UNODC supports Sahel States against foreign terrorist fighters

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Strengthening the cooperation between law enforcement agencies within the Sahel and promoting dialogue and best practices exchange is one of the means through which UNODC assist Sahel countries fight violent extremism and organized crime. As part of the Sahel Programme, UNODC's regional office for West and Central Africa organized a three-day sub-regional workshop on border control efforts aimed at countering foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) in the Sahel States from 26 to 28 July 2016 in Dakar, Senegal.

Representatives from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal, along with representatives from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Interpol, the European Union, the Embassy of Japan and experts from Spain and Portugal met UNODC's initiative, to discuss border control efforts aimed at countering foreign terrorist fighters in Sahel countries.

Throughout the workshop, law enforcement and intelligence representatives exchanged best practices, experiences as well as past and current challenges. The workshop provided participants with the ability to present and share their respective country's security procedures aimed at preventing, deterring, and capturing FTFs operating within the Sahel.

Financed by the government of Japan this initiative allowed for the development of better personal and professional ties among security representatives, which are expected to work closer together in the near-future to efficiently tackle organized crime and violent extremism within the region. It also provided an opportunity for Mauritania and Spain to emphasize the importance of security cooperation by presenting their joint task force aimed at preventing document forgery and smuggling in migrants, which both contribute to the spread of organized crime and violent extremism within the region.

As part of the current efforts to support Sahel countries in the implementation of the Security Council's resolutions 2178 (2014) and 2199 (2015), this workshop aimed to promote dialogue and highlights the major challenges and observations made by participants who often are at the frontline. It was agreed by all participants that the common vulnerability posed by the porosity of borders within the Sahel is a major challenge and that enhanced collaboration mechanisms and increased capabilities should be prioritized to hinder the progress of FTFs and organized crime within the Sahel.

Workshops are part of the activities which contribute to UNODC's efforts to provide technical and expert assistance to Sahel States through its Regional Office for West and Central Africa (ROSEN). UNODC's efforts in the Sahel have intensified since 2013, and are now part of the organization's contribution the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (2013-2017). As such, they aim to support the development of accessible, effective and accountable criminal justice systems in the states of the region, while also strengthening their detection and border control capacities in line with international conventions and protocols, as well as human rights principles and rule-of-law based standards. are deployed to assist countries in the region and provide them with the means to fight organized crime, terrorism, and other criminal activities.