Steering Committee reviews Regional Programme implementation

Regional Programme Steering Committe  
Steering Committee, SADC Secretariat and UNODC (Picture: UNODC)

Uneven economic development and high levels of social inequality act as drivers of organized crime in the Region. This coupled with signs that Africa is increasingly being used in the global drug trade presents a challenge to peace and security on the continent, and, subsequently in the Southern African Region.

Gaborone - Representatives from Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, SADC Secretariat and UNODC ROSAF came together on 23 November 2015 at the Headquarters of SADC to discuss the progress made in cooperation under the joint UNODC-SADC Regional programme 2013-2016 "Making the Southern African Region Safer from Drugs and Crime". The meeting served the purpose of an annual review meeting of the Regional Programme Steering Committee, which was established to oversee the implementation of the Regional Programme in accordance with regional priorities and to facilitate cooperation between UNODC, SADC Member states and the SADC Secretariat.

Since its launch in 2013, the Programme has been instrumental in consolidating UNODC assistance to address the gaps identified through situation analyses. The Programme has assisted SADC Member States in policy development and legislation review in line with international norms and standards, with capacity building of criminal justice practitioners, infrastructure development, and cross-border cooperation. The Human rights issues and social impact were in the centre of relevant assistance.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Nadir Izidine, Representative from Mozambique in its capacity as  Chair of the Troika of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, highlighted the SADC Member States' commitment to address regional challenges posed by illicit drugs and crime. The RP remains highly relevant to current developments in the Region and needs to be supported through additional resource mobilization.


UNODC Regional Programme Development

Having referred to the recent adoption of the new global Sustainable Development Agenda, Ms. Zhuldyz Akisheva, UNODC Regional Representative, emphasized the importance of regional cooperation, which should contribute to the global imperative to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies. In this regard, cooperation between UNODC and SADC member states, through the joint Regional Programme, becomes increasingly important as it is expected to bring about changes to the lives of people and communities in the SADC region.

The Deputy Executive Secretary - Regional Integration, Dr. Thembinkosi Mhlongo, emphasized regional development and highlighted the need for better regional cooperation in addressing transnational organized crime and emerging criminal activities (e.g. cybercrime, terrorism, smuggling of migrants, wildlife trafficking and poaching). Cross-border cooperation, together with stronger national capacities, rigorous anti-corruption measures and the involvement of the social dimension of the Justice system are critical for any possible success.

The meeting resulted in a number of recommendations to guide further implementation of the Regional Programme. It was agreed to recommend an extension of its duration until 2020. Moreover, cooperation among SADC Member States, SADC Secretariat and UNODC under the Regional Programme should support better integration of relevant work at:
•    National level - to ensure inter-agency cooperation and that key relevant national authorities are cooperating under the RP.
•    Regional level - to better integrate relevant regional initiatives of SADC, COMESA, AU and other cooperation institutions, as well as in UNODC across different programmes and offices.

Lastly, it was recommend to further explore the nexus between corruption and different types of crime, e.g. wildlife trafficking, to ensure integrated technical assistance to address relevant challenges, including through integrated border management.