African states debate unified counter-terror plan
By Sarah Touahri for Magharebia in Rabat – 03/02/10
African states must step up and co-ordinate their responses to a growing number of threats, according to security experts who attended a January 28th-30th international symposium in Marrakech.
Organised by the African Federation for Strategic Studies (FAES), the symposium invited 150 participants from 42 countries to weigh in on how best to handle Africa's efforts to reinforce its own security.
Symposium participants said the critical security issues of drug trafficking in the Sahel and piracy off African shores must be resolved through collaboration.
"It's necessary to develop a shared vision which is closer to the real situation in Africa, along with action to find solutions that will meet the expectations of African peoples," FAES chairman Mohammed Benhammou told the symposium on January 30th.
Benhammou warned that the "nature of the threats weighing on the continent" were "liable to compromise its stability", while acknowledging that African leaders were already aware of the need to co-ordinate on a plan of action.
Increased co-operation among the various UN bodies in charge of anti-drug and anti-terrorism policies was also stressed as vital to preserving African security. Participants also focused on conflict prevention and governance issues in the security sector.
The symposium also called for the creation of an international network of study centres to analyse geopolitical and security issues, and for increased international co-operation in fighting terrorism.
Political science professor Fouad Mbarki told Magharebia on February 1st that Morocco is well aware of the need for international co-operation in facing security challenges.
"No country should pretend that it's about to fight the scourges of terrorism, drug trafficking, piracy or arms smuggling on its own," he said.
Mbarki also emphasised the importance of collaboration among the Maghreb states. "Morocco and Algeria must put an end to their differences, because security must come first, especially because the region is threatened and lies close to the sources of tension."
A press statement released January 30th by Morocco's Foreign Affairs Ministry also emphasised the need for African co-operation to surmount problems in continental security. The statement said it was important to achieve economic development in order to create a more stable society.
"It's not just a matter of finding security-related solutions; the approach must also include economic development, because a number of the continent's countries remain politically and economically fragile and, as a result, young populations are exposed to illegal emigration and drug trafficking, among other things," reads the statement.
Senegalese delegate Bobakar Dialo, along with other symposium participants, pressed for more dialogue on tackling these security vulnerabilities across the African continent, "particularly in the current situation with its diverse threats".
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