Speakers Warn Security Council Terrorism Spreading across Africa at Alarming Rate, Call for Greater Support, Enhanced International, Regional Cooperation
With terrorism and violent extremism spreading across Africa at an alarming rate, counter-efforts must take into account the socioeconomic drivers of terrorist recruitment, challenges posed by climate change and terrorist Internet propaganda, the Security Council heard today, as speakers called for greater support in the fight against the evolving threat, as well as enhanced cooperation among the United Nations, African Union and African subregional organizations.
“No age, no culture, no religion, no nationality and no region are immune” to terrorism, said António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, voicing particular concern over the situation in Africa. Across the continent, despair, poverty, hunger, lack of basic services, unemployment and unconstitutional changes in government continue to lay fertile ground for the expansion of terrorist groups and the flow of fighters, funds and weapons. In addition, the online world provides a global platform to spread violent ideologies even further.
However, “just as terrorism drives people apart, countering it can bring countries together,” he pointed out, spotlighting regional counter-terrorism initiatives — from joint efforts in the Sahel, Lake Chad Basin and Mozambique to the recent Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on terrorism and unconstitutional changes of government. Highlighting United Nations-tailored assistance to African Member States, including prevention, prosecutions and rehabilitation, he also stressed that the fight against terrorism will never succeed if the denial and destruction of human rights is perpetuated.
Azali Assoumani, President of Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union, also briefed the 15-nation organ, reporting that terrorism and violent extremism “really exploded in Africa” in recent years. Driving fear and human displacement on a massive scale, those phenomena are seriously impacting the socioeconomic conditions of entire regions. In this regard, he drew attention to the African Union’s project “Silence the Guns by 2030”, its Ministerial Committee on Terrorism, as well as the deployment of several successful peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the African Union, including the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Multinational Joint Force in the Lake Chad Basin. Despite positive impacts of such initiatives, greater support is needed, he stressed, calling for predictable funds for African Union-led missions to prevent and fight terrorism.
In the ensuing debate, speakers highlighted the critical importance of cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional groups in the fight against the transnational threat of terrorism. As well, root causes, such as poverty and inequality, must be addressed, many noted, emphasizing the need to promote the rule of law and human rights and calling for a multilateral counter-terrorism strategy that is fit for the digital age.
Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of Mozambique and Council President for March, speaking in his national capacity, emphasized that, while terrorism is a global threat, the situation in Africa remains more critical, with the continent representing 48 per cent of terrorism-related deaths and the Sahel region becoming the new epicentre of terrorist attacks. Terrorist groups are trafficking mineral resources and illicit drugs to fund their activities through money-laundering, he noted, calling for more support to be lent to his country and Rwanda, among others, to eradicate terrorism in the region.
Along similar lines, Rose Christiane Raponda, Vice-President of Gabon, describing 2022 as a particularly blood-thirsty year in Africa, said that terrorist acts resulted in 7,816 deaths across all five regions. The Sahel, Lake Chad region and Southern Africa are particularly affected, she said, expressing concern about the ability of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da’esh, to mobilize resources. As terrorism tests the capacity of States and destabilizes entire regions, the current polarization of the world must not result in the weakening of multilateralism, she said, spotlighting regional initiatives, such as the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) and the Accra initiative.
While terrorism exists everywhere, Alain Berset, President of Switzerland, pointed out that it is manifesting in a particularly alarming way in Africa, with new groups emerging and existing armed groups joining United Nations-designated terrorist organizations. The necessary ingredients for breaking this cycle of violence are well-known — the rule of law, prevention, partnerships, inclusion and respect for international law. In this context, he highlighted an initiative that his country has undertaken together with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) — a handbook to guide the provision of psychosocial assistance to children linked with criminal or armed groups.
Vincent Biruta, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Rwanda, said that traditional peacekeeping missions alone have not proved effective enough to address terrorism and violent extremism. Instead, he underlined the importance of robust and pragmatic approaches, tailored to local contexts, spotlighting the bilateral mechanism Rwanda deployed in Mozambique and the Central African Republic at the request of both Governments. He also highlighted the assistance measure recently provided under the European Peace Facility to support the deployment of the Rwanda Defence Force in Mozambique. Moreover, post-conflict reconstruction must be prioritized, he asserted, adding: “We have learned this from our country’s tragic history.”
