As the global economy becomes increasingly interconnected, opportunities for trade are everywhere. Shipping lanes are the superhighways of international commerce; more than 750 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) are transported by sea every year, accounting for 90 percent of global cargo trade. If on the one hand, this presents opportunities for governments and legitimate businesses, on the other hand it facilitates illicit activities as the transport of legal goods used for money laundering, illicit drugs and even weapons and materials for weapons of mass destruction by terrorists and transnational organized crime groups.

These actors benefit from the sheer amount of good shipped each year renders effective control of the shipped goods extremely difficult, less than two percent of shipping containers are ever screened. The detection of illicit products is made even greater by the proliferation of sophisticated concealment measures, and is enabled by corruption, limited resources, complex and diverse port processes and systems and a lack of trust and coordination between state agencies and actors in the private sector. This situation poses serious threats to international security, the global supply chain and sustainable development. 


In this context, the UNODC, in collaboration with the World Customs Organization (WCO), developed the Container Control Programme (CCP).

The Container Control Programme (CCP) assists countries that seek to improve risk management, supply chain security, trade facilitation in seaports aims at enhancing the technical capacity of border customs and other law enforcement officers. in c ountries that seek to improve risk management, supply chain security and trade facilitation in seaports in order to combat illicit trafficking.

Faced with such a complex and globalized problem, the CCP embraces a nuanced, holistic and multi-sectoral approach by providing continuous monitoring and oversight, offerin g a plethora of context-specific training programmes and strengthening cooperation between state agencies and with the private sector. The mission of the CCP is to build capacity in Member States seeking to improve risk management, supply chain security and trade facilitation in seaports.   

Recognizing the valuable contributions that women make in the law enforcement setting, the CCP has taken steps to address gender disparities at every stage of project implementation. In order to more actively promote women's roles in CCP and to work towards gender equality in the law enforcement profession, the CCP Women's Network was established in August 2015 (see newsletters).               


CCP in West Africa

In West Africa, the CCP has established PCUs in the ports of Cotonou (Benin), Dakar (Senegal), Lome (Togo) and Tema (Ghana). In recent years, the main focus of the CCP's in the region has been on fisheries crime. Fisheries crime is an ill-defined legal concept referring to crimes committed along the fisheries value chain - including, among others, document fraud, drug trafficking and money laundering.    [1] Because of the typically lenient penalties, high profits and lack of cross-border law enforcement cooperation, transnational organized crime groups are increasingly involved in these activities.

The CCP in West Africa aims at enhancing the knowledge of frontline level officers on how to detect and deter fisheries crime in the containerised trade supply chain. Trained agencies are now working together to tackle this challenge and the private sector and local communities working in the ports are also aware of the negative effects and are cooperating with the fisheries departments and law enforcement officers in the CCP units.    

Since the implementation of the CCP, established Units around the world have recorded impressive seizures. In West Africa, the PCUs have seized more than 2 tonnes of cocaine, 127.4 kg of heroin, 97 kg of methamphetamine, 350 kg of psychoactive substances, more than 156 tonnes of tramadol, 23109 kg and 13200 boxes of other medicines (counterfeit or without license), 4.5 tonnes of illegal goods relating to wildlife, 1 container of cultural goods, more than 200 tonnes of counterfeit cigarettes, more than 120 stolen vehicles, more than 50 tonnes of damaged food products, 4 containers of miscellaneous infractions, 22 tonnes of other infractions and many shipments relating to fiscal fraud.


[1] 'Fisheries Crime', UNODC Website, <>.


 Additional Information

UNODC-WCO Global Container Control Programme

Women's Network newsletter July 2019

Women's Network newsletter March 2019

Women's Network newsletter November 2018

Women's Network newsletter August 2018

Women's Network newsletter March 2018

Women's Network newsletter November 2017