority, the Directorate for Coordination of Police Bodies of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Directorate for Civil Aviation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The first part of the training was dedicated to the AIRCOP agenda, focusing on the criminal intelligence and information collection for analytical purposes, sources and formats of passenger information, extraction of data from passenger manifests, electronic tickets and Passenger Name Records (PNR) data. Furthermore, participants had the opportunity to enhance their expertise in the area of drug extraction and production methodologies, as well as expand their knowledge on different products produced from the raw materials.

The second part of the training was focused on the CCP component, covering topics such as profiling and targeting shipments and their examination. Particular emphasis was placed on drug smuggling, abandoned shipments and insider threats. The training will be further complemented by intermediate and advanced training events during the course of programme implementation.

The five-day training was delivered by experienced international experts from the WCO, INTERPOL and UNODC and was carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and implemented by CCP and AIRCOP in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC and the European Commission hold a joint regional webinar on firearms

17 September 2020, online: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme jointly with the European Commission organized a regional webinar on “Firearms Trafficking: Policy Implications and Responses in Europe”. The event brought together over 180 participants representing international and regional organizations as well as Members States and provided the opportunity to discuss the latest developments in the global efforts against firearms trafficking.

The first session of the meeting allowed to present the research findings and policy responses on firearms trafficking in the world and in Europe, and to take stock of the knowledge and insights on firearms trafficking globally and within Europe resulting from two major research works developed by UNODC under the joint EU/UNODC Project on Monitoring illicit firearms trafficking in particular to, from and through the European Union (EU), and the EU response to this threat. These works include the UNODC Global Firearms Study 2020 and Regional Analysis Report, as well as the EU Action Plan on Firearms Trafficking.

The second session of the webinar focused on the policy conclusions and responses, and recommendations for further actions that emanate from the research findings. Presenters and panellists exchanged views with a pool of experts and representatives from key international and regional organizations, civil society organizations as well as national actors, engaged in countering illicit firearms trafficking. Several experts made reference to the ongoing UNODC Global Firearms Programme activities in the Western Balkans, specifically to the legislative gap analysis report in Serbia and shared their views on how legislative challenges could be overcome. The legislative gap analysis in Serbia is an activity supported under under the Western Balkans Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/firearms-protocol/eu-unodc-webinar.html 

Representatives of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina contributed to the development of a technical guidance to address substance use disorders in humanitarian settings

8-10 September 2020, Vienna, Austria: UNODC in cooperation with WHO and UNHCR organized an expert consultation on Developing Technical Guidance to address drug use, drug use disorders and associated health and social consequences in Humanitarian Settings attended by experts from Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, among others.

Displaced persons are seriously affected by substance use disorders for a variety of reasons, including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress triggered by pre/post-migration trauma, loss of home and livelihoods, violence, torture, family separation and even the stress of adapting to a new setting. With over 70.8 million forcibly displaced people worldwide (UNHCR, 2018), there is a clear and immediate need for action.

In the event, over 100 experts from 32 countries, regional and international organizations and academia were brought together to share good practices, discuss challenges and needs in humanitarian settings and thus contribute to the development of a technical guidance tool to address substance use disorders in humanitarian settings. The envisaged technical guidance document will address vulnerabilities, strengthen prevention and ultimately increase access to treatment for displaced persons with substance use disorders.

By participating in the consultation, experts from Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina had the opportunity to contribute to the global efforts by sharing their knowledge on mental health issues in humanitarian settings during COVID-19, and highlighting practices and specific needs to prevent substance use disorders in low resource settings.

The technical guidance tool will be developed based on the knowledge and recommendations gathered via this consultation process.

UNODC holds a Working Group meeting on countering illicit arms trafficking in Bosnia and Herzegovina

9 September 2020, Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme held a meeting the with the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) of Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss the implementation of the Halting Arms and Law Breaking Trade (HALT) project initiated in March 2020 by UNDP and UNODC, aimed at better combating illicit arms trafficking through development of standard operating procedures, provision of training, and procurement of specialized equipment for the detection of smuggled firearms.

During the meeting, the UNODC experts presented the Gap and Need Analysis (GNA) report developed by UNODC. The GNA process and the report are the first part of an analytical progression that will act as a foundation for the detailing and fine-tuning of UNODC implemented activities along with further analysis in the areas of training, equipment and cooperation. In light of this, UNODC presented two additional reports, a Trainings Need Analysis and an Equipment Need Analysis focusing on the detection of firearms, their parts, components and ammunition in postal and courier parcels. This initial discussion allowed for all stakeholders to establish the basis for implementation of the project.

As the next step, UNODC will translate the reports into the local language and submit to the national authorities for approval. The GNA process covers only UNODC supported areas of postal and courier traffic and the trafficking of firearms, parts and ammunition and explosives. 

The meeting also provided an opportunity to introduce the new National Project Officer for Firearms who will support the implementation of the HALT project in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The financial support for this activity is provided under the Western Balkans Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme supports the Customs Authorities in Kosovo under UNSCR 1244

7-9 September 2020, Priština, Kosovo under UNSCR 1244: In response to the needs identified during the joint planning process, the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) delivered a “refresher” theoretical training for 20 officers of Kosovo Customs. Given the COVID-19 related travel restrictions, the training was held online. This capacity building event is part of a training cycle initiated in 2019 for the officers of Kosovo Customs and will be further complemented with practical and advanced training events during programme implementation.

The training covered topics such as container identification, risk analysis, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), hazardous goods, and scanner images and was delivered by experienced international experts from WCO and UNODC. Future training activities will be designed to further assist the front-line and other officers of Kosovo Customs in effectively addressing cross-border criminality, including the smuggling of drugs and other illegal activities.

The training was carried out under the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted under the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and was held in line with UNSCR 1244.

Border Control in Bosnia and Herzegovina supported through monitoring and provision of equipment

7-8 September 2020, Bijača land border crossing, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) carried out a monitoring visit to the Port Control Unit (PCU) of Bijača land border crossing to observe the activities of the PCU officers and exchange on daily challenges and successes of the unit. During the visit, a container shipment presenting unclear information on documentation was inspected. A thorough check-up was performed by the PCU officers allowing for the shipment to be cleared. 

The PCU officers are regularly trained by the programme through mentorship sessions to stay up to date on the latest inspection techniques and cross-border crime trends improving thereby their capacities in countering illicit cross-border activity. 

The visit also served as an opportunity to deliver IT equipment, as well as tools used in containers’ search and office equipment to the Unit. During the handover, the officers of the PCU expressed satisfaction with being equipped with the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) they received previously from UNODC as part of the support to the national authorities during the COVID-19 outbreak in maintaining their daily activities.

The monitoring visit and the delivery of IT equipment (as well as of PPE previously) were carried out in the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, funded by the European Union and conducted under the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe

An Albanian NGO receives support through the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking in Persons

29 August 2020, Vlore, Albania: UNODC administers the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (UNVTF), established by the UN General Assembly in 2010, within the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The UNVTF aligns with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, as the first global international legal framework to protect and assist victims of trafficking with respect for their human rights. The UNVTF is supported by a five-member Board of Trustees appointed by the Secretary-General for a three-year term.

Of the 26 NGOs globally receiving grants from UNVTF in 2020, one NGO is from Albania – Qendra Psiko-Sociale Vatra (Vatra Psycho-Social Center). The NGO is receiving support in the amount of USD 60,000 for the period of September 2020 to November 2022 under sub-programme two of the UNVTF fourth call for proposals. Reporting is undertaken at the end of the project activities.

In the past, the NGOs “Institute for Democracy” (Moldova) and “Atina” (Serbia) have received grants from the Trust Fund from 2018 to 2020. Likewise, NGO “Different and Equal” (Albania) received a UNVTF award from 2015 to 2018. 

For more information: 

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking-fund.html 

UNODC attends online meetings on Illicit Financial Flows in South Eastern Europe

27 August - 3 September 2020, online: During the COVID-19 times and the related travel restrictions, remote participation in the meetings is a useful tool to stay in touch with counterparts and maintain a dialogue. In this spirit, UNODC continuously attends online events and meetings with other counterparts. Among those, two recent events focused on illicit financial flows. A launch of a research report “Illicit Financial flows in Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia: Key Drivers and Current Trends” by the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime provided some insights on the scale of illicit financial flows, corruption levels, transparency and accountability among other topics. UNODC is active in these fields and monitors the work of various partners in this regard, including civil society organizations.

UNODC also joined a virtual “Global Forum on Illicit Financial Flows and Sustainable Development” organized by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The forum brought together stakeholders across the international development landscape to discuss innovative national approaches at a regional level and foster peer-to-peer learning between countries and regions. The event covered many aspects of the UNODC mandates, and revolved around five main themes, which were illicit financial flows in the digital age - threats and opportunities for developing countries; de-risking - balancing regulation and financial inclusion; shrinking space - impact of counter-terrorism financing policies on civil society; global asset recovery - responsibilities of developed and developing countries; and rethinking participation - the inclusive development and evaluation of international standards.  

