Countering Terrorism in Africa Requires Preventive Approach Including Respect for Human Rights, Law, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Security Council
Several Delegates Underline Need to Review Sanctions Regime, Mission Mandates
Urging support for regional organizations and sustainable financing to counter terrorism in Africa, the Deputy Secretary-General stressed that the spread of terrorism is a concern for the entire international community and requires a preventive approach that includes respect for human rights and international law, as the Security Council held a high-level debate on counter-terrorism in Africa today.
Speaking on behalf of Secretary-General António Guterres, Amina Mohammed emphasized that nowhere has terrorism been felt more keenly than in Africa, underscoring that terrorists and violent extremists, including Da’esh, Al-Qaida and their affiliates have exploited instability and conflict to increase their activities and intensify attacks across the continent.
“In today’s hyperconnected world, the spread of terrorism in Africa is not a concern for African Member States alone. The challenge belongs to us all,” she underscored. Countering international terrorism requires effective multilateral responses that address concurrent and converging threats, such as the worsening climate crisis, armed conflict, poverty and inequality, lawless cyberspace and the uneven recovery from COVID-19.
“We must strike a better balance and ensure coherence and complementarity between preventive and militarized responses,” she said, highlighting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 as crucial tools. The numerous regional initiatives to counter terrorism in Africa, including the Multinational Joint Task Force in the Lake Chad Basin and the joint force of the Group of 5 for the Sahel (G5 Sahel), need the international community’s full support and durable commitment. The Security Council must ensure predictable funding for African Union operations it authorizes, including to counter-terrorism, she urged.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said African initiatives, such as the Accra Initiative and the Peace Fund, demonstrate that the continent can mobilize its resources and its men and women in the fight against terrorism. However, the traditional means of responding to threats to peace, peacekeeping and peacebuilding no longer correspond to new menaces. The mandates of United Nations missions should be revised to make them more effective. The Union stands ready to work with the United Nations and the Council to initiate a new approach to counter the scourge, and its direct and indirect causes, he said.
Benedikta Von Seherr-Thoss, Managing Director for Common Security and Defence Policy and Crisis Response, European External Action Service, said that in September, the European Union assumed the role of co-chair of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and made the threat of terrorism in Africa a key priority for its two-year tenure. Detailing the European Union’s various counter-terrorism efforts, she stressed that women and girls must be actively included in the international community’s prevention approach. Empowering them to be active members of society will make them, and their societies, more resistant to extremist influences in the long run.
Comfort Ero, President and CEO of the International Crisis Group, warned that conflicts involving non-State armed groups — including jihadist groups — will be a source of instability in Africa for a while. Although African-led missions are well positioned to counter such threats, they can only be effective if they are properly and reliably resourced. A political strategy for counter-terrorism missions must also encompass projects to provide basic services and better governance in areas where non-State armed groups have gained influence. Moreover, stakeholders must contemplate engaging in dialogue with non-State armed groups — often seen as a taboo — to resolve both humanitarian and political issues.
In the ensuing debate, many Council members underscored the crucial need to address the drivers of instability and adopt a preventive, holistic and inclusive approach to counter terrorism in Africa. Several speakers called for the international community’s strengthened support to regional organizations and initiatives, while others urged sustainable funding for African-led operations. Delegates also pointed to the need to review the sanctions regime and United Nations mission mandates.
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, which holds the Security Council presidency for November, speaking in his national capacity, stressed that international support to countering terrorism must be pre-emptive, rather than reactive. The Council and the wider international community must address the underlying drivers of instability through resilience-building in conflict prone regions, including in the areas of promoting democratic values, development and State services.
Gabon’s representative, on that point, called for a more urgent response from the international community to support Africa’s own multiplying regional counter-terrorism initiatives, including the G5 Sahel, the Accra Initiative and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS). Such support must be lent through adequate financial, logistical and material means, while also helping to dry up the sources of financing of terrorist groups.
Kenya’s representative, in a similar vein, stressed the need for adequate and predictable funding, including through United Nations-assessed contributions. As well, the Council must review the sanctions regime for Somalia to ensure that the Government is empowered to use its full sovereign will to defeat Al-Qaida and Da’esh affiliates in its territory, while tightening sanctions that are most clearly targeted at those groups’ ability to raise and send funds, assemble explosives, and recruit and transport foreign fighters.
Ireland’s representative also emphasized that Council-mandated measures to counter terrorism, including sanctions, are crucial to deter and address terrorist threats, but can have unintended negative humanitarian impacts. To address this, his country, together with the United States, introduced a draft resolution providing for a humanitarian exemption across all sanctions regimes, he said, urging all Council members to support that initiative.
