On February 24, 2021, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched the Office’s Strategic Vision for Africa 2030. According to the UNODC, Africa has made considerable gains towards the Sustainable Development Goals and the aspirations of the Agenda 2063 of the African Union: The Africa We Want. Yet progress in several areas is not advancing at the scale nor speed required. Around the globe and in Africa, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse progress, hitting those most vulnerable hardest, and risking them being left behind further. Africa can leverage its many opportunities to help strengthen resilience to its challenges: the increasing youth demographic can come together in collective action for a sustainable future; Africa’s commitment towards digital transformation and technology is bold and can drive fast-paced growth and foster inclusion; Africa’s single market, wealth of natural resources and biodiversity offer advantages for the development of trade, industry, employment and tourism; urbanization widens opportunities for economic growth, human security, social development and cohesion. The UNODC’s Strategic Vision for Africa 2030 commits to provide more safety to Africa’s people, government and institutions from drugs, crime, corruption, terrorism and illicit financial flows.

The Launch of UNODC Strategic Vision for Africa 2030, which is aligned to the African Union Agenda 2063, was attended by Ghada Waly, Executive Director of UNODC; USG Hanna Tetteh, Special representative to the African Union and Head of the UN Office to the AU; USG Cristina Duarte, Special Advisor on Africa to the United Nations Secretary General; Mr Mohamed Mezghani, Chairperson of the African Group in Vienna; Government Ministers and representatives of Member States, international and civil society organizations.

Vision 2030 seeks to strengthen crime prevention, enhance justice, address organized crime, ensure a balanced response to drugs, improve the rule of law and bolster resilience. Ghada Waly remarked at the launch of the Strategic Vision Our Strategic Vision that the vision “represents a transformative approach to our work. It aims to adopt an integrated, people-centred, and human-rights based approach to empower African societies against drugs and crime”. The Strategic Vision calls for investing in the following five areas: 1) Promoting people’s help through balanced self-control; 2) Securing the safety of the people from organised crime, violence and terrorism; 3) Protecting Africa’s resources and livelihood; 4) Safeguarding people and institutions from corruption and economic crime and 5) Making criminal justice systems more effective and accountable.

The African Union has committed to offer its full cooperation towards the realisation of the objectives outlined in the Strategic Vision. “To build the Africa we want, we must move beyond a catalogue of good intentions, and collectively step-up responses to cope with the many challenges lurking. This can only be achieved with adequate resources and failure to do so is not an option,” AU Commissioner Amira Elfadil stated. Commissioner Amira Elfadil also noted that all the articulated investment areas were at the core of the African Union’s work with various continental actions plans in diversified thematic areas including: peace and security; drug control and crime prevention; trade and industry; labour, employment and migration; women and children; and agriculture to mention but a few. “We are a continent with latent potential. This is the time to strengthen our cooperation. The African Union is committed to providing political leadership needed to push forward the agenda for the health, security and socio-economic well-being of people in Africa by addressing drug use, trafficking and other associated crimes,” Commissioner Amira Elfadil further said.

During the launch of the report, a few AU Member States also expressed their commitment to tackle the drug problem and support the efforts of the UNODC. Mozambique’s Minister of Justice, Helena Mateus Kida, said that “UNODC’s Strategic Vision for Africa 2030 is an opportunity to put our continent at the forefront of the fight against crime, with a focus on the challenges and opportunities that emanate from the decade of action.” On the issue of environmental crime, the Minister of Environment of Nigeria, Sharon O. Ikeazor, stressed that the multi-faceted approach underlined in the UNODC Africa Strategic Vision would make a significant impact on moving Nigeria away from the negative indices related to wildlife and forest crime.

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