West Africa is affected by a wide range of factors which makes it particularly vulnerable to the specific security challenges related to transnational organized crime (TOC), terrorism and corruption. Indeed, in recent years, the region has become increasingly an epicenter for illegal activities associated with drugs, firearms and human trafficking, but most importantly the centre for sub-regional conflicts which have significantly increased threats of terrorism.

In line with its mandate, UNODC Regional Office in Dakar supports the Member States and the regional institutions of the region in the fight against all forms of transnational crime and terrorism. In order to achieve results in this regard the new Regional Programme (RP) for West Africa (2016-2020) was launched along with the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan to Adress Illicit Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime and Drug Abuse in West Africa at the 71st General Assembly of the United Nations, and covers the fifteen ECOWAS Member States as well as Mauritania.

In one hand, the RP was made to support the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan, and importantly, the two documents are complementary and form a strong basis for 2016-2020 programming. During the decision-making process, representatives of the ECOWAS Commission, its Member States and Mauritania were deeply involved in the elaboration of the new RP in order to take into account all the issues encountered by the Member States. Thus, the aim of the RP is to support West African States in their fight against security challenges and current threats and trends by coordinating a response with regional organizations, institutions and national initiatives.

In another hand, the RP will serve as a framework for action to support Member States in achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as UNODC's mandates cover many key elements and will provide support to Member States in achieving progress in that direction for example in the goal 16 on access to justice, transparent and accountable institutions for all.

Indeed, the UNODC mandate is a very large one and encompasses a lot of issues that currently affect the region. For this reason, the RP is divided into five different pillars:

  1. Strengthening criminal justice systems,
  2. Preventing and countering transnational organized crime and illicit trafficking,
  3. Preventing and countering terrorism,
  4. Preventing and countering corruption,
  5. Improving drug and HIV prevention, treatment and care.

In addition to the five pillars, the RP also highlights five cross-cutting themes which are relevant and will be conducted under each pillar:

  • Research and trend analysis,
  • Legislative assistance,
  • Capacity-building,
  • Regional and international cooperation,
  • Engagement of civil society and the general public.

The RP is currently implemented through different programmes and projects managed by UNODC ROSEN, CONIG and the different thematic branches and sections based in UNODC Headquarters in Vienna.

Additional information:

Midterm report of the Regional Programme (published in Nov. 2018) - Also available in French

UNODC Regional Programme for West Africa (2016-2020) - Also available in  French and  Portuguese

Executive Director remarks at the launch of the Regional Programme for West Africa

ECOWAS Support Project

The Sahel Programme 

Launch of the new RP jointly with ECOWAS Regional Plan at the General Assembly in September 2016

Launch of the new RP in Dakar in January 2017