UNODC expands presence on firearms control in South Eastern Europe

July/September 2020, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Serbia: UNODC completed the formation of the new team in the region working on firearms control, with three national project officers and a project assistant now having joined UNODC in Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia to support the implementation of two new projects in the area criminal justice response on countering firearms trafficking in the Western Balkans.

The selected projects are:

  • Halting Arms and Lawbreaking Trade (HALT) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, implemented by UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina and UNODC.
  • Criminal Justice Response Against Arms Trafficking (regional project), implemented by UNODC. 

The UNODC national project officer for Firearms in Sarajevo will be involved in the Halting Arms and Lawbreaking Trade (HALT) project, aimed at enhancing the capacities of the Indirect Taxation Authority (i.e. the Customs Authority in Bosnia and Herzegovina) to better combat illicit arms trafficking through development of standard operating procedures, provision of training, and procurement of specialized equipment for the detection of smuggled firearms.

In North Macedonia and Serbia, the national project officers will be involved in the regional project aimed at supporting the six Western Balkan jurisdictions in strengthening their criminal justice response to firearms related criminality, particularly illicit arms trafficking.

The new team has already initiated projects’ related activities including meetings with the national authorities and other events. The financial support is provided under the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

UNODC supports North Macedonia in harmonizing the draft Criminal Code with UN Firearms Protocol provisions

27 August 2020, Skopje, North Macedonia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) participated in the Working Group on amending the Criminal Code in North Macedonia and contributed to the discussion on the harmonization of the Code with the criminalisation provisions of the UN Firearms Protocol.

The meeting was held online and the members of the Working Group reviewed the amended text of Article 396 of the Criminal Code on criminalizing the possession and use of firearms. The Working Group discussed UNODC’s proposal for harmonization and provided opportunity to UNODC’s experts to elaborate further on the latest version of the proposed changes. UNODC GFP also prepared and shared the legal briefs containing detailed analysis of the proposed provisions with the Working Group.

This activity is part of the UNODC regional project on Criminal Justice Response against Firearms Trafficking. The financial support is provided under the Western Balkans Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund supported by Germany, United Kingdom, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

UNODC meets with the national counterparts in North Macedonia to discuss partnership

10-13 August 2020, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC held a series of meetings with the national authorities in North Macedonia including the Ministry of Interior, the National Coordination Center for Border Management, the Customs Administration, and the National Coordination Center against serious and organized crime.

The meetings presented an opportunity for UNODC to discuss its involvement and efforts in the region in the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and give an overview on the ongoing action on enhanced border control, funded by the European Union.

UNODC efforts in the country were welcomed by the authorities, who demonstrated readiness to be actively involved in the upcoming UNODC activities. In this context, concrete suggestions and measures were discussed to ensure effective implementation of the planned activities within the border control action, rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This included the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between UNODC and the national authorities, as well as the assessment of the Skopje International Airport. During the meeting with the Minister of Interior, the Minister assured his full support while emphasizing the need for further consultations and coordination with the relevant services.

In addition to the border control action, UNODC also provided an update on its upcoming activities in the areas of asset recovery, anti-corruption and firearms in the region.

For more information:

https://mia.mk/interior-minister-nuhiu-meets-head-of-unodc-programme-office-in-north-macedonia/?lang=en

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

UNODC took part in the civil society conference for vulnerable populations in South Eastern Europe

6 August 2020, online: UNODC HIV/AIDS section presented UNODC initiatives on HIV among people who use drugs and people in prisons and other closed settings at the virtual Donor conference for vulnerable populations in South Eastern Europe organized by the Drug Policy Network South East Europe and supported by the UNODC Programme Office in Serbia. 

The COVID-19 outbreak has a devastating effect on general population around the world as well as on people who use drugs and other vulnerable groups. These populations may have limited access to health services and social benefits. The current situation multiplies these obstacles and adds new ones.

The conference aimed to present the needs and potential projects of vulnerable populations in South Eastern Europe and establish better communication, coordination and cooperation between service providers and public and private programmes. The event further contributed to strengthening cooperative ties between potential project implementers from different sectors and increased knowledge of available public and private funding sources.

The participants had an opportunity to discuss the sustainability of services for vulnerable populations and their emerging needs. Particular emphasis was placed on quality assurance in service providing, bridging funds for emergency situations, children living in families with drug use history or responding to the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UNODC’s involvement into the event is in line with the continued dialogue with civil society in the region of South Eastern Europe.  

AIRCOP conducts online assessments and discussions with national and international stakeholders in North Macedonia and Serbia on border control action

27-29 July 2020, North Macedonia, Serbia: With the financial support of the European Union and under the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, AIRCOP conducted assessment missions in the form of online meetings to initiate AIRCOP activities in Serbia and North Macedonia in the framework of the EU and UNODC joint action promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports in South Eastern Europe. After Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and North Macedonia are the second and third target countries for the implementation of AIRCOP activities in South Eastern Europe within the project. The objective of the online assessment was to present the project more in detail to the relevant authorities and conduct an initial evaluation of the law enforcement agencies’ role, tasks, duties and potential margins of improvement in the targeted airports. An additional evaluation of the airport premises, availability of office space for the future Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF), airport procedures and law enforcement agencies’ methodology and technology in place is to be conducted once the COVID-19 situation allows it. 

The meetings with Serbian counterparts, held on  27 July, brought together representatives from the Ministry of Interior, Border Police, the Criminal Police Directorate, the Section for Cooperation with the EU, the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure and the Customs Authority of Serbia. 

In North Macedonia, the meetings held on 29 July gathered representatives from the Ministry of Interior, Border Affairs and Migration, the Department for the fight against Serious and Organized Crime, the Ministry of Transportation and Communication,  the Customs Authority and the National Border Management Coordination Center of North Macedonia. 

The discussions provided the opportunity for AIRCOP to share future plans and establish steps for coordination with the national counterparts, who shared their enthusiasm and commitment to integrate the AIRCOP network.

In parallel to the assessments, AIRCOP also held discussions with the international stakeholders in both countries to ensure coordination in the implementation of AIRCOP activities in South Eastern Europe. The online meetings were attended by the EU Delegations in Serbia and North Macedonia, OSCE, US Embassies, the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) to engage with  key actors in the region and prevent overlapping and foster cooperation and synergy of efforts. 

The online assessments and discussions with the national and international stakeholders marked the first official steps of AIRCOP activities in Serbia and North Macedonia as part of the implementation of the border control action in South Eastern Europe. 

UNODC and OSCE sign the 2020-2022 Joint Action Plan

17 July 2020, Vienna, Austria: UNODC Executive Director Ghada Fathi Waly and OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger signed a plan of joint action for the period 2020-2022 today at UNODC in Vienna.

The OSCE-UNODC Joint Action Plan 2020-2022 reflects the contributions of both organizations to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and allows for a more streamlined cooperation in nine subject areas. These areas include combating transnational organized crime and corruption, preventing and countering violent extremism leading to terrorism, combating trafficking in human beings, illicit drugs and cybercrime, security sector governance and reform, and border security and management. The action plan also envisages joint and concrete actions in newly identified strategic areas, such as advancing gender equality, crime prevention and youth engagement.

The signing of the Joint Action Plan was preceded by a meeting, where representatives of UNODC and OSCE discussed and highlighted the distinct benefits and added value of closer cooperation between the two organizations. Official collaboration between UNODC and OSCE on the basis of joint action plans was first established in 2011, and the current plan is the fifth of its kind.

The plans allow for a greater coordination and the implementation of joint programmes and activities in line with the respective mandates of both organizations. This includes coordination and cooperation through the exchange of best practices, the organization of joint activities, joint technical assistance and sharing resources.

AIRCOP: National workshop on analysis and profiling at airport in Bosnia and Herzegovina

14-16 July 2020, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: With the financial support of the European Union and under the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, AIRCOP hosted a three-day national workshop on analysis and profiling at airports through its e-learning platform. The multi-faceted workshop encompassed presentations on the working methodology, techniques, trends and results from both the Belgian Passenger Information Unit (PIU) and the Brazilian Customs. The training brought together officers from the Border Police, Indirect Taxation Authority, the Directorate for Coordination of Police Bodies and the Directorate for Civil Aviation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The experts from Belgium presented the EU legislation on Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Records (PNR) data, the Belgian PIU, characteristics of API/PNR data, examples of targeting rules and risk indicators and their respective efficiency as well as challenges of risk analysis and rule-based targeting.

The expert from Brazilian Customs outlined the perspective of a source country of drugs, including the risk, routes, trends, and recent concealment methods detected for different drugs, particularly cocaine. He illustrated the transnational nature of organized crime and the need for international collaboration by mentioning common cases of illicit trafficking between Brazil and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Upon the end of the meeting, the participants confirmed the value they saw in taking part in the AIRCOP activities within the project and their interest in further contributing to international cooperation within the AIRCOP network (currently rich of 36 countries and 41 airports). The three-day online workshop is part of a series of workshops aiming to strengthen the implementation of AIRCOP activities in the framework of the EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports in South Eastern Europe, funded by the European Union.

