West Africa strengthens fight against drug trafficking and transnational organized crime

The Fourth Meeting of the Programme Advisory Committee meeting (PROCOM) and the High Political Committee (POLCOM) of the West African Coast Initiative (WACI) were held on 4 and 5 December 2017 in Grand Bassam, Côte d'Ivoire. The POLCOM was chaired by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, while the PROCOM was chaired by the UNODC Regional Representative of the Regional Office for West and Central Africa (ROSEN), Mr. Pierre Lapaque.

The PROCOM and POLCOM gathered Ministers and high-level representatives of WACI Member States (Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Conakry), WACI implementing partners, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Division for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWAS/DPA) and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), as well as the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Mano River Union (MRU), African Union and WACI donors, including the United States Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (US INL).

In his speech during the WACI POLCOM, Mr. Ibn Chambas underlined "the strategic position of the West Africa Coast Initiative as a tool in support of the implementation of the ECOWAS Action Plan." "Beyond the political commitment, and in order to ensure sustainability, it is imperative for the WACI programmatic structures and the ECOWAS Commission to consolidate their operational links," he said.

Participants during the POLCOM meeting

Moreover, during the WACI PROCOM, Mr. Pierre Lapaque stated that "WACI serves as an operational response to the growing challenges posed by organized crime and drug trafficking, which is of serious concern to the international community in general and in West Africa in particular.

During the meetings, the participants reviewed the achievements obtained so far by the Transnational Organized Crime Units (TCUs) established in the framework of WACI in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea Bissau and Cote d'Ivoire. Results include 789 investigations, 630 persons prosecuted, 12 tons of hashish, 40 tons of marijuana, 215 kg of cocaine, 33 kg of heroin, 4 tons of pangolin scales and 40 tons of counterfeit medicines seized. They encouraged countries to invest in the mobilization of funds through national funding mechanisms for a sustainable operationalization of TCUs and to align the WACI objectives with the ECOWAS 2016-2020 Action Plan for harmonized responses at national, regional and international levels. A series of recommendations on the future operational and strategic priorities for WACI implementation beyond 2017 were drafted and adopted by the POLCOM.

WACI Member States are committed to work together to better address the growing security threats in West Africa. The meetings considered the possibility of opening WACI to other countries to foster a regional response to cross-border organized crime. In light of this and the programme's extension beyond 2017, the meetings called for a sustained commitment of regional actors and wider international support in continuing the efforts made by the WACI programme.

For more information:

UNODC and WACI in West and Central Africa