No single nation, institution, or organization can defeat terrorism in Africa or anywhere else, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told a special meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Saturday, as he called for a sustained, cooperative and coordinated approach in tackling this complex, ever-evolving menace.
“The African Union (AU) is a vital partner in confronting the global challenge posed by terrorist groups, said Mr. Guterres, adding that he had been calling for a “higher platform of cooperation” with the AU, and he is proud the two organizations are indeed building that platform across the range of challenges and opportunities confronting the continent.
He recalled that in April 2017, the two organizations signed the Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security, which includes cooperation in the field of countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism.
“I believe this work can be strengthened even further with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) setting out a road map for future collaboration and capacity-building support on countering terrorism within the context of that Framework, he explained.
One of the first reforms Mr. Guterres instituted as Secretary-General was the creation of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, which, he told the African leaders, has worked closely with the AU and other partners to develop regional strategies and national action plans for the prevention of terrorism and violent extremism in the Horn of Africa and Africa, as well as central and southern Africa.
Looking ahead, the UN chief said he believed a comprehensive approach to combatting the transnational threat of terrorism in Africa can be developed around four key priorities:
- By addressing the deficit in international counter-terrorism cooperation at the global, regional and national levels. Mr. Guterres will in June convene the first-ever UN Summit of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies to build on Member States' priorities and his discussion today;
- Enhanced ratification of existing legal counter-terrorism instruments, conventions and protocols;
- Tackling the root causes and underlying conditions, including the lack of economic opportunities, extreme poverty, marginalization, exclusion and discrimination; and
- Placing a special focus on expanding opportunities for young people – especially since youth under the age of 25 form the largest demographic group in most developing countries and they are often the ones most at risk of being recruited and radicalized by terrorists.
Underscoring that terrorism is not only a threat to peace and security but also to sustainable development, Mr. Guterres called on the international community to mobilize resources in support of African countries as they strive to balance security and development.
“We face a serious challenge – but I believe it is one that we can meet with solidarity, common action and a shared resolve,” he said.