Security Council Issues Presidential Statement Calling for Greater Efforts to Help Africa Fight Terrorism, as Delegates Denounce ‘Insufficient’ Current Approaches

SC/14140
11 March 2020
8743rd Meeting (AM)

Security Council Issues Presidential Statement Calling for Greater Efforts to Help Africa Fight Terrorism, as Delegates Denounce ‘Insufficient’ Current Approaches

Nigeria Cites Weak Criminal Justice Responses, Law Enforcement Woes, with States ‘Hard Pressed’ to Handle Disengaging Fighters

Terrorism and violent extremism pose a significant and growing threat to peace and security in Africa and the international community must redouble its efforts to strengthen the continent’s ability to fight back, delegates in the Security Council said today as it issued a presidential statement and heard briefings by senior United Nations officials.

In a statement (document S/PRST/2020/5) issued by Zhang Jun (China), Council President for March, the 15-member organ underlined the importance of prompt and effective implementation of its resolutions dealing with terrorism, including sanctions aimed at Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Al-Qaida and their affiliates.

“The Security Council calls on the international community to strengthen its political commitment and to consider mobilizing more sustainable and predicable resources and expertise to strengthen the capacity of African countries in countering terrorism and violent extremism conducive terrorism,” the statement said.

To that end, the Council specified areas in which the international community can support African countries, including through stronger inter-agency cooperation, the sharing of good border security practices, developing fair and effective criminal justice systems, preventing the acquisition of weapons by terrorists, and both developing and implementing plans to respond to terrorist attacks on critical infrastructure.

The Council emphasized that Member States must ensure that counter-terrorism efforts comply with their obligations under international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, as a failure to do so contributes to radicalization.

In her briefing, Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, warned that Al-Shabaab poses the most persistent threat to security in Somalia and East Africa, despite recent military operations launched against the group.  Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant meanwhile continues to carry out activities in Libya and empower affiliates in eastern, southern and central Africa.  The result is the terrorizing of local populations, especially women.  “Just as misogyny is at the heart of so many terrorist-group strategies, so must women be at the centre of our responses,” she said, calling for greater multilateral cooperation, notably the sharing of best practices and resources.

In similar vein, Fatima Kyari Mohammed, Permanent Observer of the African Union, said terrorism and violent extremism are assuming unprecedented scales of expansion and intensity.  In addition to the Sahel, Lake Chad Basin and Horn of Africa, terrorism is now spreading to parts of Africa that had been spared that menace.  “We cannot ignore the fact that these regions are at war today — a real war in which dozens of soldiers and civilians die almost every week,” she said.  A greater focus must be placed on prevention, root causes and understanding why young people join terrorist groups or espouse extremist views.

On that point, Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Special Adviser to the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said his office invests heavily in research and evidence-based programming in order to help prevent the rise of violent extremism.  UNDP has interviewed hundreds of former members of terrorist and extremist groups to better understand what drives recruitment and found that over half of them were dissatisfied with their economic situation.  More than three quarters of those interviewed said they had “zero trust in politicians or in law enforcement institutions”.  Addressing these root causes would bring dividends, he assured, noting that funds directed at prevention are more effectively spent than simply responding to crises as they happen.

In the ensuing debate, delegates underscored the significant threat posed by terrorism on African communities and institutions.  Efforts to date are insufficient, several speakers warned.

Nigeria’s representative described African anti-terrorism efforts as fragmented, military-oriented and incommensurate with the scale of the threat.  The criminal-justice response remains weak, law enforcement agencies face capacity constraints and courts in many countries are hard-pressed to deal with the number of persons disengaging from terrorist groups, he said, emphasizing:  “Simply restoring social, political and economic structures to pre-conflict levels will not lead to sustainable long-term solutions.”

Eritrea’s representative similarly described regional and international responses as “inadequate and incoherent”, arguing for more robust coordination mechanisms.  A “narrative of hope” is also needed to counter extremist ideologies perpetuated in the darkest reaches of cyberspace in hopes of ensnaring the hearts and minds of young people, he added.

Several delegates called attention to the effects of climate change on extremism, with Guinea’s representative noting that if left unchecked, global warming could foster a fertile breeding ground for terrorism.

Tunisia’s representative, speaking also for Niger, South Africa and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, pointed out that terrorists exploit local differences and grievances.  Foreign terrorist fights are often drawn to conflict zones where government presence is weak, he said, pressing States to adopt strategies that target root causes and the links between terrorism and transnational organized crime.

