10 July 2019

Opening remarks at joint press stakeout between the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission

António Guterres

To fight terrorism and to prevent violent extremism are fundamental priorities for the African Union, for the [United Nations], for Africa and for the world.

First of all, we need to make sure that we have the capacity to fight terrorism on the ground, with adequate security mechanisms. And I want to pay tribute to those African forces, the Joint Force in Lake Chad, the G5 Sahel, AMISOM, in which so many African soldiers and police agents have perished in the fight against terrorism. But I do believe that we need African forces in peace enforcing and counter-terrorism operations to be much more effectively supported than in the past. That means with strong mandates from the Security Council of the United Nations and with predictable funding, namely through assessed contributions. 

But as important as fighting terrorism is preventing it from happening. The first prevention is, of course, to make sure that conflicts are stopped. And there is one conflict in particular that has been a factor of terrorism in different parts of the continent, the Libya conflict. Arms from Libya have gone everywhere and have been a factor of terrorism in different other parts of the continent. 

To be much more effective in solving conflicts, in stopping wars, is an absolute element in the capacity to prevent terrorism, to develop; but then, also making sure that we understand that development is the best prevention for violent extremism and for terrorism. 

And we need to mobilize much more international support [for] the implementation of the Agenda 2063 of the African Union that is fully in line with the sustainable development objectives of the UN in Agenda 2030. We need a fair globalization. We need a globalization with opportunities for all. We need to make sure that nobody is left behind, that nobody feels discriminated or abandoned.
On the other hand, it is also very important to prevent violent extremism, creating the conditions for the youth to fully participate in our societies: participating in the labor markets, jobs – job creation is an absolute priority; participating in the political life and in the social life; having a voice that is heard as we had this morning the privilege to listen to the Youth Envoy of the African Union; and also to recognize the role of women. Women that are sometimes targeted, particularly by terrorist groups, but that are the best mediators and the best elements of cohesion in our societies and prevention has a lot to do to build resilience in communities, to make sure that people understand that different religions, different ethnic groups, are not a cause of separation but are a richness that can be brought together to make societies resilient and able to prevent violent extremism. 

In all this we will be working more and more together: the African Union, the UN, Member States, societies, civil societies… and we do believe that it is our obligation to raise awareness in the international community and to make the international community understand that to prevent violent extremism in Africa and to fight effectively terrorism in Africa is not only a matter of interest for the Africans, it's a matter of global security. Terrorists today travel everywhere. Foreign fighters go everywhere. Preserving peace and security in Africa is the best way to preserve peace and security in the world.