ECOWAS announces USD 1 billion plan to curb terrorism

ECOWAS leaders gathered on 14 September in Ouagadougou at an extra-ordinary session on terrorism. While calling upon the UN Security Council to resolve the Libyan crisis, ECOWAS leaders adopted a priority action plan for 2020-24 focusing on eight areas. In a bid to leverage member countries’ contributions and strengthen ECOWAS leadership, the authority pledged USD 1 billion for the community’s counter-terrorism efforts. The purpose of the summit was to “consider the different initiatives taken thus far to prevent and combat terrorism and redefine priority areas of action to curb the spread of terrorist attacks in the region.” The summit gathered nearly all of the region’s heads of state, as well as many regional and international leaders, underscoring the gravity and urgency of the current situation. In their final communiqué, the authority proposed that a joint representative of the African Union and the UN for Libya be appointed. It also called on the UN Security Council to give MINUSMA a “more robust mandate to fight terrorism.” It encouraged the ECOWAS Commission to work with the AU to open dialogue with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for “security spending to be accepted as investment for development.”  ECOWAS leaders also approved the principle of involving the ECOWAS Standby Force in counter-terrorism efforts, and encouraged the ECOWAS Commission to make the ECOWAS logistics depot in Lungi, Sierra Leone operational. The proposed  USD 1 billion priority action plan for the 2020-24 period is based on the idea of pooling resources and improving co-ordination of counter-terrorism efforts, increasing intelligence information sharing, and developing training, equipment and border management. It also includes measures to step up the fight against organised cross-border crime, particularly trafficking in illicit drugs, tobacco and fake drugs. Lastly, it promotes a culture of peace and supports frameworks for religious practice through inclusive dialogues involving religious and community leaders, women, young people and relevant civil society groups. The finalised action plan with full details on the budget and implementation timetable, will be adopted at the next ECOWAS summit on 21 December in Abuja.