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West Africa stability threatened by organized crime, drug trafficking: UN

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] called Tuesday for an increase in efforts to curb transnational organized crime, drug trafficking and piracy in West Africa. In an address [UN News Centre report] to the UN Security Council [official website], the Secretary-General said he was "particularly concerned about reports stating that terrorist groups, such as Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, have formed alliances with drug traffickers." Additionally, the Secretary-General expressed concern that instability in Libya, a growing food crisis, and other conflicts throughout the region could worsen the situation. According to the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) [official website], "multi-dimensional and strategic approach that works at the local, national and regional levels" is necessary to combat these forces [press release] and preserve stability in the region.

The UN has been involved in efforts to stabilize the West African region following the recent unrest in Libya and the Middle East. Earlier this month, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) [official website] welcomed the new electoral law [JURIST report] adopted by the National Transitional Council (NTC) [official website, in Arabic; JURIST news archive]. The draft of the electoral law sets out procedures for the upcoming election to choose a national assembly. This finalization and adoption of the new electoral law is a significant step for Libya in establishing a democratic system after the end of the Muammar Gaddafi [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] regime and the Libyan conflict [JURIST backgrounder]. Last month, Libya was criticized for the allegations of torture and human rights violations [JURIST report]. Although the NTC expressed its commitment to human rights and legal reformation, UN Security Council was still concerned due to the lack of NTC's control over the revolutionary brigades.

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