Statement by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye on Preventing Violent Extremism - “Curbing the Growing Threat to Peace and Development in Africa"

Aug 25, 2017

TICAD Ministerial Meeting

Preventing Violent Extremism

“Curbing the Growing Threat to Peace and Development in Africa”

Statement by M. Abdoulaye Mar Dieye
UN Assistant Secretary-General,
Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, UNDP 

Maputo, Mozambique, 24 August 2017

Hon. Ministers and Senior Government Officials here present,

Excellencies, Development Partners,

Heads of Regional Organizations and Dear UN Colleagues here present,

Esteemed Panelists,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for joining us this morning, to discuss how we can, together, effectively contribute to preventing Violent Extremism in Africa.

The recent unfortunate incidents in Ouagadougou and Barcelona, among others, reinforce the ever-increasing importance of this issue for Africa and the world today.

It is quite fitting and most welcome that we are examining today the situation in Africa; as violent extremism is not only stunting or in some cases reversing economic growth and development, especially in what is now called the “arch of instability” spanning from the Sahel, to the Lake Chad Basin and all the way to the Horn of Africa; it is also seriously undermining the foundation of peace and security, and robbing the continent of its vital resource, its youth.

The TICAD VI Nairobi Declaration recognizes Violent Extremism as a global threat and  an impediment to social stability and sustainable development in the continent.

I would like to thank Japan for its strong commitment to,  and engagement in addressing this most debilitating challenge; as well as its partnership with UNDP in supporting African countries to address the root causes of this phenomenon, from a development perspective.

It is our assessment that the global, regional and national responses so far, and for so long,  have been heavily, and sub-optimally tilted toward military and security operations; and ad-hoc development actions that are not set in a cohesive framework.  

We have been missing an analytical and comprehensive operative framework.

Today, we are better equipped to conceptualize such a complex phenomenon. For me, the most comprehensive and structured analysis, to date, is a series of studies by the RAND Corporation titled “Social Science for Counterterrorism: Putting the pieces together”, which eloquently shows that addressing such a complex issue will call for an interdisciplinary approach, going beyond the traditional and dualistic analysis focusing only on “pull and push factors”, with push factors denoting locally informed drivers, such as  marginalization, and pull factors referring to external parameters such as ideology. It is indeed essential that we look at more systemic and structural factors. The multifactor model suggested by the RAND Corporation seems cohesive. It looks not only at the root causes of extremism, including inadequacy and deficit in governance, weak or lack of social contract and persistence of economic deprivation, but it also factors in the multiple parameters that underline the willingness for individual to engage into violent extremism.

But to put theory into practice we need strong empiricism; a series of facts and data grounded in reality.

It is in this perspective that the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa has launched two seminal studies:

  1.  A study, already completed, on the “factors of instability “in transboundary zones in the Sahel, covering 8 countries: Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Mauritania, Senegal, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Cameroon.
  2.  A study on “journey to extremism”, just being completed; and which will be launched, in a series of events, starting in New York, during the first week of September. That study builds on interviews with individuals that belonged to extremist groups – currently imprisoned, in rehabilitation facilities or returnees.

Four lessons of these studies, are relevant to our discussion today:

  1.   The empirical validation of the RAND-inspired model that responses need to be multidimensional and interconnected. They must address root causes including horizontal inequalities, weak institutions, low human development, and human insecurity. They must counter norms that foster violence, the endemic sense of economic and political exclusion and marginalization, as well as weak social contracts. The responses must also constructively respond to societal divisions, demographic shifts, mobilizing structures, youth’s loss of identity and perceived grievances.
  2.  The most fertile grounds for radicalization are the border areas, which are in many countries, the most neglected in terms of governance and socio-economic infrastructure.
  3.               Context matters. While there are several commonalities which drive violent extremism, there are also some important differences between countries. For example, socio-economic factors tend to be prominent drivers in the Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin, Somalia and Nigeria; whereas political grievances are much more prominent factor in Kenya; and
  4.                The national public policy and programmatic responses, as well as international development support, are, in general, PVE-CVE blind or ineffective.

The UNDP Regional Programme on Preventing Violent Extremism seeks to offer responses, building on those lessons.

It is my deepest expectation that our Panel this morning will provide additional perspectives to bolster our collective response in preventing violent extremism.

I thank you.


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