UNODC supports Serbia with personal protective equipment for the Border Police

10 July 2020, Belgrade, Serbia: UNODC donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Border Police of the Republic of Serbia at the Belgrade International Airport as part of the COVID-19 response within the support to the national authorities in the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe (RP SEE).

The donation included masks, gloves and hand sanitizing gels and was handed over in a formal ceremony with the presence of the Commander of the Border police station of the Belgrade International Airport.

During the ceremony, UNODC had the opportunity to reiterate their support to the national authorities, who expressed appreciation and welcomed UNODC’s efforts, mentioning their readiness to further expand the cooperation with UNODC in the coming months.

This donation is part of the UNODC initiative on enhanced border security in South Eastern Europe aimed at promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports conducted under the RP SEE and funded by the European Union.

UNODC participates in the 3rd Regional Coordination Meeting on the SALW Roadmap in South Eastern Europe

3 July 2020, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo under UNSCR 1244: UNODC took part in the third Regional Coordination Meeting on the Roadmap for a sustainable solution to the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and their ammunition in the Western Balkans by 2024, held online and hosted by the European Union, Germany, France, UNDP and the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC).

Over 120 participants attended the event representing the national and local authorities from the region and international partners, including the EU institutions (EEAS, DG HOME, DG NEAR and EUROPOL), INTERPOL, NATO, OSCE, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) as well as the Netherlands, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

The meeting followed a series of national coordination meetings and aimed to review the status of implementation of the Roadmap, including challenges, progress and plans at the regional level.

The UNODC’s Global Firearms Programme (GFP) contributed to the meeting with interventions highlighting the 15th anniversary of the UN Firearms Protocol to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its significance for the criminal justice response to counter firearms trafficking in the region.

In addition, the UNODC GFP provided updates on its cooperation with the national authorities and planned activities in the region. The financial support for UNODC GFP’s activities is provided under the SALW Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, United Kingdom, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

AIRCOP: National workshop on the use of air passenger information (API/PNR) in analysis and investigation framework

2 July 2020, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: With the financial support of the European Union and under the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, AIRCOP hosted a national workshop on the use of Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) in analysis and investigation framework. Building on the first training event held on 4 June 2020, the workshop brought together representatives from the Ministry of Communications and Transport, the Directorate for Civil Aviation, the Border Police, the Indirect Taxation Authority and the Directorate for Coordination of Police Bodies of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Through this training activity, AIRCOP developed a stronger understanding of the counterparts of the use of API/ PNR by presenting  data capturing and processing along with practical case studies. The inter-active session demonstrated that the participants are determined to apply the acquired knowledge in effectively addressing cross-border threats as well as increase inter-agency cooperation. AIRCOP will be monitoring the application of the gained skills as the programme will be further implemented in the country.

UNODC supports Montenegro with Personal Protective Equipment for Customs Administration and Ministry of Interior

30 June 2020, Bar, Montenegro: UNODC donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to officers of the Montenegro Customs Administration and the Ministry of Interior as part of the COVID-19 response provided to the national authorities in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe (RP SEE).

The donation, handed over today in Podgorica, included masks, gloves and hand sanitizing gels. With this donation, UNODC is directing its resources to assist the law enforcement authorities of Montenegro in maintaining business continuity and safeguarding communities from illicit trade, while keeping the frontline officers safe from the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in their daily work.

This donation is part of the UNODC initiative on enhanced border security in South Eastern Europe aimed at promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, conducted under the RP SEE and funded by the European Union. 

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

UNODC is part of the regional dialogue on small arms and lights weapons

17 June 2020, Tirana, Albania; 24 June 2020, Pristina, Kosovo under UNSCR 1244; 26 June 2020, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC participated in the third series of the Local Coordination Meetings on the Roadmap for a sustainable solution to the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and their ammunition in the Western Balkans by 2024 developed as part of the Franco-German initiative. The meetings were hosted by the national SALW commissions and held online with the presence of representatives from France, Germany, United Kingdom and the European Union as well as from the South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC), the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the national counterparts representing the relevant ministries.

The main objective of the meetings was to review the status of implementation of the Roadmap by various partners involved into this process, including in the challenging times of COVID-19, whereby remote working protocols were put in place. The partners confirmed that the overall implementation has moved forward successfully, and the remote cooperation has demonstrated not only challenges but also the high level of coordination, opportunities and lessons learnt for the future. The multi-agency coordination triggered by the Roadmap and the relevant national counterparts contributes to addressing firearms related offenses and mirrors the aims and objectives of UNODC efforts in the region. 

The participants provided a strategic overview of the advancement of the Roadmap and discussed technical aspects of its implementation. UNODC provided an update to the national commissions on the status of its activities and the way forward. A regional meeting on the Roadmap will be held in July 2020 to review its advancement on the regional level.

AIRCOP holds a national online workshop on risk assessment as a holistic approach for the law enforcement agencies of Bosnia and Herzegovina

25 June 2020, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: With the financial support of the European Union and under the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, the Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) hosted a national workshop through its e-learning platform on the risk assessment as a holistic approach for the law enforcement agencies. The training, conducted by an expert of the Bulgarian Customs, brought together officers from the Border Police, the Indirect Taxation Authority and the Directorate for Coordination of Police Bodies of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The main objective of the workshop was to enhance the awareness of law enforcement agencies on the benefits of a risk-based approach at all levels, including in terms of support to the decision-making process, operational effectiveness and resource management. Several key topics were presented including the fundamentals of risk assessment, the rational procedures to assess threats and countermeasures through the risk-based approach, the indicators and rules of risk analysis, information management and the intelligence cycle to assess threats at airports. The proactivity of the participants enabled fruitful discussions and demonstrated the determination of the law enforcement agencies to engage actively with the AIRCOP activities. This workshop is the first of a series of workshops that will support the implementation of AIRCOP in South Eastern Europe.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

CCP delivers online mentorship in the Albanian Port Control Unit

15-19 June 2020, Durres, Albania: Despite the challenges related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the UNODC – WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) in Albania resumed its activities and returned to a more regular schedule of the Programme implementation. Making the health and safety of the Port Control Unit (PCU) officers, partners and trainers a priority, CCP introduced a series of online training and mentorship sessions which CCP national counterparts can access remotely.

The PCU officers at Durres Port attended a one-week online mentoring session, aimed at measuring the effectiveness of the PCU, solving practical challenges and identifying future training needs to assist the Unit. During the mentorship session, the topics covered included cigarettes smuggling, methods of concealment, rip-on/rip-off phenomenon, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), and risk analysis. Themes of particular interest to the officers were the illicit disposal of waste and the new innovative modus operandi used in cocaine smuggling. The Port of Durres is seriously affected by this crime and in the recent years several cocaine seizures were conducted by the PCU.

In addition, the ongoing WCO operation "Stop" aiming at detecting fake medicines and protective equipment related to the current COVID -19 situation was also raised. The operational plan was discussed, and the reference code list was provided with the tariff codes and description of the commodities to be targeted as a priority. Such mentorship sessions are designed to offer a blend of international expertise with the local one ensuring that an efficient container control workforce is being developed.

The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme in Albania is funded by the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of France. This work is complementary with the CCP/Airport Communication Project activities in other jurisdictions of the region conducted under the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the European Union.

UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme launches training cycle for the Air Cargo Control Unit at Sarajevo International Airport

15-19 June 2020, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Responding within COVID-19 emergency circumstances, the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) organized an Online Basic Theoretical Training for officers of the newly established Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) at the Sarajevo International Airport. This training represents the start of the first phase of the tailored training cycle of the CCP, to be further complemented with intermediate and advanced training events during the course of the Programme implementation.

The training covered topics such as risk indicators, profiling and targeting, air cargo safety and other relevant matters concerning air cargo shipments. In addition to officers from the Indirect Taxation Authority and the Border Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the training was also attended by the representatives of the Directorate for Civil Aviation, Sarajevo Airport Authority and representatives of the private sector entities active in air cargo operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The training was delivered by experienced international experts from the WCO and UNODC.

Since January 2020, UNODC is implementing a joint action promoting rule of law and good governance through border control measures at ports and airports. As part of this action, UNODC will for the first time establish a joint CCP ACCU and an Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) at the Sarajevo International Airport  to support more effective responses of the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and also in North Macedonia and Serbia through the respective joint teams by means of a comprehensive and strategic approach to preventing and combating organized crime in cargo and passenger traffic at air border crossings, including trafficking in drugs, firearms and persons, as well as smuggling of migrants, countering the financing of terrorism, money laundering and other economic crimes, and corruption. The initiative also seeks to enhance efforts concerning crime prevention, criminal justice reform, law enforcement, border management, and international cooperation.

