Countering the funding of violent extremism in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa

This activity was financed by Luxembourg and the United States of America

Violent extremism is a growing global challenge, especially in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. Weak governmental presence and low levels of security facilitate its spread, allowing groups to exert violence to achieve ideological, religious or political goals. Equipping governments in the region to counter the financing of such destabilizing activities is thus of paramount importance for the security of the region, and of the world at large.

To apprehend and better understand violent extremism and its funding sources, UNODC organized an interregional workshop for forty-two (42) representatives of twelve (12) countries of the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, in Dakar, Senegal, from 7 to 9 February 2017.

Practitioners of financial intelligence and law enforcement units gathered to share their respective experiences, present their national strategies to prevent and disrupt violent extremism and its funding, and explore avenues to enhance cooperation and information exchange. International experts also contributed to the debates by exploring the nexus between violent extremism, other forms of organized crime and terrorism. In addition, good governance, human rights and the role of civil society in preventing violent extremism were also discussed.

Group photo of the participants to the workshop

As the UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa, Pierre Lapaque, underlined in his opening remarks, preventing and countering violent extremism can only be successful via concerted action from all the international, regional and national stakeholders. This first workshop contributed to this goal, which will be further pursed through a follow-up interregional workshop set to take place in May 2017 in East Africa.

Through various working groups, participants highlighted the lack of legal or conventional definitions of these phenomena, despite the existence of institutional frameworks to address them. These, however, lack appropriate implementation, highlighting a need to support capacity building for relevant actors.

Given the porosity of borders in the Sahel and in the Horn Africa, and the predominance of cash, corruption, and illegal traffics generating funds (i.e. arms and drugs trafficking; smuggling of migrants), training efforts should focus on improving the management of crime scenes, tracking financial flows, and the use of new communication tools like social networks and cyber investigations.

This three-day workshop was organized by the  UNODC Global Programme against Money-Laundering, the Proceeds of Crime and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML) in the framework of the UNODC Sahel Programme, thanks to the funding of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

For more information:

UNODC Global Programme against Money-Laundering, the Proceeds of Crime and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML)

UNODC Sahel Programme

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL)

UNODC Contribution to the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS)