COVID 19: The G5 Sahel Platform for Security Cooperation goes online with UNODC support

17-04-2020

Despite the current public health emergency that has paralysed the global economy and forced millions of people to stay home, UNODC’s Sahel Programme, which works to strengthen criminal justice systems in the Sahel, has taken its operation online.

Undeterred by the spread of the pandemic, terrorist groups have continued to perpetrate attacks against armed forces and civilians in the Sahel. Thanks to a new and innovative approach to provide its security-related assistance online, UNODC is continuing to support the G5 Sahel countries to combat organised crime, terrorism and corruption in the region.

"Continuing and adapting our assistance in the Sahel is a priority as the health crisis is compounded by the security crisis,” said Alexia Taveau, UNODC Sahel Programme Coordinator. “Terrorist attacks and violence continue, while forces should be able to mobilize in response to COVID-19.”

The latest attacks include a raid on a military camp in Bamba in Mali on April 6th, another on the Burkina Faso military in Toeni on the night of March 31st, and an attack on the Chadian army by Boko Haram on 24th March 2020 that killed nearly 100 soldiers – one of the deadliest attacks on the Chadian army.

A planned regional meeting in March 2020 between the Security Cooperation Platforms (PCMS) of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, known as the G5 Sahel countries to discuss standardized models of information sharing had to be cancelled due to the COVID19 pandemic. The purpose of PCMS is to increase the exchange of police information and the production of criminal analysis.

With the coronavirus pandemic threatening further suffering in countries already experiencing conflict, UNODC offered to connect the representatives of the Security Cooperation Platforms (PCMS) of the five countries virtually, an initiative that was greeted by the G5 Sahel Regional Coordinator of the PCMS. 

“We have tested and proposed videoconferencing tools for the G5 Sahel: this enables us to continue work on criminal intelligence sharing, build trust between partners and strengthen their information and communication technology skills. Beyond these notable benefits, the environmental and economic cost of our support is also greatly reduced", explained Taveau.

UNODC & G5 Sahel PCMS online meeting during COVID 19 pandemic 

“Using videoconferencing is both innovative and relevant,” said Commissioner Adamou Moussou Nouhou, National Coordinator of the PCMS in Niger. “We are continuing to network between the PCMS of the G5 Sahel States and we are making progress in setting up a standardised information exchange system, while saving time: all this is done in one hour per week!”

The virtual meeting was recorded and then sent to PCMS that could not join.  This shift towards virtual assistance offers numerous advantages, including:

  • Cost efficiency for the G5 Sahel
  • Time saver for participants who do not have to take days off their primary duties
  • Low impact on environment (no flights and paperless events)
  • Possibility to exchange on a regular basis with counterparts from other countries and strengthen trust & cooperation
  • UNODC’s one-to-one tutorials on the use of these online platforms provides officers with new IT knowledge

This virtual assistance allows for short but frequent-regular meetings. In between meetings, participants have the time to reflect and come back with new ideas, which will allow -in time - the development of their own standardized model for information exchange that they will know how to use from the onset and that they will be able to explain to others.

This assistance is implemented as part of the Sahel Programme thanks to its partners and donors and contributes to SDGs 5 (Gender Equality), 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure), 12 (Responsible consumption and production), 13 (Climate action), 16 (Peace, justice and strong institutions) and 17 (Partnerships for the goals). UNODC coordinates its assistance with all relevant partners. INTERPOL is associated to these online meetings. 

For more information:

Regional workshop in Bamako on the intelligence system of the G5 Sahel