Monsieur le Ministre et Président du Conseil,
Excellences, Mesdames et Messieurs membres du Conseil,
Je vous remercie de l’opportunité qui m’est offerte d’intervenir auprès du Conseil. Je tiens à remercier la Présidence gabonaise pour son invitation et à saluer son engagement dans la lutte contre le braconnage, contre le trafic de ressources naturelles ainsi que la protection de l’environnement. Et également pour être l’un des premiers pays d’Afrique à promouvoir les échanges de crédits carbone.
Monsieur le Président,
La menace que représente le terrorisme et le crime organisé s’installe durablement en Afrique.
On dénombre 3,500 victimes d’actes de terrorisme l’année dernière en Afrique subsaharienne, soit près de la moitié des victimes à l’échelle mondiale.
Le Sahel en particulier subit les assauts de groupes terroristes parmi les plus actifs et les plus meurtriers du monde, tant en attaque qu’en stratégie de recrutement.
Le Conseil de sécurité a exprimé à maintes reprises son inquiétude face au fléau du terrorisme, des activités des groupes armés et des réseaux criminels qui déstabilisent l’Afrique et tirent profit des ressources naturelles du continent.
Il est essentiel de mieux appréhender les liens entre criminalité organisée et terrorisme en Afrique par une collecte rigoureuse de données et de preuves, ainsi que le développement de programmes et politiques idoines.
Il est prouvé que l’exploitation illégale des minerais tels que l’or, l’argent et les diamants offrent aux groupes armés, aux groupes rebels et aux terroristes des sources de revenus importants.
Les produits de ces trafics peuvent en outre profiter aux groupes armés qui contrôlent les territoires d’extraction ou les routes de trafic.
Ces sources de revenus, également obtenus par extorsion ou l’imposition illégale de taxes sur les populations, permettent à ces groupes d’acquérir des armes et toutes autres commodités visant à pérenniser leurs mainmises sur les territoires et zones de conflits.
L’accès stratégique et lucratif aux routes de trafic est également un enjeu de pouvoir entre groupes armés.
UNODC works with Member States to prevent and respond to crimes that threaten the environment, including wildlife, forest and fisheries crimes, illegal mining, and trafficking in precious metals and waste.
From 2019 to 2021, UNODC conducted research into the illicit trafficking of minerals into bordering areas of Gabon, Cameroon and Congo -- known as the TRIDOM area -- and Chad and the Central African Republic, as a source of funding for terrorist groups in the region.
Based on the outcomes of this research, we established that illegally mined gold and other precious metals are being fed into the legitimate market, providing huge profits for traffickers.
In late 2020, UNODC and INTERPOL coordinated a firearms operation that seized 40 thousand sticks of dynamite and detonator cords. They were intended for illegal gold mining for armed terrorist groups in the Sahel.
Wildlife trafficking has also been reported as a possible source of funding for armed groups.
The illegal trade in ivory alone generates $400 million in illicit income each year.
With a population of around 1.3 billion, almost 500 million Africans were living in extreme poverty last year.
This criminal exploitation strips the people of Africa of a significant source of revenue.
It robs the millions of people who depend on these natural resources for their livelihoods.
And it fuels conflicts and exacerbates instability.
The climate emergency and the COVID-19 pandemic have wreaked havoc on already fragile economies.
The illicit trafficking of natural resources further jeopardizes development and winds back progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.
And it severely undermines Agenda 2063.
It is clear: there can be no sustainable development without peace and stability. And there will be no peace and security without sustainable development.
Our work goes far beyond border seizures.
UNODC is the guardian of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the main international instrument in the fight against such crimes.
We support member countries to put in place the policies, legislation, and operational responses required to better address terrorist threats. And we work closely with our African counterparts to strengthen their capacity to investigate and prosecute crimes that affect the environment.
In 2021 alone, we implemented twenty-five counter-terrorism projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, with over 160 activities delivered, and trained 2,500 people.
As part of the efforts to combat terrorism in the Sahel, we are currently organising training workshops with The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, to strengthen the understanding and skills of criminal justice officials to work across agencies, share intelligence and information, and bring down terrorist networks and those who fund them.
UNODC also supports ten Member States across Sub-Saharan Africa to improve their frameworks to counter terrorist financing and money laundering – including in the Central African Republic, Chad, the DRC, Niger, and Somalia.
Under our ‘West Africa Counterterrorism Financing Initiative’, we support countries to implement national asset freezing mechanisms.
This has already led to the first designations on a national sanctions list. This year, six nationals operating in the gold sector were designated under UNSCR 1373 – to prevent the financing of terrorist acts.
We also work to strengthen inter-agency coordination among intelligence services, law enforcement, financial intelligence units and prosecutors. And promote the financial investigation of natural resources and wildlife trafficking.
We build partnerships between the private sector, including the companies involved in the mineral supply chains, public and civil society stakeholders. And help to improve understanding of national and cross-border illicit financial flows related to mineral crimes.
In a similar vein, our environment team runs specialised workshops and training for magistrates, law enforcement officers, and wildlife forensic experts, engaged in the fight against environmental crime to promote a coordinated and holistic response.
In the Central African region, we are also rolling out an EU-funded, six million Euro project on wildlife trafficking and illegal exploitation of natural resources to support the Economic Community of Central African States.
It promotes improved national and regional cooperation and response to wildlife and timber trafficking. And a better understanding of illegal mining and trafficking in precious metals.
UNODC’s wildlife and timber trafficking programmes address the cross-border theft of natural resources. The focus is to increase the prevention, investigations, and prosecutions of trafficking of these natural resources.
Distinguished Council Members,
In Africa, conflict zones are disproportionately affected by illegal mining and trafficking in precious metals.
Mineral supply chains are often linked to child abuse, human trafficking, forced labour and other human rights violations.
With 60 percent of Africa’s population under 25 years of age, young people are both the future of the continent but also its most vulnerable citizens.
But we also know that when empowered, young people are powerful agents of change.
They can create a better future and advocate on behalf of themselves and their communities and protect their natural resources.
I am especially proud of UNODC’s youth-driven, Peace-building project. In partnership with UNESCO, we are empowering Youth to become ‘weavers of peace’ in the cross-border regions of Gabon, Cameroon, and Chad.
The aim is to create a network of 1,800 young ‘weavers of peace’. To enable them to become actors in conflict prevention and peace-building in cross-border regions, and identify alternative livelihoods for cross-border communities.
Distinguished Council Members,
UNODC remains fully engaged to support Africa’s fight against the criminal trade in wildlife and natural resources.
And I welcome the attention of this Council to the growing concerns that these illicit revenues are financing terrorist activities and armed groups.
We stand ready to assist the people of Africa in their right to peace, stability, justice and prosperity -- for today and future generations.
Leaving no money for terrorists.
Leaving no one behind.