Annual Training on the Prevention of Terrorism and Violent Extremism
17 December; Held via Zoom
West Africa and the Sahel region are exposed to constant security threats that hamper the social and economic development of the countries and undermine the peace and stability in the region. Over the past decade, West Africa and the Sahel have been the scene of deadly violence related to terrorism and violent extremism. The emergence of terrorist groups in the region amplify local frustrations and create a sense of abandonment by governments in marginalized communities that consequently stimulate the recruitment of neglected populations. This new threat further subverts social cohesion and stability in the countries of the region, which have already been undermined by ongoing political crises, social demands, and inter-community conflicts.
The perception of women and youth as mere victims generally reduces the capacities of communities to undertake actions meant to raise awareness and promote the community-level dialogue. Sometimes perceived as potentially vulnerable groups, women in the Sahel region have continuously resisted human rights violations while the youth have proven as carriers of initiatives that are not only constructive but also create opportunities for social inclusion. The practice has demonstrated that inclusive approaches and ongoing cooperation with local and national authorities can build mutual trust and strengthen the impact of the resilience programmes at the local and national levels.
Within the framework of the meeting of the Working Group on Women, Youth, Peace and Security in West Africa and the Sahel held in 2019 in Banjul, one of the recommendations laid out during the event was the need to pursue training in the prevention of terrorism and violent extremism in order to give a community dimension to national strategies through the participation of women and youth in the fight against these scourges. As a result of this meeting, the Timbuktu Institute in partnership with the West African Network of Central Authorities and Prosecutors against Organized Crime (WACAP), the UNODC’s Terrorism Prevention Branch and the Working Group on Women, Youth, Peace and Security in West Africa and the Sahel held the Annual Training on Technical Capacity Building for the Prevention of Terrorism and Violent Extremism on 17 December 2020.
Dr. Bakary Sambe, director of the Timbuktu Institute of Dakar, facilitated several sessions focused on the definition of violent extremism and terrorism, the modus operandi of the actors perpetrating these forms of crime, and the role of women and youth in the prevention and fight against those threats.
At the conclusion of a meeting held in March 2018 in Dakar, representatives of different sectors of the judicial system, WACAP focal points, and civil society actors have drawn up a series of national and regional recommendations on different aspects such as cross-sectoral cooperation, protection of victims and witnesses, support for vulnerable populations, the detention systems, access to legal aid in criminal processes, the rehabilitation, and international cooperation.
These recommendations are at the origin of the "Dakar Call for Action" action plan, which serves as a pillar for UNODC's follow-up activities and for the plea of participants in their respective countries for the implementation of initiatives to prevent and combat violent extremism and terrorism.
The annual training concluded with a working group during which the English, French, and Portuguese speaking participants had the opportunity to apply the knowledge acquired during the workshop. This exercise enabled the participants to identify the push and pull factors that drive individuals' adherence to extremist groups and to reflect on a concerted strategy to prevent and combat terrorism and violent extremism on a local and national scale.