Security Council Briefing: Drug trafficking in West Africa as a threat to stability

Statement by H.E. Lise Gregoire-van Haaren,
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations

New York, 19 December 2018

Thank you, Mr. President.

And thank you Executive Director Fedotov for your briefing.

Mr. President, transnational organized crime causes conflict and aggravates it. This was one of the main messages during the 6 November debate about the role of policing in peacekeeping operations, in the presence of a large number of police officers.

During the debate we stressed that financial gains from organized crime are a source of income that find insurgent groups and terrorist and thereby perpetrate the cycle of conflict.

Like other forms of crime, drug trafficking feeds corruption, terrorism and other illicit trafficking.

It transcend borders, affecting the lives of millions of people around the world, especially young people.

Mr. President, to counter drug trafficking in West and Central Africa, we need an integrated approach.

Let me mention three main aspects in this regard:

  1. Regional security cooperation;
  2. Criminal justice;
  3. And sanctions.

1. Regional security cooperation

Mr. President, first, on regional security cooperation. Regional problems require regional solutions, supported by the UN where needed.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a staunch supporter of closer cooperation between the UN and regional organizations, like the African Union. As such, we are a staunch supporter of sustainable financing for AU peace support operations.

To tackle drug trafficking in West and Central Africa, regional initiatives are key. UNODC plays a crucial role in facilitating such initiatives, including within the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel. UNODC facilitates cooperation through projects like the West Africa Coast Initiative and Aircop that the Kingdom of the Netherlands supports.

In the context of the G5 Sahel, we welcome the regional approach to drug trafficking in the mandate of the Joint Force. And we support the G5 Sahel’s « Plateforme de Coopération en Matière de Sécurité » aimed at exchanging information on criminal or terrorist activities in Western Africa.

2. Criminal justice

Mr. President, this brings me to my second point, criminal justice. Security and justice are two sides of the same coin. Impunity for drug trafficking undermines trust in public institutions and hampers sustainable peace and security.

A criminal justice response is crucial to uphold the rule of law and to ensure cooperation between local populations and security forces. The role of police is essential in this regard.

This was one of the reasons why the Kingdom of the Netherlands, together with Cote d’Ivoire, drafted resolution 2447 on police, justice and corrections, which this Council adopted unanimously last week.

Furthermore, the Kingdom of the Netherlands supports strengthening the justice sector in Mali through the police component within the G5 Joint Force.

In criminal justice, cooperation to share evidence and ensure due process is pivotal. In line herewith, the Kingdom of the Netherlands supported the secondment of a Nigerian prosecutor in Italy to facilitate information sharing and mutual legal assistance in the area of illicit trafficking.    

We recommend similar secondments in other Member States and institutions.

3. Sanctions

Mr. President, moving on to my last point, sanctions. Criminal networks thrive in conflict and in situations where corruption and impunity are widespread. This Council must use its entire toolkit to address threats against international peace and security, including through targeted sanctions against traffickers who spoil peace processes and weaken institutions.

We already have good practices. In the Mali sanctions regime, the production and trafficking of narcotic drugs is a listing criteria. And in the Libya sanctions regime, the Council targeted human traffickers.

We have done it before. And we must not shy away from doing it again.


Mr. President, in conclusion: drugs damage countries’ social, health and economic systems. In my introduction, I talked about an integrated approach to counter drug trafficking. Ultimately, the Sustainable Development Goals provide such an integrated approach.

We must ensure rule of law and better living conditions for our people, so that drug traffickers can’t get a foothold.

Let this be our joint goal in our fight against drug traffickers. In West and Central Africa, and around the world.

Thank you.