The above CCP activities  are conducted in the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and are funded by the European Commission to support the region in the implementation of UN conventions on drugs and crime, as well as the EU Acquis, notably Chapters 23 and 24 addressing serious organized crime, rule of law, good governance and security.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

UNODC holds online sessions on the impact of COVID-19 on the drug supply chain and migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons in South Eastern Europe

16 June 2020, Belgrade, Serbia; 26 June 2020, Skopje, North Macedonia:  UNODC organized two online sessions to present the findings of UNODC reports on “COVID-19 and the drug supply chain: from production and trafficking to use” and “Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis on Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons to Europe and North America”. More than 35 participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia took part in the first session, representing the national institutions, including the Police, Customs, Ministry of Security, civil society organizations working on security issues, drug use prevention and smuggling of migrants (SoM) and trafficking in persons (TiP). The second session was attended by 20 participants from Albania, North Macedonia and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 from the same institutions as well as Courts and the Ministry of Health. International organizations including the International Organization for Migration, the Council of Europe and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights also attended the sessions.

The UNODC experts presented detailed information prepared by the UNODC Research and Analysis Branch on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the drug supply chain and SoM/TiP in the region, including with a snapshot of heroin seizures along the Balkan Route and the most recent statistics on migrants’ movements.

The materials of the sessions were shared with the participants, who provided positive feedback on the sessions stating that they were interesting and useful. These informative sessions contributed towards an increased understanding and knowledge by the national authorities of the impact of COVID-19 on drug supply chain and SoM/TiP and the related emerging trends.

For more information:

Research Brief: COVID-19 and the drug supply chain: from production and trafficking to use 

Research Brief: How COVID-19 restrictions and the economic consequences are likely to impact migrant smuggling and cross-border  trafficking in persons to Europe and North America 

UNODC to support Bosnia and Herzegovina in detection of firearms in postal and courier shipments 

9 June 2020, Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC and the Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina held a meeting to launch the needs assessment in the area of the detection of firearms, their parts, components and ammunition in postal and courier shipments. UNODC provided detailed explanations on the various stages and steps of the training and equipment provision, the development of Standard Operating Procedures and conducting joint operations.

The meeting resulted in the approval of the scope of the Terms of Reference for the needs assessment and of the questionnaire to identify gaps and needs, as well as the agreement to complete and share with UNODC the questionnaire and to conduct assessment visits to Bosnia and Herzegovina in July – August 2020, subject to the travel possibilities.

This activity is part of the joint UNODC – UNDP project on countering arms trafficking in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The financial support is provided under the Western Balkans Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund by Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Norway.

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina with Personal Protective Equipment for the Indirect Taxation Authority and the Border Police

6 June 2020, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC continues to support the law enforcement agencies of South Eastern Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic and donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Border Police and the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) of Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of the COVID-19 response and support to the national authorities.

The donation included masks, gloves, protective goggles, and hand sanitizing gels and was handed over in a formal ceremony with the presence of ITA Head of Law Enforcement Sector, Regional Center Sarajevo, the Head of the Sarajevo Airport Unit of the Border Police, the liaison officers from both agencies, officers of the Port Control Unit at Bijača land border crossing, as well as other officers and representatives from both organizations. During the ceremony at the Sarajevo International Airport, UNODC had the opportunity to reiterate their support to the national authorities, who expressed appreciation and welcomed the effort, mentioning their willingness to resume cooperation with UNODC in the coming months.

This donation is part of the UNODC initiative on enhanced border security in South Eastern Europe aimed at promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, conducted under the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the European Union.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/ccp/index.html

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/organized-crime/AIRCOP/1-aircop-home.html

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

UNODC AIRCOP discusses the framework, collection and analysis of air passenger information with counterparts of Bosnia and Herzegovina

4 June 2020, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: With the financial support of the European Union for the borders action conducted under the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, the UNODC Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) hosted a videoconference with the Ministry of Communication and Transport, Border Police and the Directorate for Coordination of Police bodies of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The meeting aimed at presenting the framework, collection and analysis of air passenger information (API /PNR) along with the outlooks for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

During the meeting, several key topics were discussed, including the importance of air passenger data to target and intercept known and unknown high-risk passengers; the general framework and regional perspective on the gathering and analysis of passenger information; the benefits and perspectives for Bosnia and Herzegovina; existing and required capabilities for related operational activities in the country; and the role of the future Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) to be established by AIRCOP at the Sarajevo International Airport. The proactivity of the participants enabled fruitful discussions which build a strong foundation for future collaboration in the implementation of the AIRCOP activities in South Eastern Europe and their sustainability.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

UNODC takes part in a discussion on countering trafficking in persons in the Western Balkans with Stanford University

3 June 2020, Stanford, United States: UNODC took part in a presentation called “An Action Plan for the International Community on Countering Human Trafficking in the Balkans”, which was part of a larger virtual discussion on human trafficking entitled “300 Days of Sun, How Many More Days of Slaves?” organized by Women Forward International, a global platform for systemic change in international affairs education, reorienting research towards the principles of unity, collaboration, and service.

The event revolved around a study called “Recommendations for The International Community: Combating Trafficking in Human Beings for Sexual Exploitation in the Western Balkans” produced by a group of students from Stanford University and aimed at examining the role of international organizations in combating trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation in the Western Balkan region, and presenting proposals for interventions for the international community to address the issue.

The event was attended by a diverse audience representing both international organizations and the private sector, including the Secretary-General of the National Human Rights Committee of the State of Qatar, the Special Representative for Women Peace and Security of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and UNODC as well as representatives from the academia and arts sectors.

UNODC’s intervention focused on answering the questions from the student team as to how their study is and can be beneficial to the current efforts and strategies in this field. The UNODC expert highlighted that the study presented valid points, particularly on the specifics of trafficking in persons in the Western Balkans and the need for a concerted action. Moreover, the UNODC expert pointed out some current initiatives and efforts in countering trafficking in persons including a new approach to training with case-based simulations and blended adult learning as well as e-learning; support to the victims by promoting the non-punishment for acts they were forced to commit; and the importance of educating the youth to prevent trafficking in persons, including by using the free of charge educational material on the rule of law developed by UNODC under the Education for Justice Initiative for this purpose.

Finally, UNODC welcomed the opportunity to provide direct feedback to this study and thus contribute to the global efforts in this field.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/e4j/en/tertiary/trafficking-in-persons-smuggling-of-migrants.html

UNODC donates personal protective equipment to the Customs and Border Police of North Macedonia

28 May 2020, Skopje, North Macedonia: UNODC donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Border Police and Customs officers of North Macedonia at the Skopje International Airport as part of the COVID-19 response and support to the national authorities.

The donation included masks, gloves and hand sanitizing gels and was handed over in a formal ceremony with the presence of the Head of the Skopje International Airport Customs Office, the Head of the Skopje Customs Office, the Liaison Officer from the national coordination center of Integrated Border Management of the Customs Administration as well as a senior representative from the Border Police in Skopje and other representatives from both organizations.

During the ceremony, UNODC had the opportunity to reiterate their support to the national authorities, who expressed appreciation and welcomed the effort, mentioning their willingness to resume cooperation with UNODC in the coming months.

This donation is part of the UNODC initiative on enhanced border security in South Eastern Europe aimed at promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports, conducted in the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the European Union.

For more information:

https://un.mk/unodc-donates-personal-protective-equipment-to-the-customs-and-border-police-of-north-macedonia/

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

UNODC provides e-learning courses on trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants in South Eastern Europe

22 May 2020, Podgorica, Montenegro; Skopje, North Macedonia: During the COVID-19 pandemic, UNODC continued to support the regional law enforcement agencies of South Eastern Europe by offering free access to the UN e-learning modules in the area of human trafficking and migrant smuggling. The offer included free access to the platform for three months; three 60-minute modules on smuggling of migrants translated in the local languages and additional modules on trafficking in persons in English. 

UNODC e-learning courses are developed by leading international experts, enabling law enforcement officers and other professionals to expand their knowledge and stay up to date with the international practices in the fight against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism  in line with the United Nations standards and norms and other relevant international instruments.

In total, 44 officers representing the relevant national authorities of Montenegro, North Macedonia and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 welcomed the opportunity and took part in the online training. UNODC will continue to support the law enforcement agencies in the region through e-learning and other tools during the COVID-19 outbreak.

For more information: https://www.unodc.org/elearning/

UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme in Albania donates Personal Protective Equipment to Border Police

21 May 2020, Durres/Tirana, Albania: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) has provided the second delivery of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for border and migration police officers as part of COVID-19 preparedness and response. The main beneficiaries of the donation are the officers of the Port Control Unit at the Durres Port, the Air Cargo Control Unit at the Tirana International Airport, and frontline officers at the Border Crossing Points at the eastern green border of Albania. The delivery includes gloves, multi-use protective FFP2 face masks, protective goggles and hand sanitizers.

