First Steering Committee meeting of the UNODC Regional Programme for West Africa    

Following the launch of the United Nations Office against Drug and Crime (UNODC) Regional Programme for West Africa in January 2017, the Steering Committee met in Dakar on November 28-29, 2017 to reflect on its implementation. 

Developed in 2016, the Regional Programme was approved by the Economic Community of States of West Africa (ECOWAS) and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania during a meeting in May 2016. It was conceived to support the ECOWAS 2016-2020 Action Plan on Illicit trafficking, organized crime related to it and drug abuse in West Africa. Those two documents were jointly launched by UNODC and the ECOWAS Commission on 19 September 2016, in New York, on the margins of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Participants during the opening speech of M. Pierre Lapaque

The Steering Committee meeting marks a major step, one year after the adoption of the new Regional Programme. For two days, the meeting gathered 42 experts (including 13 women) from ECOWAS together with representatives from the Ministries of Interior, Health and Justice of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania but also Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo to discuss and debate with UNODC and United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel ( UNOWAS) experts on projects implemented, good practices and future directions of the Regional Programme. With the constantly evolving political, security and political context, it is necessary to assess the relevance of the priorities settled in 2016 and readjust them.

During the opening ceremony of the meeting, M. Pierre Lapaque, UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa recalled that the Regional Programme is " a comprehensive and coordinated response that we offer alongside the governments of those countries against transnational threats affecting the region".

Then, presenting UNODC continental approach, Mrs. Chérine Rahmy, Head of UNODC Africa and Middle East Section stated that " under the auspices of Regional programmes, expenses from Africa and Middle East projects reached 80 millions USD in 2016 and are expected to exceed 85 millions USD in 2017."

Participants during the plenary session

Indeed, the Regional Programme actively contributes to the new Sustainable Development Goals', in particular targets 3 and 16.

- Target 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

- Target 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

On day one, M. Osvaldo Borgues, President of Cabo Verde National Statistics Institute, underlined the importance of data gathering and the production of statistics in the implementation and follow-up of SDG 16 in Cabo Verde. For each SDGs indicator, accurate data are needed to facilitate the adoption of effective and accurate policies.

The floor was then given to countries' representatives who alternatively made a short presentation on tangible results at the national level as well as efforts that still need to be made regarding the Regional Programme's five pillars.

Wishing to strengthen partnerships established since the development of the Regional Programme, those presentations have allowed UNODC to better perceive national priorities, readjust the implementation of the Programme and improve the coordination between all stakeholders.

Lastly, divided into working groups on day two, participants exchanged on trends and threats identified by UNODC. These ones generally matched with the national priorities of the countries of the region. Mainly, terrorism and transnational organized crime remains security challenges for the countries. Besides that, cybercrime was identified as a growing threat for the region as well as the overuse of tramadol that causes a real health problem among the populations. Concrete recommendations to address these threats were taken during the last plenary session to show the willingness of UNODC and its partners to adapt to a constantly evolving environment, and provide an integrated, sustainable response to the threats identified in the region.

The UNODC Regional Programme is implemented through several UNODC global programmes  such as AIRCOP or the Global Programme on maritime crime and piracy but also through regional programmes based in the region like the ECOWAS Support project and the Sahel Programme. UNODC would like to thank Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States for their common and constant efforts that allow UNODC to achieve results within the framework of the Regional Programme for West Africa.

For further information:

UNODC Regional Programme for West Africa (2016-2020) - ( French; Portuguese)