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It seems AQIM operatives have learned their techniques from Iraq, as well as in Afghanistan, and AQIM is gaining a foothold in lawless parts of regions in that part of the Sahara, with nomadic tribes, where local loyalties take precedence over other allegiances. In December of that same year Al-Qaida claimed responsibility for kidnapping two Italians, weeks after kidnapping three Spanish aid workers.

Mauritania adopted new anti-terrorism law in July to enhance the powers of national security forces to combat AQIM. In September the Mauritanian air force launched attacks at suspected Al-Qaida militant bases in Mali, after kidnappers crossed into Mali with seven foreigners who had been abducted in Niger. They were both subsequently released in April In April ,a French national was kidnapped near the borders with Mali and Algeria, with Al-Qaida claiming responsibility.

The hostage was killed after a failed French rescue raid in Mali. In September seven foreigners were kidnapped in northern Niger. In January two French nationals, kidnapped by suspected AQIM militants, were killed in a rescue attempt involving French military forces.

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In April Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Algeria established a joint command to deal with the threat of terrorism. The widespread population of Lebanese descent found in many countries along the coast of West Africa may also include some with links, at least of a financial nature, to Hezbollah. The connected threats of money laundering and the financing of terrorism are of significant concern in West Africa. While much of the charitable fundraising carried out in the region is undoubtedly legitimate, concerns about the use of some funds to support terrorist acts is a major concern. The five have since been charged in the US in connection with a plot to assist the Afghan Taliban by sending weapons to their insurgents and transporting tons of Afghan heroin through West Africa.

The five arrested men were reported to have operated drug trafficking networks in Benin and elsewhere in the region.

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Two Americans linked to the plot were arrested in Romania and were charged with conspiracy to sell automatic rifles, air-to-surface missiles and other weapons to the Taliban to support their operations. These committees now report to the Council in regular twice-yearly joint briefings. Of these, the CTC has the broadest focus. Resolution of created the CTC and mandated that member states implement measures to counter terrorist activities, including criminalising the financing of terrorism, denying safe haven or support for terrorists and sharing information with other governments on groups planning terrorist acts.

The CTC and the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate CTED support this mandate by visiting countries to monitor progress, providing technical assistance to help match member states to assistance programmes and potential donors, generating country reports to provide a snapshot of the counterterrorism situation in countries and organising special meetings to develop closer ties with international, regional and subregional organisations.

There appears to be broad agreement among the P5 that the issue of terrorism requires ongoing attention and joint support. The US expressed strong support for CTED and said the directorate should intensify its regional and thematic approach while developing regional capacity. The report noted that CTED increasingly prefers regional approaches because they have the potential for greater impact than outreach to a single state.

For example, CTED continued to develop a relationship with the African Centre for Studies and Research on Terrorism because the centre is facilitating cooperation throughout Africa through its own training programmes.

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CTED has also worked to develop relations with other regional organisations. The report noted that while CTED itself does not have the capacity to provide training to the African states that need assistance, it can act as a catalyst for training through regional institutions. Recent challenges to democratic governance in West Africa in the form of elections related disputes e.

Guinea have in some cases threatened deterioration in national security apparatuses, with consequent threats to peace and security in fragile neighbouring states. They can also help in some cases in consolidating peace in post conflict societies. However, this is not necessarily true in all cases of post conflict peacebuilding. The quest to achieve more representative and legitimate institutions in West Africa, through the holding of national elections, has suffered some notable setbacks in recent years, with some violent reactions.

This raises concerns about an emerging pattern of retrogression from a genuine commitment to democratization: alienation of sections of the citizenry from the key political players and the generation of further grievances, which encourage recourse to violence by disaffected groups with arguments of exclusion and bad governance.

This perception, against a backdrop of palpable inter-ethnic tensions, raises the stakes and risks for all those involved. Countries like Ghana have successfully transitioned from one government to another through credible democratic elections. However, in a sense this may be the exception rather than the rule. The presidential elections in Guinea led to the outbreak of violence along ethnic lines that threatened to engulf the country in civil war, with potential security risks for its neighbouring countries.

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The refusal of the camp of Laurent Gbagbo to cede office, following UN certification of the results in favour of his opponent Alassane Ouattara, led to a four-month long tense standoff and widespread violence against civilians. There was a real fear that the country would unravel into full scale civil war, with a possible domino effect on its neighbouring countries, especially those that are recently emerging from conflict like Liberia and fragile states like Guinea.

The zero-sum-game increasingly being adopted by some key political actors seems to be producing a trend in which democratic elections are being used as occasions to exploit underlying socioeconomic and ethnic differences to reinforce bids for power. This seems to be accompanied by an upsurge in violence which increasingly is being seen in periods when general elections are being held in countries in the region.

Partisan security forces have become part of the problem and the judicial machinery often seems complicit or to be turning a blind eye to electoral rigging and violence. In Guinea a military junta seized power on 23 December after the death of long-serving President Lansana Conte.

The coup was widely condemned internationally. The intense domestic pressure and political response including mass democratic protests was surpassed by the killing of over a hundred civilians by security forces.

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However, following strong international pressure, including a presidential statement by the Security Council about possible prosecution of the junta leaders found to be responsible for the killings before the ICC, the coup leaders relented on their bid for power and held elections leading to the eventual choice of a civilian president. Bubo Na Tchuto, who was suspended and kept under house arrest, subsequently escaped to Gambia where the national authorities reported his arrest and sought the assistance of the UN to return him to Guinea-Bissau.

The Council and other international bodies condemned the assassinations. There were concerns that further unrest in Guinea-Bissau could undermine the cross-border cooperation that has bolstered peace in Casamance.

