The Institute for Security Studies and the Global Center hosted a roundtable discussion to explore how governments across the African continent are collaborating with civil society and the international community to more effectively address threats posed by terrorism in accordance with the rule of law. Speakers included Ambassador Idd Bedel Mohamed (Senior Fellow, Global Center), Cheryl Frank (Head, Transnational threats and International Crime Division, Institute for Security Studies), and Michael Merker (Head of Counterterrorism Team, European External Action Service, European Union). Opening remarks were made by Anton du Plessis, Managing Director of the Institute for Security Studies and Alistair Millar, Executive Director of the Global Center.
The discussion opened with an overview of the developmental challenges in Africa, particularly those related to corruption and terrorism. Criminal justice responses which do not conform to the rule of law and international principles, such as arbitrary detention, illegal extradition, and torture were identified as counterproductive approaches that could potentially drive further extremism. Speakers emphasized that a shift from a military approach to criminal justice and rule of law-based approach to countering terrorism was necessary. With focus on Somalia, it was noted that the emergence of central and regional administrations and the challenge of developing a robust criminal justice system contributed to Somalia’s instability. Long-term project funding and partnerships with local institutions were among the good practices identified as important methodological principles to be followed by practitioners and donors. Finally, it was argued that practitioners and donors must move beyond the “one size fits all” approach to counterterrorism programming and that the in-country needs must be responded to quickly and in a flexible manner.