UN Youth Volunteer Niels Peters Williams (Ecuador) serves as Programme Support Officer with the Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP) of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. He supports initiatives to strengthen the capacity of maritime law enforcement and other criminal justice authorities. Based in Colombo, he has contributed through his assignment to enhancing capacities to effectively respond to maritime crimes, including illicit drug trafficking by sea.
Photo: UN Volunteer Niels Peters Williams (far left) supporting a VBSS boarding training in Sri Lanka, which is usually conducted in dhows that have been confiscated for the trafficking of illicit goods. ©UNODC GMCP, 2020
In the last 3 years, more than 25 UN Volunteers have served with UNODC's GMCP programme. Since its launch in 2009, the programme has been working globally to improve the capabilities of Member States’ criminal justice systems to prevent, investigate and prosecute maritime crime, through a sound rule of law framework and international cooperation. UN Volunteers inspire everyday through their commitment and passion and contributions.
Photo: UN Volunteer, Anais Rios (France) during a patrolling exercise around Kingston Harbour in Jamaica as part of a GMCP capacity building initiative. ©UNODC/GMCP, 2019
"I decided to become a UN Volunteer, because I wanted to work for a UN agency in an area that has shown promising results with a relatively new approach in this region. Although Sri Lanka is not a major producer of contraband drugs, its strategic location along important maritime shipping routes between Europe and Southeast Asia makes it an attractive gateway for international drug trafficking groups. However, through the provision of legal, technical, and operational assistance, we are able to counter the impact of drug abuse and illicit trafficking on health, governance and security." --Niels Peters Williams, Programme Support Officer with UNODC GMCP, Sri Lanka
Photo: UN Volunteer Niels Peters Williams supporting a VBSS course, which enables maritime law enforcers to practice boarding procedures and vessel search operations necessary to tackle piracy and maritime crime in the Indian Ocean. ©UNODC GMCP, 2020
Niels helps the UNODC GMCP team in developing tailored strategies to tackle the illicit trade of drugs, with a particular focus on disrupting trade routes across the Indian Ocean region. He also assists the VBSS training team in ensuring a solid maritime law enforcement response to drugs trafficking. In addition, Niels has been engaged in a project that supports the construction and refurbishing of three drug rehabilitation centres in Colombo. One of the centres houses a group of young women and girls who have been involved with drugs and/or crime in Sri Lanka.
Photo: UN Volunteer Niels Peters Williams with members of the Sri Lankan Special Boat Squadron (SBS), during the closing ceremony of a VBSS training course delivered by UNODC GMCP. ©UNODC GMCP, 2020
Niels has assisted the team in charge of delivering mentoring and vocational training for inmates in prisons. The aim is to avoid recidivism and facilitate their reintegration into society upon their release.
“What I like most about my job is that I am able to participate at multiple levels. I contribute substantively to policy coordination and evaluation functions, including the review and analysis of emerging issues and trends. I also engage with beneficiary communities, thus gaining a deeper understanding of the issues at the core of our efforts." - Niels Peters Williams, Programme Support Officer with UNODC GMCP, in Sri Lanka
Photo: UN Volunteer Niels Peters Williams during a boarding exercise organized by UNODC GMCP at the programme’s maritime law enforcement training centre in the Seychelles. ©UNODC GMCP, 2020
"I would like to express my appreciation to UNV for our great partnership. The UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme has a large pool of UN Volunteers working in our different teams around the world, supporting the implementation of activities tackling maritime crime. Niels has made an invaluable contribution to the GMCP headquarters team with his knowledge, creativity, team spirit and engagement. The UNV programme is a great opportunity to learn about the UN system, be exposed to a variety of different thematic and programming areas and to grow as an individual while defining a career path." --Siri Bjune, Senior Programme Officer and Deputy Head of the GMCP, UNODC
Photo: UN Volunteer Niels Peters Williams (left) with Craig Lunn, GMCP Senior Maritime Law Enforcement Instructor (right) during a VBSS course held in Sri Lanka. ©UNODC GMCP, 2020
"Not only do UN volunteers form the backbone of many UN agencies, but they are also at the forefront of efforts to generate wellbeing for people and their communities. Therefore, through volunteerism, we have the power and tools to make meaningful change in policy and practice, thus pushing the sustainable development agenda forward at all levels of society. I am proud to serve as a UN Volunteer." --UN Volunteer Niels Peters Williams, Programme Support Officer with UNODC GMCP, Sri Lanka
Photo: UN Volunteer Niels Peters Williams. (personal archive, 2020)