However, the election did not produce a return to political normalcy in Guinea-Bissau. A major military insurrection took place on 1 April Induta remained in detention. He was eventually released in December , following various international calls, including by the Security Council through various statements, for the government to either bring him to trial or release him. On 1 April the Council issued a press statement expressing concern about the military incidents that had taken place that day in Guinea-Bissau.

It urged all parties to avoid acts of violence, uphold constitutional order and respect the rule of law. De facto power seems to continue to reside, at least to some extent, with Indjai who has been subsequently appointed head of the armed forces of the country. The Council also said it opposed any attempts to change governments through unconstitutional means and added that it would monitor the situation.

The military junta did not comply. Presidential elections were eventually organised by the junta in July , with its leader Abdel Aziz prevailing as the winner. President Mamadou Tandja had ruled Niger for more than a decade when he was toppled by a coup in February Tandja sought to extend his stay in power in by changing the constitution to allow him to seek a third term, with his supporters citing the relative socioeconomic gains that he had made.

However, Tanja responded by disbanding both the court and parliament, and assumed emergency powers. A referendum was subsequently held in August , with Tandja winning. But the opposition described the referendum results as rigged and accused the president of staging a coup.

InOctober a referendum was held in Niger and approved a new constitution drawn up to restore civilian rule. Presidential and parliamentary elections were held in January A run-off presidential race was held on 12 March with opposition leader Mahamadou Issoufou emerging as the winner with 58 percent of the votes.

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However, despite AU PSC calls for Council support of its decisions, there has been reticence in the Council to support AU sanctions by adopting its own corresponding targeted sanctions or even by putting issues on its agenda for discussion. China and Russia have been reluctant to impose sanctions as a matter of policy, citing the potential to infringe on the sovereign rights of states. The other permanent Council members—the UK, the US and France—have been reluctant to make condemnation of coups an automatic Council practice.

The lack of an apparent threat to peace and security has often been raised to justify inaction. It is fair to say that most Council members have been concerned about the escalation of violence in the lead up to elections in the subregions, especially when it pertains to developments in countries that have recently emerged from violent civil conflict or could potentially slide into conflict.

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This has been reflected in some of its statements and resolutions calling for key players in each political context to exercise restraint in their activities to avert the outbreak of violence e. However, there have been serious differences of opinion among key members as to how far the Council should go beyond voicing concerns.

Western members and some African members have preferred a more vocal response to such developments, Russia and China and have been inclined towards a more cautious approach citing the sovereign rights of nations. Piracy in West Africa has both political and economic causes. It often occurs in places where there is a lack of law enforcement on the seas, excessive poverty and resentment of commercially successful vessels.

The coasts of parts of West Africa fulfill these three criteria. Our interviews in the region suggest that, apart from the situation in Somalia in East Africa , West Africa has some of the most volatile and dangerous seas in Africa. Among the other factors contributing to the emergence of piracy off the Western Africa coast have been the proliferation of arms in the region due to recent history of civil wars and weak state controls , as well as high levels of youth unemployment.

Unemployed youths have been lured into criminal groups engaged in piracy, or the theft of crude oil referred to as illegal oil bunkering. It has been estimated by the International Maritime Bureau IMB that the majority of incidents of piracy 54 percent in West Africa between and occurred in Nigeria. In the case of Nigeria, piracy is linked to the large scale of oil bunkering which is sold to vessels offshore.

This trade has drawn in illegal oil buyers and arms traders in the Gulf of Guinea coast off Nigeria. In November an unsuccessful attempt was made by unidentified armed men to board a sea vessel conveying logistical supplies for the UN Mission in Liberia in the waters off the coast of Liberia.

Given the increasing number of off-shore oil resources that have been discovered along the coast of West Africa e. In the immediate subregion pirates have been reported to use proceeds from their activities to arm rebel groups e. Piracy further adversely impacts domestic economies and, therefore, impacts political stability. Disruption of the fishing industry harms local economies and leaves people more susceptible to further impoverishment. As pirate attacks increase, states that cannot effectively combat pirates lose their economic capacity also because trading companies begin to avoid their territorial waters and ports, searching for safer alternatives.

This negatively impacts the flow of foreign direct investment and trade. Where pirates are allowed to operate successfully, it could be at the expense of the wider global economy, including the loss of goods meant to be traded between countries. This not only harms the countries themselves, but also provides a disincentive to companies wishing to ship their goods across international waters, with a consequent effect on global economic activity.

Thus, as has been seen in the case of Somalia, piracy can actively hinder international economic development and reduce the benefits of globalisation for both developing and developed countries. Legal issues have been a key focus for the Council in relation to Somali piracy and in particular how to ensure prosecution of suspected pirates and imprisonment in the case of convictions since few countries are willing to take this on. However, the Council had been apprised of the threat presented by piracy in West Africa. In his 7 July briefing to the Council on the situation in West Africa, the head of UNOWA, Said Djinnit, mentioned piracy in the Gulf of Guinea together with other issues such as terrorist activities in the Sahel band and governance problems as an emerging threat that could jeopardise ongoing peace efforts in the subregion.

On 10 July the Council in a presidential statement expressed concern about the fragile nature of progress in the West Africa, particularly with regards to the emerging threats to security in the subregion. Since , however, the Council focus has been absent. This is perhaps due to the relatively more pressing nature of the issue of piracy elsewhere in the Gulf of Aden, but also probably due to lack of requisite attention to or awareness about the latent threat that piracy poses to peace and security in West Africa.

Key Issues for the Counc il A key Issue is whether Council interest has lapsed regarding the emerging threats to security in West Africa. They co-operate with national governments and international organizations. Their activities include:. Home What we do Arms control.

What we do. Arms control. Strengthening stockpile management, including destruction, is one of the OSCE's activities in the area of arms control. See all publications. See all documents. See all multimedia.