Calling for more support to African-led efforts, Shakhboot Nahyan al Nahyan, Minister of State of the United Arab Emirates, called attention to the Nouakchott Process, Accra initiative and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa as “proof positive” that greater integration leads to better strategies. Prevention strategies should be built “from the ground up” and follow the lead of African countries. “Too often, this Council has appealed for action that fell on deaf ears, because it failed to adjust to the nuances of the realities on the ground,” or has failed to provide the necessary political or financial means. African stakeholders possess the knowledge and the experience needed, and “the time to listen to and support them in this endeavour is long overdue”, he stressed.
Also speaking today were Heads of State, ministers and representatives of Ghana, United States, Brazil, China, United Kingdom, Japan, France, Albania, Russian Federation, Malta and Ecuador.
The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 12:23 p.m.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that terrorism — the root and result of many of the problems under discussion by the Security Council — is tightening its grip by exploiting instability in political, economic and security systems and by preying on the fears and vulnerabilities of people facing grinding poverty, hunger and famine. Terrorist groups, trading in the “timeless evils” of discrimination that target specific groups, religions and ethnicities, are also engaging in criminal activities, including money-laundering, illegal mining and the trafficking of arms, drugs, precious minerals and human beings. They subject women and girls to sexual and gender-based violence and flout or ignore the rule of law — from international human rights law, humanitarian law and refugee law to the values embedded in the Charter of the United Nations.
“No age, no culture, no religion, no nationality and no region are immune,” he said, voicing particular concern over the situation in Africa. Despair, poverty, hunger, lack of basic services, unemployment, and unconstitutional changes in Government continue to lay fertile ground for the expansion of terrorist groups across the continent. Sounding the alarm at the gains terrorist groups are making in the Sahel and elsewhere, he reported that fighters, funds, and weapons are increasingly flowing between regions and across Africa. Moreover, the online world provides a global platform to spread violent ideologies even further.
“Just as terrorism drives people apart, countering it can bring countries together,” he declared, spotlighting regional counter-terrorism initiatives across Africa, from joint efforts in the Sahel, Lake Chad Basin and Mozambique to the recent Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on terrorism and unconstitutional changes of Government. He also affirmed United Nations support in fighting the menace, highlighting the Council’s technical assistance and support for sanction regimes, as well as the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s 65 assessment visits.
Above all, he underlined the importance of the Organization’s close collaboration with the African Union and regional and subregional African organizations. Tailored assistance to African Member States includes prevention, legal assistance, investigations, prosecutions, reintegration and rehabilitation, and human-rights protection. Against this backdrop, he cited the eighth review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in June as a critical opportunity to tackle structural conditions that create fertile ground for terror to spread.
However, the fight against terrorism will never succeed if the same denial and destruction of human rights is perpetuated, he continued, adding that counter-terrorism efforts that are solely security-focused rather than human-rights-based can inadvertently increase marginalization and exclusion. In this context, the proposed New Agenda for Peace will set out a holistic approach to building more peaceful societies in which terror and violent extremism have no home. It will do so through prevention, inclusion and by placing human rights and the rule of law at the core of the Organization’s work. “At every step, we commit to upholding the essential rights and dignity of terrorism’s victims and survivors, supporting and helping to heal those who have been harmed and displaced,” he asserted.
AZALI ASSOUMANI, President of Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union, said counter-terrorism efforts in Africa require a strong and global response. Noting that terrorism and violent extremism drive fear and human displacement on a massive scale, he said that, while those phenomena have been around a long time, they have “really exploded in Africa” in recent years. The terrorist contingent continues broadening in almost all parts of the continent, he reported.
Voicing the African Union’s commitment to its Road Map to “Silence the Guns by 2030”, he said terrorism is seriously impacting the socioeconomic conditions of countries and entire regions alike. Several recent high-level conferences in Africa have focused on the scourge of terrorism on the one hand, and the resurgence of unconstitutional changes in Government on the other hand. Against that backdrop, the African Union has created the Ministerial Committee on Terrorism to support its member States and regional entities in those arenas.
He also noted the deployment of several successful peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the African Union, including the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Multinational Joint Force in the Lake Chad Basin. Each have succeeded in reducing armed group activities and protecting the local populations. He also welcomed the decision by the East African Community to deploy a force to the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Several regional frameworks are also now in place to support such counter-terrorism efforts, he said, citing the Djibouti Process, Accra initiative and others.