Some of the donated PPE is CCP branded. At the handover ceremony, the Director of the Department for Border and Migration stated that “those who protect the citizens need protection themselves”. The Police senior officials commended UNODC-WCO for the donation and assured that equipment and supplies were going to be put to good use. The donation is funded by Germany and France.

The CCP work in Albania is part of the global and regional efforts aimed at building capacity to improve risk management, supply chain security, and trade facilitation in seaports, airports and land border crossings in order to prevent the cross-border movement of illicit goods.

Port Control Unit in Bar, Montenegro achieved a notable result during COVID-19 response activities

20 May 2020, Bar, Montenegro: Following the online mentorship support by the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) provided on 29 April - 6 May 2020, the Port Control Unit (PCU) in Bar, Montenegro successfully profiled and interdicted a container shipment containing illicit goods. The illicit shipment containing three hand pistols and 2480 pieces of ammunition of various calibers was detected during detailed physical search of a shipping container, following PCU officers’ regular risk analyses and profiling performance.

In cooperation with the national stakeholders of Montenegro, CCP successfully uses technical platforms to provide continuous capacity-building programming and support to its counterparts. The COVID-19 pandemic poses a serious threat to the economies across the globe, affecting economic activity through both demand and supply channels. UNODC-WCO CCP customized its activities to better support the governments through COVID-19 with tailor-made interventions for capacity building and other support.

CCP activities in Montenegro are currently funded by the European Commission as well as other donors and support the region in the implementation of UN conventions on drugs and crime, as well as the EU Acquis, notably Chapters 23 and 24 addressing serious organized crime, rule of law, good governance and security.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

UNODC AIRCOP supports Bosnia and Herzegovina with e-learning during the COVID-19 pandemic

14 May 2020, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) hosted a videoconference with Border Police and the Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina within the borders action funded by the European Union and conducted under the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe. The meeting aimed at advancing the project activities in the region by integrating complementary e-learning training support during the COVID-19 pandemic. With this, the officers of the law enforcement agencies of Bosnia and Herzegovina will be able to access online training modules on risk management, risk assessment, criminal intelligence and analysis.

The AIRCOP e-learning program for Bosnia and Herzegovina has been tailored and structured around three consecutive phases to fit the needs of the national law enforcement agencies. The program is designed with a blend of e-learning modules and thematic webinars, which allow discussions with experts from over 15 countries in the European Union and in Latin America and the Caribbean through live sessions, serving as an effective support to the learning programme. The first phase of the program will take place in June in the form of a national workshop entitled “The risk assessment as a holistic approach for law enforcement agencies”, which is a milestone in the implementation of analysis processes as a response against emerging threats in the airports.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme continues to support stakeholders in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro during the COVID-19 pandemic

29 April–8 May 2020, Bijača, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bar, Montenegro: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) continues to implement activities through online sessions and other e-learning tools in South Eastern Europe aimed at enhancing technical and operational capacities of the customs and police officers engaged in the  Port Control Units (PCUs) established under the programme.

The online mentoring sessions provided to the PCUs of the Port of Bar and the land-border crossing Bijača represent CCP’s continued support to the law enforcement agencies of the Member States aimed at strengthening the law enforcement capabilities, in particular in the context of the  COVID-19 outbreak.

During this period, a number of container shipments, both in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, were profiled. For those identified as high-risk consignments, full physical searches were carried out by the PCU officials, and further appropriate actions were implemented. Online mentoring support was provided by experienced WCO trainers through online platforms and tools in real time.

Furthermore, in April 2020, CCP facilitated access to more than 30 e-learning courses from the UNODC’s Global learning platform goLEARN and the WCO Customs Learning and Knowledge Community (CLiKC) platform, for customs officers from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro as part of the COVID-19 response provided through the CCP framework to the beneficiary administrations in South Eastern Europe.

CCP activities in South Eastern Europe are currently funded by the European Commission and other donors, and support the region in the implementation of the UN conventions on drugs and crime, as well as the EU Acquis, notably Chapters 23 and 24 addressing serious organized crime, rule of law, good governance and security.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

UNODC supports South Eastern Europe in facing the COVID-19 pandemic

24 April 2020, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244: UNODC continued to support the jurisdictions of South Eastern Europe during the COVID-19 outbreak as part of the preparedness and response to the pandemic.

In early April, UNODC equipped the frontline law enforcement officers of the Port Control Unit (PCU) of the Durres Port and the Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) of the Tirana International Airport with protective equipment to face the COVID-19 outbreak, which included gloves, face masks, googles and hand sanitizers. Protective equipment is also being delivered to the PCU of the border crossing point Bijaca in Bosnia and Herzegovina while UNODC is further consulting with the other units of the region on their needs on the ground.

In addition, UNODC initiated the procedure to provide COVID-19 protective equipment to the law enforcement officers of the international airports of Belgrade, Sarajevo and Skopje, which are part, along with the Bijaca and other PCUs in the region, of a UNODC initiative on promoting the rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports in the region, funded by the European Union.

Furthermore, at this time of increased use of the internet for use as a ‘digital office’, shopping online, joining online forums and webinars, UNODC sought to support the Governments of the region through offering assistance in addressing cybercrime as the significantly increased risk of cyber criminality becomes well documented and the risk of exposure to such crime grows correspondingly.

UNODC support to the regional law enforcement agencies has increased further with the offer of free access to UN e-Learning modules for operational staff in the area of human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

Finally, as part of its prevention programme, UNODC has disseminated information on parenting during COVID-19 to support the families of the region in coping with the situation. For better outreach, the materials were translated in the local languages. Link to the materials below:

https://www.unodc.org/listenfirst/en/covid_parents.html

Similarly, UNODC distributed to its counterparts and partners various technical guidance documents on how to ensure the continuity and sustainability of health services addressing the needs of people who use drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure an adequate response to substance abuse during COVID-19 outbreak.

As the situation unfolds, UNODC continues to monitor the situation on the ground in cooperation and coordination with its counterparts to provide the necessary assistance to the Governments of South Eastern Europe.

UNDP and UNODC join forces in support of the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap

13 March 2020, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo under UNSCR 1244: Four new projects in the area of small arms and light weapons (SALW) control will be initiated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Offices in Bosnia and Herzegovina  and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 and UNODC to tackle the illicit possession, misuse and trafficking of firearms in the Western Balkans.

The projects are implemented in the framework of the Roadmap for SALW Control in the Western Balkans and are funded by the Governments of Germany, France, UK, Sweden and Norway through the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund, established by UNDPUNODC and the MPTF Office, in support of the implementation of the Roadmap. The projects will support the efforts of the Western Balkan jurisdictions in achieving the goals of the Roadmap and a sustainable solution to the illicit possession, misuse and trafficking of firearms, ammunition and explosives.

The projects, amounting to USD 5.3 million, were selected within the first call for project proposals launched in 2019, and addressed to the UNODC and UNDP Offices in the Western Balkans.

Overview of selected projects:

Halting Arms and Lawbreaking Trade (HALT) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, implemented by UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina and UNODC. The project will enhance the capacities of the Indirect Taxation Authority to better combat illicit arms trafficking through development of standard operating procedures, provision of training, and procurement of specialized equipment for the detection of smuggled firearms. The project will also contribute to strengthened cooperation and information exchange between the Indirect Taxation Authority and other institutions at the national and regional levels through joint trainings, working visits, and cross-border operations. The Border Police, postal agencies, private companies and the criminal justice sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina will be engaged throughout the project for increased sustainable results.

Support to Combating Illicit Arms Trafficking in Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 for Criminal Police (CPIAT), implemented by UNDP Kosovo under UNSCR 1244. Through the provision of specialized training and equipment, the project will support the Kosovo Police in strengthening their capacities to better detect and increasingly confiscate firearms, components and ammunition, and improve the quality of investigations.

Criminal Justice Response Against Arms Trafficking (regional project), implemented by UNODC, will support the six Western Balkan jurisdictions in strengthening their criminal justice response to firearms related criminality, particularly illicit arms trafficking. Specifically, the project will support the Western Balkans’ authorities in the harmonization of the national firearms legislation and relevant criminal and procedural law provisions with the UN Firearms Protocol. The project will also work with the Western Balkans’ authorities in strengthening their capacities to detect, investigate and prosecute firearms trafficking and its links to other serious crimes, through improved guidelines and standard operating procedures, specialized training, information exchange and regional cooperation.

Urgent Action on Ammunition Destruction - Project EXPLODE+, implemented by UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina. The project will support the Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the destruction of 91 tons of unsafe ammunition, contributing to reduced stockpiles of surplus ammunition and thus to higher safety and security for storage facilities and local communities nearby.

