14 May 2013

Africa: UN Chief Urges 'Holistic Approach' to Fight Terrorism in Africa

The United Nations, UN, Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, on Monday stressed the need to adopt a "holistic approach" in dealing with terrorism in Africa.

He said that this had become imperative because the continent was facing a rise in the presence of extremist groups and terrorist entities.

Ban noted that terrorism had continued to pose a threat to the continent's peace, security and development.

In a speech he delivered at the UN Security Council's open debate on combating terrorism in Africa, Ban stated 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.

He said. "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."

He also noted 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 organised criminal groups ensure the constant flow of people, money, weapons and illicit goods across borders, allowing such groups to survive and proliferate," the UN chief stressed.

Turning to the continent's terrorist hotspots, 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 done with respect to the rule of law, development, and the country's political transformation," he added.

The secretary-general also 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 system.

As for Mali and the wider Sahel region, Ban pointed out the international community's successes in tackling a deteriorating situation with what he described as "welcome resolve".

He suggested that the newly-launched UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) would provide key support for the Malian authorities in extending state control and building "legitimate instruments of governance".

He further 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 UN chief warned.

He also said that the UN is strongly committed to doing its part to combat terrorism in Africa, saying "success is crucial for enabling Africans to meet their aspirations to live in dignity and peace".

In a Presidential statement, approved at the start of the meeting, members of the UN Security Council echoed Ban's remarks by expressing deep concern at the increasing violence perpetrated by armed groups across Africa's regions and sub-regions.

They also called for an integrated response which would target development as much as it would ensure security. The initiative should include a wide variety of actors ranging from the international community to civil society groups.

"The Security Council recognises that terrorism will not be defeated by military force or security forces, law enforcement measures, and intelligence operations alone," the statement said.

It also underlined the need to address the conditions conducive to "strengthening efforts for the successful prevention and peaceful resolution of prolonged conflicts and also promote the rule of law, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as ensure good governance, tolerance and inclusiveness".

The Council also called on the UN Secretary-General to provide "a comprehensive survey and assessment" of the UN's work in assisting UN member states, sub-regional and regional entities across Africa in fighting the continent's terrorist threats.


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