Sudan’s representative took the opportunity to highlight the 9 March assassination attempt against his country’s Prime Minister, saying it would have “torpedoed” the delicate peace and stability, noting that an investigation is under way to identify the perpetrators.

Sierra Leone’s representative cited his country’s communications strategy to counter radicalization through radio and television programming, recalling that it recently hosted a workshop for religious leaders, some of whom are now working to debunk misconceptions linking Islam, a religion of peace, to terrorism.

Estonia’s representative, meanwhile, added that the building of resilient communities often starts at the level of a local village or a town neighbourhood, and grows from there.

Partner countries, for their part, called attention to their own efforts, with France’s representative pointing to gains made at a 13 January summit during which leaders of the Group of Five (G5) Sahel countries — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger — and international partners launched a Coalition for the Sahel to more effectively coordinate efforts.

The European Union’s delegate cited its support for addressing the full spectrum of challenges, with most of its €465 million portfolio to counter and prevent terrorism and extremism directed towards Africa.

Japan’s delegate added that his country supports peacekeeping training centres in nine African countries, including Mali, and will continue to cooperate with joint efforts among the Security Council, the African Union and its subregional organizations.

Also speaking today were representatives of the Dominican Republic, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Germany, Viet Nam, Belgium, United States, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Algeria, Kenya, Angola, Senegal and Togo.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and suspended at 1:10 p.m.  Resuming at 3:04 p.m., it ended at 4:02 p.m.

Briefings

ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said “Africa is moving forward with its own agenda of progress, peace and prosperity”.  Across the continent, countries are addressing complex structural challenges in accordance with the African Union’s Agenda 2063, with civil society, communities and Governments working together as never before, she added, emphasizing that the United Nations is fully committed to supporting their efforts.  However, the continent continues to face vulnerabilities that threaten its peace and security, hinder its economic development and undermine human rights and the rule of law, she said.

“Al-Shabaab continues to pose the most persistent threat to security in Somalia and East Africa” despite the intensified recent military operations against the group, she continued, noting that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) also continues to operate in Libya despite recent setbacks.  It is restructuring and empowering its affiliates in Eastern, Southern and Central Africa, she added.  In the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, Boko Haram and its splinter faction, Islamic State’s West Africa Province, all continue to terrorize local populations and attack security forces.  Pointing out that women disproportionately bear the burden of terrorist violence, she emphasized:  “Just as misogyny is at the heart of so many terrorist-group strategies, so must women be at the centre of our responses.”

She went on to state that the 2019 African Regional High-Level Conference on Counter-Terrorism and the Prevention of Violent Extremism Conducive to Terrorism, which the United Nations organized in Nairobi with the Government of Kenya, has reinvigorated concerted efforts to understand and address terrorism in Africa.  Noting that terrorism cannot be addressed without tackling underlying forces, she said it is often a consequence of development, humanitarian and security challenges that terrorists seek to exploit.  Stressing the insufficiency of security and military anti-terrorism efforts, she said poverty, weak governance, intercommunal tensions, gender inequality and youth unemployment must all be addressed, as must the use of new technologies and social media to “recruit, inflame and incite”.

Since terrorism has no borders, preventing it requires strong multilateral cooperation, she continued, underlining the abiding commitment of the United Nations to bringing Member States together to share best counter-terrorism practices, expertise and resources.  The Organization also supports the development of regional counter-terrorism strategies in the Sahel, Central and Southern Africa, she said.  Further to requests from Member States, the United Nations is also supporting Africa-led and African-owned initiatives in priority areas such as protection of vulnerable targets, countering travel by terrorists, and engaging with parliamentarians to implement relevant counter-terrorism legislation.  She went on to encourage Member States to take advantage of the upcoming review of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism week.

FATIMA KYARI MOHAMMED, Permanent Observer of the African Union, spoke on behalf of that regional bloc’s Chairperson, saying that terrorism and violent extremist are assuming unprecedented scales of expansion and intensity within and beyond Africa.  In addition to the Sahel, Lake Chad Basin and Horn of Africa, terrorism is now spreading to other parts of Africa that had been spared that menace, she said.  “We cannot ignore the fact that these regions are at war today — a real war in which dozens of soldiers and civilians die almost every week,” she added, emphasizing that the consequences of terrorist acts are reversing development gains.  Terrorist groups, meanwhile, are using increasingly sophisticated tools, she continued, pointing to the reality of “drone terrorism” and the use of social media.  Over the years, such groups have morphed into well-organized shadow governments while also fuelling intercommunal violence.  “The complexity of terrorism and violent extremism on the African continent defies generalization and one-size-fits-all policy responses,” she emphasized.

