III: Regional perspectives

African Union: Emerging architecture for regional counterterrorism and counterinsurgency in Africa

African Union

Emerging architecture for regional counterterrorism and counterinsurgency in


Usman A. Tar and Anne Uchenna Ibobo-Eze


The Continent of Africa finds itself on the front-line of the global fight against terrorism. As illuminated by Omeje in this volume, Africa constitutes a peculiar front of the “Global War on Terror” (GWOT) with all its attendant challenges. Africa’s counterterrorism and counterinsurgency (CT-COIN) architecture is based on the legal and institutional foundation of the African Union (AU) which was transformed from the Organisation of the African Unity (OAU) at a period when Africa was faced with the threat of transnational terrorism. Today, the scope of terrorism in Africa has intensified, while the AU’s CT-COIN strategy is becoming difficult to accomplish due to some challenges. Against the background of the progressive evolution of terrorist groups on the continent (such as Boko Haram, AQIM, Al-Shabab and LRA), this chapter evaluates the AU’s emerging architecture for CT-COIN through the AU’s legal and institutional framework, identifies the AU’s challenges in preventing and combating terrorism in Africa and articulates a realistic blueprint tor action.

The OAU was transformed to AU on 26 May 2000 during the 36th Ordinary Summit of the OAU Assembly of the Heads of State and Government in Lome, Togo, with the objective of articulating in the Article 3 of the Constitutive Act (Eyinla, 2013:124). The AU arose as the new continental organisation tor actualising the goal of Africa’s political emancipation, securing Africa’s democracy, human rights, sustainable economy, bringing to an end the intro-African conflict that has plagued the continent and deepening integration among African Countries. Consequently, the advent of AU was for countries in Africa a much-awaited instrument to collectively address multifaceted security, social, economic, and political challenges facing the continent. The AU’s CT-COIN drive is determined by the amount of sovereignty and independence which member states are willing to exert taking into consideration the geopolitical and economic situations of the continent. The AU consists 54 member States except for Morocco which opted out due to the adversarial position of the AU on the vexed issue of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony conquered by Morocco since 1970s after the departure of the Spanish colonialists.

The grand norm of the AU’s CT-COIN strategy is contained in Article 3 (f) of the AU Constitutive Act which seeks to promote peace, security, and stability on the continent and the attainment of the objectives of the union (African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, 2006:11). This is against the backdrop of the fact that after the US 9/11 attack, Al- Qaeda has increased its presence on the African continent: in the Horn by terrorist groups like Al-SItabaab; in the Arab Maghreb through it local franchise, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ1M); in the West through local structures like Boko Haram in Nigeria; and now increasingly South Africa. Consequently, Islamist terror attacks across the continent have escalated (ICSR, 2011), making CT-COIN a key part of the African Union Peace and Security architecture, as the 1999 OAU Convention on Prevention and Combating of Terrorism in Algiers, Algeria was entered into force since December 2002, with the ratification of 40 Member States (AU Peace and Security, 2015). Other AU Legal and Institutional CT-COIN frameworks include the 2004 additional protocol to the 1999 convention and the 2011 African Law on CT-COIN. In addition, the AU has, over the years, developed a robust institutional architecture for CT-COIN: the Africa Peace and Security Council (AU/PSC); the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS); African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA); the African Standby Force (ASF) and the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT). Together, these agencies have provided the launching pad for CT-COIN in Africa.

Despite what appears to be a fast-evolving CT-COIN framework, AU is (and its member states are) still faced with challenges in preventing and combating terrorism in Africa: lack of adequate resources, the reluctance of member states’ to embrace the AU’s CT-COIN policy at the National level and Non-compliance of Ratification as a component of Terrorism prevention by nations. There are several key questions in this regard: what are the nature and dynamism of terrorism and insurgency in Africa? How fast is the AU in developing an efficient CT-COIN framework to overcome the challenges of terrorism and insurgency in the continent? Why are the AU CT-COIN frameworks adjudged to be failing? What can be done to solve the AU CT-COIN challenges? This Chapter is divided into six sections: (1) introduction (2) conceptual clarification (3) overview of terrorism in Africa with particular reference to BH, AQIM, Al-Sliabtuib and LRA (4) the AU’s emerging architecture for CT-COIN (5) the challenges confronting AU’s CT-COIN drive, and (6) conclusion.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >