Ex-ECOWAS Commission President says diplomacy’s best approach to combating terrorism

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Photo: Chambas

A former President of the ECOWAS Commission and ex-UN Envoy to Sahel and West Africa, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, says diplomacy remains one of the most viable and effective means of combatting terrorism and insurgency in Africa.

Chambas said this in Abuja on Thursday, while delivering a paper at the 2021 Annual Conference Lecture and Magazine Launch of the Association of Foreign Relations Professionals in Nigeria (AFRPN).

The former head of UNOWAS said that diplomacy played a significant role in efforts at dealing with the enormity of insurgency and terrorism, and is most impactful and most meaningful in prevention.

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According to Chambas, the primacy of diplomacy in effectively combatting terrorism and insurgency rests on peace building approaches, preventive measures, addressing the root causes of radicalization and conflicts amongst others.

He noted that it was, therefore, important that diplomacy supported strategies for prevention of terrorism by sustaining the existing peace.

The former UN envoy said this included addressing the legitimacy question in the region and strengthening national and regional isntitutions and capacities.

He noted that saving lives from terrorism, like saving lives from a pandemic required a reinvigorated and inclusive multilateralism.

“The dire situation is a re-election of socio-economic and political realities of the region and the complexity of the security challenges, some of which extend beyond West Africa and the Sahel.

“Hence, the need for active diplomacy using constructive approaches that dissuade the activities of the irregular non-state actions and strive hard to uphold principles that weakens them.

“The ECOWAS experience in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau through ECOMOG, offered lessons for the regional security framework that was eventually created.

“Centered around the ECOWAS Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security, including a Mediation and Security Council which functions at the three levels of Heads of States, Ministers and Ambassadors.

“In addition to various other regional normative instruments that have contributed to regional security framework, the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (adopted 2008) is, particularly relevant to instrumentality of diplomacy in addressing insurgency and terrorism,” Chambas said.

Also speaking, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, Commandant of the National Defence College, said that the menace of terrorism and insurgency in West Africa and other parts of the world called for collaborative efforts.

According to him, the menace cannot be effectively tackled unless government combined kinetic and non-kinetic measures that guarantee sustained actions.

He noted that the two challenges had also assumed cross-border, international dimensions such that no one country could solve them alone without collaborating with others

“Diplomacy as a tool for negotiation and the use of peaceful means of resolving conflict through engagements has become a sine qua non for finding lasting solutions to the challenges.

“For the National Defence College, this entails a comprehensive, whole of-Government, and whole-of-society approaches in terms of state institutions but also those of citizenry.

“Strong partnership and sustained collaboration with all countries at sub-regional and regional levels as we have sought to do with the Multinational Joint Task Force of the Lake Chad Region and G5 of the Sahel.

“Secondly, intelligence sharing and exchange of information on the activities of the terrorists groups, including sources of funds, arms ammunitions and ideological inspiration with a view to severing these links.

“Including support from any countries outside the region that have continued to sustain terrorism and insurgency in West Africa,” Daji said.

Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama,  lauded the AFRPN for convening the conference, stating that it was apt, especially at a time when terrorism and insurgency were ravaging Nigeria and the ECOWAS Sub-region.

The minister, who was represented at the occasion, also noted that diplomacy was critical in effectively addressing the menace of terrorism and insurgency. (NAN)

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