Calling attention to the African Union’s responses over the years, she cited the 1999 Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, efforts to build the capacity of African intelligence services and law enforcement agencies, as well as the Nouakchott and Djibouti Processes for Enhancing Security Cooperation in the Sahel and East Africa regions.  African Union peace support operations like the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) as well as ad hoc security coalitions such as the Multi-National Joint Task Force against Boko Haram and the Group of Five (G5) Sahel Joint Force demonstrate Africa’s commitment to eliminate terrorism and stop it spreading to the rest of the world, she said, urging the international community to provide them with predictable and sustainable support.  The challenges of terrorism in Africa surpass the political and financial resources of individual Member States and international organizations, she said, stressing the importance of coordinated and collective interventions.

Countering its spread requires an integrated and comprehensive approach, with a greater focus on prevention alongside the integration of security and law enforcement responses, she continued, also underlining  the importance of post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction efforts.  More work must be done to understand the reasons why young people join violent extremist groups and to come up with policy responses specifically designed to address local realities, she said, underlining the need for the international community to pay greater attention to factors extending beyond immediate local contexts.  From the conflicts in the Middle East to the rise of Islamophobia and right-wing groups in the West, developments outside Africa enable violent extremist groups to weave global injustices into their own narratives, she noted.  Reiterating the African Union’s commitment to do its part in fighting terrorism and violent extremism, she emphasized the responsibility of the entire international community to act collectively in confronting a scourge that not only undermines international peace and security, but also the very principles and values that characterize diverse and democratic societies.

ABDOULAYE MAR DIEYE, Special Adviser to the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), emphasized the need to prevent violent extremism through an approach grounded in sustainable development and human rights.  Development supports economic renewal, peace and prosperity, he said, noting that even countries in the Sahel demonstrate the potential for significant economic growth.  Yet the continent is increasingly challenged by instability, especially in what is now called the “Arc of Instability” spanning the Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin region and the Horn of Africa, he noted, saying the international community faces the challenge of addressing that instability while lacking empirical evidence.  It is often unclear what communities and institutions need or what strategies would work in meeting those needs.  That is why UNDP invests in quality research and evidence-based programming, he said, explaining that the Programme’s approach to preventing violent extremism is based on ground-breaking research that draws on interviews with more than 700 former members of violent extremist groups in order to understand what drives recruitment.

Citing UNDP’s “Journey to Extremism in Africa” report, he said 55 per cent of voluntary recruits express frustration with their economic conditions, 83 per cent believe their Governments only look after the interests of a few, while “more than 75 per cent have zero trust in politicians or in law enforcement institutions”.  Stressing the importance of addressing the root causes of terrorism, he noted that for every United States dollar invested, the cost of conflict is reduced by more than $16 in the long run.  Investing in prevention protects a State against an annual loss of between 2 per cent and 8 per cent of gross domestic product.  However, the majority of funding is not spent on prevention and peacebuilding, but on responding to crises, he pointed out, emphasizing that development solutions are also needed to address root causes.

Data show that dialogue supports changes in attitude and behaviour among people from different political, religious and social groups, he said, adding that projects integrating psychosocial support, skills training and education reduce extremist tendencies among young people and increase tolerance in communities.  Data also show that investing in women’s empowerment and gender equality promotes peace and security, he pointed out.  Describing UNDP as a global leader in providing support to address the root causes of violent extremism, he said the Programme brings development solutions to complement security measures through global efforts to prevent violent extremism that encompasses projects at the regional and national levels.  He went on to applaud the African Union’s visionary support for its “Silencing the Guns” campaign to promote the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in Africa through control of illegal weapons.

Action

The Council then issued president statement S/PRST/2020/5.

