UNODC and DPKO collaborate to strengthen law enforcement in Mali
Mali has been faced with a delicate humanitarian and security situation throughout recent years. Following the political crisis that struck the northern part of the territory in 2012, Malian authorities and the international community established a number of cooperative efforts aiming to restore peace and security in the country.
This led to the creation of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in 2013, a peacekeeping operation orchestrated in close partnership with a number of UN agencies, including UNODC, to combat insecurity while also promoting human rights, national political dialogue and reconciliation. Despite the considerable efforts that are still required to achieve a long-lasting peace in Mali, the international community has achieved substantial progress.
As pointed out by UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov, "development needs security to succeed." In other words, restoring state authority in Mali entails first and foremost strengthening the capacity of security forces, both military and civilian.
To achieve this, "UNODC and DPKO [Department for Peacekeeping Operations] have forged a close collaboration that capitalizes on each organizations' mandates and experience, but also views peacekeeping and fighting drugs and organized crime as interconnected issues calling for joint responses" said Mr. Fedotov during a 2014 joint mission to Mali with the head of DPKO, Hervé Ladsous.
As a result of this collaboration, a series of events jointly organized between UNODC, MINUSMA and UNPOL provided the Malian Police forces, the Gendarmerie and the National Guard with training on the issues of terrorism, organized crime and gender-based violence.
Organized crime and terrorism
The Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions of DPKO, Dmitry Titov, emphasized that "transnational organized crime and its huge destabilizing effects threaten peace and security, while creating shadow economies that support a nefarious network of spoilers, which often share links with terrorists. DPKO and UNODC have joined forces, as no one actor can address this issue alone."
As an example of this close collaboration, a specialized training on detection techniques to counter illicit drug trafficking and transnational organized crime was provided on 16-27 March 2015 to 50 security officers from various regions of Mali. The event was hosted at the National Police Academy in Bamako.
Supported by UNODC, UNPOL and DPKO, this exercise addressed the core needs of its trainees by informing them of the consequences of drug trafficking in the Sahel region (particularly in Mali) and its connection to other criminal acts like terrorism and its financing.
Various participants reported that "the training was relevant as it responded to the country's current expectations to quell the threat of terrorism." Moreover, trained officers also acquired valuable insights into drug traffickers' dissimulation techniques, the use of explosives, and the legal framework and technical toolkit available to prevent, punish and repress these destabilizing activities.
Exemplifying the continued UNODC-DPKO partnership, UNODC carried out a vehicle interception training on 11-18 April 2015. This training, which is a component elaborated for the Bamako drugs squad by Mr. Titov, formed the elements of the squad on the appropriate protocol to securely arrest drug traffickers during police chases.
The exercise was divided in two parts: a theoretical section familiarizing trainees with aspects of transnational organized crime covered by international conventions, and a practical training on field investigation and vehicle interception techniques. This exercise, headed by a UNODC expert assisted by UNPOL-MINUSMA police components is of particular importance given the recent incidence of terrorist acts perpetrated by the use of car-bombs.
While consolidating security forces' capacity to punish and repress these crimes is of crucial importance to restore security on the ground, rebuilding political dialogue and state authority mandates accountable and accessible justice, the respect of human rights, and gender equality.
In this framework, UNODC, MINUSMA and UNPOL organized a joint specialized training on gender and gender-based violence, on 16-23 March 2015.
Reaching over 50 officers from several Malian regions, the activity sensitized a number of long-serving and newly recruited officers on issues such as gender equality (both within and outside the workplace), gender-based violence (including rape, and prostitution during conflicts), and the involvement of child soldiers.
As noted by Mrs. A. Sibidé, a guard in the Malian Gendarmerie, the training was highly pertinent as "child exploitation and gender-based violence are widespread practices in the current conflict." A number of participants also pledged to increase the number of female recruits in security forces, a commitment that signals a real change in gender attitudes in the country.
UN cooperation: beyond security
As noted by the UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa, Pierre Lapaque, these joint efforts "allow each organization to benefit from their respective expertise in order to implement their programs of assistance in Mali in a more coordinated and effective manner. This cooperation is essential to maximize the support of the international community so as to reach the intended beneficiaries, and the people of Mali, in the best way possible."
The partnership that unites and rationalizes the efforts of the various UN agencies on the ground has grown dramatically, especially since the signing of a MoU between UNODC and MINUSMA in February this year. UNODC and DPKO staff in Mali collaborate in every aspect of these activities, from carrying out assessments and identifying partners to designing and implementing training workshops and curricula.
As guardian of the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols, UNODC provides technical guidance for peacekeeping personnel on the implementation of those conventions, with support from the Government of Austria and Japan. These joint efforts are part of the UNODC contribution to the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (2013-2017).