Global Counter-Terrorism Forum Sahel Capacity-Building Working Group Technical Expert-Level Meeting on Border Security, Niamey, Niger

he African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism, represented by Lieutenant-Colonel Christian Emmanuel MOUAYA POUYI, took part in the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum Sahel Capacity-Building Working Group (GCTFSWG) Technical Expert-Level Meeting on Border Security, held on 15-16 May 2012 in Niamey, Niger.

The meeting was organised as a follow-up to one of the recommendations of the inaugural meeting of the GCTFSWG meeting in Algiers in November 2011 that approved the need for a technical expert-level meeting on border security to build on the excellent discussions initiated in Algiers and the work that continues to be undertaken both by multilateral and bilateral actors in the region.

The meeting was jointly organized by Niger and the United States of America governments. It gathered technical experts in border security from more than 30 countries and international organizations, including Sahel States border security officials.

The discussed topics included challenges and good practices of the border security, the legal framework, customs controls, air, land, and sea borders security, regional and international cooperation and coordination. All the speakers focused on the recent trends in terrorist activity in their different areas, highlighting the necessity to enhance the border security,

The ACSRT delegate presented the security situation in the Sahel region as unpredictable and volatile, due to a conversions of various local events that seriously disorganized the existing poor security systems, worsening further the pre-existing vulnerabilities, amongst which the ill secured borders. The porosity of the borders in Sahel constitutes one of the main facilitating factors of the relative success of AQIM and the other jihadist movements in the region that aim at gaining control over Maghreb and Sahara, considered as Islamic lands. Mixing the porosity of borders with the other vulnerabilities such as the ill administered territories, the lack of capacity to  properly respond to terrorist attacks, corruption, poverty, social and economic marginalization, poor education etc, as well as with the instability and the deterioration of the security situation  as a result the events in Libya AQIM, MUJAO and the other jihadist groups are consolidating their positions in the Sahara desert and Sahel, and extending their activities towards the Sub Saharan region and the Horn of Africa.

They currently seek to expand and diversify criminal ties with other Islamist, insurgent and  criminal groups across the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and beyond, and to exploit the new possibility for large recruitment amongst the marginalized soldiers of the former Libyan army that are not involved in the formation of the new security forces.

After rich and fruitful discussions, participants broadly agreed on a number of good practices for border security and advanced concrete recommendations for GCTF members, regional states, and international organizations to consider.