ECOWAS Counter-Terrorism Strategy



 We, the Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS);

 Reaffirming our commitment to the Revised ECOWAS Treaty signed at Cotonou, Benin, on 24 July 1993, in particular, Article 58 of the Treaty, which enjoins Member States to work to safeguard and consolidate relations conducive to the maintenance of peace, stability and security within the Community;

 Considering Article 3 (paragraph 4) of the Protocol A/P1/12/99 Relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security, signed at Lomé, Togo, on 10 December 1999; paragraph 40 of the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework MSC/REG.1/01/08, signed at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on 16 January 2008; and Article 24(2) of the Protocol A/SP1/12/01 on Democracy and Good Governance Supplementary to the Protocol relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security, signed at Dakar, Senegal, on 21 December 2001;

 Considering measures undertaken by the Community in order to promote and consolidate cooperation among Member States on criminal matters, including inter alia, the ECOWAS Convention A/P1/7/92 on Mutual Assistance in Penal Matters signed at Dakar, Senegal, on 29 July 1992; Convention A/P1/8/94 on Extradition, signed at Abuja, Nigeria, on 6 August 1994; Protocol on Non-Aggression, signed at Lagos, Nigeria, on 22 August 1978, Protocol A/SP3/5/81 on Mutual Assistance on Defense Matters, signed at Freetown, Sierra Leone, on 29 May 1981; Convention A/P5/5/82 on Administrative Assistance on Customs Matters, signed at Cotonou, Benin, on 29 May 1982; Protocol A/P1/01/06 on the Establishment of a Bureau of Intelligence and Investigation on Criminal Matters, signed at Niamey, Niger, on 12 January 2006; and the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunitions and Other Related Materials, signed at Abuja, Nigeria, on 14 June 2006; as well as the Political Declaration on the Prevention of Drug Abuse, Illicit Drug Trafficking and Organized Crimes in West Africa;

Considering the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, signed at Algiers, Algeria, on 14 July 1999, which, inter alia, provides a common African definition of terrorist acts, and the Protocol thereto, signed at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 8 July 2004; and the African Union (AU) Plan of Action on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism in Africa adopted at Algiers, Algeria, on 14 September 2002; as well as various decisions adopted by the AU relating to the prevention and combating of terrorism in Africa;

 Guided by the principles and regulations enshrined in the universal conventions and protocols and relevant resolutions of the United Nations (UN) on the prevention and combating of terrorism, in particular, Security Council resolutions, including 1373 of 28 September 2001, 1267 of 15 October 1999, 1540 of 14 April 2004, and 1624 of 14 September 2005; General Assembly resolutions on measures to prevent and eliminate terrorism and the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted on 8 September 2006; as well as other resolutions adopted by the UN and its agencies relating to the prevention and combating of terrorism;

 Inspired by Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, signed at Nairobi, Kenya, on 27 June 1981, which stipulates that every individual shall have the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being and to the recognition of his legal status. All forms of exploitation and degradation of humankind, particularly slavery, slave trade, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment, shall be prohibited; and Article 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in New York, on 10 December 1948, which states that, in the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society;

 Conscious of the fact that the West African region is adversely affected by the phenomenon of terrorism, and that the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism are complex and require robust and proactive policies aimed at addressing the underlying economic and socio-political factors that give rise to or fuel terrorism;

 Seriously concerned at the recent manifestations of terrorist activities within the Community, notably terrorist bombings, suicide attacks, kidnappings, hostage- taking, hijacking, mass murder, wanton assassinations, piracy and acts of sabotage of public and private properties, as well as the torching and desecration of religious and sacred places;

Noting that these acts in the region have resulted in loss of innocent lives, serious injuries, damage to property, and spread awe and intimidation, as well as having other far-reaching humanitarian ramifications on victim communities;

 Convinced that a terrorist act in all its forms and manifestations constitutes the most serious and egregious crime that violates fundamental human rights, including the rights to physical integrity, life, freedom from fear, liberty and security, and aggravates poverty through its debilitating effects on economic development and social cohesion;

Concerned at the risk of terrorists’ acquiring weapons of mass destruction, including biological and chemical warfare agents and nuclear and other radioactive materials, for the purpose of committing terrorist acts;

 Aware that terrorists exploit the cyberspace for the purpose of recruitment and spreading propaganda, as well as for planning and executing terrorist acts, including the unlawful attacks or threats of attack on computers, networks and other scientific and technological information systems; the intention of which is to intimidate, instill fear, or coerce a government, private business or segment of the population thereof for the purpose of advancing political, ideological or social objectives, whether directly or indirectly;

 Bearing in mind the linkages between terrorism and other forms of criminality, including trans-national organised crimes such as trafficking in drugs and human beings, arms smuggling and illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons, corruption and money laundering;

 Determined to eliminate and stamp out the scourge of terrorism in the region and to create an enabling environment for effective regional integration, economic development, peace, security and stability in West Africa;

 Stressing that all activities undertaken to prevent and combat terrorism should be consistent with states’ obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law, including the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, signed at New York, on 16 December 1966;

 Convinced that achieving this objective requires a resolute and rm commitment by Member States acting in close collaboration at all levels of inter-governmental actions on border surveillance, regular information sharing on both national and cross-border criminal networks, mutual assistance in criminal matters, including investigation and prosecution of terrorist suspects, as well as in the seizure and freezing of terrorist assets and finances; and

 Desirous of establishing a common framework for inter-governmental action and cooperation on practical matters on the prevention and combating of terrorism and to ensure synergies in states’ actions at the national, regional and international levels.