UNODC assesses the border control situation in Serbia

11-13 March 2020, Belgrade, Serbia: UNODC conducted the second scoping mission in the framework of the recently launched project on enhanced border control in South Eastern Europe. The UNODC project team met with the national authorities, including the Ministries of Interior, Transport,  Communication and Infrastructure (Civil Aviation), the Customs Administration, the Border Police Directorate and the Criminal Police Directorate to formally introduce the project and discuss future implementation, in particular the air cargo aspect of the Container Control Programme project component. The UNODC project team also visited the Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport and carried out a technical assessment through further discussion with customs and border police structures on site.

This initiative, conducted in the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the European Commission, will support the region in the implementation of the UN Conventions on drugs, crime and terrorism, as well as the EU Acquis, notably the Chapters 23 and 24 addressing serious organized crime, rule of law, good governance and security.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

UNODC continues to support the expansion of drug use prevention interventions in Croatia

3 March, Osijek; 10 March, Zadar; 11 March 2020, Split, Croatia: UNODC together with the Lions Clubs International Foundation expanded the reach of the Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence programme to Croatia thus availing the programme to five countries in South Eastern Europe (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia). This intervention is a school-based programme delivered by teachers and aimed at improving the social and life skills of students in order to prevent a variety of risk factors related to drug use. To date, the programme reached 41 elementary schools across Croatia, with the involvement of 90 teachers, reaching more than 2500 students, for the envisaged period of two academic years.

As a part of the monitoring process, the first follow-up sessions were held in three cities in Croatia, namely Osijek, Zadar and Split. Due to COVID-19 outbreak, the follow-up session in Rijeka (initially planned for 16 March) and Zagreb (planned for 17 March) were postponed until further notice.

The follow-up sessions brought together more than 40 teachers from Osijek, Zadar and Split. The teachers had an opportunity to highlight the positive aspects of the programme and discuss the faced challenges to mitigate them and carry on with an effective implementation.

Additionally, the pre-test results collected at the beginning of the pilot training in Croatia were presented to the group covering topics such as knowledge, attitudes and students’ behavior towards substance use, identifying the baseline data for further tracking and comparative analysis.

The next follow-up session is planned for Fall 2020 subject to the normalization of the current global situation linked to COVID-19 outbreak.

UNODC remains active in the regional efforts on small arms and light weapons

4 March 2020, Belgrade, Serbia: The UNODC Global Firearms Programme (GFP) attended the Regional Steering Group meeting on Small Arms and Light Weapons, which provided an opportunity for all actors in the field of firearms control in South Eastern Europe to provide updates on their projects and plans for activities in 2020.

The meeting was attended by 63 participants, including representatives from the Western Balkan jurisdictions, UNDP regional and country offices, OSCE Missions, EMPACT (European Union 4-year policy cycle to fight serious and organized crime) Firearms, EU Delegation, and other bilateral counterparts.

UNODC GFP focused its intervention on the criminal justice response to countering firearms trafficking and informed the audience about the office’s on-going activities in the region, including the support for the harmonization of criminal laws with the UN Firearms Protocol, capacity building for criminal justice practitioners, support for joint investigation teams and data collection among others. UNODC also provided an overview of planned activities under the Multi-Donor Trust Fund in support of the Roadmap for a sustainable Solution to the Illegal Possession, Misuse and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons and their Ammunition in the Western Balkans by 2024.

Following the regional meeting, on 5 March UNODC held coordination meetings with the representatives of Customs, the Prosecutor’s Office and Ministry of Trade, Telecommunications and Tourism to brief them on UNODC activities for 2020.

UNODC and LCIF promote drug demand reduction through school-based prevention strategies

4 March 2020, Vienna, Austria: UNODC and the Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF) jointly organized a side-event on "School-based prevention strategies that work: the global UNODC-LCIF partnership" in the margins of the 63 rd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

The event served as a platform for promoting the effective drug demand reduction initiative through the prism of the Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence (LQSFA) programme implemented since 2014 in Central America, West Africa and South Eastern Europe as a result of collaboration between UNODC and LCIF.

The LQSFA programme is structured around social emotional learning skills as important skills to prevent and/or delay the onset of drug use among young adolescents. The LQSFA programme is closely monitored and evaluated globally and in the region of the South East Europe and shows positive results particularly related to the improved refusal skills and the overall reduction of substance use along with the reduction of the intention to use substances among students. Following the excellent results achieved in South Eastern Europe previously, in 2019, the programme expanded to Croatia, Guatemala, El Salvador and Cote d'Ivoire where capacity building activities were delivered to teachers to ensure dissemination of the programme curricula in the selected schools.

During the event, the LCIF programme coordinator provided a thorough overview of the programme achievements to date and the way forward.

Moreover, a local LQSFA trainer from the Education and Teacher Training Agency, which is piloting the programme in Croatia, took part in the event to share her experience with the programme and explain how the programme is beneficial to the participants and the national education system. The teacher emphasized the importance of using drug use prevention evidence-based strategies and praised the added value of the LQSFA programme, which is used globally and is built on international recognition. She described the LQSFA programme to be "designed to respond to the changing world of children and their families by helping to create the meaningful experiences, opportunities and relationships children need in order to become caring, capable and contributing members of society".

Furthermore, the teacher pointed out the benefits of the LSQFA programme on youth as it addresses basic life skills, character development, prevention of behavior disorders and relationship-centered learning in the classroom and school, and concluded with an overview of the current and future implementation of the programme in Croatia.

This event builds on the efforts to promote evidence-based interventions as good practices and further strengthens the UNODC-LCIF partnership in South Eastern Europe.

For more information: 

Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence - LCIF

Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence -  Education and Teacher Training Agency

Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence - UNODC

https://lqsfa-see.net/en/

Policy level side event "Prevention without borders" highlights the importance of a comprehensive approach to drug use

3 March 2020, Vienna, Austria: In the margins of the 63 rd session of the Commission of Narcotic Drugs, the Government of North Macedonia in cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, the "Green Crescent" and UNODC organized a side event on "Prevention without Borders: Effective Drug Policy in the context of the Balkans".

The countries of the region were represented at the Ambassador's, Deputy Minister and State Secretary level and were complemented by the subject matter experts, the representatives of the national chapters of the "Green Crescent" civil society organization and UNODC.

The discussion revolved around the current drug demand reduction initiatives and policies in the region, successful results achieved so far and the way forward. The participants of the event focused on the need to put special emphasis on children and environment in which they grow up. The importance of public oriented drug policies and impact was underscored by the participants, who also noted the need for continuous education of different groups in the society. The connection of the successful drug prevention policies to the EU accession path was also underscored by several participants, including from the civil society. The participants noted that the topic of drug use prevention cannot be addressed in isolation but rather in connection to the rule of law, countering trafficking in drugs and other forms of crime, securing borders, implementing youth oriented programmes, as well as making available treatment of drug use, rehabilitation and reintegration of drug users. The panel included various sectors of the Governments, civil society and UNODC thus allowing for a discussion covering different angles of the topic.

The UNODC-led Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence programme was cited as good practice of a school-based social emotional learning initiative to prevent or delay the onset of drug use among young adolescents with encouraging results in South Eastern Europe, where the programme is implemented since 2014 by UNODC and the Lions Club Foundation, having reached to date 7,700 children, 472 educators/trainers in 185 schools over 5 countries and 40 cities and municipalities in the region. Furthermore, UNODC supports the countries of the region in drug demand reduction through capacity building events and other initiatives aimed at strengthening the overall response to drug use. For example, in Bosnia and Herzegovina the UNODC family skills initiative - Strong Families programme, will be implemented in collaboration with the Community Service Organization (CSO) "Celebrate the Recovery" (Proslavi Oporavak) in Sarajevo starting in May 2020. In Albania, UNODC supported the organization of the first Universal Treatment Curriculum (UTC) "walkthrough" training workshop in early 2020, aimed at strengthening the national system of treatment of substance use disorders in line with the international practices and will continue this work.

The side event, attended by over 90 people, concluded with a discussion on the ways to increase cooperation in the field of drug demand reduction and the importance of pursuing efforts in this field.

Container Control Programme supports cooperation of customs administrations in South Eastern Europe

3 March 2020, Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Cooperation between the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Customs Administration of the Republic of Serbia via efficient information exchange represents one of the most important activities in preventing cross-border criminal activities and increasing efficiency of revenue collections for both states.

With the support of the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP), ITA and the Serbian Customs Administration organized a technical level meeting to discuss the continuation of cooperation aimed to facilitate detections and successful interdictions of various forms of cross-border criminal activities. Such meetings aim to further enhance functional professional links between officials of the partner customs administrations.

The meeting resulted in several conclusions concerning future points of cooperation. This initiative, conducted in the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the European Commission, supports the region in the implementation of UN conventions on drugs and crime, as well as the EU acquis, notably Chapters 23 and 24 addressing serious organized crime, rule of law, good governance and security.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

UNODC supports the Albanian State Police

28 February 2020, Tirana, Albania: As part of the cooperation between UNODC and the Government of Albania in the framework of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, UNODC donated evidence containers to the Albanian State Police. The donation of this equipment further strengthens the capacities of the Albanian law enforcement to address drug trafficking and other forms of organized crime and carry out the related investigations and proceedings. 