Statements

ZHANG JUN (China), Council President for March, spoke in his national capacity, noting that Africa is increasingly becoming the front line in the global response to terrorism.  Emphasizing the need for swift, effective and coordinated international action to combat terrorism and violent extremism, he said it must include comprehensive and integrated attacks against their breeding grounds.  The presidential statement just issued will provide important guidance with regard to building capacity, training, sharing of best practices and lessons learned, as well as stronger coordination among United Nations agencies, he said.  The international community must also adopt uniform standards when fighting terrorism, avoiding specific references to religions and ethnicities, he added.  He went on to underline the importance of providing counter-terrorism capabilities to African countries “with no political strings attached”, underlining that the international community must help African countries find their own solutions to their own problems.  He went on to express hope that the United Nations will scale up its cooperation with the African Union and other regional and subregional groups, emphasizing:  “African countries cannot go it alone.”

JOSÉ SINGER WEISINGER (Dominican Republic) said the recent five-fold increase in “unnecessary and unforgiveable” terrorism-related fatalities on the continent should be a wake-up call.  The root causes of terrorism and violent extremism must be studied and understood, with particular attention being paid to tie-ups and partnerships between various terrorist groups and transnational organized crime, he said, warning that such unholy alliances erode State institutions, hinder development and tear social fabrics apart.  The proactive and meaningful participation of women must be at the heart of anti-terrorism efforts, he said, also emphasizing the need to bolster the role of young people in decision-making.  He went on to underline the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters as well as the importance of full and effective implementation of relevant Council resolutions on terrorist financing.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), expressing his delegation’s support for the presidential statement, noted that the pernicious impact of extremism and terrorism is visible in West Africa, which has seen a manifold increase in the number of terrorist crimes in just a few years.  In addition, many groups under the ISIL/Da’esh banner are creating new regional branches, he said, emphasizing the importance of implementing Security Council sanctions resolutions in the western Sahel.  He went on to highlight the increasing flows of foreign terrorist fighters into Africa, where they engage in recruitment and preach extremist ideology, stressing that civil society must be involved in preventing terrorism.  Noting the substantial contribution of religious leaders, media and sporting organizations to civil society’s efforts, he cautioned, however, that those efforts will mean noting unless the relevant States coordinate them.  He went on to state that, when assessing the needs of States in the region, attention should be paid to Security Council resolutions as well as regional instruments, noting the efforts of the African Union in that regard.  States should also take a balanced approach to the conditions that lead to terrorism, he said, adding that solving socioeconomic problems would help to reduce and eliminate the breeding grounds of terrorism.

TAREK LADEB (Tunisia), speaking also on behalf of Niger, South Africa and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said terrorism and violent extremism are among the most serious threats to Africa’s stability, often evolving into armed confrontations between terrorist groups and State security institutions.  Having been driven from Iraq and Syria, ISIL/Da’esh is resurfacing on African territory, notably in the Sahel, he said, noting that foreign terrorist fighters are attracted to conflict zones in which Government presence is weak.  “They exploit local grievances,” he added, summing up:  “In short, terrorist groups in Africa have become a key factor of instability.”  Citing the situation in Libya, he called upon States to refrain from violating the arms embargo imposed on that country, and on the Council to ensure full compliance with its resolutions.

He went on to underline the need to detect, disrupt and prosecute all means of support for terrorism in Africa, as well as to reinforce capacity to counter terrorist narratives and use of information and communications technologies.  The causes and conditions suitable to terrorism on the continent must also be addressed, including lack of education, unemployment and gender inequality.  States must also adopt comprehensive strategies for tackling poverty, addressing the links between transnational organized crime and terrorism, strengthening State capacity to mitigate attacks on soft targets, and enhancing inter-agency, bilateral and regional coordination and information sharing — particularly in relation to border management and criminal justice.  He went on to call for stronger, more coordinated international cooperation on Africa, notably in implementing the International Coalition for the Sahel.

JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom), noting that the terrorist threat in Africa is rapidly evolving and does not follow boundaries, stressed the value of international and regional cooperation.  Having the right mechanisms and partnerships in place is essential to ensuring that information can be exchanged about plots and that perpetrators can be prosecuted.  The greater the information sharing and cooperation, the less terrorists are able to do, he said, noting that the inverse is also true.  Relations between countries can be complex, but terrorism should always be a common cause.  He stressed the important role of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate in working with States and urged the United Nations to continue to enhance capacity-building in Africa.  The United Kingdom supports counter-terrorism capacity-building projects through bilateral programmes in countries throughout Africa, including for police and the military.  The prevention of terrorism should be a local endeavour, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach, he said, pointing out that what works in London will not necessarily work in Manchester.

CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany) said that he agreed with the Permanent Observer of the African Union that complex problems require complex solutions and a holistic approach.  It is important to understand what drives young people to join terrorist and extremist groups and to build resilient societies that respect the rule of law and human rights.  Pointing to recent research, he said poverty alone is not a driver of terrorism, nor does prosperity immunize societies from that scourge.  He underscored the importance of education, saying it is depressing to hear that thousands of schools in Africa are closed, adding that the gender perspective must be incorporated in anti-terrorism efforts.

NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) said a global approach to terrorism — one that involves all actors and addresses all causes — must be the priority.  He noted the growing operational strength of the G5 Sahel force and the joint command mechanism established in Niamey with Operation Barkhane.  Stronger international cooperation, particularly among States in the region, is essential.  The summit meeting in Pau, France, on 13 January enabled G5 Sahel leaders and international partners to launch a Coalition for the Sahel to better coordinate efforts.  He emphasized the importance of targeting populations most exposed to the threat of terrorism, including women and youth, noting that nearly half of the continent by 2050 will be under the age of 25.  Underscoring the need to respect international humanitarian law, human rights and the rights of refugees, he rejected attempts to exploit the terrorist threat as a way to violate the rights to religion and free expression.

DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam), expressing concern about the growing number of attacks by ISIL/Da’esh in the Sahel, called for a holistic approach that addresses unresolved conflicts and poverty.  Terrorism cannot survive without finance, he said, stressing the need to strengthen legal and institutional capacities that target terrorists’ finance networks.  Urging all parties to fully implement Security Council resolution 2462 (2019) on combating terrorism financing, he also commended the African Union’s regional and subregional efforts, including the establishment of the G5 Sahel Joint Force and the “Silencing the Guns” initiative.

MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium) said members of ISIL/Da’esh and Al-Qaida have become embedded in conflict areas, targeting often marginalized populations that have become disillusioned due to the absence of economic opportunities.  Terrorist groups use local conflicts to impose their ideology of violent extremism, he added, noting with concern the increase in attacks by those groups in the Sahel.  They often work together, despite their rivalry in the Middle East and around the world, he said, pointing out that terrorism in Africa is becoming increasingly interwoven with transnational organized crime.  The enormous associated challenges must be overcome by the international community working together in solidarity with Africa, he said, emphasizing that the continent can count on the support of Belgium and the European Union.  He went on to stress the importance of an integrated approach to combat terrorism, pointing out that the fight goes far beyond the need to maintain public order.  Success will not be achieved simply by putting more sophisticated surveillance techniques in place or establishing a culture of repression by security forces, he cautioned, stressing the importance of economic prospects as well as the need to strengthen the resilience of young people against the toxic discourse spread by terrorists.

KELLY CRAFT (United States) said that ISIL/Da’esh has demonstrated its ability to adapt by establishing branches around the world.  While not unique to Africa, parts of the continent are especially vulnerable to that threat, she said, noting the situations in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa in that regard.  Recalling that Somalia based Al-Shabaab attacked an airfield in Kenya last month, killing three Americans, she emphasized the imperative need for comprehensive, concerted international action to tackle the threat and eliminate the conditions that lead to terrorism.  However, counter-terrorism efforts can never justify the arbitrary incarceration of dissidents, journalists or members of minority groups, she said, stressing that it must be implemented with full respect for human rights.  Reiterating that collective security does not override individual rights, she said the United States is working to increase the capacity of its African partners to prosecute and deter terrorists.  The bottom line is that terrorists can be beaten and that this is a fight that can be won, she added.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), noting that the uptick in violence in the Sahel region is now threatening to spread to wider West Africa, said this cross-border phenomenon is exacerbated in areas where borders are porous and State authority is insufficient. A truly effective response calls for coordinated regional and international action, he said, welcoming the role of the African Union.  Further, States must ensure that all counter-terrorism measures comply with international law, including human rights and humanitarian law.  Calling for a holistic approach, he pointed out that building resilient communities often starts at the level of a local village or a town neighbourhood.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) stressed the importance of considering region-specific challenges, capacities and priorities in designing counter-terrorism approaches and addressing the relationship between transnational organized crime and terrorism.  He urged Member States to implement comprehensive strategies to prosecute, rehabilitate and reintegrate foreign terrorist fighters and home-grown terrorists, as mandated by resolutions 2178 (2014) and 2396 (2017).  The environment in which terrorist groups can operate must be limited and the underlying grievances exploited by these groups addressed.  All stakeholders must pursue the “Silencing the Guns” by 2020 initiative through practical and measurable steps, he added.

OLOF SKOOG, Head of the European Union delegation, said counter-terrorism efforts must be based on respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, emphasizing that such efforts must entail sensitivity to matters affecting gender and children.  Otherwise, radicalization and violence increase, fostering a sense of impunity.  Terrorism benefits from weak Government institutions, poor governance and porous borders, which lead to corruption, illicit trafficking and exploitation of natural resources, he said.  To that end, the European Union supports the efforts of its African partners to address the full spectrum of challenges posed by terrorism, he said, recalling that the value of the bloc’s external project portfolio for countering and preventing terrorism and violent extremism stood at €465 million at the end of 2019, most of it directed towards Africa.

He went on to describe the European Union’s support for African peace efforts as being focused on a holistic and integrated approach to conflict and crises, noting that the bloc acts at all stages of a conflict cycle, investing in prevention, anti-radicalization efforts, resolution and stabilization.  The European Union also continues to strengthen its cooperation with United Nations agencies, including by working with the Office for Counter-Terrorism in support of Sudan by helping the counter-terrorism efforts of that country’s Transitional Government and contributing to its normalization of relations with the international community.  He called for a greater focus on diagnosing the root causes of violent extremism, reiterating that the European Union will continue to support its partners in Africa.

ALIE KABBA (Sierra Leone) said terrorism and violent extremism have undermined Africa’s development prospects, with shocking humanitarian consequences and massive loss of life.  Many resolutions have been adopted to prevent and end these scourges across Africa, particularly in the Sahel region.  Africa has demonstrated courage and resilience in efforts to sustain peace and security, but given the transnational nature of terrorism, multilateral cooperation with the continent must be enhanced.  Sierra Leone has undertaken various measures to guarantee full implementation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) counter-terrorism strategy, having devised a communications strategy that involves radio and television programmes, and press conferences to counter radicalization.  In addition, the Government organized a national workshop in February 2020 for religious leaders from across the country in a bid to strengthen collaboration between the Government and religious communities.  To support Government efforts, some of these leaders have embarked on a nationwide tour delinking Islam from terrorism and underscoring the Islamic precept of a religion of peace, he said.

MOHAMED FATHI AHMED EDREES (Egypt) said the topic of terrorism and extremism in Africa is complex.  Given its proximity to areas suffering from the greatest instability, Egypt understands the nature of the threat and the means to address it.  In the Sahel region, Egypt has followed the development of terrorist groups, who have exploited circumstances in these nations in order to recruit youth and terrorize the people to achieve primarily political objectives.  The weak political context in some countries has allowed these groups to proliferate and gain strength.  Drawing attention to the close links between organized crime groups and terrorist organizations, which fuel one another, he expressed support for all United Nations and regional efforts to address the causes of terrorism and violent extremism in the Sahel.  For its part, Egypt assists Sahel States in efforts to increase their capacities to address the issue.  For example, it provides support by encouraging religious leaders to promote the real values of religion, and hosting the African Union Centre for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development, he said.

OMER MOHAMED AHMED SIDDIG (Sudan) said the 9 March attempt to assassinate his country’s Prime Minister was unprecedented, adding that, had it succeeded, it would have torpedoed peace and stability in Sudan, boding ill for international peace and security.  An investigation is under way to identify those responsible, he said, emphasizing that they will be prosecuted and held accountable.  He went on to emphasize his country’s commitment to implementing the Global Anti-Terrorism Strategy in a balanced and comprehensive way, as well as the key role that the United Nations must play to ensure cooperation and consistency at all levels.  Calling for deeper partnership between the United Nations and the African Union in the area of peace and security, he said the latter is sparing no effort to eradicate poverty and promote human rights.  Sudan’s own counter-terrorist efforts require technical support, but that must be provided on the basis of mutual respect and without undermining Sudan’s sovereignty, he stressed.

