The ECOWAS Drug Unit (EDU)


Illicit drug supply as well as drug use and dependence are dynamically developing phenomena in West Africa. It poses public health, developmental and security problem and is associated with criminal behaviour, poverty, violence significant health problem and social exclusion. Over a considerable period, drug trafficking organisations have been increasingly using West Africa as a transit area for smuggling large amounts of cocaine from South America into Europe and North America. The drug traffickers have taken direct aim at West, where geography, social conditions and weak anti-drug response capacity allow the quasi-free transit of illicit drugs to market. Drug trafficking generates corruption, which undermines good governance, stability and economic development in the region. In parallel, there are evidences of an increase in substance abuse in the West Africa. Drug abuse and addiction find their way onto streets of vulnerable coastal and inland states, taking terrible toll on families, education and social cohesion.


As an effort to stem the tide of increasing drug trafficking, drug abuse and related organised crimes in West Africa, the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in 2008 mandated the ECOWAS Commission to take urgent action to respond to the challenge. The ECOWAS Commission, after series of consultation, drew the “Regional Action Plan to address the growing problem of Illicit Drug Trafficking, Organised Crime and Drug Abuse in West Africa (2008-2014)”, which has been reformulated into a new ECOWAS Drug Action Plan to Address Illicit Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime and Drug Abuse (2016-2020). In September, 2016 the new action plan was validated and adopted in Abuja by technical experts and relevant sectorial Ministers of the ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania. Consequently, the Plan was launched together with the UNODC Regional Programme for West Africa (2016 – 2020) at the margins of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 19th September 2016.

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