Abuja, Nigeria – Decisive efforts are needed by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states, the ECOWAS Commission and civil society to deal with the root causes of organised crime, enhance service delivery and work to strengthen community resilience to transnational organised crime. Resolute actions against money laundering and corruption, which enable these illicit markets, are also vital.
These were among the issues discussed on 17 March at the first Regional Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on Addressing Transnational Organised Crime in West Africa. The dialogue was launched in Abuja, Nigeria by ECOWAS Commission and Organised Crime: West African Response to trafficking (OCWAR-T) Project implementing partners.
It provided a platform for ECOWAS member states, the ECOWAS Commission and affiliated institutions, civil society organisations (CSOs), development partners and experts to explore new opportunities to tackle organised crime and enhance community resilience in West Africa.
Despite the significant efforts of ECOWAS member states and civil society, illicit economies linked to human trafficking, drugs and non-renewable resources remain a risk. The illicit trade in counterfeit medicines, methamphetamines and tramadol are reportedly growing in many regions of West Africa, as is the illicit trade of arms which threatens regional stability.
West Africa benefits from significant resilience to organised crime, but the region remains vulnerable to political setbacks, corruption and transnational organised crime. Further, in line with broader global trends, the COVID-19 pandemic has eroded state resilience and granted criminality new opportunities to flourish in West Africa.
The dialogue was also an opportunity for ECOWAS to launch the West African Research Network on Organised Crime. The network is part of the ECOWAS strategy to work with civil society to ensure effective responses to organised crime in line with the ECOWAS Political Declaration on the Prevention of Drug Abuse, Illicit Drug Trafficking and Organised Crimes in West Africa of 2008.
The event was convened by the OCWAR–T project, which supports the development and implementation of regional policy on transnational organised crime. OCWAR–T is an ECOWAS project commissioned by the German government, co-funded by the European Union and coordinated by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The ENACT project (Enhancing Africa’s Response to Transnational Organised Crime) represented by the Institute for Security Studies and the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, are the implementing partners supporting the coordination of this event, and implementing one element of the OCWAR–T project aimed at improving knowledge and legal coordination on organised crime and trafficking.
For more information on the OCWAR-T Project, click here.
For interviews, contact:
Dr Christian Ani, ENACT: [email protected], +2349034438616