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Conference stresses rule of law in Africa

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime called on leaders in East Africa Wednesday to support the rule of law to counter widespread violence and instability.

Francis Maertens, UNODC director for operations, said Wednesday at the Regional Program to Promote the Rule of Law and Human Security in Eastern Africa 2009-11 conference in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi that without the rule of law, countries in East Africa remain susceptible to a further escalation in violence across the region, the United Nations reported.

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Maertens also pointed to the East African region's many fragile and weak governments that he said will continue to leave the region vulnerable to violent conflicts, piracy and transnational criminal groups, among other threats.

"Poor governance, insecurity, conflicts, poverty and economic disparities among and within countries of the region are providing opportunities for transnational organized crime," Maertens said in a statement.

The result is "widespread illicit trafficking in drugs, persons, money, arms, wildlife and timber products. The key challenge for the Program to Promote the Rule of Law is to translate the regional program into an integrated, effective and sustainable set of activities on the ground."

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