UN Special Representative urges Cross-border cooperation to address terrorist threat

Ms Giovanis Biha
Ms Giovanis Biha

Terrorist attacks against some countries have reinforced the need for continued cooperation and collaboration between member states of the Accra Initiative as no one state can successfully combat terrorism.

Ms Giovanis Biha, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations Office for West Africa and Sahel, lauded the existing cross-border cooperation between member states and joint military operations to address the terrorist threat.

She said the had been largely possible by virtue of the commitment and leadership of the ministers of security and defence of member countries of the Accra Initiative.

“No one state can successfully combat terrorism because the threat is regional our responses must also be the result of strong and constant coordination while being more adaptable,” she said during the opening of the ministerial session of the Accra Initiative, a seven-member West African security cooperation initiative.

“As a key partner of your respective member states, I would like to reassure you of the UN’s continued support given the complex and dynamic nature of threats posed by violent extremists,” Ms Biha said.

She said there was a need to ensure a consistent response that combined the military approach with long term interventions to address the governance deficits, improve coordination at the national level between the relevant Ministries agencies and departments and across the borders.

National Security Minister Albert Kan-Dapaah said peace and security remained threatened in the subregion with the security situation constantly deteriorating.

“But this doesn’t mean our efforts have been in vain because the situation would have been worse without our interventions based on intelligence sharing and security cooperation,” Kan-Dapaah added.

Mr Kan-Dapaah said the security threats underscored the relevance of dialogue and multi-stakeholder engagement not only at national levels but also at regional levels, towards finding lasting solutions to the common security threats of West African States.

The Accra Initiative, which was established in September 2017 as a mechanism to enhance intelligence and security cooperation between the Intelligence and Security Agencies of Member States.
It was formed to address the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel region and curb the southward drift of the threat of terrorism to coastal West African States.

The Initiative, since its operationalisation, has achieved various milestones key among which is the successful execution of joint operations along the common borders of Member States leading to the disruption of terrorist cells.
Data from the latest Global Terrorism Index points to the Sahel and West African regions as epicentres of terrorism and violent extremism, with four countries in the region featuring in the top ten countries in the world as the most impacted by terrorism.

The outcome of the experts meeting would be discussed at a ministerial session to be held on 21 November 2022, which will be attended by the Ministers of Security/Interior, Defence and Foreign Affairs of the Accra Initiative Member countries, including Nigeria, the Foreign Ministers of the EU countries and their Ambassadors in Ghana, the Foreign Ministers of some non-EU countries (strategic partners) and their Ambassadors in Ghana.

On 22 November 2022, a Summit of Heads of State and Government will adopt resolutions to enable the Accra Initiative to effectively accelerate the implementation of its objectives.

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