13 May 2013 - Security Council - The challenges of the fight against terrorism in Africa - Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
I would like to thank the President of Togolese Republic and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Togo, the Secretary-General and all of the Ministers for their participation in this high-level debate.
I associate myself with the statement to be made by the Observer of the European Union.
Terrorism is a major threat for the African continent, in the Sahel, Nigeria and Somalia. It is a serious threat for regional stability and, beyond that, for international peace and security. It is therefore at very core of the Security Council’s action.
In the Sahel, the scourge grew out of problems of governance, drug trafficking and the status of communities. The intervention of French and African forces has reduced the threat but residual elements remain. In Somalia, the situation is still fragile. Al-Shabaab controls a large part of the territory, and terrorist attacks regularly target Government authorities. In Nigeria, Boko Haram continues to pursue its attempts to destabilize the Government.
The phenomenon is constantly evolving. The porous borders, linked to technological advances and progress in communications, finance and transportation, have fuelled relationships between terrorist networks and criminal groups operating internationally, thus making the fight against terrorism even more complex.
France has made the fight against terrorism in Africa one of its priorities. Our commitment in Mali since 11 January, in conjunction with Malian armed forces and African forces of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali, is the clearest sign of that fact. In that respect, I would like to pay tribute to the commitment of the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union. I welcome in particular the mobilization of African contingents, namely, Togolese contingents, which were so swiftly deployed in Mali.
In January, Mali could have become a State run by terrorists. The situation was obviously unacceptable, not only for Malians themselves but for all the States in the region and beyond the region, that is, for all of those who could one day be affected by terrorism, in Africa, in Europe or elsewhere. That is why France, at the request of the Malian authorities, intervened alongside Malian forces and African forces. The northern towns were retaken, terrorists were thwarted and the territorial integrity of the country was restored.
The adoption of resolution 2100 (2013) confirmed the unanimous support of the international community for the stabilization of Mali and the action of France and African States to counter terrorist groups in the region. Today, Mali is able to continue its political process, namely, through the holding of elections. That is crucial because — let us make no mistake about it — in the fight against terrorism, politics is also a weapon.
The fight against terrorism in Africa and the world remains, above all, a collective responsibility that requires more than ever the mobilization and coordination of all stakeholders concerned. I am thinking first of all of the States of the region, which have the primary responsibility to prevent and combat all of the forms and expressions of the phenomenon. In that regard, we urge all African States to join the relevant sectoral agreements to combat terrorism and strengthen mutual cooperation, in particular in the Sahel.
African regional organizations are particularly concerned by the scourge that has lodged itself on the continent. But it is also up to them to provide solutions. The African Union was therefore able to take up the initiative against Al-Shabaab and has shown great determination against the terrorist groups in Mali. Today, several subregional organizations have acquired the tools to fight the financing of terrorism, such as the Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, whose representative’s presence in the Chamber today I welcome.
The European Union also contributes to efforts to combat terrorism in Africa. It is not only Africa that the scourge destabilizes; the consequences of terrorism are also felt throughout the world. Therefore, through its efforts in Africa, Europe is participating in ensuring its own security.
Of course, the United Nations must also play a role. The Organization has acquired the relevant tools to carry out the fight. First of all, it has adopted a Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, but it has also set up Sanctions Committees supported by the United Nations structure, which remind terrorists on a daily basis that we are not lowering our guard.
All of those efforts should be coordinated in order to have a maximum impact. It is only collectively that we manage to effectively fight terrorism in Africa. It is a major challenge, and we do not have the right to fail.
Before concluding, allow me to express my condolences to the Government and people of Turkey who have been struck by terrorism.
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