By Kofi Ampeah-Woode
In memory of His Excellency (HE) Kofi Busumuru Annan – the late former Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) has instituted an annual forum – Kofi Annan Peace and Security (KAPS) forum, to provide an international platform that facilitates critical discussions and knowledge sharing, on topical issues around African peace and security, in a manner that informs policy articulation and implementation.
The forum, which had its maiden edition on the 4th and 5th of September, 2019, at the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel, Accra, also aimed to review and re-evaluate prevailing knowledge and policies (at the strategic, tactical and operational levels) on new trends in peace and security in Africa; and to facilitate collaborative research and networking within the cognitive and broader peace and security community, in ways that improve the policy relevance of research.
The forum, which assembled a wide array of former African Presidents, heads of multinational institutions, academicians, security experts and some Force Commanders of international Peace Operations, was under the theme Peace Operations in the context of violent extremism, and had various breakout sessions, where experts shared their views and proposed solutions to Violent Extremism (VE).
The start of the maiden forum was preceded by the sod-cutting event at the entrance of KAIPTC, Teshie, for the erection of a cenotaph, in the image of Mr Annan, to eternalize the memory of the once world leader.
The President of the Republic of Ghana – Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was the Guest of Honour for the opening day, while the Vice President of Ghana – Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, was the Special Guest for the closing ceremony.
Below are excerpts of deliberations by participants, at the 2-day extraordinary forum:
HE Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo – the President of Ghana
Endemic poverty and widespread disillusionment amongst the youth in Africa, are not only providing fertile breeding grounds for those who want to cross the Sahara Desert on foot, and the Mediterranean Sea in rickety boats, in the hope of finding a better future in Europe, but also for a new generation of terrorists and violent extremists.
Furthermore, the growing number of breakaway terror groups, in addition to our natural vulnerabilities, notably the spread of ethno-linguistic groups, and the porous nature of our borders, call for regional and continental approaches to contain the growing threats of terrorist/extremist activities, in a region plagued by the actions of terrorists groups, Ghana must know she cannot be immune from terror attacks.
Ghana’s major encounter with terrorists or extremist group was in 2015, when agents of the Islamic State succeeded in recruiting a few from the country’s university campuses, to join the ranks of fighters in Libya and Syria, but are known to have died in combat, and two Germans, of Ghanaian parentage, are also known to have joined the group, with one currently serving a jail term in Hamburg, Germany.
The activities of terrorist and extremist groups in Ghana, take the form, mainly, of fundraising activities by allegedly charitable organisations, which divert these funds to support extremist activities around the world, and in 2018, security agencies had to disrupt the movements of groups purporting to raise funds for Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, which were, in fact, fronts for fundraising for terror related measures.
Ghana has a Counter Terrorism Policy, which seeks to prevent acts of terrorism in the country, which has led to the setting up of a Counter Terrorism Unit, within the National Security Council Secretariat, leading efforts in the fight, with a well-coordinated Inter Agency Approach, which encourages the timely sharing of information and intelligence, operational coordination and joint strategy formulation.
The fight against terrorism and violent extremism cannot be limited only to military means, vital as they are, but broader policies must also be put in place to create opportunities and jobs for our youth in dealing successfully with VE root causes.
89 million young Africans of school-going age are not in school, but the cost of providing free secondary school education is cheaper than the cost of the alternative of an uneducated and unskilled, youthful workforce that has the capacity to retard our development, and to pose a threat to the peace and stability of our nations.
HE Dr Mahamudu Bawumia – Vice President of Ghana
The government of Ghana, in consultation with the family of the late Mr Kofi Annan, has decided to build a library and a museum in honour of the late UN Secretary-General
The Kofi Annan Peace and Security forum has come to stay and would be annually held to compliment the Dakar and the Africa Leadership fora, amongst others, which continue to serve as useful platforms for policy makers to engage academia on topical issues, in seeking to bridge the gap between theory and practice, on issues that affect our governments and populations.
HE John Mahama – Former President of Ghana
The best safeguards against violent extremism is to create resilient societies, where Ghana has done a lot of work in the areas of social inclusion, by decentralizing political power to the governed, as well as in the area of religious tolerance, although there is some work still to be done.
