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UNODC launches a new Regional Programme for the period 2016-2020 to support West Africa in the fight against drugs and crime.

January 23, 2017 -West Africa region is facing complex challenges and multiple threats in the areas of peace and Security, mainly because of the activities of transnational criminal networks happening there. While the region has long been a transit zone for cocaine and heroin trafficking, it has now turned into a production zone for illicit substances as amphetamines and precursors. Drug consumption is also a growing issue at the local level. Besides, terrorism represents another increasing threat for the region, as terrorist groups plan to establish sanctuaries and bastions in the region. Proven links between organized crime and terrorism are increasingly observed. As a consequence, the governance of States is undermined by corruption.

In order to tackle the above threats, UNODC designed and implemented a Regional Programme, officially launched in New York on September 19 (2016), on the margins of the 71st General Assembly, in attendance of Executive Director of UNODC, Yury Fedotov and ECOWAS Commission President Marcel A. de Souza.

In this respect, thenew UNODC’s Regional Programme for West Africa (2016-20) was presented to the UNODC regional partners, on January 23, 2017 in Dakar, Senegal, in the presence of members of the diplomatic service, during a ceremony chaired by the Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) Mr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas.

During this special conference, Mr. Chambas insisted on the symbolic importance of the event, and highlighted the fact that "it is the first time that UNO and ECOWAS work so closely to define strategic goals to strengthen the efforts of West African States against illicit drug trafficking and organized crime."

According to Mr. Chambas the Programme facilitates through a common approach, the coherence of field-based actions. The Special Representative of the Secretary General added that fighting these scourges contribute to enhance the general context of peace and security in the region.

Following Mr. Chambas, the UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa, Mr Pierre Lapaque, commented on the challenges represented by the complex growing threats in the region. According to Mr. Lapaque, the Regional Programme is relevant as the response has to be global. "While supporting the new ECOWAS Action Plan, the UNODC new Regional Programme will help West African States to build a safer, healthier and more prosperous future for the region" he added.
Several members of the diplomatic service assisted to this launch and an European Union (EU) representative expressed the will of the EU to assist UNODC implementing the Regional Plan.

The architecture of the Programme has been introduced by the Deputy Regional Representative at the UNODC, Mrs Chantal Lacroix, through five thematic pillars: strengthening criminal justice systems, preventing and countering transnational organized crime and illicit trafficking, preventing and countering terrorism, preventing and countering corruption, improving drug and HIV prevention, treatment and care.
A steering committee for the Regional Programme will be formed to watch over the coherence between Programme goals and national strategies. Another mission for the committee is to assure the cooperation and the coordination of the actors.

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