China’s representative said that supporting Africa in combating terrorism is an important responsibility of the Council, which must prioritize resources to help the continent address the most pressing challenges it faces. He called for countries’ sovereignty to be fully respected and for no other political conditions to be attached to support. In this regard, the arms embargo against Sudan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have had a negative impact and must be adjusted or lifted.
The representative of the Russian Federation said the necessary counter-terrorism mechanisms have already been developed within the United Nations, primarily in the Council. States have specific obligations to counter terrorism, which if strictly implemented, will produce the desired results. It is not productive to impose additional counter-terrorism obligations on United Nations missions in Africa. Such an expansion of their mandate is not in line with the specific nature of the Organization’s presence and diverts valuable resources, he stressed.
Norway’s representative said that United Nations missions in Africa are not set up to tackle the threat of terrorism due to various factors. However, such missions — both peacekeeping and political — are complementary to national and regional counter-terrorism efforts and can help contribute to stability and protecting civilians, evident in the partnerships between the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNISOM) and ATMIS.
Also speaking today were representatives of the United Arab Emirates, United States, Brazil, Mexico, India, Albania, France and the United Kingdom.
The meeting began at 10:14 a.m. and ended at 12:48 p.m.
AMINA MOHAMMED, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, delivering remarks on behalf of the Secretary-General, said nowhere has terrorism — a major threat to international peace and security — been felt more keenly than in Africa. Terrorists and violent extremists including Da’esh, Al-Qaida and their affiliates have exploited instability and conflict to increase their activities and intensify attacks across the continent, killing and wounding thousands. Many more continue to suffer from the broader impact of terrorism on their lives and livelihoods. Women and girls in particular bear the brunt of insecurity and inequality, she said, pointing out that some terrorist groups have a misogynist worldview that denies women and girls their fundamental rights. The situation in the Sahel and West Africa is particularly urgent, with some of the most violent Da’esh affiliate operating in the region. In the last two years, these groups have increased their presence in Mali, penetrated further into Burkina Faso and Niger and expanded southward into countries of the Gulf of Guinea that have so far largely avoided terrorist attacks or have recently emerged from armed conflict. It can be difficult to differentiate between terrorists, non-State armed groups and criminal networks, she pointed out, noting that some have morphed into insurgencies — occupying territories and posing as alternatives to State authority.
“In today’s hyper-connected world, the spread of terrorism in Africa is not a concern for African Member States alone. The challenge belongs to us all,” she underscored. Countering international terrorism requires effective multilateral responses that address it together with concurrent and converging threats, such as the worsening climate crisis, armed conflict, poverty and inequality, lawless cyberspace and the uneven recovery from COVID-19. The New Agenda for Peace envisaged as part of the Secretary-General’s report on Our Common Agenda will embrace that comprehensive approach, propose ways to address new and emerging risks and revitalize the collective peace and security system. In Africa, prevention remains the international community’s best response to terrorism, violent extremism and other threats to peace and security, she said, stressing the need to foster conflict-sensitive approaches and integrate relevant policies across United Nations entities. “We must strike a better balance and ensure coherence and complementarity between preventive and militarized responses,” she said, highlighting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 as crucial preventive tools.
“Everyone must be included,” she said, underscoring the need for whole of-society approaches that are community-based and gender-sensitive. Engaging all sectors of society requires sustained political commitment across Government departments, and partnerships with civil society, the private sector and more. As well, countering terrorism can never be an excuse for violating human rights or international law, she said, stressing that successful counter-terrorism policies must uphold the rule of law and respect international law, including human rights law. The Secretary-General’s Call to Action for Human Rights places human rights at the centre of the work of the United Nations — from humanitarian action to peace and security to sustainable development, she said, reiterating the Secretary-General's call for renewed efforts to promote State institutions and constitutional order.
Regional organizations have a critical role, she continued, noting that the challenges posed by terrorist and violent extremist groups can only be met through approaches that are adapted to local contexts. The numerous regional initiatives to counter terrorism in Africa — the Multinational Joint Task Force in the Lake Chad Basin, Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel), the Accra Initiative and the Nouakchott Process — need the international community’s full support and durable commitment. The Security Council must ensure predictable funding for African Union operations it authorizes, including to counter terrorism, she urged, noting that the Organization is preparing a joint progress report on the financing of African Union peace operations, which is due in April 2023. “We must put in place an innovative architecture that supports African peace operations in an effective and sustainable manner,” she emphasized, stressing that the magnitude of the problem calls for bold investment. She added that the upcoming summit on counter-terrorism in Africa, organized jointly by the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and Nigeria to be held in October 2023, is an opportunity to consider ways to strengthen United Nations support to counter-terrorism efforts across the continent.
