Africa: Security Challenges Require Global, Integrated Approach
The security challenges posed to parts of the Atlantic Basin, particularly in Africa, by extremist ideology, weak institutions, economic uncertainty, and weak rule of law require a global and integrated approach that promotes socio-economic development.
This is one of the conclusions reached by the Atlantic Dialogues 2013, an annual global issue forum that was held in Morocco last week and that brought together over 400 high-level public and private-sector leaders from 52 countries bordering the Atlantic basin and beyond.
Panellists who were debating Regional Stability in Africa pointed out that the prevailing tensions as countries in the Maghreb strive to consolidate or initiate democratic reform, the growing violent extremism in the Sahel, and economic challenges in the south pose questions for not just the African continent, but for nations — north and south — along the whole of the Atlantic Basin.
Under-development related problems fuel instability and insecurity which in turn hamper any regional integration move at a time everybody knows that the most efficient response to security challenges necessarily goes through socio-economic development, the participants in the panel insisted.
The panellists also called for fostering south-south cooperation as a development means in the continent and for the exchange of expertise and know-how between African countries.
Ivan Vejvoda, vice-president of the US German Marshall Fund, which co- hosted along with the Moroccan OCP Foundation and OCP Policy Center the 3rd edition of the Atlantic Dialogues, insisted that instability issues in the region should not be addressed from a security approach only but also from a socio-economic development approach.
Amanda J. Dory, Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs at the US Defense Department, warned of the “poisonous mix” of trans-national terrorism which seeks to “take advantage of local grievances.”
The US official called for increased regional cooperation and for sustained development to fight the growing cross-border security problem. “It takes a network to fight a network,” she said.
The 2013 Atlantic Dialogues which provided a platform to explore new insights and solutions to the critical challenges facing the world debated a set of topics on cross-regional issues ranging from security to economics, migration to energy. The gathering also discussed in a panel on “Red Lines & their Consequences” the international responses to the use of chemical weapons and genocide and wrapped up with a forum on emerging young leadership in the region, in a panel on “New Voices from an Old Sea.”
Participants from North and South America, Africa, Europe and Asia included senior officials, business leaders, opinion shapers and the media.