While those frameworks and initiatives have had positive impacts, they require greater support and commitments, he continued. Underscoring the importance of prevention, he called on the Council to redouble its efforts and strengthen cooperation with the African Union, pointing out that such collaboration is less costly in the long term. He also emphasized the need to mobilize the sustained, predictable funds needed for African Union-led missions to prevent and fight terrorism. As well, the United Nations Action Plan should be implemented in a more effective and decentralized manner, he added.
FILIPE JACINTO NYUSI, President of Mozambique and Council President for March, spoke in his national capacity, noting that countering terrorism poses a challenge to States due to its transnational nature and unpredictability. In the African continent context, terrorist groups traffic in mineral resources and engage in illicit drug trafficking to fund their activities through money-laundering. While terrorism is a global threat, the situation in Africa remains more critical, he said, pointing to the 2022 Global Terrorism Index, which reported that the continent represented about 48 per cent of terrorism-related deaths, with the Sahel region becoming the new epicentre of terrorist attacks. Noting that there has also been an uptick in terrorist activities in Northern and Central Africa, the Horn of Africa and East Africa, he pointed out that, in the south, his country has been a target of terrorist attacks since October 2017.
Against this backdrop, he called for an enhanced cooperation framework among the United Nations, African Union and African subregional organizations to combat terrorism, commending, in this regard, the efforts of the Counter-Terrorism Committee. He also underlined the importance of the New Delhi Declaration, which reaffirms “zero tolerance to terrorism”. The African Union and regional organizations have accumulated relevant experience on conflict resolution, including the setting up of a Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique, with an important military component that has been, since July 2021, engaged in fighting terrorism in Cabo Delgado Province. He called for more support to be lent to his country and Rwanda, among others, to eradicate terrorism in the region. Ahead of the eighth Review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in July, he emphasized the need to prevent violent extremism through strengthened community resilience and the establishing of a fund to strengthen local sustainable development initiatives, thereby generating jobs for the youth, particularly in Africa and the Middle East.
ALAIN BERSET, President of Switzerland, noted that, while terrorism exists everywhere, it is manifesting in a particularly alarming way in Africa. Recalling his February visit to Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique, he reported that new groups are emerging and existing armed groups are joining United Nations-designated terrorist organizations. The international community must break this cycle of violence, and the necessary ingredients are well-known — the rule of law, prevention, partnerships, inclusion and respect for international law. On that point, he said that respecting the rule of law means ensuring that counter-terrorism operations do not serve as pretexts for failing to protect civilians or for marginalizing opposition. It also means guaranteeing that humanitarian aid reaches everyone in need — without delay and unhindered — and that children associated with terrorist groups are treated as victims. To that end, he noted that his country is working with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to prepare a handbook to guide the provision of psychosocial assistance to children linked with criminal or armed groups.
Peace, security and prosperity are the best response to ideologies inciting terrorist and extremist violence, he continued, underlining the need to address current and future global challenges that might create instability. He also spotlighted the need to consider the problems posed by climate change, as extreme weather is stirring conflicts and triggering migrant flows. On this, Switzerland is working with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research and the United Nations University on a project demonstrating the link between climate-change-related hardships and recruitment by armed groups in the Lake Chad Basin. Stressing that the international community “cannot respond to problems by looking at one small part of them”, he said that the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy provides a complete set of tools, represents a symbol of unity and is an excellent means with which to combat terrorism. He added that counter-terrorism responses cannot just be military in nature, underscoring the importance of prevention.
ROSE CHRISTIANE RAPONDA, Vice-President of Gabon, noting that 2022 was particularly blood-thirsty in Africa, said that terrorist acts resulted in 7,816 deaths. Each of the five regions of the continent had victims among civilians, security forces or Government officials, she said, expressing concern about the ability of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da’esh, to mobilize resources. Sahel, the Lake Chad region and Southern Africa are particularly affected, she said, highlighting the structural difficulties of some countries. The international community must remain vigilant and strengthen cooperation to build up the resilience of fragile States, particularly in their ability to use technology. Terrorist groups continue to put down roots where State capacity is insufficient and their networks are constantly changing. This is a cross-border threat, and no Government can combat it on their own, she pointed out, calling for concerted actions at global, regional and national levels.
