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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 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 Bosnian 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

 

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