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About This Webinar

The role of border communities and border security and management strategies in the context of cross border cooperation and information sharing to counter terrorism and related transnational organized crime.

The role of border security and management (BSM) strategies and border communities has emerged as a significant priority in Africa. The rise of violent non-state actors, terrorist organizations, and transnational organized crime groups involved in the illicit trafficking of weapons, drugs, and human beings, especially in border regions, poses a serious threat to the stability and development and highlights the imperative of enhancing border management in the region. A new approach is needed to secure the strengthening of border management and human security in border regions based on the “good practices” in the area of BSM in the context of counterterrorism. In parallel with building the capacities of border agencies and increasing the physical presence of the State in border areas, improved interaction with local populations is required to better articulate them to legitimate law and order efforts, as well as to protect and promote the informal cross-border trade that is often critical to their livelihoods and food security in the region.

Adoption of national border security and management (BSM) strategies support African countries to move toward a better and more sustainable balance between open but secure borders by preventing security threats while facilitating vital cross-border trade and licit movements. In 2013, the African Union (AU) drafted a distinctive continental strategy for improving border management to serve as a guideline for individual countries. The three pillars of the AU strategy are intra-agency and international cooperation, capacity development, and involving border communities in border management. However, with the exception of Senegal, West African states have not yet moved toward a common approach at either national or sub-regional level to adopt holistic BSM strategies. Implementing BSM strategies and national action plans (NAPs) will increase ownership among communities and their overall effectiveness ensuring that a cohesive linkage through collaboration among all stakeholders enhances cross-border cooperation and denies space to extremists and undermines their violent ideology.

Community involvement in border management is understood as particularly important in West Africa at the present time to ensure that security responses do not compromise human rights or inhibit unduly the free movement of goods and people. Community-based policing should form the basis for an intelligence-led interdiction approach to complement traditional border control methods. Engaging with and empowering border communities as key contributors in BSM has been recognized as a good practice to facilitate mutual trust-building with national border services, increase intelligence and information sharing through a variety of means, including public awareness to enhance communication and cooperation among neighboring border services, and strengthen cross-border coordination among relevant law enforcement agencies (LEA) to effectively prevent radicalization and violent extremism, and combat terrorism and related transnational organized crime, as well as the threat of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs).

II. Case Study: The Accra Initiative: Operations Koudanlgou II & III

The Accra Initiative was established in 2017 to prevent spillover of terrorism from the Sahel and to address transnational organized crime and violent extremism in member countries’ border areas through enhanced cross-border cooperation and information sharing. Member States of this initiative aim to improve intelligence sharing, strengthen border controls and regain the trust of local populations. The Accra Initiative is anchored on three pillars: information and intelligence sharing; training of security and intelligence personnel; and conducting joint cross-border military operations to sustain border security.

Operation Koudanlgou II was developed in November 2018 under the Accra Initiative. Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana launched this joint security operation in the southern and western areas of Burkina Faso in which more than 850 security elements from the three countries were involved to crackdown transnational crimes including terrorism, smuggling, and drug trafficking. The operation led to 150 arrests, 11 confiscated vehicles and seized arms, ammunition, cannabis and liquor. Security forces also offered health services to local populations, painted a school and repaired a road.

In November 2019 around 170 suspected terrorists and criminals were arrested near the Togo-Ghana border. The arrests fall under the joint security operation between Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Togo, code-named Koudanlgou III.

This third webinar aims to address the role of border communities and border security and management strategies in the context of cross-border cooperation and information sharing to counter terrorism and related transnational organized crime. The first session of the event will be focused on the presentation of a case study on Operations Koudanlgou II & III within the framework of the Accra Initiative, followed by an interactive dialogue among experts from UNOCT-UNCCT, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Stimson Center, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Ghana, that will share their insights and first-hand experiences on the role of border communities and border security and management strategies as critical tools to successfully tackle the terror-crime nexus. During the virtual discussion, the audience will have the opportunity to raise questions, provide comments and inputs that will be addressed by the experts.