HE Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas – UN Special Rep of the Secretary General for West Africa and the Sahel
VE has directly caused systematic loss of lives of at least, 27000 reportedly killed by Boko Haram attacks since 2009, acute humanitarian crises with dire consequences on women and children, a surge in intercommunal conflicts and transnational organized crimes caused largely by the security vacuum that has been created, and no country is immune from this scourge as the national, regional and international ramifications multiply.
The leaders of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso, known as the G5 du Sahel, have launched a multinational force to fight armed groups in the Sahel region, with one battalion each from the five countries.
Poor countries are having to spend high amounts of their national budgets on defence and security matters, to the detriment of necessary expenditures on social needs, thus the UN, AU and other Regional Economic Communities are taking complementary measures, to eradicate terrorist groups, including inter alia, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, Boko Haram, Al Shabab and ISIL.
Similarly, eradicating violent extremism will require multidimensional approaches, which can develop or build on the capacity of States to find durable solutions, which includes, but not limited to the deployment of peace operations, for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) against Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin and the G5 Sahel Force are all concrete examples.
The singular act of deploying a peace operation is not a panacea to combatting violent extremism, as it is imperative to build concentric partnerships at all levels that will leverage on the presence of these operations and improve their efficiency.
Being on the frontline, peace operations play a critical role in furthering the peace and development nexus that is required to sustainably and holistically address this scourge, for a military approach, does not guarantee long term solutions, but must be accompanied by long term programmatic responses that would address the structural causes of violent extremism.
In the Sahel, the Priority Investment Program is being implemented simultaneously with the operations of the G5 Force, while in the Lake Chad Basin region, the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of the Boko Haram affected areas, are being implemented alongside operations of the Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF).
The nature of threats posed by VE, compels all to collectively renew and redouble our efforts, while remaining determined that, it can and will be defeated, but success can only be achieved with continued collective action, in line with the true African tradition of helping to put out the fire in the neighbor’s house, before it reaches yours.
Air Vice Marshal Griffith Evans – Commandant KAIPTC
Early 2019, the KAIPTC adopted a new 5-year strategic plan spanning 2019 to 2023, primarily seeking to deepen engagement with stakeholders and partners who continue to guide and support our vision of becoming a leading and preferred international center for training, education and research that are focused on ensuring peace in a secured environment.
The new vision of KAIPTC enables us to direct all our efforts and resources towards the implementation of the major global and regional security and development initiatives adopted by the UN, the AU and ECOWAS.
Our contribution to these laudable global and regional initiatives, is delivered mainly through the provision of world-class education and training, and the conduct of cutting edge policy research and policy development to support national governments and inter-governmental institutions.
Africa’s peace and security landscape is undergoing a profound transformation and becoming complex and fluid, partly as a result of activities of VE groups and transnational criminal networks, with these groups exploiting the weak links in state architectures and exacerbating cleavages in the context of asymmetrical warfare, invariably directing those attacks at civilians as means of obtaining political effects.
General Dennis Gyllensmore – Force Commander, MINUSMA
In Mali, it is very difficult to disintegrate the different causes and actors, in fact, the threat against the population is a toxic mix ranging from tribal tensions, communal violence, inter-communal violence, pure criminality, ethnic tensions, terrorism, religious extremists – all these come together; one person could be involved in illegal trafficking in the evening, and during the night, would pull out an IED, so whether his motives are inspired by terrorists, criminality or other tensions in his community, in most cases, it is impossible to say.
The problem in Mali is as easy to define and as difficult to proffer solution, but the problem they are facing in essence is that the social contract between the population and the legitimate authorities of the state has been broken, and in some communities, the contract has been replaced by other contracts, with some of these VE groups that have taken over some of the social services, such as schools, security and other functions, for the benefit of the people – So the challenge is for the legitimate government, not only to extend its presence, but also to formulate more appealing deals than the VE groups have been providing.
Peacekeeping would have to continue but perhaps in different forms – a conducive environment, we can bring in all the instruments together, at the same time, but in an environment where we have VE groups and actions, the solution may be for peace keeping to have more of a sequential approach – to focus initially on security issues involving the military and the police components, to establish basic level security, before subsequently allowing civilian pillars to do their job, setting conditions, as opposed to doing everything at once.
