UNODC in Central Africa

The Central African region has enormous opportunities for economic and social development.  Yet, several internal and external conflicts and crises have plagued the region during the last decades. They have left a political legacy of fragile -and often contested- state authority, and have thus created a conducive environment for transnational organised crime (TOC), terrorism and corruption to thrive.

Disputed borders have been a source of tensions between countries and between local communities, and the absence of state authorities along many of them has facilitated the development of various forms of illicit trafficking. Those include wildlife, forest and natural resources related crime; drugs and arms trafficking; piracy and maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea; armed groups such as the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and Boko Haram have proliferated. The latter movement, which operates primarily in and from Nigeria, is considered a serious threat especially to neighbouring Cameroon and Chad.

Furthermore, changes in climate conditions and uncontrolled demographic growth in the region are impacting the seasonal moves of transhumant pastoralists, which in turn are leading to increased tensions with other social groups, increased food insecurity and higher levels of internal displacement that inevitably spark further insecurity and instability in the region.

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In 2015, UNODC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Secretariat of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to establish a basis for UNODC assistance to ECCAS in UNODC mandated areas.  ECCAS consists of Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe.  The MoU represents a milestone for increasing UNODC's technical assistance to Members States in the region.  It acknowledges the broader nature of Central Africa's challenges and understanding that maintaining peace, security and stability is an essential condition for economic and social development.

UNODC has been providing technical assistance to the region out of its headquarters in Vienna, its regional offices for West and Central Africa, for Eastern Africa, and for Southern African, and its project offices in Gabon and CAR. The opening of the latter two in 2018 reflects UNODC's ambition to step up its support to Member States in the region, allowing a more structured and closer cooperation with ECCAS Member States. 

The regional project office in Libreville, Gabon, is supporting the criminal justice response to illicit trafficking in natural resources, with a focus on those border areas that have turned out to be the most vulnerable to wildlife and forest crime. 

The project office in Bangui supports the CAR Special Criminal Court in the design and implementation of its victim and witness protection programme, and its legal aid programme. UNODC has provided support in other mandated areas through different projects or programmes such as, among others, the Airport Communication Programme in Cameroon; the Sahel Programme in Chad; the operationalisation of Great Lake Judicial Cooperation Network; its programmes against illicit trafficking of firearms; its secretariat services for the UN Convention against Corruption etc.

Moreover, to address the urgent need to strengthen peace, security, stability and rule of law in the region, UNODC is developing a holistic Regional Programme for Central Africa that will provide a strategic framework for UNODC's work in the region by highlighting a set of priorities and operational responses for the period 2019-2023, while offering at the same time sufficient flexibility to adapt to the specific needs of every State and/or sub-region.

Additional Information

The Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit