Two days of workshops between CMF and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) culminated with a meeting between Mr Yury Fedotov, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, Executive Director of UNODC, and Vice Admiral John Miller, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. Fifth Fleet, Combined Maritime Forces.
Admiral Miller said: “This meeting with the head of UNODC has provided CMF with the unique opportunity to establish closer relationships with the UNODC, and seek UN support for CMF activities, particularly in the counter narcotics sphere.”
The workshops, at CMF headquarters in Bahrain, between CMF officers and UN representatives Mr Hakan Demirbuken and Ms Joanna Wright, were led by Commodore Daryl Bates, Royal Australian Navy, Commander of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150.
They discussed the full breadth of challenges facing the effort to counter maritime transnational crime, including information exchange and how to garner regional state support for counter narcotics operations.
Commodore Bates said: “Many countries are willing participants in counter piracy operations because of the clear mandate to take action under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and other UNSCRs to tackle the threat to global trade.
“Narcotics trafficking presents a threat too because there is a known relationship between smuggling, funding for terrorist groups and regional instability. However, the mandate to combat this type of activity is more challenging. These meetings have been a great opportunity for CMF to work with the UN to consider these challenges.”
Mr Demirbuken said: “These meetings have greatly improved our knowledge base but this is not the end. We hope this is the start of an ongoing information-sharing relationship. Our challenge is to convince member states that the effects of illicit trafficking are not limited to East Africa. The money not only supports terrorists and smugglers, but also causes significant instability within the wider region.”