This delivery forms a part of the overall donation of equipment by UNODC to the Albanian law enforcement authorities and is expected to enhance their performance and further strengthen the partnership between UNODC and the Government of Albania.

Container Control Programme provides on the job mentoring in region's ports

25-27 February 2020, Bar, Montenegro and Bijača, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) performed an initial series of monitoring visits to the Port Control Units (PCUs) in South Eastern Europe, during which the PCUs maintain their regular activities and present the daily work conducted at their respective seaports and land-border/customs points.

The CCP concept of monitoring visits is based on partnerships with customs administrations of member states, through the principles of mutual cooperation and responsibility, as well as sharing of knowledge on new experiences and approaches to specific themes in the fight against transnational organized crime. During the visits, the CCP used the opportunity to present activities planned throughout 2020 for the PCUs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. Amongst other topics, discussions were also held concerning current challenges faced by PCU staff in their daily work.

This initiative is supported by the European Commission and conducted in the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

Container Control Programme launches the work in a new location in South Eastern Europe

14-18 February 2020, Gradiška, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The UNODC-World Customs Organization (WCO) Container Control Programme (CCP) has successfully conducted a technical assessment mission of the land border/customs terminal at Gradiška, Bosnia and Herzegovina. This activity represents a continuation of the excellent cooperation between the CCP and the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) and the Border Police, the main stakeholders in the implementation of the CCP in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This initiative is part of a wider UNODC project supported by the European Commission aimed at promoting the rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports in South Eastern Europe.

The Border Inspection Point (BIP) at Gradiška is an important entry point to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s customs territory, with some of the highest volumes in the traffic of goods and passengers. BIP Gradiška has been selected as a designated site for the establishment of a Port Control Unit (PCU), which will be a joint effort between the CCP and the national authorities towards strengthening border security and countering transnational organized crime and illicit trafficking.

In preparation to the establishment of the PCU, UNODC met with the management and other senior officials of the ITA and Border Police and visited BIP Gradiška to familiarize with the current situation of the recently relocated customs terminal, as well as to review the general state of affairs was regards major threats, challenges and prospects of goods trafficked through this BIP between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Furthermore, UNODC observed the work of frontline officers in conducting documentary profiling and risk-analyses, as well as physical risk controls, including x-ray scanning of cargo.

The technical assessors and officials of the ITA and the Border Police discussed the establishment of the PCU, its operationalization and the follow-up arrangements for cooperation between the national stakeholders of the Programme.

This initiative, conducted in the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and funded by the European Commission, supports the region in the implementation of UN conventions on drugs and crime, as well as the EU acquis, notably Chapters 23 and 24 addressing serious organized crime, rule of law, good governance and security.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

UNODC initiates the  6 th phase of the project on financial investigations

11-14 February, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina; 25-28 February, Tirana, Albania; and 25-28 February 2020, Pristina, Kosovo under UNSCR 1244: UNODC, in cooperation with the national and local authorities, completed the first three UNODC mentored quality assurance trainings forming the 6 th phase of the Train-the-Trainer (ToT) programme on financial investigations.

The purpose of this programme was to provide the national authorities of the addressed jurisdictions with a unified approach in conducting financial investigations at the outset of all investigations linked to serious and organized crime, drug trafficking, money laundering and terrorist financing matters as well as to reinforce the regional and cross-border cooperation amongst the law enforcement and judiciary institutions of the Western Balkan region.

During the implementation of the project, UNODC certified ten trainers in each Western Balkan jurisdiction, who developed, with support of UNODC, six national curricula on financial investigations tailored to their contexts and legal frameworks and based on the practical case-studies from the national law enforcement and judiciary institutions. Further to this cycle, UNODC organized five meetings for the project's focal points from six Western Balkan jurisdictions to discuss the project achievements and the way forward in addition to four series of trainings on financial investigations conducted during the programme, which received positive feedback from the participants and were described as relevant to all institutions contributing to the advancement of the rule of law in the jurisdictions.

The final three trainings in the remaining jurisdictions will be held in March 2020.

This work is part of the joint UNODC/CEPOL project on capacity building of South Eastern Europe on conducting financial investigations, funded by the European Commission.

UNODC supports Serbia-Belarus drug use prevention dialogue

20-21 February 2020, Belgrade, Serbia: UNODC in cooperation with the Serbian Office for Combating Drugs supported a study visit for the national professionals and policymakers from Belarus to Serbia. The delegates represented institutions addressing drug demand reduction, particularly among youth, including the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Interior and the General Prosecutor's Office.

The study visit aimed to present the good practices in the field of drug use prevention, enhance communication and facilitate exchange between the participants and the relevant entities for an improved response to drug use prevention in Belarus.

During the study visit, the participants got acquainted with the national coordination mechanism of the Office for Combating Drugs, the interventions and policies implemented in the local community and schools by the counterpart institutions in Serbia and discussed the evidence-based drug use prevention interventions and their application at the municipality level using the example of the Belgrade township Zvezdara.

Other initiatives in this area were also presented, including the "Line up Live Up" programme, recently launched in South Eastern Europe by UNODC and the OSCE mission in Serbia.

In addition, a strong emphasis was placed on the importance of the evidence-based approaches and of the recurrent use of the UNODC-WHO International Standards on drug use prevention as one of the key documents for achieving progress in drug demand reduction. The guests found the presented materials useful and adaptable to their national context.

The study visit was supported by the Ukrainian UNFPA, UNICEF and UNAIDS Offices under the overall guidance of the UNODC.

UNODC supports the Berlin Process in addressing some of the key challenges in South Eastern Europe

20 February 2020, Vienna, Austria: Within the framework of the Berlin Process for the Western Balkans, UNODC, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) met to discuss the possible cooperation in the future.

The meeting follows in the footsteps of 3 rd Berlin Process Security Commitments Steering Group meeting addressing key security threats in the Western Balkans held in January 2020 in Sofia, Bulgaria, where the participants discussed ways to address illicit finance and anti-corruption, firearms trafficking, irregular migration, modern slavery and human trafficking in South Eastern Europe and emphasized the importance of regional and international cooperation in this regard.

The main objective of the consultation was to provide a step-by-step overview of the process aimed at strengthening anti-corruption and related areas in the region and agree on the objectives and principles that will be guiding the process as well as the immediate next steps. The UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and RAI will ensure the national ownership of the work to be done by the national authorities from the region, along with an integrative approach, an increased synergy of efforts and stronger impact.

UNODC holds consultations with DG NEAR amid the launch of new enhanced border security project in South Eastern Europe

17 February 2020, Vienna, Austria: UNODC briefed the Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations in light of the recent launch of the border control component of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe, via a project on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports in the region, funded by the European Commission.

The UNODC project team briefed the donor on the advancement of the project, including the coordination meetings with internal and external stakeholders such as the European Union Law Enforcement Agency (EUROPOL) and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX), the roll-out of the scoping missions to Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia in the first quarter of 2020, the preparations for the first project Steering Committee meeting scheduled to take place in mid-2020 and the visibility and reporting arrangements to date.

The meeting participants concluded the session reiterating mutual support in the successful delivery of the project.

The cooperation with relevant EU institutions continues to be in the focus of the attention of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe with the next contact and expression of readiness to join forces with FRONTEX to take place on 20 February 2020 in Vienna on the occasion of an expert visit from FRONTEX.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

UNODC supports global efforts in addressing foreign terrorist fighters

12 February 2020, Vienna, Austria: On the occasion of the Joint Regional High-Level Conference on "Foreign Terrorist Fighters - Addressing Current Challenges" convened by the OSCE, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and Switzerland in co-operation with the 2020 Albanian OSCE Chairmanship, UNODC organized a side event on Training Guides on the investigation and prosecution of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) through the sharing of electronic evidence.

The event aimed at promoting sustainable capacity building and the use of UNODC training tools including the recently updated UNODC Manual on FTFs for the Judicial Training Institutes in South Eastern Europe, which was translated into the local languages of the region. Around 30 participants were present at the event, and discussed topics such as enhancing international cooperation in sharing electronic evidence; use of information sharing mechanisms and training tools and sustainable capacity building to investigate and prosecute FTFs cases.

The event was opened by the Executive Director of the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee (UNCTED) and the Chief of UNODC Terrorism Prevention Branch. The Heads of the training institutions in South Eastern Europe, including the Director of the Centre for Judicial and Prosecutorial Training of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Director of the Pavel Shatev Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors in North Macedonia, presented their training programmes, particularly the ones currently using the UNODC tools. This event further contributes to the UNODC efforts in addressing the FTF phenomenon in South Eastern Europe and beyond.