MOUSSA FAKI MAHAMAT, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, briefing the Council via videoconference, said that, across Africa, from Mali to Mozambique, from Somalia to the Gulf of Guinea, the themes of peace and security torment, agitate and mobilize African minds. Even Europe has been plunged back into a devastating war between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, resulting in consequences that risk pushing humanity into a new planetary tragedy. In Africa, terrorism and the increasing use of violence to gain power are fragmenting societies and causing death and psychological damage daily, as well as impacting the health, education and nutrition of populations. He called on the Council to consider such violence and its attendant miseries, as well as the failure of systems to address the scourge of terrorism, which is spreading across the continent.
“What has the international community, of which the Security Council is the lynchpin, done on issues of peace and security?” he asked, adding that Africa is tired of hearing promises and deserves to benefit from the prompt concern shown by its partners in other places and in other circumstances. Against this backdrop, he spotlighted African initiatives to counter the phenomenon of terrorism and violent extremism. Such efforts include the Accra Initiative, whose objective is to promote the exchange of information and the conduct of joint cross-border military operations between its member States, as well as the G5 Sahel Joint Force, the Multinational Joint Force in Lake Chad and the recent regional force established in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The African Union has set up a Peace Fund to work towards prevention and support the efforts of countries that are victims of terrorist violence, he said, adding that such measures demonstrate that Africa is able to mobilize its resources, and its men and women, in the existential fight against terrorism.
Efforts to tackle the scourge, however, must be supported through sustainable financial resources and technical and logistical support, he continued. In that regard, the terrorist threat has also lately been compounded by the spread of unconstitutional changes of Government, which present a deceptive illusion of salvation and result in governance practices that damage already weakened States. Commending Ghanian President Nana Akufo Ado’s commitment to democracy, as vividly demonstrated by his opposition to unconstitutional changes as President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), he called for strengthened international solidarity with Africa’s fight against all the challenges it faces.
Such solidarity, however, would be futile unless it follows a new model, which is more dynamic, less bureaucratized, and more robust, he stressed. The traditional means of responding to threats to peace, peacekeeping and peacebuilding no longer correspond to new circumstances and new threats; their costs and modes of operations are frankly unsuitable, inefficient, and obsolete, he pointed out. There is an urgent need to revise the mandates of United Nations missions to make them more effective. The African Union stands ready to work with the United Nations and the Council to initiate a new approach to counter the scourge and its direct and indirect causes.
BENEDIKTA VON SEHERR-THOSS, Managing Director for Common Security and Defence Policy and Crisis Response, European External Action Service, said the European Union-United Nations Global Terrorist Threat Facility is a good example of the strategic partnership between two organizations on peace operations and crisis management. In September, the European Union assumed the role of co-chair of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum and made the threat of terrorism in Africa a key priority for its two-year tenure. Highlighting multilateral engagement on the ground, she said several European Union missions currently provide military and civilian support to African countries. The latest is the European Training Mission in Mozambique, which was deployed last year to train and support the Mozambican Armed Forces, with a view to protecting civilians and restoring security in Cabo Delgado.
She went on to note that five of its civilian missions include a counter-terrorism mandate: the capacity-building missions in Niger, Mali and Somalia; the border assistance mission in Libya; and the security sector reform assistance mission in the Central African Republic. Her bloc continues to support African-led peace operations, she said, noting that earlier this year, it approved €600 million in assistance to the African Union through the European Peace Facility, its financial instrument aimed at preventing conflicts, building peace and strengthening international security.
However, despite collective efforts to keep the threat of extremist groups at bay, this has not been enough, she emphasized, urging greater and better cooperation. The European Union plays a role in this by bringing 27 member States together, she said, affirming its strong commitment to work with African nations, the African Union, and with the United Nations to address the growing threat of terrorism and to bolster resilience to violent extremist ideologies. The bloc’s efforts in preventing and countering violent extremism, whether through addressing youth extremism in Kenya, or intercommunal conflict in Nigeria, have shown real results and will remain key to its counter-terrorism engagement. At present, the European Union provides around €500 million in support to related projects across the African continent, which strengthen local authorities, local communities and civil society actors alike.
