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Organized Crime in West Africa: Options for EU Engagement
  • Emmanuel Kwesi Aning
Worldwide, organized crime is considered a major threat to human security. Organized crime impedes social, economic, cultural and democratic developments globally, with disproportionate effects on developing and fragile states. The threat and challenges of organized crime in Africa in general and West Africa in particular is enormous because of the high presence of fragile states serving as potential breeding grounds for such activities (Commission of the European Communities 2007: 5). In Africa, as in the rest of the world, organized criminal activities take the form of drug trafficking, advanced fee and Internet fraud, human trafficking, diamond smuggling, forgery, cigarette smuggling, illegal manufacture of firearms, trafficking in firearms, armed robbery and the theft and smuggling of oil (Aning, 2008). For West African states, one of the most serious challenges to state survival is the influx of narcotics and their impact on public, private sector and community institutions. The emerging culture of quick and easy acquisition of money threatens democracy—drug cartels have bought friends in high places in West Africa. The scale of the problem is so massive that the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) states: The crisis of drug trafficking in West Africa is gaining attention…Alarm bells are ringing about the volume of cocaine transiting the region (roughly 50 tons a year). West Africa…has become a hub for cocaine trafficking…worth almost $2 billion a year. This is more than a drugs problem. It is a serious security threat (UNODC 2008: 1). Organized transnational criminal groups pose threats to West Africa’s fragile states and to democratic governance processes and institutions. The established link between drug trafficking in West Africa and Europe highlights the need for the European Union (EU) to engage its West African counterparts in fighting the negative impacts of organized crime in West Africa, including its corrosive effects on democratic institutions—parliaments, the judiciary, political parties and the executive arm of government. The EU can build democracy in the sub-region in a significant manner only if the threats posed by transnational organized crime (TOC) is addressed concurrently.
  • Foreign and Security Policy,
  • Parliaments and Political Parties,
  • State Institutions,
  • Africa
Publication Date
November, 2009
Citation Information
Emmanuel Kwesi Aning. "Organized Crime in West Africa: Options for EU Engagement" (2009)
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