UNODC supported the organization of the first training on treatment of persons with drug use disorders in Albania

3-7 February 2020, Tirana, Albania: UNODC supported the organization of the first Universal Treatment Curriculum (UTC) "walkthrough" training workshop for 25 national professionals and academic experts from Albania and Kosovo under the UNSCR  1244.

The training was facilitated by three certified local UTC trainers and represents the first in a series of two walkthrough workshops on drug dependence treatment and care, focusing on psychology and pharmacology for addiction professionals; treatment of substance use disorders and continuum of care; common co-occurring mental and medical disorders and basic counselling skills.

Upon the completion of the training, certified educators created a precise workplan to share the acquired knowledge with students and service providers and, in doing so, strengthened the national system of treatment of substance use disorders in line with the international practices.

The next walkthrough training will be organized in April 2020 with the same participants to further enhance their knowledge of the remaining UTC modules.

The five-day walkthrough training was funded by the Drug Advisory Programme (DAP) of the Colombo Plan - Chilean Office and coordinated by the University of California San Diego. It uses the UTC training package, as the internationally certified compendium of the evidence-based services and information for the skill development of treatment professionals. This work is supported by the Government of the USA.

Air Cargo Control Unit opens in Tirana

6 February 2020, Tirana, Albania: The official opening of the Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) took place at the Tirana International Airport. The event was organized in the framework of the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP), supported by the Governments of France and Germany, and implemented in partnership with the Albanian State Police and Customs Administration.

The event was attended by the senior officials representing the Ministry of Interior, the State Police and the Customs Administration, as well as other partners including the European Union, France, Germany and the United States. The Albanian officials emphasized that this segment of the CCP would further enhance the security and resilience of the global supply chain through a risk-based and multi-layered approach to cargo security and harmonisation of national and international standards. This would also enhance the partnership with other countries with the purpose of developing and adopting cargo security policies and measures that are practical and operable.

In addition, the ceremony marked the signing of the Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) on the functioning of the Air Cargo Control Unit by the Directors General of Customs and Police. The document supports cooperation and coordination among all actors involved in border security and standardizing relevant procedures and practices.

The Albanian, UNODC and WCO officials, together with other participants, attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony of the unit's premises located at the cargo terminal of the Tirana International Airport.

The CCP work in the Tirana International Airport is complementary to the large-scale border control intervention supported by the EU, whereby ACCUs and Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces (JAITFs) are established in three other airports in the region, and other CCP work is implemented throughout the Western Balkans.

Prior to the launch of the ACCU and on the occasion of the visit to the region, the Senior CCP Programme Coordinators from UNODC and WCO visited Pristina and met with senior management of the Customs of Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244) and other counterparts on 5 February, to discuss the programme's implementation in Kosovo to date and the way forward, as well as to provide positive feedback on the progress made so far.

UNODC participates in the DG NEAR consultations on 2020 Enlargement package

5 February 2020, Brussels, Belgium: UNODC  joined consultations of the Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) on the 2020 Enlargement package, 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.

For more information: 

Enhancing the accession process - A credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans

https://www.unodc.org/brussels/news.html

UNODC takes part in the IPA 2017 Counter Criminality Awards Conference on stability and cooperation in the Western Balkans

31 January 2020, Naples, Italy: UNODC participated in the Counter Criminality Awards Conference organized in the framework of the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) 2017 project on Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans. The event was organized by the lead partners of the project - the Ministry of Interior of Italy, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Centre for International Legal Cooperation (CILC).

The event provided a platform for a high-level discussion on the Western Balkans as an area of stability for European security, policy, new challenges and police cooperation. Among the 400 stakeholders present, Ministers and Assistant Ministers of Interior of the Western Balkan jurisdictions, Heads of Police from the wider region and other senior law enforcement officials joined the discussion along with the representatives of international and regional organizations. The latter included the Secretary General of INTERPOL, the Executive Director of EUROPOL, the Head of the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe (PCC SEE) Secretariat, the Director of the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC), representatives of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX), the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) of the European Commission, and the Coordinator of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe (RP SEE).

The UNODC delegate presented the key principles of the Office's work in the region, namely ownership and partnerships; policy and strategy; and impact and results. The event also provided an opportunity to present the RP SEE - the framework of the UNODC work in the region, where the above principles are applied, and the main tools that UNODC uses to support the Governments of the Western Balkans in their efforts towards increased stability and security.

UNODC participates in the 3 rd Berlin Process Security Commitments Steering Group meeting

28-29 January 2020, Sofia, Bulgaria: UNODC participated in the 3 rd Berlin Process Security Commitments Steering Group meeting addressing key security threats in the Western Balkans. International and regional stakeholders, including the Governments of Austria, France, Germany and the United Kingdom (chairing the event) as well as the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe (PCC SEE) Secretariat, the South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC), the Regional Anti-Corruption initiative (RAI) and UNODC were present at the event to share views and be part of productive discussions on law enforcement information exchange and addressing the regional security threats. The meeting is part of this year's chairmanship of the Berlin process by Bulgaria and North Macedonia, latter being the first Western Balkan country in this function.

The delegates discussed the current situation in the areas of illicit finance and anti-corruption, firearms trafficking, irregular migration, modern slavery and human trafficking as well as ways to address them. 

UNODC is a strong supporter and an implementing partner of the Berlin Process, in particular through its Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe.

UNODC further strengthens preparedness for cooperation with the EU

23-24 January 2020, Belgrade, Serbia: The UNODC Brussels's Liaison Office (BRULO) delivered a seminar on "How to build and sustain a successful partnership with the EU". The audience included primarily HQ and field staff of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and was aimed to ensure the best implementation of the EU contribution agreement in the region. The seminar was designed to provide the UNODC staff a further enhanced understanding of the most relevant rules and procedures facilitating smooth cooperation with the EU. 

The training focused on the latest political and policy developments, background to the EU-UN partnership, the evolution of the Financial and Administrative Framework Agreement (FAFA), EU-UNODC cooperation and policy priorities, the EU role on the international scene, the dialogue with the EU Delegations, the Instrument for Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA), the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) and other topics.

For more information: https://www.unodc.org/brussels/news.html

UNODC kicks off the initiative on enhanced border control in South Eastern Europe

20-23 January 2020, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: In the framework of the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe (RP SEE) 2020-2023, UNODC has successfully initiated a project aimed at promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports in South Eastern Europe.

The project is a joint action involving the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and the UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) under the umbrella of the RP SEE and will be carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244.

The CCP has been present in the region since in 2013 with Port Control Units (PCUs) established in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244, while AIRCOP is new to the region. All these jurisdictions will continue to be supported in the future.

The specific objectives of the project are:

(i) to support more effective national and international responses to illicit trafficking through strengthening the current PCUs in the region and establishing new similar control units, and 

(ii) to strengthen the capacities of law enforcement agencies active at international airports of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Skopje, North Macedonia and Belgrade, Serbia to detect and intercept high risk passengers in an effort to counter international organized crime and illicit drug trafficking and prevent terrorism.

In this context, UNODC conducted the first assessment mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, during which the UNODC project team met with the national authorities, i.e. Ministry of Security, Ministry of Communications and Transport, Indirect Taxation Authority, Border Police, Directorate for Coordination of Police Bodies, State Investigation and Protection Agency, Service for Foreigners' Affairs, and Directorate for Civil Aviation, to formally introduce the project and its objectives and discuss the coordination of activities. The UNODC project team also met with the Sarajevo Airport Authority and carried out a technical assessment of this airport.

The next step will be the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between UNODC and the national authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which will set the framework for the future implementation of the project.

The next assessment missions, to North Macedonia and Serbia, are planned to take place in March 2020.

This initiative is funded by the European Commission and will support the region in the implementation of the UN Conventions on drugs, crime  and terrorism, as well as the EU Acquis, notably the Chapters 23 and 24 addressing serious organized crime, rule of law, good governance and security.

For more information:

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

UNODC and FRONTEX step up cooperation in South Eastern Europe

17 January 2020, Warsaw, Poland: UNODC organized senior level consultations with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) on the future cooperation in South Eastern Europe in line with the UNODC  Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe (2020-2023). The consultations are directly following the overall strategy line of the UNODC - European Commission relations, which encourages a closer dialogue between the Office and relevant EU institutions.

The talks in Warsaw focused in particular on the potential cooperation in the area of border control, including in the context of the recently launched UNODC joint action promoting border control measures at ports and airports in the region of South Eastern Europe, which brings together the operations of two key UNODC global programmes - the Container Control Programme (CCP) and the Airport Communication Programme (AIRCOP). CCP has been present in the region since 2013 and AIRCOP is starting the work in South Eastern Europe as of 2020 through the mentioned action.

UNODC and FRONTEX agreed to step up coordination, exchange of information and mutual engagement into practical work in South Eastern Europe and beyond.

For further information about FRONTEX:  https://frontex.europa.eu/

For further information about the action: 

https://www.unodc.org/southeasterneurope/en/border-control-action-resources.html

 

View archive

 

 

and Montenegro discuss the next phase of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap