Drug trafficking, consumption and use threaten the West Africa region. The situation is affecting all level of society across the region, from democracy, governance, public health, to security. The worst part is the response of West African governments to the issues.

Across the region the strategy to fight drug trafficking, consumption and use is led by the criminal justice approach, which focuses more on punitive drug control mechanisms than reducing the related health and social harms. These prohibitionist approaches have had a direct consequence on the lives of people most affected by the war on drugs, through overcrowded prisons, corruption, stigma, overdose deaths, and the spread of HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis. 

In view of these challenges, the upcoming UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem, in New York in April 2016, will be a unique opportunity for West African countries to assess and adjust current drug policies to ensure that they respond to national and regional realities.

This workshop was organised by WACD, the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and the Kofi Annan Foundation. The objectives of the workshop were to:

  •   Build upon the previous CSO workshop (Accra, 11-12 February, 2015) to further develop capacity on the issues of drug policy;
  •   Focus on issues such as advocacy towards UNGASS, security and law enforcement;
  •   strengthen knowledge about regional drug control systems, effective drug policy and best practices;
  •   Share experiences and best practices on how to advocate for evidence-based policies at national, regional and international levels;
  •   Explain the UNGASS on drugs and how CSOs can use it as part of their advocacy efforts;
  •   Foster collaboration among key government and civil society stakeholders in the fight against drug trafficking in the region; and
  •   Further support the development of the West Africa Drug Policy Network (WADPN).

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