Civil society studies West Africa "counter-terrorism plan"

Journalists and civil society members in West Africa analysed a “counter-terrorism plan” drawn up by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at a 4-5 August meeting in the Senegalese capital Dakar.

Main issues that emerged were the need to strengthen regional cooperation and to address root causes of terrorism - poverty and lack of education, said Biram Diop, director of the African Institute for Security Sector Transformation, who facilitated discussions. “If people are poor and cannot satisfy their basic needs they are fragile and easy to recruit,” he told IRIN. “Teaching literacy [is important] so people are empowered to think independently.”

“It’s important to have media and civil society involved because they play a more and more important role in our countries’ stability,” Diop said, adding that these institutions can “serve as a bridge” to communicate information to the public, and “pressure politicians to make the right decisions at a national and district level”.

Issues discussed at the meeting are to be incorporated into the plan, which ECOWAS is to present to member countries. Experts say “terrorist” activities and organizations know no borders and a regional approach is needed.