Plenary Meeting of the GCTF Capacity Building Working Group for West Africa on Identifying Priorities to Prevent and Counter Terrorism and Violent Extremism 

June 2022, ACCRA. The security situation in West Africa is quickly deteriorating. According to the Global Terrorism Index report for 2022, almost half of all terrorism deaths globally occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, the threat initially contained in the Sahel region has now spread east and southward towards coastal countries.

It is in this context that the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum West Africa Working Group (GCTF WAWG), co-chaired by Germany and Algeria, held their fourth plenary meeting from 21 to 23 June 2022 in Accra, Ghana. The meeting funded by Germany and organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Terrorism Prevention Branch in the Regional Office for West and Central Africa gathered more than 100 representatives of West African countries, GCTF member states, and regional and international partner organizations such as G5 Sahel, ECOWAS, INTERPOL, the Accra Initiative, the International Academy for Countering Terrorism, United Nations agencies, the Intergovernmental Action Group against Money-Laundering in West Africa, and the Integrated Development Authority of the Liptako-Gourma states.

Experts and high-level national delegates from the security sector, judiciary and political sphere discussed the implementation, cooperation and capacity-building efforts made in relation to the WAWG 2019-2022 Work Plan. They also shared their experience and exchanged about needs and challenges in preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism, with the aim to inform the Working Group’s Work Plan for 2022-2024. Specific areas were identified as particularly relevant for future actions, such as border security management, the strengthening of law enforcement cooperation, countering terrorism financing, preventing the acquisition of weapons and improvised explosive devices’ components by terrorist groups, and ensuring the integration of the gender dimension in counterterrorism and prevention of radicalization responses. As underlined by Dr Amado Philip de Andrés, UNODC Regional Director for West and Central Africa: “By bringing a better synergy among regional organization's actions, our efforts to counter terrorism will be more efficient”.

Participants also used the discussions to put forward ideas to overcome some difficulties. For instance, they underlined the importance of adopting tailored approaches to the West African context built on intensified and continued research, fostering and supporting database capacity, and developing genuine and effective cooperation between existing law enforcement initiatives to avoid overlaps and competition.