KACOU HOUADJA LÉON ADOM (Côte d’Ivoire) said it is time to move on from one-off solutions to a more coordinated approach that takes the root causes of terrorism and violent extremism into account.  The international community must do more to help build more resilient societies and States must address the many concerns of their respective peoples, he added.  He went on to emphasize that social media can be used to raise awareness and spread messages of peace, tolerance and social cohesion.  Tackling the transnational nature of terrorism and violent extremism requires stronger cooperation between States in terms of security, defence and development, he said, calling attention to efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Monetary Union (WAMU).  He went on to reiterate his country’s appeal for greater international support for the G5 Sahel force, the Multinational Joint Task Force and development efforts.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said terrorism is one of the most serious threats to international peace and security and fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Terrorist operations in Africa are increasingly audacious in attacking infrastructure, such as schools.  Noting that separatists and non-State armed groups represent a genuine threat to peace and security, he expressed concern over the growing closeness of Al-Qaida and ISIL/Da’esh in the Sahel, as they engage in joint operations, raising cause for alarm.  Terrorists aim to incite violence, creating a vacuum to be exploited for their own ends.  Morocco takes an inclusive approach to tackling terrorism, combining the security and military dimensions with economic development and international and regional cooperation.  His country has always promoted economic and human development in Africa and invests in tangible outcomes in several African nations.  Such investments target and aim to deliver better living standards for the most marginal populations, he said.

TAYE ATSKESELASSIE AMDE (Ethiopia) said that while terrorism is a global menace, the causes of radicalization and extremism are very much local.  Terrorists thrive where there is social exclusion and socioeconomic marginalization of minorities and disadvantaged groups, as well as where State authority is either weak or non-existent.  The rise of intolerant speech and hate-filled narratives disseminated through the Internet and social media is also fostering social and political polarization.  Accordingly, strategies to combat terrorism and extremism must be holistic and comprehensive, deployed in tandem with proactive steps to promote development — especially youth employment — and effective strategies to reduce poverty and prevent intercommunal violence.  Young people are often portrayed as unfortunate victims or perpetrators of terrorism.  However, they are also at the forefront of demanding change and better opportunities.  The meaningful participation of women and youth in decision-making at all levels must be ensured.

MOHAMED SIAD DOUALEH (Djibouti) said there has been exponential growth in the use of improvised explosive devices by terrorist groups for the purpose of “mass casualty terrorism” and targeted killings.  Recalling that East Africa has been confronting such groups as Al-Qaida and Al-Shabaab since the 1990s, he said that his country is contributing to regional and international efforts against terrorism as well as fighting piracy in the Gulf of Aden.  However, constant adaptation and a high degree of vigilance requires financial and technology resources, he emphasized, calling for predictable financing of peacekeeping operations, knowledge-sharing and coordination, as well as the fulfilment of development pledges to prevent terrorists from exploiting vulnerable segments of society.

FATOUMATA KABA (Guinea), noting that terrorism and violent extremism have challenged Africa for many years, said that ISIL, Al-Qaida, Al-Shabaab and Boko Hama, among others, are a stark reminder of the need for a successful international count-terrorist strategy.  However, the international community seems to struggle when it comes to finding an agreed definition of terrorism, she noted.  It is high time for the Council to pay long-overdue attention to counter-terrorism in Africa, she emphasized, calling for a reassessment of current strategy, for strong African Union action and for a focus on prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts.  She went on to stress the need to better support the Multinational Joint Task Force and the G5 Sahel force, and for strong cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union.  She concluded by warning that climate change could create a fertile breeding ground for terrorism if left unchecked.

ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) stated that, while the international community must respond to immediate security threats and urgent humanitarian needs, it must also maintain a broader focus to achieve permanent victories over terrorism and violent extremism.  Noting that local grievances often give terrorists a base of support, he called for a durable support system to mitigate concerns over inadequate security, justice, governance and social services.  Inclusive development remains essential — and when coupled with strong, trusted institutions, “will prevent the resurgence of militancy tomorrow after today’s threats are defeated.”  For its part, Japan has placed African-led capacity-building at the core of its engagement, particularly in the security and justice sectors.  It supports peacekeeping training centres in nine African countries, including Mali, and will continue to cooperate with joint efforts among the Security Council, the African Union and its subregional organizations.

SOFIANE MIMOUNI (Algeria) said the fight against terrorism cannot succeed without a comprehensive approach to economic and social development that promotes good governance and addresses root causes.  Having faced the devastating effects of terrorism in the 1990s, he said, Algeria is today at the forefront of the fight, implementing policies and programmes that address exclusion, marginalization and social injustice while also promoting democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Recalling his country’s role as the African Union’s Champion on combating terrorism and violent extremism, he emphasized that the relationship between terrorism and transnational organized crime has grown to alarming proportions.  Meanwhile, a growing number of foreign terrorist fighters, of both African and non-African origin, has appeared in various parts of the continent, particularly in conflict zones, he noted, stressing that such individuals, with their ideological and military training, compound the threat that terrorism poses to Africa.

