SADC and UNODC sign Memorandum of Understanding for proposed joint SADC-UNODC Regional Programme on Promoting the Rule of Law and Security in Southern Africa

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have signed this April a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation on Crime Prevention and Drug Control. The Memorandum guides cooperation between SADC and UNODC on professional training, provision of expertise and technical assistance with regard to crime prevention and drug control initiatives in all SADC Member States.

Commenting on the significance of this signing, the Regional Representative of UNODC in Southern Africa, Mr Mandiaye Niang stated: "This Memorandum of Understanding marks the beginning of the development of a proposed five-year joint integrated Regional Programme. The overall objective of the Programme will be to support the efforts of SADC and its Member States to effectively address evolving national and regional threats posed by drugs and crime, and to promote the rule of law and security in the region." Mr. Niang highlighted that the Regional Programme will address three core areas:

(i) organised crime and illicit trafficking

(ii) criminal justice; and

(iii) drug prevention and treatment, and HIV prevention, treatment and care.

The Memorandum of Understanding, signed by the SADC Executive Secretary, Dr. Tomaz Augusto Salomão and the UNODC Executive Director, Mr. Yury Fedotov, was officially handed over during the recent SADC-UNODC Expert Group Meeting, held in Gaborone, Botswana, from 18 to 19 April.

Mandiaye Niang, UNODC Regional Representative, hands over the MoU to Tanki Mothae, Director of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs at SADC

While SADC Member States display differences in the level of development, political and economic stability, and socio-economic trends, they also share a number of challenges and threats. These include increasing levels of drug trafficking, drug abuse, as well as migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons, rising levels of corruption and violent crime, widespread violence against women and children, and challenges emanating from the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

These developments pose a severe challenge to institutional and economic resources, government capacity to prevent and counter related threats, the rule of law, as well as overall stability and security in the region. Due to the fact that these challenges and their effects are not contained within one country and are in their nature transnational, it is necessary to address them in a concerted regional effort.

SADC, as the key regional entity, has been noting with concern the escalation of crime at both national and transnational levels, and that increased easy access to free cross border movement enables offenders to escape arrest, prosecution, conviction and punishment. In order to eliminate this rising threat to the security of citizens, SADC stresses the urgency of integrating the activities of its Member States.

The UNODC, as the global leader in the fight against illicit drugs, transnational organised crime, migrant smuggling, human trafficking, terrorism and corruption, is ideally placed to provide support to the Member States with the promotion of the rule of law and human security in the region.

The official launch of the joint SADC-UNODC Regional Programme is envisaged for the fourth quarter of 2011.