Noting that many Governments are under pressure from people exasperated by growing instability, she said their social and economic measures are lagging, as terrorism tests the capacity of States and destabilizes entire regions. Emphasizing the commitment of African States to fight against all manifestations of terrorism on the continent, she spotlighted regional initiatives, such as the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) and the Accra initiative. The current polarization of the world must not result in the weakening of multilateralism, she stressed, noting that terrorist groups could benefit from such a development. Also observing that frustrated youth are easy targets for radicalization, she called for a holistic, tri-dimensional approach that involves zero tolerance for terrorism, alignment of actions with international law and guarding against politicization. Also calling for the sharing of information and training of security personnel, she underlined the relationship between climate change and poverty and instability.
NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO, President of Ghana, voiced concern over the devastating consequences that terrorism and violent extremism have had on humanity. Highlighting the unsettling uncertainty of where the next attack would come, he said: “This war has no fixed boundaries, neither does it have an end date.” For many people in Africa, the threat to their peace is their daily reality, he noted, sounding alarm at the steady transformation of the continent into “an arena for violent extremism and terrorism”. Detailing threats in the region, he said that Boko Haram continues to carry out assassinations, kidnappings and large-scale acts of violence against civilian populations in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. In Somalia, Al-Qaida-affiliated Al-Shabaab is under pressure, but not defeated.
Against this backdrop, he highlighted initiatives at the global and regional levels to combat terrorism and violent extremism. The effectiveness of the United Nations — now more than ever — rests on more robust cooperation with regional organizations. In order to combat insurgencies in their respective regions, African regional organizations, such as SADC and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), have developed their unique operations, which include both military and diplomatic initiatives. He also cited the Accra initiative, which groups together Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin, Mali and Burkina Faso, and — hopefully soon — Nigeria, as a regional security and intelligence mechanism designed to assist in the fight against terrorism. However, he expressed concern that capacity limitations and a lack of financial resources have become significant obstacles in the fight against terrorists, pointing to under-resourced mandates for peacekeeping in Africa. In this context, he stressed the need to reinforce the capacity of regional organizations for early warning and conflict prevention.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States), underscoring her country’s commitment to supporting efforts to defeat terrorists, reported that the United States has provided nearly $8 billion in security sector assistance since 2019. Regarding Africa, President Joseph R. Biden recently transmitted to the United States Congress a 10-year plan to prevent conflict and promote stability, including in partnership with Mozambique, Libya, Ghana, Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea and Togo. She stressed the importance of incorporating into peacebuilding initiatives the views of civil society, women, young people, victims of terrorism and the private sector. Taking a whole of society approach is the most productive and sustainable way to counter terrorism and violent extremism. The promotion and protection of human rights and the rule of law are essential components of countering terrorism, she stressed, underscoring that effective counter-terrorism measures and the protection of human rights should not be conflicting goals. However, when Member States use counter-terrorism as a pretext to silence political dissent or interfere with the activities of civil society, they only promote radicalization to violence. Actors like the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group undermine peace, she added.
SHAKHBOOT NAHYAN AL NAHYAN, Minister of State of the United Arab Emirates, said terrorism is a complex — and above all, a context-specific — phenomenon. Regional counter-terrorism initiatives play an integral part in supporting Member States in combating that scourge. Noting that more must be done to adequately support African-led efforts in that fight, he emphasized the need to further break down silos. Successful mechanisms, such as the Nouakchott Process, the Accra initiative and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa are all “proof positive” that greater integration leads to better strategies. Meanwhile, counter-terrorism solutions should look beyond the military lens, as the root causes of the phenomenon are multifaceted. Going forward, he called for prevention strategies built “from the ground up”, more resilient institutions and following the lead of African countries. “Too often, this Council has appealed for action that fell on deaf ears, because it failed to adjust to the nuances of the realities on the ground,” or it has failed to provide the necessary political or financial means, he pointed out. African stakeholders possess the knowledge and the experience needed, and “the time to listen to and support them in this endeavour is long overdue”, he stressed.
CARLOS MÁRCIO BICALHO COZENDEY, Secretary of Political Multilateral Affairs of Brazil, said that Article 53 of the Charter allows the Council to resort to regional arrangements under its authority, an option which favours the configuration of tailor-made solutions that take into account local realities. Such mechanisms may also be critical in preventing and defusing tensions, as terrorism, in particular, cannot be fought with a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Voicing grave concern about the rise and spread of terrorism in Africa, he said the continent has already provided remarkable examples of how regional and subregional groups can address that threat. The SADC Mission in Mozambique has achieved significant results in Cabo Delgado, while the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) is working to reduce the capacities of Al-Shabaab. As well, the Multinational Joint Task Force is making important contributions to peace in the Lake Chad Basin. However, greater efforts are needed to address the root drivers of terrorism and violent extremism, such as prolonged conflicts, poor rule of law, rights violations, discrimination, exclusion and unemployment. Investments in peacebuilding yield major positive returns, he stressed, noting that the Peacebuilding Commission is well placed to promote coherence in the United Nations for that purpose.
