n African Security Review - Enhancing counterterrorism cooperation in southern Africa : features

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In this article an overview is provided of the terrorist threat and vulnerabilities in southern Africa and the capacity of governments in the sub-region to respond to these threats and vulnerabilities.

In this region the threat of international terrorism is considered to be far less pressing than issues such as violent crime, poverty, public health and corruption. The article focuses on the mechanisms of sub-regional counterterrorism cooperation and how they may be improved. It also looks at how the United Nations can help to strengthen that cooperation and examines how the September 2006 UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy offers an opportunity to allow the UN system to engage more effectively on counterterrorism-related issues with countries and other stakeholders in southern Africa. The conclusion is that an effective sub-regional response to the threat will require the engagement of a wide range of stakeholders with technical, financial and other resources as well as the inclusion of not just states but regional and sub-regional bodies, the UN system, and other donors and assistance providers and civil society.
In light of the widespread perception that terrorism is primarily a Western problem and that underlying conditions and gaps in capacity must be addressed, a strategy that focuses on narrow security and law enforcement concerns - particularly if viewed as merely an extension of the US 'global war on terror' - is unlikely to gain much currency within the sub-region. The UN Strategy is an attempt to bridge the divide between the security interests of the global north and the development priorities of the global south, putting the need to address conditions conductive to the spread of terrorism front and centre. The challenge will be to operationalise this link between security and development.


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