Nouakchott — The Sahel region has become "a safe haven" for organised crime networks and terrorists, the Mauritanian FM says.
Mauritania calls for the establishment of a UN counter-terror unit in the Sahel.
"Our sub-region, the Sahel, for a number of years has become a safe haven for organised crime networks of all kinds - drug trafficking, weapons, ammunitions, including trafficking in human beings, illegal immigration and particularly terrorism," Mauritanian Foreign Minister Hamadi Ould Hamadi said on September 29th at the 67th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Mauritania is willing to host the UN Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Organised Crime Centre in the African region of Sahel and offer protection and support to the unit, Ould Hamadi said.
"My country is perfectly aware that a close relationship between security, development and democracy exists. We know that security is a necessary condition for development, establishing democracy and strengthening institutions of the rule of law," the Mauritanian minister noted.
In UN Resolution 66/10 (2011), the General Assembly indicated that "the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre will operate under the direction of the Secretary-General and will contribute to promoting the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy".
The UN called on its member-states to collaborate with the Counter-Terror Centre "in contributing to the implementation of its activities".
The unit aims to "implement all the four pillars of the strategy in a comprehensive and integrated fashion through the development of national and regional Counter-Terrorism Strategy implementation plans".
The centre will undertake initiatives to "promote international counter-terrorism and encourage collaboration between national, regional and international counter-terrorism centres and organisations".
"There is an advisory board that provides guidance to the executive director on the centre's annual plan and work program including annual budget, programmes, projects and proposals," said law professor Mohamed Ould Cheikh.
"The first meeting of the board took place on April 2nd in New York and the second one on June 3rd in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia," he said.
Jurist Ba Moktar commented that "the war on terrorism nowadays requires that the states strengthen their collaboration and that the global approach be all inclusive".
"All measures however, adopted both on a national and international levels, must conform to international law, particularly those involving civil rights. This fight must not be an excuse to interfere with other countries' domestic affairs," he added.
Moktar urged "more vigorous support for the general convention project on international terrorism". He said that "the member-states need to put aside their differences and work towards the completion of this text, which will be an important tool in reinforcing the international legal framework against terrorism".
Such initiatives are important "in that they are key in deepening the collaboration between the UN and the regional organisations, such as the Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Initiative as well as the Madrid Declaration and Plan of Action in West Africa and Central Africa for combatting terrorism", according to Moktar.
Opening the centre in Mauritania will be a reward for the country's counter-terror efforts, he said.
"Mauritania played a significant role in this war by implementing specific measures for an efficient fight against terrorism," Moktar concluded. "All these efforts led to the creation on 21 April 2010 in Tamanrasset of the Joint Military Staff Committee of the Sahel Region (CEMOC)."