Good governance, including respect for the rule of law, human rights and the principles of democracy and international law, is also crucial to truly address the ideologies and driving forces behind emergent violent extremism, she continued. While that political question is primarily the responsibility of national leaders, it also requires the continued attention and, at times, action of the Security Council. Women and girls must be actively included in the international community’s prevention approach. Recognizing this and empowering them to be active members of society — economically, politically, and culturally — will make them, and their societies, more resistant to extremist influences in the long run. West Africa requires the international community’s immediate attention to stem the risks of spillover from advancing terrorist actors, she stressed, noting that the European Union is stepping up its security support to the Gulf of Guinea coastal countries through the “Arc of Stability” policy.
COMFORT ERO, President and CEO of the International Crisis Group, an international conflict prevention organization with a focus on Africa, said that the Crisis Group has published analyses of the African-led stabilization and counter-terrorism missions under discussion, including the G5 Sahel Joint Force and the Multinational Joint Task Force in the Lake Chad Basin, as well as one on the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Conflicts involving non-State armed groups — including jihadist groups — will be a source of instability in Africa for a while, and although African-led missions are well positioned to counter such threats, they can only be effective if they are properly and reliably resourced. “Like it or not, the best way to resource these missions is through some sort of United Nations mechanism,” she pointed out. Further, there is a role for the use of force against jihadists, but such operations must be subordinate to a political strategy that also encompasses projects to provide basic services and better governance in areas where non-State armed groups have gained influence. Moreover, such political strategy must contemplate engaging in dialogue with non-State armed groups — often seen as a taboo — to resolve both humanitarian and political issues.
There should be support for regionally-led stabilization operations to counter non-State armed groups in Africa, she continued, noting that the continent is now the centre of civil wars in the world. Although the Security Council has sent blue helmet peacekeepers as part of the response to such threats, including to Mali, such forces are not designed or equipped to fight extended counter-terrorism campaigns, as seen in Gao and Kidal. Against this backdrop, she reiterated the Crisis Group’s call to the Council to do a serious stock-taking of whether forces, such as the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), are fit for purpose in such cases. On the other hand, she enumerated a number of successes spearheaded by African-led stabilization forces, including AMISOM, in the battle against Al-Shabaab, which paved the way for that country’s most recent successful electoral process.
“Yet one of the most serious headaches for missions of this type is ‘donor fatigue’,” she observed, noting that African officials and military planners in the Sahel and Somalia are constrained from medium and long-term planning in their operations due to worries that partners who back their missions will keep providing the necessary financial and other resources they need to deliver on their mandate. Such concerns are also mirrored by those of donors, often but not only in North America and Europe. A Crisis Group examination of donor perceptions last year found that European donors appreciated the risks African troops took, but feared they were funding “an expensive status quo”. “So, it behoves the Council to ask how to offer missions authorized by the African Union more systematic and predictable funding, to allow them to plan, operate and deliver better,” she emphasized.
To this end, she called for obstacles to establishing a solid mechanism for channelling United Nations funding to African-led operations be addressed, recalling the findings of a report published by her organization in 2020. That report found that cash is not the only issue. The United Nations and African Union still have a lot of work to do to define the rules that would govern the political oversight of future United Nations-funded African-led peace operations, the mechanisms for assessing their operational performance and accounting procedures to oversee their finances. “Therefore, it is time for United Nations and African Union representatives to engage in a serious joint effort to work out answers to questions about how such funding will work,” she emphasized.
Turning to measures to complement such military operations, so they can defeat deeply entrenched, if not popular, movements, she called for steps to be taken to provide basic services as a crucial short-term counter-terrorism tool and to help win over populations in areas under the control of jihadists; strengthened governance, as a medium-term counter-terrorism tool; and dialogue, as part of the counter-terrorism toolkit. On this point, she noted that the Group has pushed governments in the Sahel to seek dialogue with armed groups that could encourage, for instance, local ceasefire accords that can ease the suffering in rural areas, open up space for the return of state services and allow residents to return to their homes and rebuild livelihoods. Crisis Group, therefore, encourages the Security Council to reinforce the United Nations’ mechanisms to support African-led missions to fight non-State armed groups, and also encourages the United Nations, African Union and other African actors to keep an open mind about talking to those groups, an approach, notably, that authorities in countries such as Niger have publicly adopted in recent months.
NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO, President of Ghana, which holds the Security Council presidency for November, said it is important to leverage the role of the African Union and its regional economic commissions in raising a robust and resourced force to confront terrorists and other armed groups, alongside other peace operation initiatives. The Independent High-Level Panel on Security and Development in the Sahel, led by the former President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou, must do so with the best elements of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, Accra Initiative, Nouakchott Process and the Multinational Joint Task Force, and consider recommendations for a unified and restructured regional force, he said, urging the Council’s support of those efforts. The burden of confronting terrorism cannot be borne by those in the region alone, he added, stressing the need for strong collaboration between the United Nations, African Union and regional economic communities, especially ECOWAS, to address the question of adequate, predictable and sustainable financing for regional led operations. The African Union has demonstrated its commitment and capacity to effectively manage such financing and to comply with the required human rights standards in such operations. The Council and the wider international community must play their part, if there is a desire to have a continuing relevance.