Our mandate in Mali revolves around 2 strategic priorities – in the north we are to support the implementation of peace accord for the civilians, the threat in the northern part is primarily driven by criminality, and the other strategic priority is to enhance security in the central region, where we have a lot of communities exposed to attacks against civilians. This is a completely different context for peacekeepers and also for us to do our job, while we also design operations in accordance with these different circumstances.
Major General Chikeze Ude – Force Commander, MNJTF
Today’s wars and conflicts among the people are centred about winning the wills of the people, and thus there has been a shift of policy of government to the people, hence the reason for increasing targeting of civilians in recent conflicts.
We have seen increasingly in the Lake region, civilians that are sympathisers to terrorists, collaborators and facilitators, and coercively militarized people, so we would rather look at such persons as associated with VE groups.
The threats to the civilians are such as political process, physical violence, rights based protection, establishment of protective environment.
Collective approach to PoC is that; governments have seen the fight against terrorism as one between the military and the terrorists, but this position does not leverage the key advantages of the military to solving the many problems; furthermore, this causes hesitation for other partners to offer resources to the military in the fight, because they assume that the resources would be used against civilians, but it should be a collective approach.
The military approach to fighting terrorism has advanced in our region and we have been able to bring together, the multinational force to deal with the expansion of the Boko Haram terrorists and ISWAB within the Lake Chad Basin. There are still some challenges that deal with capacity deficiency, both in the military and the civilian components, and although we are able to liberate the civilians, what happens next? There should be obvious alternatives to the civilians to ensure that after liberation, they are not susceptible to future lures and attacks.
Ambassador Mamman Nuhu – Executive Secretary, Lake Chad Basin Cooperation
Boko Haram was born under a crisis situation in a community which has been deprived of the basics of livelihood, due to the absence of governance for a very long time and these are also communities where even before the arrival of Boko Haram, the 4 governments in the area had neglected the communities, and these communities had very high birth rates.
When Boko Haram gets to such poverty-stricken areas, they distribute much needed resources to the people, hence they are often seen as messiahs, and thus, there also exists the challenge of collaboration of the locals with the terrorists.
The Lake Chad region, which used to have a land space of about 25,000 Square Kilometres around 1960, has now shrank to about 4,000 Square kilometres, and during this period the population rose from 7 million to about 45 million, with 60% of youth who are under 18 years.
In addition to the agreement under MNJTF, there are bilateral Defence Agreements between member countries, under which they come to each other’s assistance, and it is under these 2 agreements that the troops have been crisscrossing the boarders, which do not virtually exist any longer, between the troop contributing countries.
Brigadier General Saleh Bala (Rtd) – CEO, White Link Consult, Nigeria
PoC involves the closeness of forces to civilians, in order to provide for them physical protection against threats, however the case is that, the forces are unable to provide physical protection for themselves – the hunter becomes the hunted. In which case we have seen in peace operations, where forces become alienated from the population, such that the instinct for self-preservation, generates failure in trust, due to their isolation from the public and aggression by the same civilians they are mandated to protect.
The 2019/2020 UN Peacekeeping Budget Appropriation projections is $6.51 billion, out of which $910 million is budgeted for MINUSCA, $1.4 Billion for MINUSMA, 1.01 Billion for MINURSA and $1.18 Billion for UNMISS.
In current peacekeeping operations, the threats of IEDs and land mines are necessitating the need for forces to deploy Mine Resistant Anti-Ambush Protection (MRAP) assets, which have higher protection capabilities against ambushes and IED attacks by VE threats. An MRAP could cost from $500,000 to $1million, while the starting price of an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) could be $100,000.
How does this requirement look in the face of African military forces, from economics confronted by development challenges, yet needed to deploy 4th Generation war missions?
While we are confronted with 4th Generation war, the 5th Generation is already seeping in – which is the non-contact warfare, at a stage where on one ground and aerial platforms, cybercrimes are increasing by the minute, and making asymmetric war challenges more complex and unpredictable, fluid, faster, and capable of causing mass deaths and destruction.
