In Fall 2004, I had the pleasure to live and do research in Ghana, a small West African English-speaking country sandwiched between Francophone states.  Upon my return, my mom asked me if there was lots of crime.  Much to the surprise of my mother, I told her that armed crime was a rarity in the country and, in fact, was much lower than many developed countries.  Flash forward to 2007.  And armed crime in Ghana has risen significantly.  The puzzle is why is it that armed crime has increased in Ghana despite the fact that Ghana does not even produce guns and weapons?
The answers lie outside of Ghana’s borders and towards the West African region and the world as a whole.  Just recently, 2 UK 16-year-old girls were caught with cocaine coming back from Ghana.  Where is it coming from in the first place?  According to the BBC, West Africa is becoming the new gateway for cocaine and cannabis, with the cocaine coming from Peru and South America and the cannabis coming from South Africa.

So it appears that narco-economics are affecting the region and, from this, crime is going up.  But external drug trafficking is not enough to explain the conflicts internally in the region.  Neighboring Ghana is the Ivory Coast, a country that is one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa.  Embattled into a civil war, like many West African conflicts, valuable materials were used to extract funding to purchase weapons to continue to the fighting and killing.  According to the Christian Science Monitor, it appears that both government and rebel forces used cocoa to fund their ambitions.
What can the international community do to cut down on the drugs trade and to improve transparency in the cocoa sector?

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