Tuesday 26 August 2014

Fighting terrorism in Africa: what can the AU do?

Date: 1 September 2014
Time: 09h30 - 12h30
Venue: Conference room, ISS Nairobi

In recent years, terrorism has emerged as a major security challenge in Africa. The gravity of this threat has escalated dramatically in the course of 2013 and 2014. In September 2013, the al-Shabaab attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall not only killed close to 70 people, but also brought the country to a standstill for three days. Since the beginning of this year, Kenya has continued to experience a number of terrorist attacks, undermining its status as a stable country.

In West Africa, terrorist group Boko Haram has become the most serious security threat facing Nigeria since the Biafran war in the 1960s. Boko Haram’s attacks are now spreading into neighbouring countries, as shown by the recent abduction of the wife of Cameroon’s Deputy Prime Minister, Amadou Ali. The group’s activities now threaten to destabilise the entire region.

The scale and sophistication of recent attacks, along with the increased regionalisation of terrorism by Boko Haram, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al-Shabaab, demand a more robust collective response both at the regional and continental level. There are now increasing calls for the African Union (AU) to make a renewed effort to address terrorism in Africa. At the recent summit in Malabo, the AU asked the Peace and Security Council (PSC) ‘to devote a meeting, at summit level, on the issue of terrorism as part of a renewed effort towards the effective implementation of the AU counter-terrorism framework’.

As the PSC is scheduled to hold the summit-level meeting on 2 September 2014 in Nairobi, Kenya, the main question is what can be done to achieve a stronger and more effective response from the AU and its member states. Coordination and intelligence-sharing between countries is valuable. So too is financial and material support, such as the initiative announced by United States (US) President Barack Obama during the recent US-Africa summit, which will assist in rectifying critical gaps in the capabilities of African security forces. Still, haven’t such exclusively security-focused responses proved to be inadequate in the past? And, when applied to a context in which the state and the government lack legitimacy, is such an approach not counter productive?

In recognition of the importance of the PSC summit, the Institute for Security Studies is convening a seminar to address these and similar questions. The speakers will look at the work of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in addressing terrorism; the PSC’s initiatives on the issue; and also at what the AU can do to take the lead in an effective response to rising terrorism in Africa.

Chair: Stephanie Wolters, Division Head, Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis, ISS


  • HE Alain-Aimé Nyamitwe, PSC Chair for the month of August 2014, Ambassador of the Republic of Burundi to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Chad, Permanent Representative to the AU and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
  • Solomon A Dersso, Project Leader, Peace and Security Council Report, ISS Addis Ababa
  • Martin Ewi, Senior Researcher, ISS Pretoria

This event is made possible with support from Humanity United, the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The ISS is grateful for support from the following members of the ISS Partnership Forum: the governments of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the USA.

Culled from http://www.issafrica.org


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