West Africa has become a hub for international drug trafficking over the last decade. The trans-shipment of narcotics from Latin America through West Africa to Europe and North America has increased significantly. Organized crime syndicates are operating in West Africa to ensure the safe passage of drug cargo through the region. Consequentially, local consumption of these drugs has increased substantially. These developments pose serious threats to the peace and stability of West Africa.

Over the last decade, several initiatives have been launched to combat these dangers. However, experts in the field, meeting in Dakar in April 2012, cautioned that the problems are growing more serious. They called for a renewed and concerted effort to deal with trafficking and dependency and recommended that a regionally-led, independent, high-level group of “champions” should be established to mobilize political attention and practical responses to these challenges.

The Kofi Annan Foundation, in consultation with international and regional partners, national governments and civil society organizations, agreed to take the lead in setting up this group.