LIU YUXI, Special Representative for African Affairs for China, underscored the need for the international community to jointly help tackle terrorism’s root causes. Citing the concept paper put forth as part of his country’s Global Security Initiative, he called on the United Nations to play a central role in coordinating the global fight against terrorism, and to support the implementation of General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. He called for past lessons to be considered, ahead of the eighthReview of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. He also urged more support for the African continent to enhance its ability to safeguard peace, including an increase in funding, equipment and logistical aid. The arms embargo imposed on Sudan, South Sudan and others negatively impacts their security capabilities, and must be lifted in a timely manner. He spotlighted his country’s global development initiative, which has a special emphasis on Africa, calling on the international community to take practical steps to help the continent achieve sustainable development and eradicate terrorism by tackling its root causes. Further, he underlined the need to strengthen cooperation among the United Nations, African Union and subregional organizations in helping the continent respond to security challenges. The Secretary-General’s proposal for financial support to be lent to African Union-led peace operations deserves the Council’s serious consideration, he said.
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) agreed with the briefers that today’s terrorist threat is increasingly transnational and opportunistic, exploiting existing tensions in society. He voiced the United Kingdom’s commitment to regional security and intelligence cooperation, urging more collaboration between the United Nations, African Union and regional economic communities. Missions led by the latter must have robust compliance and accountability measures — “not least to ensure that they do not feed the terrorists’ own narratives” — he said, welcoming discussions on that issue and the Secretary-General’s upcoming report on mission financing. In the context of cutting off funding to terrorists, he urged greater use of United Nations sanctions in Africa, and called for counter-terrorism efforts to be holistic, not just military-focused. The United Kingdom is working closely with partners in Africa to strengthen security cooperation. For example, it funded the establishment of Kenya’s Anti-Terrorism Police Unit, as part of a $8.6 million annual investment in that country’s counter-terrorism efforts. Meanwhile, he said, the presence of the Wagner Group “is part of the problem, not the solution” in areas of instability in Africa.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan), underscoring the need to promote African-led counter-terrorism efforts, welcomed regional efforts, such as the Accra initiative, ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework and the SADC Mission in Mozambique. Emphasizing the need for capacity-building assistance for law enforcement and security authorities, he noted that his country is committed to supporting African-led efforts under the New Approach for Peace and Stability in Africa, launched at the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development. He went on to underline the need to combat terrorist financing, voicing alarm that the illicit trade in natural resources, including wildlife, has become a source of funding for terrorists and armed groups in the region. Such challenges should be addressed in a coordinated manner in line with relevant resolutions. As well, root causes, such as poverty and inequality, must be addressed, he said, stressing the need for a human-security approach to this end. Japan will engage constructively in the upcoming eighth review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, he said, emphasizing the need to promote the rule of law, human rights, gender mainstreaming and maritime security, as underscored in previous Strategy’s review resolutions.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France), noting that terrorist groups in the Sahel are pursuing their planned expansion towards the Gulf of Guinea, called on the Council to resume its discussions on funding African peace operations based on the common position adopted in Addis Ababa. For its part, France and the European Union will continue strengthening partnerships with African States and regional organizations. He also highlighted the importance of United Nations tools — including panels of experts and sanctions — and said that the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate contributes to a better understanding of the threat in Africa. Further, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism — to which the European Union is the third-largest contributor — facilitates important capacity-building. He also stressed the need to strengthen community-based resilience in African States, taking into account the socioeconomic drivers of terrorist recruitment, the challenges posed by climate change and terrorist Internet propaganda based on disinformation. He added that “pseudo-security services” offered by certain private military companies are counterproductive to counter-terrorism efforts, urging the African Union to modernize and implement certain measures — dating from 1997 — relating to mercenary companies.