Moreover, the structure and approach of international support to countering terrorism, including in the Sahel, must be pre-emptive, rather than reactive, he continued. As such, the Council and the wider international community must address the underlying drivers of instability through resilience-building in conflict prone regions, including in the areas of promoting democratic values, development and State services. International support must be placed fully behind deliberate interventions to promote inclusive governance. Support was also crucial for effective State authority in several parts of the region in order to meet the expectations of its largely youthful populations, who, in some instances, have fallen victim to the radicalized messages of extremists. The Council’s support for adequate, predictable and sustainable financing of African-led operations would be an important starting point if it is to continue to assume its responsibility as the primary actor for the maintenance of international peace and security. He urged Council members to revisit the vexed issue of the reform of the United Nations system, especially of the Security Council, and to do so on the basis of the African Common Position on United Nations Reform, as enunciated in the Ezulwini Consensus.
HERMAN IMMONGAULT, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Gabon, said terrorism and violent extremism pose a formidable transnational threat that no Government or organization can fight alone in many regions of the world. Since no country is safe from such threats, concerted action at national, regional and global levels is required against it, and it must be as multidimensional as the threat itself. Above all, it must be based on the foundation of a more assertive multilateralism, he stressed. Africa has become one of the main fronts in the fight against terrorism, which impedes development. African leaders have recognized the scale of the challenge and are committed to addressing it, as evinced by the adoption on 28 May in Malabo of a declaration condemning all forms and manifestations of extremist violence and their willingness to fight it on the continent. Such threats spare no African region, from the Sahel to the Lake Chad Basin, and from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, northern Mozambique and Somalia, leading to the loss of life, displacement and misery, he pointed out.
The scourge is also crippling the so-called tri-border area in the Sahel, which is now the epicentre of an asymmetric war whose end is nowhere in sight and strains the capabilities of national security forces and destabilizes entire regions, he continued. As well, new technologies are being used for propaganda, radicalizing new recruits and perpetrating fresh atrocities. In this regard, he called for a more urgent response from the international community to support Africa’s own multiplying regional counter-terrorism initiatives, including the G5 Sahel, the Accra Initiative, and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS). Such support must be lent through adequate financial, logistical and material means, while also helping to dry up the sources of financing of terrorist groups. An effective fight against terrorism in Africa calls for a holistic approach that also addresses the socioeconomic challenges faced by affected countries. Further, he called for strengthened partnerships in cooperation and intelligence, including the identification and tracking of online sources of finance and monetary transactions, to curb illicit activities that fund terrorism. The Council must redouble its efforts to lend support to African peace support initiatives and operations, he stressed.
SHAKHBOOT NAHYAN AL NAHYAN, Minister of State of the United Arab Emirates, said his country has strongly supported regional and international efforts, including through contributions to the G5 Sahel Joint Force and its membership in the Global Coalition against Da’esh, and through the establishment of the Coalition’s Africa Focus Group, which will work to counter the threat posed by Da’esh across Africa. Offering recommendations for collective action, he stressed the need for an integrated approach, combining all the tools at the disposal of the international community in a way that addresses the local contexts. The extension and maintenance of State authority is key and can only be sustained in the long term through the provision of basic services and support for sustainable development. Such efforts enhance stability and weaken extremist actors’ abilities to exploit the grievances of affected populations as a tool to radicalize and recruit. Underscoring the importance of inclusive governance, he said cooperation with the local community leaders, including religious leaders, is critical as terrorist groups, such as Da’esh, hijack the moral practices of religion, including the peaceful religion of Islam, to spread extremism and recruit fighters.
Well-financed climate adaptation strategies are not just a moral imperative for all, but a security requirement to combat extremism in Africa and elsewhere, he continued. In addition, the frameworks built by the Security Council over the last two decades must be adjusted to ensure that they contain the right tools to address the threats of extremism and terrorism. Da’esh, Al-Qaida, and their respective affiliates remain a clear threat to international peace and security. To keep pace with threats to international peace and security, the Council must consider the challenges arising from its counter-terrorism approach focused on Da’esh and Al-Qaida to the exclusion of others. The international community must also delegitimize terrorist groups that claim to act in the name of religion or that suggest that they constitute a “State” or “province”. As such, the international community must refrain from using the terms “Islamic State” or “ISIL” in reference to Da’esh and its affiliates in coastal West Africa and the Sahel. “We must deny terrorist groups their self-proclaimed connections to Islam,” he stressed.
