UNODC facilitates cooperation between the G5 Sahel and the Maghreb
The deterioration of the security situation in the Sahel has enabled transnational organized crime groups and armed groups to grow, and to establish large networks of illicit trafficking in drugs, firearms and even human beings expanding to North Africa. These traffics represent an important source of revenue for terrorist organizations and contributes to destabilizing a strategic zone already weakened by the conflicts in Libya (2011) and in Mali (2012).
In order to tackle these security concerns, the two UNODC regional offices for West and Central Africa, and for the Middle East and North Africa, shared efforts to organize a trans-regional forum in Algiers, Algeria, from 23 to 25 January 2018. The objective of the Forum was to enhance cooperation between the Maghreb and Sahel countries in their fight against illicit trafficking and transnational organized crime.
Besides experts, donors and representatives of UNODC, this gathering brought together representatives of the Ministry of Justice and Foreign Affairs as well as the Police and Customs Services of Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Tunisia.
In her opening speech, Cristina Albertin, UNODC Regional Representative for the Middle East and North Africa, underlined that "strengthening cross-border and regional cooperation have evolved as the most critical matters when it comes to curbing trafficking of goods or even people and related crimes." She further stated that "no country and no law enforcement agency in North Africa or the Sahel has the volume and kind of resources to fight alone against a widening network of transnational crime groups. Therefore, enhancing international cooperation among countries and institutions is a must, a condition sine qua non."
By organizing this Forum, UNODC sets the framework and foundation for greater South-South cooperation between Maghreb and Sahel states. This cooperation and exchange of information becomes crucial as the security threats are becoming more complex and transnational in nature.
Algeria, the host country of the forum, has shown success in efficiently controlling its borders. As a result, they were able to share the lessons learned and good practices with participants.
"Greater communication and trust-building between governmental stakeholders is needed to ensure coordination also in view of the situation of migrants in this part of the world. This Forum is also timely following the creation of the G5 Sahel Joint Force and the Security Cooperation Platform, which UNODC helped establish" highlights Pierre Lapaque, Regional Representative for West and Central Africa.
A regional analysis of the various security threats and routes used by smugglers and terrorist groups were presented during this high-level event. Subsequently, a working group was put together to identify synergies between the various law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice networks in the two respective regions. At the end of the Forum, good practices and recommendations were formulated, aiming to strengthen cooperation between the Sahel countries and their Maghreb neighbors.
This Forum was organized thanks to the financial support of Japan and the Netherlands and is part of the UNODC Sahel Programme, which aims to promote capacity-building in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime of the authorities of the region through accessible, effective and efficient criminal justice systems.
This activity was financed by Japan and the Kingdom of the Netherlands