LAZARUS OMBAI AMAYO (Kenya) said that some of the ideas that emerged from the African Regional High-Level Conference on Counter-Terrorism and the Prevention of Violent Extremism Conducive to Terrorism, which his country hosted in July 2019, call for annual dialogues between the United Nations and the African Union as well as the creation of an inter-agency platform in Kenya to coordinate regional counter-terrorism efforts.  Sharing his country’s experiences and lessons learned, he emphasized the critical need for an all-of-society approach that includes women and young people while fostering social cohesion at the grass roots.  He went on to underline the value of building State authority in marginal and vulnerable territories, cross-border initiatives as well as strong disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation capabilities for dealing with returning terrorist fighters.  He also called upon the international community to provide AMISOM with adequate and predictable financing to continue the ongoing war against Al-Shabaab and to help the Government of Somalia strengthen that country’s national security sector.

SAMSON SUNDAY ITEGBOJE (Nigeria), associating himself with the African Union, emphasized that African anti-terrorism efforts, despite their multitude, remain fragmented, military-oriented and incommensurate with the scale of the threat.  Significant gaps persist at all levels and the criminal-justice response to terrorism remains weak, he added.  Law enforcement agencies face capacity constraints and the courts in many countries are hard-pressed to deal with the number of persons disengaging from terrorist groups.  Meanwhile, responses to the threat of returning foreign terrorist fighters remain ad hoc and poorly coordinated, while political and structural factors undermine the role that the intelligence community can play, he noted.  Efforts to consolidate military gains, such as through adequate humanitarian responses and the restoration of law and order, are lagging, he said, stressing that simply restoring social, political and economic structures to pre-conflict levels will not lead to sustainable long-term solutions.  Urging the Council to continue its support for the African Union and ECOWAS, he also urged it to make concerted efforts to address climate change and to encourage States to toe the line in terms of inclusive governance that includes women and young people.  He went on to underline the need to redouble efforts to curb the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, saying “all hands must be on deck” to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals are met.

Ms. YOHANNES (Eritrea), highlighting the centuries-old social fabric of mutual tolerance in her country, called the regional and international responses to terrorism “inadequate and incoherent”.  Creating robust regional and global mechanisms for coordination is critical, he said, adding that the scope of continuous exchange of information and experiences must be enlarged, beyond specific coalitions.  Eritrea is taking measures to improve its law enforcement capacities to prevent and prosecute all acts of terrorism.  Noting that cyberspace has become a battlefield for the hearts and minds of young people around the world, he called for a narrative of hope to defy the despair which perpetuates extremist ideologies.

JOÃO IAMBENO GIMOLIECA (Angola), noting the spread of terrorism in previously unaffected areas of Africa, said that combating this scourge is a top priority for the African Union and subregional organizations.  Weak border security paves the way for trafficking and other crime by transnational terrorist groups who use the illicitly derived proceeds for financing their activities.  Angola is engaged in international, regional and subregional counter-terrorism operations while improving governance institutions and collaborating with the African Union in capacity-building efforts.

CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal), noting that the multidimensional counter-terrorism efforts deployed in Africa have not yet curtailed the terrorist threat, lamented that more than 700 terrorist attacks took place in 2019.  Coastal States such as his are increasingly facing the terrorist threat, causing friction between the free movement of people and goods and the need for secure borders.  Calling for support for the action plan adopted at the 2019 ECOWAS summit, he also commended the G5 Sahel.  Noting challenges in mobilizing financing, he urged States to uphold their commitments.  It is equally important to invest in good governance and resolve latent conflicts, he stressed.

KOKOU KPAYEDO (Togo) pointed out that not a single day passes without a terrorist casualty in West Africa.  Deaths and displacement have become routine, he said, calling for more support to States fighting terrorism.  Welcoming the momentum generated by the ECOWAS announcement that it aims to mobilize $1 billion for counter-terrorism activities, he outlined measures undertaken by Togo’s national committee established to fight terrorism.  These include initiatives to counter the illicit transfer of funds and to eliminate sources of illegal financing.  Stressing the need to include all stakeholders, he said Togo is working to prevent terrorist networks from recruiting new fighters.  Establishing and maintaining the rule of law, as well as countering hate speech, are also important elements of this struggle, he said.

For information media. Not an official record.