13 February 2012Transnational organized crime in West Africa, including illicit drug trafficking and the proliferation of illegal arms, as well as maritime piracy, dominated discussions today between a senior United Nations envoy and the head of the international police organization, Interpol. At their meeting in Lyon, France, where Interpol is headquartered, Said Djinnit, head of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), and Ronald K. Noble, Interpol’s Secretary General, stressed the importance of working jointly to efficiently address the increasingly complex transnational organized crime, which they said poses a serious threat to West Africa’s stability. They underlined that Interpol’s expertise on information sharing through its high technology infrastructure was crucial to enabling national police services in the region to work together to tackle the problem. They reviewed the latest achievements and challenges of the West Africa Coast Initiative (WACI) that is making efforts to combat organized crime. The joint UN-Interpol project was launched in 2009 to support the Regional Action Plan of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to address the growing problem of illicit drug trafficking, organized crime and narcotics abuse in West Africa. The two officials reiterated their commitment to strengthening collaboration in support to ECOWAS’ efforts to make West Africa safer.