In recent years, Ghana has become a major transshipment point of illicit drugs. This has attracted both domestic and global attention. The government of Ghana has instituted various approaches to dismantle the illicit drug industry, but has seen only marginal success. One strategy that has emerged as an effective pathway to tackling the drug trafficking menace is cooperation between/among countries. Due to the transnational nature of drug trafficking, various countries have explored collaborative strategies to combat drug trafficking. While the Ghana-UK collaboration called Operation West Bridge has existed for over a decade, very little is known about the extent to which that collaborative effort has helped to address drug trafficking particularly in Ghana. Following a thorough analysis of the data obtained from both primary and secondary sources, this study has established that the Operation West Bridge has chalked some successes and there is need to consolidate the gains made. Arrests and drug seizures have increased significantly since the inception of the collaboration. Using cooperation as theoretical framework, the study has also revealed that there exists an unequal relationship in the collaborative agreement. Notably, Ghanaian officials (NACOB) have no access to UK Airports but other hand; West Bridge officials have unfettered access to Airports in Ghana. Also, the collaboration is not holistic enough to serve the interest of both parties, as it looks as though it serves more the interest of British than their Ghanaian collaborators. The study further argues, among others, that the rise in drug trafficking is also a function of undue intermeddling in the work of state security agencies.


            Background to the Study

The concept of security until the later part of the 20th century was focused on national security. The nature of security threats had often been seen as ensuing from external threat and more specifically external military threats (which requires a military response). With the end of the Cold War however, the concept of security has taken a broader dimension. It has been defined more and more in terms of transnational security or threats affecting the human security of the people of the world.

One key feature that threatens global security is the proliferation of illicit drugs (World Drug Report, 2010). The far-reaching consequences of drug trafficking has therefore attracted global attention for some measures to be taken to address it (Shehu, 2009). It is important to note that different actors have varied roles in the illicit drug enterprise. Whilst some actors are engaged in the production aspect, others deal with the distribution and some others engage in the consumption (World Drug Report, 2010). Hitherto, the African continent was relatively peripheral as far as illicit drug business was concerned but in recent times, it has assumed global significance due to its role as transshipment route of drugs to Europe and the Americas (Akyeampong, 2005; Aning, 2007). Indeed, Africa is the second largest producer of cannabis accounting for approximately 22% of production worldwide (UN, 2008). As observed by Bonsu (2011), the West African sub-region has become fertile ground for drug trafficking activities. Ghana finds itself within this arena that serves as transit routes for drug trafficking. Although production and consumption of illicit drugs in Ghana has not reached astronomical levels, it is increasingly used as a transit base (Atta-Asamoah, 2014). Notably, in 2005 Ghana was declared

as a major transit point for drugs trafficked to the United States of America, Europe, Asia etc. (US Department of State, 2005)

As Kofi Annan (2000) noted, “The demands we face also reflect a growing consensus that collective security can no longer be narrowly defined as the absence of armed conflict, be it between or within states. Gross abuses of human rights, the large-scale displacement of civilian populations, international terrorism, the AIDS pandemic, drug and arms trafficking and environmental disasters present a direct threat to human security, forcing us to adopt a much more coordinated approach to a range of issues.”

According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC] (2007) drug trafficking is global illicit trades involving the cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and sale of substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws. Globalization, the liberalization of international markets and the suppression of borders have allowed the drug trade to flourish (ibid). The development of satellite communications and other technical advancements have endowed trafficking networks with new and efficient working tools to adapt, and better exploit the international system. Over time, analysts have drawn home the linkages between globalization and the growth of transnational forms of crime, particularly drug trafficking (Passas 1999; Passas, 2003). Globalization has contributed to the rise of global drug trafficking through ease of travel, communication and free flow of capital across various borders (Passas, 2003). The advancement of the internet has led to an expansion in global demand for and access to drugs, by expediting drug-related communications, coordination, and virtual transactions. This facilitates easy access to some drugs hitherto alien to a geographical location (Shehu, 2009).

The devastating effects that drug trafficking cause to human or national security are unbearable. Drug trafficking affects the social, political and economic fiber of societies. West Africa is fast becoming a hub of drug trafficking (Aning, 2007; Shehu, 2009). Between 2001 and  2007, annual cocaine seizures in West Africa had increased from approximately 273kilos to about 47000 kilos (James Cocayne, 2011). It is the above mentioned and many other dangers associated with drug trafficking that calls for better collaborations between/among countries particularly transit points and destinations on how to collaborate to help stem the tide on illicit drug trafficking.