Towards a criminal intelligence system for the G5 Sahel

This actvity was financed by the Federal Republic of Germany

December 2019 - The recent attacks perpetrated in Inates (December 2019) and Chinagoder (January 2020) that cost the lives of 71 and 89 Nigerien soldiers respectively, show that the Sahel region is experiencing an unprecedented deterioration in its security situation. These attacks perpetrated by armed terrorist groups are more and more frequent and constitute a serious threat to which the G5 Sahel States are trying to combat. In this context, criminal intelligence appears to be a central tool in solving the challenges linked to terrorism and transnational organized crime in the region.

Effective criminal intelligence can facilitate the thwarting of terrorist attacks or the identification of criminal networks. Moustapha Mouzouni, international expert of the UNODC, affirms that the information gathered, as part of this intelligence, is not only essential " to guide the military operations of the G5 Sahel Joint Force", but also " to ensure effective judicialization of cases to the court". The G5 Sahel's strategy must therefore be based on a strong intelligence culture.  Although the G5 Sahel has taken steps in this direction, with the creation of the Plateforme de Coopération en Matière de Sécurité (PCMS), the sharing, collection and exploitation of the information between the countries of the Sahel States remain embryonic, thus preventing the G5 Sahel from having an operational and effective criminal intelligence system.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) organized, in partnership with INTERPOL, a workshop at the Ecole de Maintien de la Paix of Bamako (Mali) from 10 to 12 December, on strengthening the criminal intelligence system of the G5 Sahel.

The opening ceremony was moderated by the representative of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, the representative of the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Mali, the G5-Sahel Focal Point in Mali, and the Director of the Peacekeeping School. The workshop brought together 60 participants, including eight women, mainly from Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad, representing the G5 Sahel structures (PCMS, Police Component of the G5 Sahel) and the intelligence services of the G5 Sahel Member States (including counter-terrorism intelligence, central office for the suppression of illicit drug-trafficking and National Central Bureau). Criminal intelligence experts and technical and financial partners also took part in this activity.

The main objectives of this event were to strengthen the intelligence system of the structures of the G5 Sahel, in order to harmonize the way they exchange information and to strengthen knowledge of tools and models with regards to criminal intelligence.

During the three days of work, for the first time, the participants drew up a map of the criminal intelligence system of their respective States, which highlighted the existence, in one form or another, of criminal intelligence services in each State of the G5 Sahel. This mapping also highlighted the challenges faced by the G5 Sahel States. Indeed, it emerged from the exchanges between the participants that there are no common standards for the collection and sharing of information, some G5 Sahel States do not have prison intelligence services, others still struggle to make the sharing of information systematic between the various internal services. Finally, the information exchange circuit between the structures of the G5 Sahel was discussed, which made it possible to agree on the importance of the PCMS, as a key actor in intelligence, and of the Police Component, which must be able to supply the Joint Force and the other G5 actors with information.

International experts have largely contributed to this reflection. INTERPOL introduced its I-24/7 system, which remains the most commonly used system to exchange information within the G5 Sahel countries. This workshop was also an opportunity to present the integrated UNODC "GO Case" management software, the SINAS software developed by UNODC to exchange information on arms trafficking, as well as the Airport Communication Programme (AIRCOP) of UNODC which encourages the sharing of information in real time between Anti-Trafficking Airport Units (CAATs). This workshop ended with a reminder of the importance of having female personnel in the criminal intelligence services as a strategic and operational advantage, as it undoubtedly improves relations and confidence with local populations and allows easier access to information.


The high quality of the discussions made it possible to adopt important recommendations to lay the foundations for the strengthening of the G5 Sahel's criminal intelligence system. These recommendations called for further reflection through the organization of a meeting on the standardization of the information within the security structures of the G5 Sahel, in order to develop standard frameworks for the exchange of information.

This workshop was organized thanks to the financial support of the Federal Republic of Germany, as part of the UNODC Sahel Program. Through the Sahel Program, the UNODC intends to promote, within the law enforcement agencies of the G5 Sahel States, the culture of intelligence gathering and information sharing between the different law enforcement agencies, at a national level as well as between countries of origin, transit and destination of terrorists and criminal networks.

Support for the G5 Sahel is provided through close cooperation with United Nations agencies and other partners (OHCHR, European Union, Interpol, GIZ, etc.).  This support is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in particular by contributing to the achievement of Goal 16, which aims to "support, notably in the framework of international cooperation, the national institutions responsible for strengthening; all levels, the means to prevent violence and to fight terrorism and crime, especially in developing countries".  

For more information:

UNODC Sahel Programme

G5 Sahel