Foreign Ministers from West and Central Africa meeting in Madrid today agreed on a political declaration and a plan of action to improve terrorism prevention, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which helped to organize the gathering, said.
The two-day Ministerial round-table was convened to strengthen national and sub-regional counter-terrorism efforts and to identify areas for further action, particularly in bolstering the legal regime against the threat.
The declaration adopted by participants reaffirmed the commitment of 27 countries from West and Central Africa to ratify and implement all universal instruments against terrorism. The ministers and senior officials also pledged to enhance cooperation to prevent and combat the scourge.
In a message delivered on behalf of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Executive Director of the UN Counter Terrorism Committee, Javier Ruperez, said the meeting, organized by UNODC with the support of the Government of Spain, met on 25 and 26 May, was an excellent example of the steps countries and regions need to take to unite against terrorism.
Noting that no country or region is immune from the threat, UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa stressed that preventing and combating terrorism requires trans-border cooperation in areas such as sharing intelligence, providing mutual legal assistance and extradition.
He urged States to translate legal commitments into practice. Noting that this may require new skills or the upgrading of existing capacity, for example in law enforcement, criminal justice or improving financial intelligence and anti-money laundering, he pledged the world body’s full support. “UNODC is at your disposal,” he told the ministers.
Participants identified a number of areas where they would welcome technical assistance from UNODC, particularly in training criminal justice officials and harmonizing national laws.