From the Horn of Africa in the east and across the Sahel to the west, terrorism continues to pose a threat to the continent’s peace, security and development, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today as he warned that Africa was facing a rise in the presence of extremist groups and terrorist entities.
In remarks delivered to the United Nations Security Council’s open debate on combating terrorism in Africa, the Secretary-General said that success in the combat against groups such as the Nigeria-based Boko Haram, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, and the Somalia-based Al Shabaab would require greater and more holistic efforts.
“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,” Mr. Ban stressed, while adding that 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, allowing such groups to survive and proliferate,” he continued.
Turning to the continent’s terrorist hotspots, Mr. Ban told the 15-Member Council that in Somalia, for example, there had already been “important progress towards stability” with the Islamist militant group, Al Shabaab uprooted from numerous strategic 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,” he noted.
In particular, the UN chief underscored the role of the newly established UN Mission in Somalia in providing strategic policy guidance on security sector reform while also supporting the country’s nascent Federal Government in strengthening their police, justice and corrections.
As for Mali and the wider Sahel region, the Secretary-General similarly pointed out the international community’s successes in tackling a deteriorating situation with what he described as “welcome resolve.”
In December 2012, at the request of the Malian Government, the Security Council authorized the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali, known by its French acronym, AFISMA, in order to support national efforts to recover the country’s north, which had been occupied by radical Islamists.
The conflict uprooted hundreds of thousands of people and prompted the Malian Government to request assistance from France to stop the military advance of extremist groups.
As with Somalia, Mr. Ban suggested that the newly launched UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) would provide key support for the Malian authorities in extending state control and building “legitimate instruments of governance.”
In addition, he stated that in the Sahel, the UN was developing “an integrated strategy that aims to enhance governance; strengthen the capacity of national and regional security mechanisms; and integrate development and humanitarian activities in order to build resilience.”
“Without such a holistic approach, we risk simply pushing the threat from one area to another,” the Secretary-General concluded.
In a Presidential statement approved at the start of the meeting, members of the Security Council echoed Mr. Ban’s remarks by voicing deep concern at the increasing violence perpetrated by armed groups across Africa’s regions and sub-regions. They similarly called for an integrated response which would target development as much as it would security and include a wide variety of actors ranging from the international community to civil society groups.
“The Security Council recognizes that terrorism will not be defeated by military force or security forces, law enforcement measures, and intelligence operations alone,” the statement declared while underlining the need to address the conditions conducive to “strengthening efforts for the successful prevention and peaceful resolution of prolonged conflicts, and also promoting the rule of law, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, good governance, tolerance and inclusiveness.”
As a result, the Council called on the Secretary-General to provide “a comprehensive survey and assessment” of the UN’s work in assisting Member States and sub-regional and regional entities across Africa in fighting the continent’s terrorist threats.
“The United Nations is strongly committed to doing its part to combat terrorism in Africa,” Mr. Ban reminded the Council during his remarks. “Success is crucial for enabling Africans to meet their aspirations to live in dignity and peace.”