The AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) adopts a Landmark Communiqué
on the theme: “Towards a Comprehensive Approach to Combat the
Transnational Threat of Terrorism in Africa.”
At its 749th meeting held at the level of Heads of State and Government, on the sidelines of the ongoing 30th AU Summit, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) adopted a Communiqué on the theme: “Towards a Comprehensive Approach to Combat the Transnational Threat of Terrorism in Africa.”
The following are the high-points and major elements of the communiqué; the Council:
• “Reiterates its strong condemnation of all terrorist acts, methods, practices and incitements, regardless of the pretext under which they are committed. Council also reiterates its strong condemnation of violent extremist ideologies and narratives, and recognizes the integral role of these phenomena in the ultimate execution of terrorist acts;
• “Takes note with deep concern, of the immense threats to peace and security as a result of the upsurge of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation in Africa;
• “Underscores the AU’s continued commitment to inclusive approaches and African ownership within the context of African solutions to the problems plaguing the continent, as well as Africa’s commitment to the international counter terrorism regime as outlined by relevant OAU/AU treaties and conventions, UN Security Council resolutions, and the UN Global Counter-terrorism strategy;
• “Encourages Member States to develop their own comprehensive national counter terrorism strategies focusing on prevention, as well as on timely and swift responses to any terrorist acts. In the same context, Council also encourages Member States to adopt holistic approaches in addressing the root causes of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization, focusing particular attention to the plight of the youth and marginalized sections of society;
• “Stresses the importance of coordination and complementarity of efforts among Member States and all relevant regional and international actors in preventing and countering terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization. In the same context, Council also stresses, once again, the importance of inter-regional continental and international forums of cooperation in the prevention and combating of terrorism, based on comprehensive and evidence-based approaches, within the overall context of practical steps of silencing the guns in Africa by the year 2020;
• “Further stresses the need for constructively engaging a broad range of actors in the fight against terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization, including leaders of various religious groups , community leaders, traditional leaders, educational institutions, civil society groups, the media and internet service providers, as well as the youth and women;
• “Expresses deep concern over the threat posed by the return of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) from conflict zones outside the continent back to their countries of origin in Africa, or to other Member States, where they may seek refuge with other terrorist groups on the ground. In this regard, Council requests the AU Commission and partners to continue to assist Member States in building and further strengthening their national capacities, in order to enable them to more effectively deal with this threat;
• “Calls upon Member States to take the required measures to dry up the flow of terrorism financing, by cutting the links between terrorist organizations and organized crime, including trafficking, smuggling and illicit trade. In this regard, Council underscores the need for continued enhancement of cooperation between and among national security and intelligence agencies of Member States, particularly financial intelligence units, in order to enable them to more effectively combat all forms of financial crimes, such as money laundering and the payment of ransom to terrorist groups. In the same context, Council urges Member States to pay particular attention to the exploitation of charity organizations as a cover to promote terrorism;
• “Stresses the need to strengthen cross border cooperation and information sharing between Member States’ Intelligence Units, including within the framework of the Nouakchott and Djibouti processes, the different regional fusion centers and AFRIPOL;
• “Recalls, once again, Press Statement [PSC/PR/BR.(DCXXVII)] of its 627th meeting held on 26 September 2016 on the role of cybersecurity in the promotion and maintenance of peace and security in Africa; reaffirms the need to counter the use of ICT technologies by terrorist groups, whether in their fundraising, narrative promotion, and recruitment of others to commit terrorist acts; welcomes, in this context, UNSC resolution 2354 (2017) and the “Comprehensive International Framework to Counter Terrorist Narratives” (S/2017/375) with recommended guidelines and good practices; and encourages Member States to collaborate in developing and implementing effective counter-narrative strategies in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2354 (2017), including those relating to FTFs;
• “Calls upon the international community, through individual Member States, Specialized Agencies and Units of the UN, to undertake its responsibilities in assisting AU Member States in identifying areas where they may need technical assistance and capacity-building, in order to meet the challenges of transnational terrorism in light of the unprecedented threats it poses to peace and security in the continent and globally;
• “Commends the role played by the African Members of the United Nations Security Council (A3) in promoting and defending common African positions in UN Security Council decisions on the fight against terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization, including resolutions 2354, 2370 and 2396 (2017);
Prior to the adoption of the Communiqué, statements were delivered by H.E. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Chairperson of the PSC for the month of January 2018; H.E. President Alpha Conde, of Republic of Guinea, the outgoing Chairperson of the African Union; H.E. Ahmed Ouyahia, the Prime Minister of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, on behalf of H.E. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in his capacity as the Leader on the Thorny Issue of Combating Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Africa; H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission; and H.E. Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations who said the African Union is a vital partner in the global fight against terrorism. There was a briefing on a comprehensive approach to combating the transnational threat of terrorism and violent extremism in Africa, by the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui and there was a presentation by Mr. Shimelis W. Semayat, the Executive Secretary of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA).
Afterwards, members of the council, including Nigeria, took turn to address the meeting. Some points of convergence through their various statements were that no argument could justify terrorist activities, that terrorist activities in the contemporary times are more complex in nature and that terrorist groups have improved their tactics and improved on their technology such that they apply ICT to facilitate their activities. They stressed the need for the establishment of a proactive and effective counter-terrorism strategy in Africa.
Some of them reiterated the urgent need for capacity building for the intelligence services in African countries, the need for cooperation by all intelligent services in African countries and the need for sharing of useful information to enable them fight terrorism collectively to a stand-still in Africa. They also underlined the need to place a special focus on the young people who could easily be recruited and radicalised by terrorists. While Algeria assured of its preparedness to share experience in the fight against terrorism, violence extremism and de-radicalisation, Egypt called for a global approach to prevent terrorists from using the ICT to facilitate their activities.
The AU Peace and Security Council consists of 15 Members and the current members are: Algeria (whose tenure expires on 31st March, 2018) and Egypt (whose tenure expires on 31st March, 2019), representing Northern Africa; Botswana (whose tenure expires on 31st March, 2018), South Africa (whose tenure expires on 31st March, 2018) and Zambia (whose tenure expires on 31st March, 2019), representing Southern Africa; Burundi (whose tenure expires on 31st March, 2018), Chad (whose tenure expires on 31st March, 2018) and Congo (whose tenure expires on 31st March, 2019), representing Central Africa; Kenya (whose tenure expires on 31st March, 2019), Rwanda (whose tenure expires on 31st March, 2018) and Uganda (whose tenure expires on 31st March, 2018), representing Eastern Africa; Niger (whose tenure expires on 31st March, 2018), Nigeria (whose tenure expires on 31st March, 2019), Sierra Leone (whose tenure expires on 31st March, 2018) and Togo (whose tenure expires on 31st March, 2018), representing Western Africa.
Nigeria maintains a continuous membership of the Council based on the consensus by ECOWAS Member States to always present Nigeria as representing Western Africa in the Council.
Tope Adeleye Elias-Fatile, PhD., FNIPR
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja
29th January, 2018