Workshop on best practice and enhancing information sharing in the fight against drug trafficking
Drug trafficking in the Sahel has been and remains a significant challenge for States in the region. The proceeds of trafficking themselves fuel other issues facing the Sahel, like terrorism and transnational criminal networks. This situation has worsened in the aftermaths of the conflicts in Libya (2011) and Mali (2012). Nonetheless, since 2014, Malian authorities involved in countering drug trafficking have seized over 9 kilograms of cocaine, 12 of methamphetamine, and over 10 tons of cannabis.
In order to help States tackle these threats, UNODC and the Malian Office Central des Stupéfiants (Mali's centralized drug control institution, or OCS) have decided to deliver a series of workshops to promote the exchange of information and of best practices in the fight against drug trafficking. On 12 and 13 December 2016, the first of these workshops took place in Bamako, Mali, regrouping various national services involved in the matter, to mutualize strategies and strengthen coordination among them. Over 160 participants, from various offices were present at the workshop both days (over 100 on 12 December, and over 60 on 13 December). It was organized following the initiative of the OCS.
Present at the opening session, OCS director Lieutenant Colonel Adama Tounkara reminded the participants of the difficulty to secure the entire 7,400 km of the Malian border, highlighting the need to cooperate with its 7 neighbouring countries.
The Minister for Security and Civil Protection, General Salif Traoré, stressed that it is essential to cooperate and communicate to obtain updated and relevant insight into the most recent developments and trends in consumption and trafficking of drugs nation-wide.
The main objective of the workshop was, first, to ensure better cooperation and exchange of information in the fight against drug trafficking in itself, but also to work towards preventing drug use and providing support for those dependent on drugs. Indeed, the consequences of drug trafficking go beyond the immediate security dimension, and have impacts in terms of mental and physical health, including through the spread of diseases such as AIDS, Hepatitis B and C. Cheikh Touré, who represented UNODC at the workshop, welcomed the OCS initiative and continued support for strengthening States' capacities against these transnational threats.
This workshop is a joint UNODC Sahel Programme - ECOWAS Support Project initiative, made possible thanks to funds provided by the government of Denmark. The Sahel Programme constitutes the UNODC Contribution to the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS), launched by the UN Security Council in 2012 in response to the conflicts in Libya (2011) and Mali (2012).