7 February 2013

Gambia: Kofi Annan Launches Initiative Against Drugs

Accra — Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today unveils a major new initiative to help tackle the growing threat from illegal drug trafficking in West Africa.

The West Africa Commission on the Impact of Drugs on Governance, Security and Development (WACD) is being launched today at the Kofi Annan Peacekeeping Centre in Accra, Ghana.

The Commission has been formed in response to the dramatic surge in drug trafficking through West Africa over the past decade. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, illegal drug trafficking is linked to criminal activity and terrorist activities in the region and is fuelling increased local consumption of illegal drugs.

The Commission has been established by the Kofi Annan Foundation, in consultation with international and regional partners, national governments and civil society organizations. It comprises a group of distinguished West Africans, including two former heads of state. Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, will serve as its chair.

The Commission aims to:

Develop evidence based policy recommendations for political and civil society leaders on how to address drug trafficking

Mobilise public awareness and political commitment around the issue; and

· Promote local and regional capacities to deal with drug trafficking

Kofi Annan says: "The massive surge in drug trafficking in West Africa over the last decade presents a serious and growing threat to the region's stability and development. Left unchecked, illegal drug trafficking could compromise the encouraging progress that West African nations have made in strengthening democracy and promoting human and economic development."

Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria, says: "The trade in illegal drugs has already caused devastation in other regions of the world. We must all work together to prevent West Africa from experiencing the same fate. The Commission looks forward to its urgent and important work".

The Commission will publish a comprehensive report later this year.

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