Counter–Terrorism in Southern Africa
Namibian Minister of Safety and Security, Nangolo Mbumba, addressing the Regional Counter-Terrorism Workshop
The United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) in collaboration with the government of Namibia organized a workshop on the “Regional Implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Southern Africa,” in Windhoek, Namibia on 5-6 October 2011.
The aim of the workshop was to promote in-depth knowledge and understanding of the Strategy in the region and to make the UN counter-terrorism framework more relevant to the practical needs on the ground.
Namibia’s Minister of Safety and Security, Nangolo Mbumba noted that counter-terrorism laws and practical measures to reinforce inter-agency and inter-state cooperation have not received the necessary priority. He attributed the low investment in counter-terrorism measures to the historically low threat posed by local and international terrorist groups in the region.
Mbumba urged regional governments to expand their margins of safety and security by embracing a new mindset to counter global terrorism. “Any major international terrorist attack against our member countries can push us into a global economic recession,” he said.
The UN Resident Coordinator, Alaphia Wright hailed the critical role that CTITF plays in ensuring coordination between all relevant UN entities against terrorism while calling for more efforts to address economic development, education, rampant unemployment, poverty and social intolerance which work in favor of terrorism.
In his closing remarks, Muhammad Rafiuddin Shah, Officer-in-Charge of the CTITF Office highlighted the key conclusions which included the need to establish a “systems integration” approach which includes “a grounded and institutionalized government-supported mechanism that allows for a functional and practical exchange of priorities and methods between all relevant stakeholders in order to counter terrorism through a comprehensive approach”.
Shah said, the imperatives of regional security and development, complemented with credible justice systems, “which not only enables states to fulfill their responsibilities to protect their citizens from terrorism, but also creates a rule of law-based environment which in effect prevents future terrorist attacks” was hailed as necessary.
Participants agreed that the challenges to establishing credible justice systems could be overcome through confidence building measures such as creation of dedicated regional forums or associations of judicial or legal officials to share information and best practices, and find locally acceptable solutions to persistent problems. Also capacity building could be enhanced through training by the United Nations, relevant regional judicial institutions and legal systems at the practitioner level.
With regard to the challenge of countering financing of terrorism, participants agreed that regional cooperation on this issue could help governments to effectively monitor and stop the movement of illicit funds.
Participates noted that Police cooperation and capacity-building initiatives in Southern Africa have significantly improved but lack of sustained engagement between donors and the region could undermine this achievement. In this regard the role of the CTITF entities as facilitators of assistance was important.
The workshop was supported by the Governments of Austria, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States of America.