Drugs and crime threat mobilizes international support for West Africa Coast Initiative

UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov (UN Photo/JC McIlwaine)22 May 2014 - Donor representatives and high-level officials, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov have gathered in New York to renew their support for the West African region through the West Africa Coast Initiative (WACI).

In a statement to participants, the Secretary-General underscored: "The United Nations supports the efforts of ECOWAS and its Member States through the Regional Action Plan. I commend the WACI countries' engagement and the international donor partners' support."

Mr. Fedotov, in his remarks, said: "We simply cannot afford to stand by while drugs, crime, corruption and terrorism devastate this already vulnerable region, and threaten international peace and security."

Drugs, crime and terrorism represent some of the greatest threats to security and development in West Africa. Illicit drugs, including heroin and cocaine, are heavily trafficked in the region. Around 33 tonnes of cocaine flowed through West Africa in 2010 and 18 tonnes were shipped to Europe, for an estimated value of $1.25 billion.

Local manufacture of methamphetamines is booming with 1,250 kg of amphetamines seized in Côte d'Ivoire in 2013, and 227 kg seized in Nigeria between June 2012 and July 2013. The growth in illicit drugs is also fuelling public health and safety concerns, and HIV infections among injecting drug users appear to be increasing.

Conference participants heard that the WACI strategy had been revised to build far greater connectivity among transnational crime units (TCUs) in West Africa.

The high-level donor event was attended by ministers and representatives of Member States who made interventions supporting the initiative. Keynote speakers included Herve Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Said Djinnit, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the head of the UN Office for West Africa, and Fatimata Dia Sow, Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). New pledges to the WACI were announced.

WACI was launched in 2009 by UNODC, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Political Affairs/UN Office for West Africa and INTERPOL. It is designed to support the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and its Member States, as well as assist national and regional efforts in tackling the threats of drugs, crime and terrorism.

Further information:

Drug trafficking in West Africa: an overview

The West Africa Coast Initiative

Transnational Organized Crime in West Africa: A Threat Assessment