UNODC and United Nations peacekeeping forces team up to combat drugs and crime in conflict zones

UN Photo/Evan Schneider: Alain Le Roy (left) and Yury Fedotov shake hands after signing pact to fight organized crime in conflict areas Français / French

2 March 2011 - UNODC and the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations yesterday signed a joint plan of action to further strengthen their cooperation in the battle against drugs and organized crime in conflict and post-conflict zones and to proactively address threats to stability and security.

Speaking at the event, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said: "Development needs security to succeed. The United Nations must integrate responses to transnational organized crime, including criminal justice reform, into its peacekeeping, peacebuilding, security, development and disarmament activities. The UNODC-Department of Peacekeeping Operations joint plan of action is an important step in this direction."

Adding that the fight against drugs and organized crime was critical to the success of peacekeeping operations because criminals exploit regions weakened by war, Mr. Fedotov pointed out that UNODC and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations had mandates and comparative advantages that complemented each other and enhanced the impact of their efforts to strengthen peace and stability and support the United Nations security and development agenda.

Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said: "The Department of Peacekeeping Operations undertakes a wide variety of complex tasks to help countries torn by conflict to create the conditions for lasting peace, from helping to build sustainable institutions of governance to security sector reform and human rights monitoring. In order to strengthen these tasks, the organization seeks partners with comparative advantage in particular areas to help to push for national ownership and capacity development through provision of knowledge and expertise."

More specifically, the current partnership between UNODC and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in West Africa offers a successful model for integrated cooperation in other regions. In July 2010, the two organizations joined the Economic Community of West African States, the Department of Political Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations Office for West Africa and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) to establish the West Africa Coast Initiative to combat drug trafficking and transnational organized crime in the region. The initiative is aimed at strengthening national and regional capacities in West Africa in the areas of law enforcement, forensics, intelligence, border management and money-laundering and at strengthening criminal justice systems.

In other areas, UNODC and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations are increasing cooperation on security sector reform, while in Sudan they are working on criminal justice and prison reform.  UNODC will also lend its expert input to the development and implementation by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the concept of rapidly deployable prisons.

Under the new joint plan of action, the two bodies will cooperate in implementing specific activities based on common objectives, including the development of guidance materials and policy in such areas as criminal justice reform, prisons and management of correctional institutions in post-conflict settings; security sector reform; the strengthening of State mechanisms in dealing with criminal networks; trafficking in drugs and persons; and the fight against corruption and the plundering of natural resources.

They will also collaborate in offering training, including through e-learning where appropriate, using toolkits developed by UNODC in such areas as criminal justice training for law enforcement personnel (including police officers, investigators, prosecutors and judges, intelligence analysts and customs officials). UNODC will also support the programmes of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, such as those relating to the training of judicial officers for peacekeeping operations.

As guardian of the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols, UNODC will provide technical guidance for peacekeeping personnel on the implementation of those conventions. UNODC and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations will brief the Security Council on the link between international peace and security and organized crime.

"Our combined efforts to build peace and security to post-conflict regions will benefit women and men, families and children who now live in fear of becoming victims of drug traffickers and other criminals. Together, we can help build and restore communities that are safe, healthy and just", concluded Mr. Fedotov.