Director General/Executive Director
Distinguished members of the Council,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I thank the Council for this opportunity to discuss how the UN Office on Drugs and Crime is supporting the G5 Sahel countries to work together for security, stability and sustainable development.
UNODC is proud to be a trusted partner of the G5 Sahel since its inception, namely through our programme contributing to the UN Integrated Regional Strategy for the Sahel.
The UNODC Sahel Programme is focused on enhancing the accessibility, efficiency and accountability of criminal justice systems to counter drug trafficking, as well as other forms of trafficking and organized crime, terrorism and corruption.
This responds directly to the security and governance objectives set forth in the Regional Integrated Strategy, and is implemented with neighbouring Maghreb countries, namely Algeria and Morocco.
UNODC puts great stock in our strategic partnership with the G5 Sahel, and this remains a top priority of our work in the field.
In 2017, the G5 Sahel Permanent Secretariat and Member States requested that UNODC support development of a Police Component for the Joint Force, to promote transparent, efficient and accountable judicial proceedings in the fight against organized crime and terrorism.
Working with our G5 Sahel partners, as well as with other countries and international organizations, we held consultations resulting in the agreement of a conceptual and organizational framework, as well as principles for operationalizing the Police Component.
As a result, investigative units have been established across the region.
UNODC has held numerous training workshops for the military, law enforcement and the judiciary, to strengthen coordination between the Joint Force and G5 Sahel criminal justice systems, safeguard human rights and prevent violations.
The G5 Sahel countries have achieved some notable results with UNODC support, addressing regional judicial cooperation and mutual legal assistance; firearms marking; investigation of terrorism financing; illicit trafficking at airports; and the resolution of backlogged cases involving terrorism suspects in overdue pre-trial detention.
These results were made possible thanks to support from the governments of Germany, Japan, the United States, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, France and the EU.
Our G5 Sahel partners deserve a great deal of credit for their commitment to advance efforts through the Joint Force in a fragile security environment.
Looking forward, in view of the Burkina Faso presidency of the G5 Sahel, UNODC seeks to further develop its support to the country and its neighbours.
Nonetheless, we must be clear: many daunting challenges remain.
There are three areas where we urgently require Member State support to implement the Police Component of the Joint Force.
Firstly, in the field of forensics, we need to provide equipment and training for law enforcement officers on crime scene investigation, addressing in particular evidence gathered by military personnel.
Secondly, we need support to further promote integrity measures within the Joint Force and national justice systems, with the ultimate objective of reinforcing trust between people and their defence and security forces.
Thirdly, we need to increase support to integrate women in the security structures of the G5 Member States, and do more to enable and highlight the contributions of women in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime in the Sahel.
The Police Component of the Joint Force of the G5 Sahel recognizes that in order to be sustainable and effective, security responses must respect human rights and promote justice.
It represents an important and innovative mechanism to combat terrorism and transnational organized crime, and at the same time restore trust.
Strengthening the Sahel will also help prevent the spread of violence and illicit trafficking to and from countries in the Gulf of Guinea.
I am grateful to this Council for bringing attention to the challenges we face in achieving these important objectives.
Predictable funding and the determined engagement of the G5 Sahel and the international community remain prerequisites for effective action.
UNODC is committed to working with all our partners to strengthen governance, security and development, towards a safer, healthier and more prosperous Sahel.