With the latest round of political conflict continuing to destabilize the minuscule West African country since late 2019 and early 2020, new evidence (and rumours) has emerged that cocaine is once again transiting through Guinea-Bissau.

The COVID-19 lockdown in the country is most likely now providing convenient cover for drug trafficking. Although the cocaine economy is but one contributor to the decades-long litany of instability blighting Guinea-Bissau, it is an important factor, and one that needs to be addressed afresh.

Like the drug itself, the money generated by the cocaine transit trade has become addictive for some political and military figures in Bissau. Several previous attempts to end the trade have failed.

A more systematic and long-term policy response from the international community is now required if lasting stability in Guinea-Bissau is ever to be achieved.

Breaking the vicious cycle: Cocaine politics in Guinea-Bissau

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Quebrando o ciclo vicioso: Política da cocaína na Guiné-Bissau

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Mark Shaw

Mark is the Director of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

Mark is also a Senior Associate of the LSE International Drug Policy Unit, (LSE US Centre). He previously held the National Research Foundation Professor of Justice and Security at the University of Cape Town, Department of Criminology.

Mark worked for ten years at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), including as Inter-regional Advisor, Chief of the Criminal Justice Reform Unit and with the Global Programme against Transnational Organised Crime, where he lead projects and provided technical assistance to national governments, bilateral donors and international organisations in Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, West Africa, the Sahel and Southern Africa, on security sector and criminal justice reform, and countering transnational threats.

A South African national, before joining the UN, Mark held a number of positions in government and civil society where he worked on issues of public safety and urban violence in the post-apartheid transition.

He holds a PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and has published widely on organised crime, security and justice reform issues.

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