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Drug Trafficking In Sahel


Bags of confiscated cocaine are shown at the office of the Guinean drug enforcement agency in Conakry, Guinea. (FILE)

The Sahel and West African region is emerging as a hub and corridor for trafficking in hard drugs, as well as a transit and production point for synthetic drugs.

The Sahel and West African region is emerging as a hub and corridor for trafficking in hard drugs, as well as a transit and production point for synthetic drugs. The United States, said Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, U.S. United Nations Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs, joins the international community in expressing alarm over this troubling development.


Drug trafficking in the region has tended to target countries with porous borders, fragile institutions, weak justice and security apparatuses, and limited resources. It has in turn contributed to the violent unrest and instability the region has seen over the past year. When left unchecked, drug traffickers may in some cases link up with other illicit networks and share trade routes and possibly profits with rebel groups and violent extremists.

Not only do drug trafficking networks undermine development and security, they also erode confidence in justice and government institutions. When corrupt leaders profit and traffickers act with impunity, populations lose confidence in the rule of law, illicit economies flourish, and accountable and responsive governance is further eroded.

In spite of these growing challenges, the United States encourages regional institutions such as Economic Community of West African States to address these issues head-on. Last year, there was an increase in regional conferences, commissions, agreements, and policies aimed at tackling narcotics trafficking and consumption. Now is the time to translate the agreements and policies into action. The U.N. has a crucial role to play, particularly on border security.

The United States has committed significant resources to address drug trafficking and its effects in the region and will launch new programs in Mali and Chad this year. These programs support current efforts to counter drug trafficking, respond to drug use, increase public awareness, and strengthen the rule of law.

Since the Security Council first considered the challenge that drug trafficking poses to international peace and security in 2009, much progress has been made on the global fight against drugs. The U.S. looks forward to continuing and extending this global work in the Council as well as continuing our focus in the Sahel and West Africa region to bolster the capacity of governments and institutions to disrupt transit corridors and deny traffickers the space to operate.
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