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UN Security Council to hold meeting on terrorism in the Horn of Africa


Today’s meeting will be informal, with the Security council holding what is known as an “Arria-formula meeting” [See below for definition]. It will be off the record.

Co-hosted by Ethiopia and Italy, but including a range of experts and the regional grouping, IGAD, it is due to share information about al-Shabaab and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. But what will really be discussed is far from clear, but can it take place without discussing the current tension between Eritrea and Djibouti?


Source: In the Blue

Today (22 June), Council members are scheduled to hold an Arria-formula meeting on “preventing terrorism and violent extremism in the Horn of Africa: Enhancing partnership for regional efforts.” The meeting is co-hosted by Ethiopia and Italy with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The Permanent Representatives of Ethiopia and Italy, as well as experts from UNODC and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), are expected to brief at the meeting. In addition to Council members and IGAD states, the meeting is open to IGAD Partnership Forum Member States (which include IGAD development partners), as well as other relevant bodies (e.g., the UNODC and the UNDP).

A concept note produced in advance of the meeting states that member states will have the opportunity to discuss national plans to prevent and counter violent extremism in East Africa and the Horn of Africa, to share lessons learned and best practices with regard to addressing this problem, and to reflect on the challenges in rehabilitating and reintegrating terrorists and violent extremists. The note adds that in their interventions member states will be able to describe how the comprehensive implementation of international, sub-regional and national initiatives can help to prevent and counter violent extremism; how the risks posed by violent extremist groups in the sub-region can be assessed and managed more effectively; and how the UN, IGAD and concerned member states can align their efforts in an integrated manner to address these threats.

The terrorist threat is a significant one in the Horn of Africa. While Al-Shabaab has been a long-standing problem there, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) extended its presence into Somalia in 2015. As the Secretary-General noted in his 31 May report on “the threat posed by ISIL to international peace and security and the range of United Nations efforts in support of Member States in countering the threat,” member states have underscored that the threat of ISIL affiliates in east Africa extends beyond Somalia “into the neighboring states where they seek to recruit, establish bases, and conduct attacks” (S/2017/467).

In recent years, the Council has focused considerable energy on preventing terrorism and countering violent extremism. In resolution 2178, adopted on 24 September 2014, the Council called for states to cooperate to prevent foreign terrorist fighters from crossing their borders, to disrupt and prevent financial support to terrorists, and to cooperate in sharing lessons learned to counter violent extremism. In resolution 2354, adopted on 24 May, the Council welcomed the guidelines and practices outlined in the Counter-terrorism Committee’s “Comprehensive Framework to Counter Terrorist Narratives” of 28 April (S/2017/375), which had been requested by the Council in an 11 May 2016 presidential statement (S/PRST/2016/6). The “Comprehensive Framework” focuses on how legal and law enforcement measures, public-private partnerships, and the creation of counter-narratives could be used to combat terrorist narratives.

At today’s meeting, participants may note that preventing terrorism in the Horn of Africa and countering violent extremism is an effort that needs to be tackled at the international, national, regional and sub-regional levels. While terrorism and the propagation of extremist narratives are threats with broad cross-border implications, some members may emphasise the responsibilities of individual member states to do their best to combat them and to collaborate with other member states in implementing strategies to address them. Some members may further underscore that combatting terrorism requires a comprehensive approach that employs a broad range of security, political, legal, economic and other tools.

The “Arria-formula meetings ” are a relatively recent practice of the members of the Security Council. Like the informal consultations of the whole of the Security Council, they are not envisaged in the Charter of the United Nations or the Security Council’s provisional rules of procedure. Under Article 30 of the Charter, however, the Council is the master of its own procedure and has the latitude to determine its own practices.

The “Arria-formula meetings” are very informal, confidential gatherings which enable Security Council members to have a frank and private exchange of views, within a flexible procedural framework, with persons whom the inviting member or members of the Council (who also act as the facilitators or convenors) believe it would be beneficial to hear and/or to whom they may wish to convey a message. They provide interested Council members an opportunity to engage in a direct dialogue with high representatives of Governments and international organizations — often at the latter’s request — as well as non-State parties, on matters with which they are concerned and which fall within the purview of responsibility of the Security Council.

The process is named after Ambassador Diego Arria of Venezuela, who, as the representative of Venezuela on the Council (1992-1993), initiated the practice in 1992. Although Ambassador Arria, as the then President of the Security Council, had himself convened in 1992 as an “Arria-formula meeting”, the recent practice suggests a preference for such initiatives to be taken by members of the Council other than the President. The convening member is also chairing such meetings.
The “Arria-formula meetings” differ from the consultations of the whole of the Council in the following respects:

  • Such informal gatherings do not constitute an activity of the Council and are convened at the initiative of a member or members of the Council. Participation in such meetings is for individual members to decide upon and there have been instances when some members chose not to attend.
  • They are held in a Conference Room, and not in the Security Council Consultation Room.
  • The convenor issues a written invitation to the other fourteen members, indicating the place, date and time of the “Arria-formula meeting”, as well as the name of the party to be heard, by a fax from his/her Mission rather than by notification from the Secretariat.
  • They are not announced in the daily Journal of the United Nations.
  • Unless so invited, members of the Secretariat are not expected to attend, except for interpreters and a Conference Officer.

Source: Informal Non-Paper of 25 October 2002, prepared by the United Nations Secretariat.




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