8433rd Security Council Meeting: Peace and Security in Africa

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19-Dec-2018 01:24:28
United Nations anti-crime chief spotlights alarming drug trafficking trends in West, Central Africa, outlining disruption efforts to Security Council at 8433rd meeting.

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Once limited to transiting cocaine, heroin and other illicit drugs to destinations abroad, West and Central African countries have now become both users and producers of those substances, the United Nations anti-crime chief told the Security Council today, noting that the region accounted for 87 per cent of all pharmaceutical opioids seizures identified in his office’s latest report.

Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), briefed the 15-member Council via video-conference from Vienna, outlining “new, alarming trends in drug trafficking” identified in West and Central Africa. Explaining that the new movement of opioids is largely due to the rising use of the painkiller tramadol, he said Africa has also seen a rise in the seizures of cocaine, heroin and precursor substances such as Ephedrine and Phenacetine.

“The linkages between terrorism, illicit drugs and other forms of crime have been widely acknowledged, including by this Council,” he said, underlining the destabilizing impacts of the drug trade on governance, security, economic growth and public health. The latter is also being threatened by rising drug use in West and Central African countries, with millions of users there lacking access to treatment that is widely available elsewhere. Welcoming regional efforts to combat the threat posed by drugs — including by the “Group of Five” (G-5) Sahel joint force — he outlined UNODC’s own efforts to disrupt trafficking, intercept illegal financial flows, support intelligence and build State capacity.

As Council members took the floor, several delegates from nations in West and Central Africa confirmed that the illicit trafficking in drugs and drug precursors pose a serious threat to their countries’ public health, social fabrics and political stability. The representative of Côte d’Ivoire, Council President for December and the convener of today’s meeting, said in his national capacity that the region must address the alliance forged between drug trafficking networks and terrorist groups. An estimated 12 per cent of people between 15 and 64 in his country consume drugs, he said, reporting that some 286 tons were seized between 2017 and the first half of 2018. Describing Côte d’Ivoire’s national strategy to combat the phenomenon, he spotlighted the central role of outreach, education and efforts to combat money laundering.

China’s representative, voicing concern about the “onslaught of international drug trafficking” undermining development and fuelling terrorism, said States in West and Central Africa are often held back in their ability to respond to those challenges by a lack of capacity and resources. Calling for more robust international assistance to West and Central African States in developing national action plans, he stressed that such efforts must fully respect sovereignty. In addition, he said, countries around the globe should clamp down on their own drug consumption markets in order to reduce demand.

Poland’s delegate declared: “Supporting Africa’s development is potentially the most effective tool for combatting drug trafficking and drug use disorder.” Echoing several other speakers, he warned that drug trafficking will remain a major challenge until the region’s broader socio-economic problems are resolved and citizens are able to find legal, beneficial sources of income. Calling on States to uphold their obligation to provide capacity building and technical assistance to those nations requesting it, he spotlighted the work of CRIMJUST — a joint initiative of the European Union, UNODC, INTERPOL and the civil society group Transparency International — as a positive example.

Peru’s delegate provided examples of best practices from his own country’s fight against drugs, including bolstered rural development and alternate crop production options. Echoing concern over the impact of the illicit substances trade in West and Central Africa, he said ending armed conflict and building sustainable peace are critical to countering that scourge. The Council must remain seized of the relationship between drug trafficking and terrorism, he stressed, also calling for a multi-dimensional strategy to strengthen human rights protections and promote development in affected areas.

Also speaking were representatives of the United States, Equatorial Guinea, France, Ethiopia, Sweden, Bolivia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and Netherlands.

The meeting began at 3:07 p.m. and ended at 4:30 p.m.

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