Border Security Management in East and West Africa

Border Security Management in East and West Africa

15-16 December 2020

Terrorist and transnational organized crime groups as well as foreign terrorist fighters continue to illegally cross borders to traffic arms, ammunition and explosives, drugs, contraband, other illicit goods, and human beings.

Effective land, air and maritime border security and management (BSM) is critical for ensuring international security and economic growth. Such management must allow for lawful trade and travel while preventing and countering the cross-border movement of suspected terrorists and people whom terrorists have smuggled or trafficked for financial gain, as well as the trafficking of illicit goods that may be used for terrorist purposes or financing.

Challenges and Opportunities of BSM in East and West Africa

The joint BSM workshop provided a platform to identify best practices and exchange tools and techniques for effective cross-border cooperation in East and West Africa.

The provisions of United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 2396 (2017) relating to BSM place significant obligations on African states, many of which are difficult to meet in the short term but may be possible to address through incremental measures.

The workshop explored current border management risks, weaknesses and opportunities relevant to counterterrorism in both the East and West African regions. Conditions such as the vastness of the geographic space, porous borders, cross-border movement of terrorists and its increasing nexus with transnational organized crime, intercommunal border conflicts, as well as illicit trafficking of goods make BSM a daunting task. Moreover, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating these security challenges. These challenges are compounded by a number of regional weaknesses in addressing the threats to BSM, including limited regional cooperation and information-sharing, corruption and bribery, as well as the limited use of technology, databases and biometric data systems.

During the workshop, participants identified several opportunities for enhancing border security management capabilities in relation to counterterrorism in East and West Africa, including:

  • Utilizing existing regional cooperation platforms more regularly and effectively;
  • Utilizing the technology and capacity available through international partner organizations such as INTERPOL and the UN Countering Terrorist Travel Programme;
  • Harmonizing legislation dealing with data protection, terrorism and transnational organized crime; developing and operationalizing a multi-agency approach through collaboration with and between police, financial intelligence units, customs, immigration, intelligence and customs; and,
  • Focusing on the development of systems and strategies to secure the maritime domain in East Africa.

BSM is an ongoing focus for the GCTF. Find out more on the Good Practices in the Area of Border Security and Management in the Context of Counterterrorism and Stemming the Flow of "Foreign Terrorist Fighters" (Arabic | French) as well as the Training of Trainers (ToT) Curriculum To Support the Development of Training Courses that address Good Practices in the Area of Border Security and Management in the Context of Counterterrorism and Stemming the Flow of "Foreign Terrorist Fighters" (Arabic | French).