The Authority of Heads of State and Government hereby therefore solemnly declares as follows:

  1. Unequivocally condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including acts of kidnapping, hijacking, hostage-taking and the demand and payment of ransom, bombing of public and private properties and critical infrastructures, acts of sabotage and the desecration of religious and other cultural sacred places;
  2. Equally condemns any movement, group or individuals using religious, ethnic or other social or cultural differences to incite or indulge in violence and other hostile activities resulting in death, injuries or damage to property, the intention of which is to intimidate or coerce a government, private business or segment of the population thereof for the purpose of achieving political or social objectives;
  3. Determined to take all necessary measures to bring to justice persons or entities that participate in financing, planning, directing or perpetrating terrorist acts. To this end, Member States shall freeze or confiscate without delay funds and other financial assets or economic resources of persons, organisations or groups that knowingly recruit individuals for, encourage, facilitate, incite, finance, participate or act as an accomplice in the planning, financing and commissioning of a terrorist act or any of its links mentioned above, whether directly or indirectly;
  4. Reaffirms the commitment of Member States to refrain from encouraging, facilitating, financing or tolerating activities that are terrorist in nature or any complacency thereto; as well as to prevent Member States’ territories from being used as safe havens for the training, planning and execution of terrorist acts;
  5. Calls on all Member States, particularly those that have not done so, to consider as a matter of extreme urgency the immediate ratification and/or accession to all the relevant ECOWAS conventions and protocols (as listed in annex IV), the OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism and its Protocol thereto, including other relevant continental instruments (as listed in Annex III), as well as the eighteen universal conventions and protocols on the prevention and combating of terrorism (as listed in annex II) and others adopted by the UN;
  6. Further calls on all Member States to put in place the operational measures for the full and effective implementation of the legal counter-terrorism instruments mentioned in paragraph 5 above, including but not limited to the enactment and enforcement of national legislations with appropriate criminalisation of terrorist crimes, including severe penalties for perpetrators of such acts; the establishment of national coordinating mechanisms or centres; and taking advantage of technical assistance programmes, including adopting the AU Comprehensive African Anti-Terrorism Model Law;
  7. Undertakes to strengthen cooperation, synergies and joint endeavours in the areas of intelligence gathering and sharing, investigation, prosecution and law enforcement in the prevention and combating of terrorism;
  8. Encourages relevant civil society and non-governmental organisations, including the media, to work in conjunction with Member States in order to coordinate and mutually reinforce their activities aimed at preventing and combating terrorism within the Community;
  9. Adopts a zero-tolerance policy against terrorism within the Community. To this end, a terrorist threat to one Member State shall constitute a threat to the whole Community. In the application of this policy, Member States categorically reject any circumstances, including economic, political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious, cultural, medical and health or other motives, as justification for the commission of a terrorist act within or outside the Community and/or by a citizen of the Community;
  10. Reaffirms the commitment of Member States to uphold international law and to streamline all activities undertaken within the framework of preventing and combating terrorism with the applicable international humanitarian and human rights law, including the African Charters on Human and People’s Rights and the Rights and Welfare of the Child; as well as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. To this end, all Member States collectively Abhor torture and other degrading and inhumane treatment of terrorist suspects, and undertake to strengthen democratic practices and rule of law to ensure due process, fair trial and equality before the law for all citizens;
  11. Decides to adopt the ECOWAS Counter-Terrorism Strategy and Implementation Plan, based on an integrated approach and which elaborates a comprehensive set of measures to be undertaken by various agencies in Member States and provides a strategic policy direction towards the containment and elimination of the threat posed by terrorism to the Community. To this end, the Authority approves the establishment within the Community, as called for in the Strategy, of: a) an ECOWAS Counter-Terrorism Coordination Unit; b) an ECOWAS Arrest Warrant; c) an ECOWAS Black List of Terrorist and Criminal Networks, in order to facilitate coordination and information-sharing among Member States and d) a sub-regional Counter-Terrorism Training Centre;
  12. Requests the President of the Commission to submit to the next session of the Authority detailed proposals on the operational modalities, including budgetary implications and funding sources, for the mechanisms mentioned in paragraph 11 above;
  13. Further requests the President of the Commission to submit to the Authority an annual report on the state of terrorism in West Africa, including threats and vulnerabilities, as well as the measures taken by Member States and the Commission to implement this Declaration and the ECOWAS Strategy mentioned in paragraph 11 above;
  14. Appeals to the international community, including technical assistance institutions, development partners, relevant international organisations and civil society groups, to coordinate their activities with ECOWAS and to strengthen financial, material and technical support (including training, research and exchange of information) for the effective implementation of this Declaration and the Strategy mentioned therein; and
  15. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

 Adopted in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, on 28 February 2013



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