ELIZABETH SHERWOOD-RANDALL, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security of the United States, said that in the years since 11 September 2001, the threat of terrorism has evolved, becoming more ideologically diverse and geographically diffuse, adding: “Nowhere is this more vivid than in Africa.” She enumerated a number of places in the continent which face such threats, including in Burkina Faso, where farmers are displaced from their sole source of income; Mozambique, where ISIS-Mozambique lays siege to towns and has held people hostage; and in Somalia, where bombs recently led to the tragic deaths of 100 civilians, including educators. While counter-terrorism successes are hard-won and take place out of public view, unfortunately terrorist acts are far more visible, she said, citing figures that have found such violence to have increased in the continent by 300 per cent over the last decade. Such rising violence affects us all, she said, stressing the need for a collective response.
She went on to outline the United States’ efforts to address such threats, including by investing in governance and diplomacy, deepening ties with African partners and leveraging the strength of the international community. The United States follows an integrated strategy, which addresses the drivers of instability, and recognizes that counter-terrorism is not just about fighting terrorism, but also about offering economic opportunities that are more attractive to young recruits, and to build capacity to hold those responsible for acts of violence to account. To this end, she said she has travelled across the continent, from Djibouti to Somalia and Niger, and has witnessed firsthand the vital role played by local partners in addressing terrorist threats. With the substantial changes in such threats over the years, she underscored the need for collaboration, including through the strengthened use of the sanctions committee pursuant to Council resolution 1267 (1999) to induce a change in behavior, and through seeking the help of the Office of Counter-Terrorism to monitor threats. She looked forward to the findings of the joint strategic assessment of security and governance in the Sahel to help her country provide more effective support. Further, she underlined the need for respect for democracy for counter-terrorism efforts to succeed, warning that the activities of armed mercenary groups, such as the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group, weaken the security environment, with civilians paying the price.
MICHAEL KAPKIAI KIBOINO (Kenya) said the Council must stand with Governments, as it is doing with Somalia, by mandating and deploying robust African forces assembled by the African Union and regional communities. Adequate and predictable funding, including through United Nations-assessed contributions, is also needed. The Council must review the sanctions regime for Somalia to ensure that the Government is empowered to use its full sovereign will to defeat the Al-Qaida and Da’esh affiliates in its territory. Simultaneously, it must tighten the sanctions that are most clearly targeted at those groups’ ability to raise and send funds regionally and internationally, to assemble explosives, and to recruit and transport foreign fighters. The response in the Sahel, West Africa and the Great Lakes, by the Council and the international community, should be more alike to that in Somalia and Mozambique, he pointed out. States in the region must endeavour to undertake ambitious legal and political efforts to be inclusive based on religious, regional and ethnic identity. The Council must equally apply its counter-terrorism architecture against terrorist groups and their affiliates, particularly those in Africa, he said, stressing that the fight against global terrorism cannot and will not be won by applying double standards. This year’s twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties should lead to a recommitment by countries to meet their climate commitments and contribute to the development of climate-change affected countries in Africa, to deny terrorists the breeding ground to thrive, he said.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said that the perception that terrorism is less menacing than it used to be is due to insufficient attention paid by the media to some parts of the world. However, the expansion of terrorism in Africa is a reality and seriously impacts the continent’s security. He emphasized the need for counter-terrorism efforts to be consistent with international law. United Nations peacekeeping operations help consolidate conditions for long-term stability and have an inhibiting effect on terrorism, while regional and subregional organization’s efforts in containing its spread also deserve support. He went on to commend progress made by the African Union and regional organizations in countering terrorism, including by ATMIS in the Horn of Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Mozambique, as well as the Accra Initiative, and expressed hope that the G5 Sahel will also overcome current challenges it faces. Turning to the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel and the expansion of terrorist acts towards the West African coast, he called on the international community to lend support to counter-terrorism initiatives in the region. Technical cooperation can help enhance national institutions’ capabilities in fighting terrorism, and steps must be taken towards tackling terrorism’s root causes through development, he added.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) said that while the deployment of military counter-terrorism operations in regions such as the Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin or the Horn of Africa clearly shows that such efforts are important to halt the advance of extremist groups, such operations must have realistic and more specific objectives and, if possible, shorter time frames. Counter-terrorism forces that are prolonged over time lose effectiveness and can generate counter-reactions to their objectives; this leads to fatigue, both among donors and public opinion in the countries where they operate. Further, the concentration of resources in the security component can act to the detriment of the civil administration responsible for providing basic services. As such, military efforts should be framed within a broad political strategy, the main objective of which is to transform the conditions which foster the emergence of terrorism. Socioeconomic challenges linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and food and energy crises, as well as extreme weather events, threaten to exacerbate inequalities. Thus, it is urgent to strengthen social policies and prioritize peacebuilding actions to prevent the unfolding of an even greater security crisis. The Accra Initiative, G5 Sahel and the Nairobi Process are all examples of regional willingness to respond to the activity of terrorist groups and therefore deserve the full support of the international community. Terrorists must be prevented from accessing weapons, especially small arms and light weapons, by strengthening actions to counter their illicit trafficking, in accordance with resolution 2616 (2021).
RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India) said that even after the end of colonialism for several decades, many African countries continue to face serious security threats from terrorism, armed groups, transnational organized crime, and drugs and arms trafficking, which pose challenges to their socioeconomic development. She called for strong political will to help address African countries in addressing the threat of terrorism in an interdependent and interconnected world. Noting the role of technologies in helping terrorist groups disseminate propaganda and raise and transfer funds, as well as monitor the movements of security forces and peacekeepers, she recalled last month’s adoption by the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the Council of the “Delhi Declaration on Countering the use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes”, which she hoped would pave the way for a normative framework at the United Nations to address this threat. She underscored the need to fully implement Council resolution 2593 (2021, and for the organ to update its toolkit in countering terrorism. Further, the international community should provide sustainable and adequate financial and logistical support to regional and subregional security initiatives. While several States lack capacity to counter terrorism and require support, some are clearly guilty of aiding and supporting it; the international community must call out the latter and hold them accountable for their double speak. The Council must remain wary of attempts and schemes to distract the fight against terrorism though any hypothetical cause-effect linkages, she said, stressing the need to address climate change holistically through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), suggesting that the growing terrorist threat in Africa be viewed from a certain historical perspective, said foreign interventions weaken and destroy State institutions, as was the case in Iraq, Syria and Libya, creating a breeding ground for terrorists, helping criminals to profit and use the artificially created socioeconomic distress of States to recruit new supporters into their ranks. The situation in Africa requires swift responses, including from the United Nations, he said, noting that the necessary counter-terrorism mechanisms have already been developed within the United Nations, primarily in the Council. States have specific obligations to counter terrorism, which if strictly implemented, will produce the desired results, he stressed, pointing out that the only thing required is active cooperation and the rejection of the policy of double standards. In that regard, he said it is not productive to impose additional counter-terrorism obligations on United Nations missions in Africa. Such an expansion of their mandate is not in line with the specific nature of United Nations presence and diverts valuable resources. Effectively rebuffing terrorists requires coordinated national and regional efforts, he said, commending the measures being taken by African countries to develop coordinated approaches to combating terrorism, including within the framework of subregional organizations.
MONA JUUL (Norway) said that as terrorism in Africa is a global threat, counter-terrorism deserves global support. On the question of how United Nations missions in Africa can better support regional counter-terrorism efforts, she pointed out that such missions are not set up to tackle such threats due to various factors, which is why counter-terrorism must primarily be a national responsibility. However, United Nations missions — both peacekeeping and political — are complementary to national and regional counter-terrorism efforts and can help contribute to stability and protecting civilians, as proved by the close and operational partnerships between UNISOM and ATMIS. Affected States need to act holistically to counter terrorist threats and address underlying conditions that cause radicalization and violent extremism. This calls for integrating counter-terrorism efforts with a broader conflict-sensitive strategy, strengthened by civil society, bilateral and multilateral partners, and ensuring the participation of women. Preventive United Nations missions, such as the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), must be further enabled. Turning to the issue of sustainable funding for counter-terrorism efforts in the Sahel and coastal West Africa, she reiterated her support for the Secretary-General’s call for a United Nations support office for the G5 Sahel Joint Force. Further, it is necessary for any United Nations funding to be matched by sufficient human rights due diligence and African Union compliance frameworks. She added that Norway actively supports the High-Level Panel on Security, Development and Governance in the Sahel and looks forward to its proposals.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said the international community must fight terrorism with all means available, including with the use of force. However, while there can never be any justification for any act of terrorism, the eradication of that scourge will not be fully achieved only by condemnation and military means, he stressed. Effective counter-terrorism requires strengthening of the rule of law and institutions, ensuring legitimacy through fair elections, protecting human rights, building open and cohesive societies, and ensuring a fair redistribution of resources to address staggering disparities. The emergence of domestic terrorism, which then might have an international impact, is very often linked to disrespect of human rights, lack of legitimacy, and absence of values of freedom and democracy. The international community must find better ways to reduce inequality within and across countries; fully and strictly implement the “zero finance to terror policy”; confront extremist ideologies, online and offline; and never legitimize terrorism in any form. While States’ specific needs can differ, and while terrorism has evolved in nature, the international community must strengthen its engagement with African Member States, recognize their efforts to enhance the African ownership of counter-terrorism initiatives and policies and ensure that counter-terrorism policies and strategies are implemented globally, in a coordinated manner and with a special emphasis on inclusivity.
