Terrorism and violent extremism in West Africa are specific targets of a just-confirmed memorandum of understanding (MoU) between regional bloc ECOWAS and the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT).
Signed in New York during the UN General Assembly (UNGA) the MoU sets up a framework for co-operation between the Economic Community of West African States and the world body’s specialist counter-terror office.
Over the next five years the MoU will see joint efforts on security and counter-terrorism initiatives. They include preventative efforts to counter terrorist travel, financing, access to weapons and misuse of information and communications technologies; border security and management; prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration (PRR) and delivery of counter-terrorism training programmes in Africa. The agreement further makes provision for UNOCT support to ECOWAS and its member states in implementing the ECOWAS 2020/2024 action plan on eradicating terrorism.
Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism Vladimir Voronkov welcomed the signing, noting it as a pivotal moment establishing a comprehensive co-operation framework for five years.
Dr Omar Touray, ECOWAS Commission President, expressed the West African bloc’s commitment to collaboration with the UN through UNOCT. It would, he said, address multi-faceted dimensions of terrorism, including root causes such as youth empowerment, the fight against human rights violations and governance deficits.
Post the signing, ECOWAS and UNOCT will develop a joint plan of action to put the agreement into practice, building on existing co-ordination platforms, such as the AU-UN technical working group on counter-terrorism and PCVE. They will develop and undertake joint or collaborative activities with the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Co-ordination Compact.
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