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July 8, 2009 / jeni

Reading List: Transnational Organised Crime and West Africa

reading2Yesterday’s UNODC report on organised crime and West Africa is getting a fair bit of attention, so while I won’t have time to go through it in depth for a few days, just thought I’d post the link here. Would be great to hear from anyone who has already read it — do the trends/data sound about right? What’s missing or overlooked? Any surprises?

Summary/Link to Report

In the past few years, West Africa has become a hub for cocaine trafficking from Latin America to Europe. In 2006, around a quarter of all cocaine that entered Europe (roughly 40 tons) transited Africa. This threat seems to be subsiding.

See our earlier post — and James’ excellent comment — on whether to be sceptical of this claim. Does this report clarify things?

However, the UNODC Threat Assessment shows that West Africa is being targeted by other illicit flows like cigarettes, arms, women, counterfeit medicines, toxic waste (including e-waste), oil and other natural resources (like hardwood and diamonds)…

According to Mr. Costa, “West Africa has everything that criminals need: resources, a strategic location, weak governance, and an endless source of foot soldiers who see few viable alternatives to a life of crime…”

Addressing a Security Council meeting on the situation in West Africa, Mr. Costa stressed that “most illicit trafficking is transiting West Africa, not originating there. Most contraband is heading north.” He called on rich countries to “take their share of responsibility by curbing their appetite for the drugs, cheap labour and exotic goods that are being smuggled via the region, and by stopping the use of West Africa as a dumping ground for weapons, waste and fake medicines.”

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