Ambassador Col Larry Gbevlo-Lartey (Rtd) – African Centre for Study & Research on Terrorism
We do not still have the universally accepted definition for terrorism, even at the level of the UN and the AU. Our centre considers VE to connote rejection and that violence is used to ensure that that goal is attained.
The Prime Minister of Mali has been going around in the country to engage with all communities and this seems to have calmed the situation greatly in that country.
Dr Kwesi Anning – Director, Academic Affairs & Research, KAIPTC
VE has been with us for a long time but we decided not to be serious about it and it is about challenging communities, multilateral organizations, the way they train troops, their effectiveness and undermining them, and the discourses by which member states can begin gauging loyalty and dissent, and additionally, pushing for answers for questions in terms of the Protection of Civilians (PoC).
A 2016 Report recommended that Peace Operations should not engage in military counter terrorism because it lacks specific equipment, Intelligence logistics capabilities, especially the military operations required to handle extremists.
Most troop contributing countries do not respect the status of forces agreement before sending the troops, however, these countries merely commit providing the military with weapons and training for the mission, but this does not materialize. The lack of adequate equipment for peace operations, has most consequences for all peacekeeping missions – instead of tanks and armoured vehicles for patrols, ordinary pickups are procured and that physically exposes troops to danger, especially when they engage improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or admit hostile fire.
Colonel Festus Aboagye (Rtd) – Author
In the 1990s during the Manor River Conflict, the challenges of Social Exclusion, inequality, the North-South Divide along religious, ethnic and cultural lines, were all evident in Liberia and Sierra Leone, as same issues are prevalent in present war areas. On the contrary, German, on Unification, where socio-economic and political disparities between the East and West loomed, without any Marshall plan from without, found the investments to bring East Germany up to the standard of the West, in order to prevent any upheavals.
Maiden KAPS Forum Communique
VE in Africa is embedded in structural violence; regional security complexes, and often thrives in the context of weak or eroding state capacity, marked by the absence of effective state institutions.
While the state context is important, there is growing centrality of the non-state, both as a source of VE and resilience; the non-state has tended to be overlooked, and an increase focus on the non-state is critical to designing responsive tools and approaches.
Since VE occurs in the context of structural violence and the non-state, it requires both military md non-military approaches that address structural imbalances and help to build state legitimacy and effectiveness. VE is a political challenge that ultimately demands political and diplomatic solutions.
Prioritization of military strategies at the expense of non-military approaches come with critical unintended consequences that undermine the goals of peace missions.
Also, the fact that VE is structurally embedded in regional and global security dynamics, no single state can address the multifaceted challenges on its own.
Rather, there is need for strengthening global-regional peace support partnerships particularly emphasizes was the need for cooperation and synergies in the collection and sharing f intelligence.
The primacy of prevention – preventive measures that obviate the need for intervention are better and should be prioritized. Prevention requires state legitimacy, trust, upholding the rule of law, and human rights and democratic norms; elections alone are not enough. Prevention similarly demands addressing the multiple sources of structural violence linked to socio-political and economic grievances of all segments of society.
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), communities and youth groups are encouraged to participate and synergize approaches for addressing VE.
Current peacekeeping principles, doctrines, and schemes/architectures are out of tune with current security threats and realities.
Other dignitaries present at the forum included HEs Amos Sawyer, Pierre Buyoya, Catherine Samba-Panza, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma – former Presidents of Liberia, Burundi, Central African Republic, Somalia and Sierra Leone, respectively, HE Christoph Retzlaff – Ambassador of Germany to Ghana, Minister for Defence, Ghana – Hon Dominic Nitiwul, Mr. Øyvind Udland Johansen – Chargé d’affaires, Norwegian Embassy in Ghana, HE Nane Maria Annan – Widow of Kofi Annan and President, Kofi Annan Foundation.
Others were the Chief of the Defence Staff – Lt Gen OB Akwa, Chief of the Army Staff – Maj Gen William Azure Ayamdo, Chief of the Naval Staff – Rear Admiral Seth Amoama, Chief of Air Staff – Air Vice Marshal Frank Hanson, Goodwill Ambassadors of KAIPTC – Dr Mary Chinery-Hesse, HE Ellen Margrethe Loj and His Eminence Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson.