No single nation, institution, or organisation 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 as he called for a sustained, co-operative and co-ordinated approach to tackle this complex, ever-evolving menace.
“The African Union (AU) is a vital partner in confronting the global challenge posed by terrorist groups,” Guterres said adding he wanted a “higher platform of co-operation” with the AU and he is proud the both organisations are building across the range of challenges and opportunities confronting the continent.
In April last year the two organisations signed the Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security, which includes co-operation in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism.
“I believe this work can be strengthened 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 told the continental body.
One of the first reforms Guterres instituted as Secretary-General was the creation of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism which works closely with the AU and other partners to develop regional strategies and national action plans to prevent terrorism and violent extremism in the Horn of Africa and Africa, as well as central and southern Africa.
Looking ahead, the UN chief believes a comprehensive approach to combatting the transnational threat of terrorism in Africa can be developed around a number of priorities.
They are addressing the deficit in international counter-terrorism co-operation at the global, regional and national levels. Guterres will in June convene the first-ever UN Summit of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies to build on Member States’ priorities and the AU discussion.
Another is 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, marginalisation, exclusion and discrimination; and, placing a special focus on expanding opportunities for young people – especially since youth under 25 form the largest demographic group in most developing countries and they are often the ones most at risk of being recruited and radicalised by terrorists.
Stressing terrorism is not only a threat to peace and security but also to sustainable development, Guterres called on the international community to mobilise 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 we can meet with solidarity, common action and a shared resolve,” he said.