Kofi Annan Launches West Africa Commission on Drugs

Kofi Annan had previously been a signatory to the 2011 Global Commission on Drug Policy report, which argued that the war on drugs had failed and called for the legalisation of some drugs and an end to the criminalisation of drug users. This week, he launched a new commission to look into the impact of drugs in West Africa.

The West Africa Commission on the Impact of Drugs on Governance, Security and Development (WACD) was launched on Thursday 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 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.