Responding to the need for a comprehensive and multi-stakeholder approach, UNODC, UNOWA/DPA, DPKO and INTERPOL set up the West Africa Coast Initiative (WACI) to work in synergy to support the implementation of the “ECOWAS Regional Action Plan to Address the Growing Problem of Illicit Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, and Drug Abuse in West Africa”.
WACI is a joint programme that entails a comprehensive set of activities targeting capacity building, at both national and regional level, in the areas of law enforcement, forensics, border management, anti-money-laundering and the strengthening of criminal justice institutions, contributing to peacebuilding initiatives and security sector reforms.
WACI is a direct response to the priority interventions identified by the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan, and seeks to ensure synergies with other initiatives in support to its implementation.
WACI strategy is to strengthen human and institutional capacity of law enforcement officials, initially in selected West African countries to combat organized crime and drug trafficking more effectively. Therefore, it provides advisory, equipment, technical assistance and specialized training. National efforts will also be enhanced through increased and efficient regional and international cooperation building on existing law enforcement networks and structures.
STATUS OF IMPLEMENTATION OF WACI
The WACI initiative was officially launched in New York in July 2009. The initial phase of assistance involved an assessment of the capacities and needs of four pilot countries where there was already a UN presence: Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea- Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone. This innovative concept’s objective is to expand to include other West African countries, with a priority given to Guinea. This initial phase was concluded in February 2010 by a Ministerial Conference in Sierra Leone, during which the Ministers of Interior of the four pilot countries adopted the Freetown Commitment and pledged to support the implementation of WACI. Through the implementation of the different programme components, it is expected to achieve sustainable reform within the crime prevention and criminal justice sector as a whole in the context of security sector reform and the priority interventions under the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan 2008-2011.
TRANSNATIONAL CRIME UNITS (TCU)
A cornerstone of the WACI is the establishment of a Transnational Crime Unit (TCU) in each country. The national inter-agency unit gathers and analyzes information, and develops operational intelligence to support its lead investigative role in the most complex crime cases.
TCUs are elite units, manned with staff seconded from national law enforcement agencies, trained and equipped to fight transnational organized crime. UNODC, DPKO/Police Division and INTERPOL provide advisory and mentoring to selected and vetted national staff.
In order to coordinate their activities within an international framework, TCUs act as national focal points for international cooperation in the fight against transnational organized crime. Close cooperation with INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCBs), including the use of the international exchange system INTERPOL I-24/7, is a core feature of the TCU concept.
Moreover, each TCU forms close ties with prosecutorial services in order to enhance effectiveness of investigations.
IMPLEMENTING PARTNERS OF WACI
Taking into account the scope and complexity of the increasing threats to security and stability in West Africa posed by transnational organized crime, including illicit drug traffi cking, UNODC, DPKO, UNOWA/DPA and INTERPOL have decided to unite their efforts to assist the ECOWAS through a coherent inter-agency approach:
• The Commission of the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) supports member states in the implementation of the Regional Action Plan against drugs and crime.
• United Nations Offi ce for West Africa (UNOWA) and United Nations Department of Political Affairs (DPA) raise awareness, mobilize political support, coordinate and provide advisory services.
• United Nations Offi ce on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) provides programme design, management and support including the delivery of specialized advisory services and technical expertise to respond to the rising challenges of drug, crime and terrorism.
• United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) provides guidance and expertise on police matters based on its experience in the region.
• International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) oversees the strengthening of existing National Central Bureaus, and where appropriate, provides specialized training and operational support to law enforcement.
For more information, do not hesitate to download the presentation leaflet: WACI leaflet.pdf and WACI leaflets French version and Portuguese version