UNODC Calls for Accountability and Justice to Ensure Sustainable Peace in the Lake Chad Basin Region

Accountability and justice are a central pillar for recovery and sustainable peace in the Lake Chad region ravaged by the attacks of the terrorist group Boko Haram, said Miwa Kato, UNODC’s Director for Operations, at an event dedicated to the region as part of the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Week, a biennial gathering of States and international counter-terrorism partners.

Since Boko Haram started its attacks in 2009, the conflict has cost more than 36,000 lives in Northeast Nigeria, almost half of them civilians. As of September 2020, 5.2 million people across the Lake Chad Basin were faced with severe food insecurity with at least 500,000 children at risk of acute malnutrition. More than 1,100 schools have been shut down due to insecurity.

Chad’s Representative to the UN, Ambassador Ammo Aziza Baroud, highlighted the links between climate crisis, developmental challenges and conflict in the region.

“It is with grave concern that we have watched the situation in the region develop into one of the largest humanitarian emergencies in the world, with terrorism having compounded the effects of climate change, displacement and socio-economic challenges”, noted Jahangir Khan, the Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre.

To complement the military action to defeat Boko Haram, in 2018 Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria adopted a Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Resilience and Recovery of the Boko Haram-affected areas. This Strategy takes a comprehensive approach, covering humanitarian aid, good governance, economic reform, human rights, strengthening the role of women and youth, prevention of violent extremism.

“In the past months, amidst the global pandemic that is affecting all of us, we have re-doubled our efforts to bring the Strategy closer to the needs and priorities of the communities”, said Ambassador Maman Nuhu, the Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, the regional organization coordinating efforts to put the Regional Strategy into practice with support from the African Union and the UN.

At the 28 June event, senior representatives of the States in the region, regional organizations and think tanks, and the UN focused their attention on the role comprehensive measures for the prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration of Boko Haram associated persons have on the road towards recovery and sustainable peace.

The Chair of the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee, Tunisia’s Ambassador Tarek Ladeb, noted that prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration strategies are among the multidimensional approaches that are required to address the complex challenges posed by terrorism.

These strategies must take into account multiple priorities. Assistant Secretary-General Michèle Coninsx, Executive Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate called for “tailored approaches” to ensure that “the many imperatives at stake – justice, the rights of victims and communities, and the need to bring peace to the region – are all served.

Police Commissioner Adoulaye Maman Mijinyawa, Director of Niger’s specialized terrorism investigation service, illustrated Niger’s efforts to put in place comprehensive measures for persons formerly associated with Boko Haram who surrender to the authorities, from changes to legislation, to setting up a rehabilitation programme for those who are not prosecuted, to supporting individuals and communities in the reintegration process.

Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, the Nigerian President of the Medical Women’s International Association, reminded the audience of the important role women must play to bring peace and security to the region.

“Women and girls are disproportionately affected by the conflict and prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration strategies need to fully incorporate a gender perspective and women’s rights”, stated UNODC’s Miwa Kato, while highlighting the support UNODC is providing to States in the region to strengthen child rights in responding to Boko Haram terrorism.

The full recording of the meeting is available on UN WebTV: https://media.un.org/en/asset/k1j/k1jjgx7jnu