Earlier this month, the United Nations and the government of Japan reached an agreement that both parties hope will improve global security. The agreement also focuses on the continent of Africa, which is an additional hotspot for these global problems.
The agreement, known as a Joint Plan of action, now officially exists between the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the federal government of Japan. The two parties finalized the deal at the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V).
Executive Director of the UNODC, Yury Fedotov, shared his thoughts on the agreement: “The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Government of Japan have a long and fruitful history of cooperation across the globe, in areas ranging from countering illicit narcotic drugs, combating terrorism and strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice. I welcome this new Joint Plan of Action, which will serve to strengthen our efforts still further.”
He added that his organization is aware that ” insecurity and conflict fuel crime while drugs and crime fuel conflict and undermine security. Addressing these threats can contribute to building peace and promoting human security within and across regions.”
Fedotov met with Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan during the conference, as well as other high-level officials that were participating. He made a focus of his trip to encourage peace-building efforts, which, as he mentioned, are integral to establishing an secure environment.
UNODC has concentrated their efforts on the Sahel region of Africa. This region is located between the Sudanian Savannah and the Sahara desert. It markes the southernmost portion of what is considered North Africa, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Indian Ocean in the east. It also contains some of the poorest regions of Africa, and has been plagued by instability.
Because of the desperate economic situation and alarmingly low levels of development, transnational organizations that need to avoid strong governments tend to thrive in this sparsely governed area.
UNODC has recognized that stabilizing economies and political situations in these ungoverned bodies will cut off international crime in some of its places of origin. For this reason, the office has focused much of their assistance in the Sahel, and have already helped thousands of Africans find legitimate employment and a secure living.
Japan has pledged to augment the efforts by establishing $1 billion USD fund. Overall, TICAD V was able to raise $32 billion to support their efforts in Africa over the next five years.
However, participants of the conference were very clear that action is needed on the part of African nations as well. At the conclusion of the conference, they issued the “Yokohama Declaration”, which calls on countries in the region to redouble their efforts to improve their own domestic situations.
While foreign aid is certainly necessary to develop these countries so that they are no longer a security risk to the global community, it’s only a piece of the puzzle. Without a concerted effort from individuals within the unstable countries, Africa will squander the help the international community is giving it and continue to lag behind the rest of the world in human development.