UNODC strengthens regional cooperation in the fight against the smuggling of migrants

    This activity was funded by the European Union

Smuggling of migrants is a form of transnational organized crime severely affecting the Sahel and North Africa. Mali, Morocco and Niger are particularly concerned by this phenomenon.  In recent years, smuggling of migrants networks have developed and have become more complex, targeting vulnerable populations and using extreme forms of violence and ill-treatment, ultimately endangering human life in total contradiction with existing international conventions.

Actively engaged against these threats, regional institutions and governments in West and North Africa have initiated policies and actions to combat the smuggling of migrants. The States of Mali, Morocco and Niger are parties to the United Nations Convention against Organized Crime and its Additional Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air; considerable progress has since been made in the transposition and implementation into national law of the obligations arising from these texts.

With a view to strengthening that momentum, UNODC organized a subregional workshop in Niamey from 16 to 18 April 2018, bringing together 32 representatives of the national authorities of Mali, Morocco and Niger responsible for combating that phenomenon, including 10 women.

        participants of the Forum
Participants during the workshop

The opening ceremony was attended by the Director of the Cabinet of the Minister of Justice of Niger, as well as representatives of the Malian and Moroccan delegations, the European Union in Niger and UNODC. Addressing the participants, Mr Chaibou Mamane, Chief of Staff of the Minister of Justice of Niger, stressed the importance of increased coordination and cooperation between the three States in order to provide a coherent, effective and sustainable response to these destabilizing elements.


During the meeting, each delegation presented the major advances and challenges encountered in the establishment and strengthening of national structures designed to fight smuggling of migrants. This exchange of experiences and good practices was supplemented over two days by a practical exercise based on the Glauco case, relating to the 2013 shipwreck that killed 366 migrants off the coast of Lampedusa. Conducted on a pilot basis for the first time in French, this exercise (based on a real case) allowed participants to work on techniques for identifying and dismantling a criminal network of smugglers, but also to present the  Sherloc platform, a database on legislation and case law in the fight against transnational organized crime.

In small groups, the participants looked at numerous transcripts of telephone tapping of smugglers and interviews of migrant survivors in order to identify elements that would allow progress in the investigation. This case study was a great success with the participants and showed the importance of transnational cooperation in this field, and of an approach combining security, justice and respect for migrants' rights. Finally, a set of recommendations was adopted by each delegation at the end of the discussions, which will serve as a basis for organizing a future follow up subregional meeting.

This meeting is part of the the Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants ( GLO.ACT), a four-year (2015-2019), €11 million joint initiative by the European Union and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The project is being implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and reaches thirteen countries across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America

For more information:

GLO.ACT (anglais)

United Nations Convention against Organized Crime and the Protocols Thereto

International Organization for Migration