In order to respond to the challenges linked to transnational organized crime and terrorism in the region, UNODC works closely with the Sahel states to facilitate efficient and effective regional cooperation.
Regional Cooperation in the Sahel
- The G5 Sahel Security Cooperation Platform (PCMS)
The Security Cooperation Platform (PCMS) is a regional security cooperation mechanism between the five states of the G5 Sahel. It is an integral part of the Permanent Secretary of the G5 Sahel and was created following the declaration of the first Conference of the ministers of the interior of the G5 Sahel states (21 May 2014). Its founding text was adopted by the heads of state of the G5 countries during an organizational summit held in N'Djamena in November 2015.
The objective of the platform is to reinforce operational cooperation between law enforcement services (ie. Police, gendarmerie, customs, interior intelligence services etc.) of the five Sahelian states to fight more effectively "against all threats that weigh on the region, in particular terrorism, transnational organized crime, drug trafficking, banditry and other serious forms of organized crime". In order to attain this objective, the PCMS has as its mandate to facilitate the exchange of operational intelligence between the security services of the five states. It can also judge, given the information at its disposition, the need for assistance to bilateral or multilateral joint operations and bring support to coordinate this type of operation.
The PCMS falls under the Defense and Security expert of the G5 Sahel an dis led by a regional coordinator. It is made up of a regional coordination unit (called the "regional platform"), based in Nouakchott, and of five national coordination units (called "national platforms") that are situated in each of the five capitals of the G5 States. These have the principle mission of collecting information from the different law enforcement services and their respective countries and to ensure the smooth functioning of transmission with the regional platform in Nouakchott. This platform has as its function to facilitate exchange of information between the national platforms and to function to facilitate information exchanges between the national platfrom while centralizing and analyzing the information received from the five countries.
Since its creation, UNODC has provided substantial support to the operationalization of the PCMS. This is materialized notably through legal assistance (redaction of legal texts related to the platform) and material provisions (renovation of the premises housing the national platforms and the provision of office materials and computer equipment as well as internet connection and a secure communication software. Moreover, UNODC, in collaboration with the G5 Sahel, ensured the implementation of a number of specialized trainings - led at the national and regional level, bringing together representatives of the PCMS as well as security and justice services in the five countries - on diverse themes ("traffic of narcotics", "comprehension and analysis of the jihadist doctrine", "economic and financial criminality", "cybercriminality") with a focus on the collection, the sharing and the analysis of criminal intelligence, the main function of the PCMS agents. Beyond specialized training activities, tutorships were led by UNODC within the national platforms in order to train their personnel on the regional cooperation mechanisms and the exchange of information.
At the end of the first expert meeting, organized jointly by the G5 Sahel and UNODC in Nouakchott in November 2016, and aiming to define the modes of operation of the PCMS, a series of conclusions and recommendations were expressed. These served as a base definition for the plan of action of UNODC for the full operationalization of the structure, approved in February 2017 by the Council of Ministers of Defense and Security of the G5 Sahel.
The Joint Force of the G5 Sahel and its Police Component
The initiative of the implementation of the Joint Force of the G5 Sahel (FC-G5S) was announced by the heads of state of the G5 Sahel during an organizational summit in N'Djamena in November 2015. Officially launched in February 2017, the force institutionalizes military cooperation between the Sahel states, initiated beginning at the end of 2013, in the framework of the Military partnership for cross-border partnership (PCMT) with the support of operation Barkhane. The concept of operational strategies (CONOPS) of the FC-G5S - elaborated by the Security and Defense Committee of the G5 Sahel, recognized by the Security Council of the United Nations in the Resolution 2359 (2017) and approved by the African Union's Peace and Security Council during its 679th reunion (13 April 2017) - divides the Sahel space into three distinct operational zones :
- A western Zone of operation (Mauritania and Mali) where two battalions will be deployed;
- A central zone of operation (Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger), the zone most sensitive to and implicated in the counter-terrorism fight, where three battalions will operate;
- An eastern zone of operation (Chad and Niger) with two battalions at its disposal
Each batallion (seven total) will employ 5,000 people. Each zone will include its own command post (tactical) and a general command post (operative) located in Bamako, Mali. In the early stages, the operation zones of the Force will spread 50 km apart and from the borders implicated. The first operation, "Hawbi", assembled the armed Malian, Nigerien and Burkinabe forces on their common border in October 2017.
In order to support the Police Component of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, the Republic of Mali, with the support of UNODC and the European Union, organized a regional workshop in Bamako in December 2017. This activity brough ttogether representatives from five Sahel countries on validating the structure and operation of the Police Component. The conclusions of the workshop detailing the conceptual framework of the Police Component's interventions and its mission, intelligence, judicial police and the guarantee of respect for human rights and the rule of law, were adopted at the meeting of Defense and Security committee of the G5 Sahel. Following the adoption of this conceptual framework of intervention and functioning, the concrete methods of operationalization as well as assistance provided by technical and financial partners were discussed at a regional workshop organized by Niger in April 2018 with the support of UNODC and other international partners. To follow up the joint missions organized between August and October 2018, the G5 Sahel and its technical and financial partners discussed their priority needs expressed by the states for the operationalization of the POlice Component at a conference held in Niamey in November 2018 in order to address these needs in a coordinated, efficient and inclusive manner. Therein, the personnel members of the Police Component of the G5 Sahel Joint Force will benefit from technical and operational assistance from UNODC and other partners, most notably concerning managing crime scenes, securing borders and the protection of civil populations and the respect for human rights.
Mutual Legal Assistance
In the Sahel region, UNODC implements two regional projects aiming to strengthen judicial cooperation between the states: The Sahel Judicial Cooperation Platform and The West African Network of Central Authorities and Prosecutors (WACAP). Each of these two complementary networks have distinct mandates.
- The Sahel Judicial Cooperation Platform
The Sahel Judicial Cooperation Platform was created in 2010 with the goal of strengthening judicial cooperation between its member states (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal) with matters involving terrorism. One of the principle objectives of the platform is to facilitate the transmission and execution of mutual legal assistance and extradition requests between its Member States. Thanks to a network of focal points within each of the Member States, the network monitors the procedures initiated in response to requests for cooperation and enables the exchange of experiences and best practices. The focal points frequently meet to evaluate its functioning, support the efforts to build capacity and undertake networking activities. Therein, multiple requests for mutual judicial assistance were already effectively handled by an intermediary of the platform, that played a key role in facilitating communication between the central national authorities in charge of drafting, transmitting and executing requests for international legal cooperation. Finally, UNODC put in place multiple practical tools and manuals to effectively make use of this mechanism.
The West African Network of Central Authorities and Prosecutors (WACAP)
Created in 2013, The West African Network of Central Authorities and Prosecutors (WACAP) is a network of contact points that come from the 15 countries that make up ECOWAS and Mauritania. WACAP is an initiative by UNODC implemented with the support of the Commission and the Court of Justice of ECOWAS. It's objective is to facilitate direct contact and operational cooperation between central authorities and/or the competent authorities for mutual legal assistance as well as the exchange of information and good practices between prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement agencies. It also reinforces criminal justice practitioners' capacity in international cooperation in criminal matters. It is through these methods that WACAP improves south-south, international and regional cooperation in the prosecution of serious crimes, including organized crime and terrorism. All of the contact points within WACAP meet at least once a year during WACAP's plenary meeting to exchange information concerning ongoing investigations and on the judicial and procedural needs in their countries, as well as to resolve any cooperation issues. For more information, please see the WACAP website.