Organised crime threatens peace and human security, impedes human rights and undermines the economic, social, cultural, political and civil development of societies. Transnational organised crime, in particular illicit drug trafficking, relies on highly organised international logistical structures. It encroaches on national and regional borders, relying on well-established international criminal networks. Due to porous borders, weak state institutions and security, West Africa is increasingly being used by traffickers as a transit point for drugs from Latin America destined for European markets.

The challenges related to crime and drugs in West Africa are manifold, and many are transnational in nature. The threats posed by transnational organised crime, linked not only to the manufacture, trafficking and consumption of illicit drugs, but also to trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants, and environmental crimes, have been amplified by weak border controls and money laundering. The huge sums of money involved can undermine legitimate economies and have a direct impact on public processes by 'buying' elections through corruption. These scourges greatly benefit their perpetrators and translate into high risks for those who fall victim to them. Every year, countless people lose their lives to organised crime actors, succumbing to drug-related health problems or injuries from firearms. In other cases, the loss of life is due to terrorism.

In response to the regional integration process and the dynamics that characterize West and Central Africa, and in particular the Sahel, UNODC is working with Member States of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three Protocols. The three Protocols - on trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants, and trafficking in firearms - supplement the Convention by strengthening State responses to prevent and combat organized crime, both within national borders and at the regional and inter-regional levels.

For more information:

Overview of UNODC activities against transnational organized crime