Workshop to address the impact of organized crime and drug trafficking on security, governance and development in West Africa
Over the course of three days in Dakar, Senegal, some 45 regional and international experts held discussions to examine and assess the impact of Organised Crime and Drug Trafficking on Security, Governance and Development in West Africa.
There was broad consensus among experts that while West Africa has not witnessed the high levels of violence associated with the drug trade in Latin America and the high levels of consumption registered in Europe and North America, indicators suggest that urgent action is required to prevent the proceeds of the drug trade from exacerbating security, governance, social and economic development challenges facing west Africa. Recent developments in Guinea Bissau and the Sahel region demonstrate the impact that unchecked organized criminal activity and trafficking can have in the region.
A broad range of policy initiatives and responses spanning the security, economic and social development realms have been developed over the past two decades yet implementation remains a challenge. Organized crime and drug-related monies are penetrating governance structures yet accountability mechanisms remain weak; drug consumption is steadily increasing but victims are not receiving adequate attention.
Underpinning many of these challenges lies an important gap in knowledge and capacity, and above all political engagement. Conversely, experts were able to identify several key areas for further action. The efforts of a large and diverse range of actors are imperative to addressing them. It will require the engagement of civil society, non-governmental organisations, state agencies, traditional and social media, academia, and individual experts. Applied research is needed to better understand how organized crime and drug trafficking infiltrate political and economic governance structures and how they affect local communities and impact development.
Experts agreed that the space exists for the establishment of a regionally-led neutral and independent high-level body or group of “champions” to support the efforts of existing actors and initiatives, catalyse further action, and ensure the challenges identified receive adequate and sustained attention on national, regional and international political agendas. Such a body or group would engage with existing initiatives and build on and support the valuable work of regional and continental partners such as ECOWAS, UNODC, UNOWA and the African Union.
Local knowledge and ownership is crucial to the success of initiatives aimed at countering the threat of illicit drugs and organised crime. This approach would be fostered through the promotion of regionally-led dialogue and coordination.
The Kofi Annan Foundation works to promote better global governance and strengthen the capacities of people and countries to achieve a fairer, more secure world. To advance this mission, the Foundation has developed programmes and partnerships in three main focus areas: (i) Peace and Security; (ii) Sustainable Development; and (iii) Human Rights and the Rule of Law.