New York

13 May 2013

Secretary-General's Remarks to the Security Council Open Debate on Combating Terrorism in Africa in the Context of Peacekeeping and International Security

I wish to thank the Togolese delegation, in particular, His Excellency Mr. Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, the President of Togo for having organized this important meeting.

Terrorism is a threat to Africa's peace, security and development. From Al-Shabaab in the east to Boko Haram in the west to Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in the north, extremist groups and terrorist entities have heartened their presence in a number of regions in the continent.

In Somalia, there has been important progress towards stability, with Al-Shabaab uprooted from a number of vital locations. But to secure these gains and prevent the group’s resurgence, a lot more needs to be accomplished with respect to the rule of law, development and the country’s political transformation.  The newly established UN Mission in Somalia will contribute to such efforts by providing strategic policy guidance to the Federal Government on security sector reform and by supporting efforts to strengthen police, justice and corrections.

In Mali and the broader Sahel region, the international community has tackled the rapidly deteriorating situation with welcome resolve over the past few months. As the Security Council is well aware, we are in the process of deploying a peacekeeping operation to support Mali’s transitional authorities in extending state authority and building legitimate instruments of governance. The mission will operate alongside an ongoing counter-insurgency effort -- a new geopolitical context that poses significant challenges to the safety and standing of UN personnel -- peacekeepers, humanitarians, and others.

Military advances, important as they are, will not by themselves bring an end to terrorism in Africa. This struggle must go forward on many fronts, including by addressing the conditions that are conducive to the spread of terrorism.

In the Sahel, for example, the United Nations is developing an integrated strategy that aims to enhance governance and the rule of law; strengthen the capacity of national and regional security mechanisms; and integrate development and humanitarian activities in order to build resilience. Without such a holistic and sustained approach, we risk simply pushing the threat from one area to another.

Terrorism thrives where borders are weakest.  Poorly guarded and stored ammunition stockpiles provide unfettered access to weapons, in particular the components for improvised explosive devices – the terrorist’s frequent weapon of choice.

The lack of development and the absence of the rule of law allow terrorist groups to recruit across communities and build their ranks. Opportunistic links between terrorist and transnational organized criminal groups ensure the constant flow of people, money, weapons and illicit goods across borders, contributing to the survival and proliferation of such groups.


In such a climate, the international community and the United Nations must do more to strengthen the capacity of affected Member States.

Throughout Africa, UN missions are helping Governments to strengthen police and law enforcement and to implement the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

The Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force is active in West Africa -- including in Nigeria and Burkina Faso.

The CTITF is also involved in North Africa through the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre, working on the issue of border management.

In Central Africa, we are focusing on reducing the flows of small arms. In East Africa, the United Nations is facilitating the development of a regional strategy.

And in Southern Africa, where the threat of terrorism is less imminent, the United Nations is working with the African Union on the crucial issue of prevention.

The UN Mine Action Service is working with the African Union and countries across the continent on the safe management of ammunitions and the disposal of IEDs. 

And the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate continues to facilitate technical assistance and help Member States develop the right legislative tools.


I welcome the initiatives undertaken by several regional and sub-regional organizations to formulate counter-terrorism strategies.  These will help us to identify common threats and challenges, prioritize responses, strengthen collaboration, improve coordination and target international assistance to themes and areas where it is most needed.

Our joint efforts must be carried out in accordance with the Charter and international law, and with due respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The United Nations is strongly committed to doing its part to combat terrorism in Africa.  Success is crucial for enabling Africans to meet their aspirations to live in dignity and peace. 

Thank you.