The African continent is increasingly exposed to the terrorist threat. [fr]
Countering terrorism and extremism in Africa
Statement by Mr Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 11 March 2020
I would like to thank the Chinese presidency for organizing this debate on one of France’s major priorities, as well as Ms. DiCarlo, Ms. Mohammed and Mr. Dieye for their introductory statements.
While the terrorist threat persists throughout the world, the African continent has not been spared and is even increasingly exposed to it, whether in the Sahel, the Lake Chad basin, the Horn of Africa or, now, in certain regions of central and southern Africa. Terrorist groups continue to attack the authority of States and civilian populations, and this threat is not distinct from the international terrorist movement. Terrorist groups operating on the African continent are tied to Al-Qaida and Da’esh and have links to organized criminal groups.
Our first priority must therefore be to develop a global approach to the fight against terrorism, involving all actors and addressing all the causes of the phenomenon. In that regard, I welcome once again the growing strength of the Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G-5 Sahel), which, after 11 operations in 2019, is pursuing its operational engagement in close coordination with Operation Barkhane, in particular through the establishment of a joint command mechanism in Niamey. The strengthening of international cooperation, in particular among the States of the region, is a key prerequisite for a concerted and effective approach to the fight against terrorism.
I also recall the outcomes of the Pau summit of 13 January, which brought together the Heads of State of the G-5 Sahel countries and their main multilateral partners — the United Nations, the African Union and the International Organization of la Francophonie — and called for the launch of a coalition for the Sahel with the aim of strengthening the coordination of the international community’s efforts. The coalition is based on four pillars — the fight against terrorism, building security sector capacity in the G-5 Sahel States, support for the redeployment of sovereign services and development aid — in order to address all the causes of terrorism. Finally, our collective commitment also extends to the fight against Al-Shabaab in Somalia and against Boko Haram in the Lake Chad basin region, where we support, bilaterally and via the European Union, the operations conducted by our African partners.
Beyond the security response and the restoration of State authority, we must act side by side with the African population. Without action tailored to the populations most exposed to the terrorist threat, namely, women and youth, we will not be able to address the root causes of the threat or respond effectively. Five years ago, the Council recognized the role of women in the fight against violent extremism in resolution 2242 (2015). It is time to translate that recognition into action. Moreover, as nearly half of Africa’s population will be under the age of 25 in 2050, we must take into account that terrorist groups are recruiting among those young people, some of whom are still children. Education, on the one hand, and socioeconomic development, on the other, are the keys to combating such recruitment.
In addition to education and respect for human rights, we must also combat the spread of terrorist propaganda that targets women and young people in particular, especially on the Internet. The Christchurch Appeal, launched in Paris in May 2019, is a new and important contribution to our country’s efforts to combat the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes. Senegal was one of its early supporters and I am pleased that several others have joined the Appeal.
Lastly, drying up the sources of funding is key to the fight against terrorism. Resolution 2462 (2019) reaffirms the obligations of States to combat terrorism financing. For the first time, it also proposes solutions to establish the necessary balance between criminalizing financial support for terrorist activities and protecting the humanitarian space. Its full implementation is a priority.
The fight against terrorism, radicalization and violent extremism must be carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law, refugee law and human rights law. We reject the use of threat of terrorism as a pretext for violating freedom of expression, the right to protest and freedom of religion or belief. Similarly, the fight against terrorism cannot be used as justification for attacks on civilians or the repression of humanitarian actors in Africa or elsewhere.