2nd Ministerial Meeting on the Enhancement of Security Cooperation and the Operationalization of the African Peace and Security Architecture in the Sahelo-Saharan Region
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, September 12, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- As a follow-up to the ministerial meeting on the enhancement of security cooperation and the operationalization of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) in the Sahelo-Saharan region, held in Nouakchott, Islamic Republic of Mauritania, on 17 March 2013, the second ministerial meeting of the countries of the region took place in N'Djamena, Chad, on 11 September 2013.
Ministers and other representatives of the following countries took part in the meeting: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal. The following regional organizations and bodies also participated in the meeting: the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Community of Sahelo-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) and the Fusion and Liaison Unit (UFL). The AU High Representative for Mali and the Sahel, the Special Representative of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General for West Africa and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Mali and Head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission for Stabilization in Mali (MINUSMA) also attended the meeting.
Participants deliberated on the issues below and agreed as follows:
On the political and security situation in the Sahelo-Saharan region
Participants reviewed the political and security situation in the Sahelo-Saharan region since their last meeting in Nouakchott. They welcomed the positive developments in Mali, which enabled the organization of the two rounds of the presidential election, on 28 July and 11 August 2013, respectively. Participants commended the Transitional Government and the people of Mali for having successfully organized the elections in a peaceful and transparent manner, with the support of the international community. They urged the Malian actors to pursue their efforts in order to successfully complete the national reconciliation process, including through the scrupulous and diligent implementation of the Ouagadougou Agreement of 18 June 2013, and consolidate peace.
The participants took note of the progress made ??in the deployment of MINUSMA, which took over from the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), following the adoption of resolution 2100 (2013) by the UN Security Council.
Participants acknowledged that despite the progress made, the Sahelo-Saharan region was still facing serious security challenges. In this regard, they noted the attempts of the terrorist groups to reconstitute and regroup in northern Mali, and other related problems.
On the status of implementation of the conclusions of the Nouakchott meeting
Participants welcomed the actions taken during the last six months as part of the efforts to enhance cooperation among the countries of the Sahelo-Saharan region. In this regard, they noted with satisfaction:
(i) the holding, to date, of three meetings of the Heads of Intelligence and Security Services, in Bamako, on 18 April 2013, in Abidjan, on 20 and 21 June 2013, and in N'Djamena, on 10 September 2013, which helped to promote transparency, as well as to strengthen interaction and build confidence among the countries of the region on issues of regional security;
(ii) the dispatch of assessment missions to Niger, from 10 to 15 June 2013, after the terrorist attacks in Agadez and Arlit, in May 2013, and to Libya, on 4 and 5 September 2013, as a follow up to the operational conclusions of the Abidjan meeting;
(iii) the organization of the workshop on border security in Tripoli, on 4 and 5 September 2013; and
(iv) the measures taken by CISSA for the establishment of a secure communication system among the Intelligence and Security Services of the countries of the region.
Participants endorsed the operational conclusions of the 2nd and 3rd meetings of the Heads of Intelligence and Security Services of the countries of the Sahelo-Saharan region. They stressed the need to ensure the follow up and effective implementation of the agreed measures. In this context, they emphasized the importance of:
(i) the timely exchange of intelligence;
(ii) the establishment of a communication infrastructure to facilitate secure exchange of intelligence and information among the actors concerned in the countries of the region;
(iii) the conduct of activities to build the capacity of the national structures in charge of intelligence and security;
(iv) ensuring security in the refugee camps to avoid infiltration by armed elements and exploitation of refugees;
(v) the operational arrangements and cooperation agreements between the countries of the region, including joint patrols and the establishment of mixed units; and
(vi) the follow up of the conclusions of the assessment missions to Niger and Libya, as well as of those of the workshop on border security. In this regard, they agreed to activate the Tripoli Plan of Action adopted by the regional ministerial meeting on border security, convened by the Libyan Government, from 11 to 12 March 2012, as a key instrument for border security in the region.
On the next steps to enhance security cooperation and the operationalization of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA)
The participants pledged to continue the ongoing activities as part of the implementation of the Nouakchott conclusions. They agreed on the need to enhance efforts in the following areas, in order to combat terrorism and violent extremism more effectively:
(i) counter radicalization and de-radicalization programmes;
(ii) the effective management of the security and defense sector, including the resolute fight against corruption and other practices that undermine the effectiveness of the fight against terrorism and transnational crime; and
(iii) harmonization of national legislations and mutual legal assistance and extradition.
Participants called on the Commission to develop a matrix to facilitate prompt follow up action in the areas identified in paragraph 9 above. They requested the Commission to forward an action-oriented report to the countries of the region within two months.
The participants took note of the recommendation made ??by the Commission in its report on the status of implementation of the conclusions of the ministerial meeting of Nouakchott on the operationalization of APSA in the Sahelo-Saharan region, pending the outcomes of the ongoing assessment of the African Standby Force (ASF) and the adoption of the implementation modalities of the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC), whose establishment was decided by the 21st ordinary session of the Assembly of the Union, held in Addis Ababa, on 26 and 27 May 2013. They urged the countries of the region to lend full support to this initiative, whose implementation will contribute to the enhancement of Africa's ownership of peace efforts on the continent.
Participants urged the United Nations, in accordance with the appeal made by the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) on 25 April 2013, to provide the necessary support to the initiatives aimed at strengthening regional security cooperation, within the framework of the Nouakchott Process. They requested the establishment of appropriate mechanisms to facilitate coordination between the steps taken under the Nouakchott Process and MINUSMA's activities. They urged all international partners to fully support the Nouakchott Process. They endorsed the proposal to organize a donors' round table to mobilize resources for specific activities provided for under the Nouakchott Process.
Participants stressed the need to promote a comprehensive approach that takes into account the different aspects of the challenges facing the Sahelo-Saharan region. They reiterated the importance of the Declaration on the Sahel adopted by the 314th meeting of the PSC, held in Bamako, on 20 March 2012, and underlined the urgency of renewed efforts to ensure its effective implementation. They looked forward to the steps being contemplated by the AU in this respect. They welcomed the adoption of the UN Strategy for the Sahel. They stressed the importance of close coordination of all efforts and initiatives, in order to maximize their impact.
Participants agreed to meet before the end of 2013. The exact date and venue of the next meeting will be determined after consultations at the appropriate level. The next meeting of the Heads of Intelligence and Security Services will take place during the first half of November 2013. The venue will be determined after consultations between the Commission and the countries of the region.
Participants thanked the Government of the Republic of Chad for having hosted the meeting, for their hospitality and for all the arrangements made for the smooth conduct of the meeting. They especially expressed their deep gratitude to President Idriss Deby Itno, for his personal commitment and support to the efforts and initiatives aimed at furthering security and stability in the Sahelo-Saharan region.