Delivered By: His Excellency Sheikh Shakhboot Nahyan Al Nahyan, Minister of State
Mr. President, Your Excellency,
I would like to thank Mozambique for organizing this valuable discussion today, and you personally, Mr. President, for presiding over this meeting.
Mozambique has had to endure these threats, specifically in Cabo Delgado, where the SADC Mission has been present since July 2021. Your initiative to hold this meeting speaks to the urgency of addressing terrorism and its transnational dimensions effectively.
I would also like to thank His Excellency Azali Assoumani, President of Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union as well as Secretary-General Guterres for their valuable insights.
The last time I was in this chamber I spoke about the corrosive nature of terrorism and extremism in the world.
The newest edition of the annual Global Terrorism Index demonstrates just how corrosive these threats remain.
In 2022, terrorists killed a greater number of people on average, per attack, than the year before, and Sub-Saharan Africa recorded the largest increase in terrorism deaths globally.
Terrorism is a complex, and above all, a context-specific phenomenon, and thus the UAE believes that regional counter-terrorism initiatives play an integral part in supporting Member States in combatting this scourge.
It is the responsibility of the Security Council to maintain international peace and security, though it must do more to adequately support African-led efforts in the fight against terrorism.
Today, I wish to share three recommendations on this front.
First, siloes should be broken down even further when it comes to the terrorism challenge. Often transnational in nature, the threats of terrorism and extremism do not respect borders.
Because extremism specifically undermines the social fabric within and across communities, this is a fundamental threat to resilience and peaceful coexistence and is a root cause of terrorism. And as such, African initiatives that seek to counter extremism must be supported if we want to prevent terrorism from taking hold.
African-led initiatives are by no means starting from scratch with this transnational approach; both regional and subregional actors have been sharing data and intelligence on extremist and terrorist threats.
We have already seen this work with mechanisms such as the Nouakchott Process, the Accra Initiative, and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa. Each one is proof positive that greater integration, information-sharing, and joint assessments lead to better strategies and improved policy coherence.
But we must go further.
We look forward to the counter-terrorism summit that will be co-hosted by Nigeria and the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism in Abuja this October. This will be an excellent opportunity to showcase how closer regional cooperation can address the growing terrorism threat in Africa.
Second, counter-terrorism solutions should look beyond the military lens.
The root causes of terrorism and extremism are multifaceted.
Good governance, sustainable development, securing basic services, and the wholesale rejection of intolerance will contribute to addressing the challenge.
A two-pronged approach must be the way forward.
An adequate prevention demands the development and implementation of counter-terrorism strategies from the ground up, where community actors, religious leaders, women, and youth are part and parcel of the solution.
Also, it is important for the international community to support States affected by terrorism and extremism to develop strong institutions that effectively prevent and counter these acts in accordance with international law. Developing more resilient institutions goes a long way towards inspiring the trust and confidence of the population.
The ousting of terrorist groups where they exert control over territory is not enough. It must go hand in hand with supporting States to regain and retain control of these areas.
When this succeeds, it is imperative to fill the socio-economic gaps left in society before they can be re-exploited by terrorist groups. Providing an alternative route for the future—access to education and eventually the job market—is one way.
And on this element, Mr. President, we take note of and welcome the proposal you have just put to us on the need of establishment of a common mechanism for community resilience to counter extremism, particularly in relation to the youth in Africa and the Middle East.
Third, we must follow the lead of African stakeholders.
Too often this Council has appealed for action that fell on deaf ears because it failed to adjust to the nuances of the realities on the ground. Or, it has expressed overall support without the means—political and financial—to actually make a difference.
This disconnect is an obstacle to evaluating the ‘what’, the ‘how’, and the ‘when’ of effective counter-terrorism responses.
Governments in Africa are making strides in the fight against groups and individual actors that are persistent and remain a destabilizing force in many countries.
African stakeholders possess the knowledge and the experience. The time to listen and to support them in this endeavor is long overdue.
It is critical for the Council to heed the message that Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed delivered in this Chamber last November. Against the backdrop of numerous regional initiatives countering terrorism in Africa, she stressed that those arrangements require full support and a durable commitment from the international community.
To conclude, Mr. President,
The African people plagued by terrorism deserve the freedom to live in peace and prosperity.
The UAE reaffirms its full support for all regional and international efforts combatting terrorism and extremism, most importantly, those guided by African actors themselves.
I thank you, Mr. President.