ZHANG JUN (China) said that supporting Africa in combating terrorism is an important responsibility of the Council, which must prioritize resources to help the continent address the most pressing challenges it faces as well as their root causes. The experiences of countries including Mali, Mozambique and Nigeria, which have made tremendous efforts and sacrifices in the fight against terrorism, are worth summarizing and disseminating. Further, the international community must scale up its funding as well as intelligence and logistic support in this regard. He called for countries’ sovereignty to be fully respected, and for no other political conditions to be attached to support. In this regard, he said the arms embargo against Sudan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have had a negative impact and must be adjusted or lifted. Further, he called for support to be lent to regional cooperation, noting that the initiatives of SADC in northern Mozambique have showed some success in organizing a regional collective response to threats. Turning to the issue of funding shortfalls, he called for careful study of the Secretary-General’s proposal to support such efforts through the regular budget and assessed contributions. On the operations of the G5 Sahel, he looked forward to the practical and actionable recommendations of the African Union and United Nations in their strategic assessment of security and governance initiatives in the Sahel, which will help revitalize cooperation. Further, the root causes and symptoms of terrorism and violent extremism must be addressed, through strengthened governance and enhanced support for development.
NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France) said the Security Council must strengthen its support for African initiatives. Commending regional efforts such as the G5 Sahel joint force, African Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and the SADC mission in Mozambique, she pointed out that those efforts, however, are hampered by a structural lack of funding and equipment. The European Union, Africa's leading security partner, contributes more than 90 per cent of the African Union's budget for peace operations through the European Peace Facility, she said, noting its contribution of more than €2.25 billion to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and ATMIS. It is time to put in place sustainable and predictable financing for African peace operations, including through mandatory United Nations contributions, or through an innovative mechanism that would combine them with bilateral contributions. She encouraged the members of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the African Union Commission to redouble their efforts so that a common position can quickly be reached on the financing of African Union-mandated operations. Her country has long been committed to helping West African countries fight terrorism and will continue to provide its support to States in the region that request it, with a partnership-based approach, in support of the national strategies of the States concerned.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) stressed the need for a holistic response to the situation in the Sahel and the stability of the region. While regional efforts, including the Accra Initiative, are essential, a holistic approach to addressing conflict requires building long-term stability through humanitarian and development initiatives, she said. The United Kingdom is helping tackle the rise of disinformation and is working with local journalists to promote moderate voices and address ethnic divisions. The Wagner Group plays a destabilizing role in the region, drives conflict and exploits natural resources in the countries where it operates, she said, stressing: “Whatever the question, they are not the answer.” Counter-terrorism efforts must conform with international human rights and humanitarian law. She went on to underscore the need for international cooperation in countering terrorism, and to ensure a sustainable response that avoids duplication. United Nations peacekeeping missions must be allowed to do their job, and host States must not hinder the implementation of mandates set by the Council, including United Nations human rights monitoring. The United Kingdom supports the Accra Initiative’s objectives of strengthening regional security and intelligence cooperation and welcomes ECOWAS’s robust defense of democratic values in the region.
FERGAL MYTHEN (Ireland) said “this Council’s response to acts of terror takes a familiar approach. We issue words of condemnation, of condolences, of solidarity. Words matter. But words are not enough.” Council efforts must address the drivers of terrorism and violent extremism in a more holistic manner as part of a “One UN” approach. It must work closely with the African Union, African subregional organizations and African Member States. He welcomed the work of the High-level Independent Panel on Security, Governance and Development in the Sahel, voicing hope that its findings and recommendations can pave the way for long-awaited progress on strengthening international coordination to address the crisis in the region. Counter-terrorism measures must always comply with international law, in particular human rights law, he stressed, adding that effective counter-terrorism responses also demand whole-of-society, gender-responsive approaches. Council-mandated measures to counter terrorism, including sanctions, are crucial to deter and address terrorist threats, but can have unintended negative humanitarian impacts. To address this, his country, together with the United States, has introduced a draft resolution providing for a humanitarian exemption across all sanctions regimes, he said, urging all Council members to support that initiative.