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania), noting that, in 2022, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for more than 48 per cent of global terrorism deaths, said that the Sahel has become home to the world’s fastest-growing and most deadly terrorist groups. Boko Haram alone has displaced more than 3.4 million civilians across the region. “That terrorism is currently wreaking havoc in Africa doesn’t mean it is an African problem only,” he said, adding that it is a global problem which requires a global response. Highlighting the resilience of Governments across the African continent, he expressed support for the African Union’s initiatives. Only a robust and inclusive approach based on the rule of law will help, he said, adding that there are no quick fixes or patchy solutions. The deployment of private military companies is not a solution, he underscored, adding that they often become part of the problem. “Fighting lawlessness with more lawlessness is a misconception,” he added, also noting the mobile nature of terrorist organizations. Stressing the need for a multilateral counter-terrorism strategy that is fit for the digital age, he called on the international community to build trust and resilience and protect human rights in its fight against terrorism.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) emphasized that the United Nations must continue playing a central coordinating role in anti-terrorism cooperation while strictly complying with international legal norms. He rejected any interference in internal affairs of other States under the guise of combating terrorism and preventing violent extremism. Moreover, he opposed manipulation of the notion of combating terrorism and extremism for political reasons. In this regard, the alternative is the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation concept which provides a robust legal foundation to strengthen States’ cooperation in fighting and preventing violent extremism. Moreover, he stressed the need to pay heightened attention to eradicating the root causes of terrorism. Not everything can boil down to socioeconomic issues and corruption as they do not always reflect the forces of radicalization, he observed, adding that terrorism in the Sahel came on after the interference by the West in Libya, which has destabilized the whole region. He cited attempts to justify interventions on religious, ethnic or social grounds as “a manipulation that has been a characteristic of colonial Powers for decades”. In Africa, real cooperation with neighbours constitutes a successful fight against terrorism, he underlined, describing as “unacceptable” the tactic of prioritizing one country over another in the fight against terrorism. This led to terrorism being squeezed on the territory of Mali and Burkina Faso, he cautioned. Voicing support for initiatives of African States in countering terrorist threats, he said that the Russian Federation will continue extending practical assistance in the fight against terrorism and illegal trafficking in weapons. African countries have every right to decide with whom and how to cooperate, he asserted, declaring: “It is a failure of Western States that makes African countries turn to those who can really help them combat terrorism.”
FRANCESCA MARIA GATT (Malta) expressed concern that terrorist activity and violence continue to increase in Africa, with the Sahel region alone accounting for 43 per cent of total terrorism deaths globally in 2022. Many terrorist groups operating on the African Continent, such as Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram, are conducting attacks and expanding the scope of their operations. She underscored the importance of strengthening cooperation in the counter-terrorism sphere, adding that for United Nations efforts to be truly effective, they must address transnational terrorist threats in a more holistic manner. That includes by working with the African Union and African subregional organizations, including ECOWAS, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and SADC. Sustainable financing for United Nations-authorized, African Union-led peace support operations is crucial, as is addressing humanitarian and social needs to prevent recruitment among vulnerable populations. She further emphasized the need for counter-terrorism measures to be gender-responsive and ensure the participation of women and young people.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador) added his agreement with other speakers that cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional groups is critical, especially given the transnational nature of threats such as terrorism. He welcomed plans to hold an African Counterterrorism Summit in Nigeria this year and praised efforts by the African Union Peace and Security Council, as well as by its various missions deployed across the continent. Outlining several priorities, he called for efforts to strengthen the mechanisms that restrict the funding of terrorist groups; harnessing the United Nations technical experience to help regional bodies respond to the use of new and emerging technology for terrorist purposes; helping States shore up their institutions; and supporting the implementation of stronger joint regional prevention frameworks, as has been seen in Central Asia. He also emphasized the need to fully respect human rights, integrate gender perspectives and fight such driving factors as inequality and unemployment, for which developing countries require additional support.
VINCENT BIRUTA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Rwanda, noting that terrorism and violent extremism are spreading at an alarming rate in Africa, said that traditional peacekeeping missions alone have not proved effective enough to address this global challenge. Calling for robust and pragmatic approaches, tailored to local contexts, he recalled the bilateral mechanism Rwanda deployed in Mozambique and the Central African Republic at the request of both Governments. Such an approach is quick and effective, but needs sustainable funding, he said, highlighting the assistance measure recently provided under the European Peace Facility to support the deployment of the Rwanda Defence Force in Mozambique. Also stressing the need to prioritize post-conflict reconstruction, he said: “We have learned this from our country’s tragic history.” Representation of African countries in the Security Council is also critical, he said adding that the continent must not be left out of decision-making processes that affect its development. He also commended the significant progress made to strengthen the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union.