Opening Remarks
- Mr. Rocco Messina, Head, UNCCT-Border Security and Management Unit
- Dr. Emmanuel Wekem Kotia, Brigadier General of the Ghana Armed Forces and Chief Executive of the Ghana Boundary Commission

Keynote Speakers
- Dr. Amado Philip de Andres, UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa
- Mr. Brian Finley, President and CEO, the Stimson Center

Session 1: Case Study: The Accra Initiative: Operations Koudanlgou II & III
- Mr. Benedict Dere, Technical Director and Liaison Officer for the Accra Initiative, Ministry of National Security, Ghana

Session 2: Interactive Dialogue
- Dr. Amado Philip de Andres, UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa
- Mr. Brian Finley, President and CEO, the Stimson Center
- Dr. Kamal-Deen Ali, Executive Director of the Centre for Maritime Law and Security Africa
- Ms. Sophie Hoffmann, Head of the Border Security and Immigration Unit, IOM Niger
- Dr. Esther Zubiri, UNOCT-UNCCT Senior Expert

When: Thursday, April 29, 2021 · 02:00:00 PM · London
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Language: English
Who can attend? Everyone
Dial-in available? (listen only): No
Featured Presenters
Webinar hosting presenter
Editor Border Security Report / World Security Report
Editor of Border Security Report and Director of the World Border Security Congress
Webinar hosting presenter
Senior Expert, United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism - United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNOCT-UNCCT)
Esther Zubiri joined the State Attorney-General’s Office of Spain in 1998, where she has developed her professional career over twenty-two years as a State Attorney specialized in counter terrorism. She currently works as a senior expert in the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) within the United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism (UNOCT). Formerly, she served as the Chief of Rule of Law and Human Rights at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Afghanistan. In 2012, she was appointed as the Agent of the Kingdom of Spain to the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe, representing Spain at the Committee of Experts on Terrorism (CODEXTER). From 2014 to 2019, she worked as a Senior Legal Specialist at Inter-American Committee against Terrorism of the Organization of American States. As State Attorney Chief, she worked at the National Court, the High Court of Justice of the Basque Country, the Central Economic-Administrative Court, the State Tax Administration Agency, and the Ministries of Justice and Interior, where she led the prosecution on several high-profile terrorist cases. She served as a counselor at the Permanent Mission of Spain to the United Nations and the Embassy of Spain in the United States of America. She holds a JD and a Master’s Degree in Law from the Comillas Pontifical University of Madrid (ICADE). She has been awarded with the Merit Cross of the Spanish National Police and the Silver Cross of the Spanish Civil Guard.
Webinar hosting presenter
Head Border Security and Management Unit, United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT)
Rocco Messina is currently heading the Border Security and Management Unit at the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) within the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT). In this tenure, he is managing a multi-year global programme mandated to support the inclusion of the counter-terrorism elements in the UN Member States' border security strategies through technical assistance and capacity-building activities.

Prior to this appointment, from 2011 to 2017, Mr. Messina served as Head of the Border Management Section at the United Nations Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO) United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) implementing a capacity-building portfolio to design a comprehensive on Haitian national border mational planpolicy. His leadership and matter expertise were instrumental to the creation of the Haitian Technical Border Commission, the Customs Police, as well as a specialized branch of the Haitian National Police in charge of securing the land borders. Mr. Messina started his professional career in 1990 after a two-year military police academy training with the Counter-terrorism branch of the Italian Guardia di Finanza (Italian Military Police).

During his 25-year long career, he was deployed to several field missions, at both national and international levels, focusing mainly on counter-terrorism and border security matters. He was bestowed with several national and international medals and awards for the successful completion of his high-risk duties. Between September 2006 and May 2007, Mr. Messina was deployed in Herat Afghanistan with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Mission as Training Programme Officer, where he developed a training programme for the Afghan Border Police.

Mr.Messina holds a master’s degree in literature and a degree in international law and he speaks fluently English, Spanish and French.
Webinar hosting presenter
Head of the Border Security and Immigration Unit, IOM Niger
Holder of a degree in Political Sciences from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Sophie Hoffmann is working in the field of international development cooperation since 2013.
She started working with the French General Secretariat for European Affairs (SGAE) in the Free Movement of Persons Unit of the Justice and Home Affairs Department, whose role is to coordinate the international handling of European issues on security, visas, immigration and border management under the authority of the French Prime Minister.
She has spent 7 years working with international cooperation agencies and NGOs (GIZ, Handicap International) as operations and program coordinator in Central Africa and Sahel Region, notably in the DRC and Chad, and has integrated the IOM in Niger in November 2018.
Along with the other 24 IOM State Members in West Africa, IOM Niger through its Immigration and Border Management (IBM) unit has been active since 2015 and has been implementing 9 border management projects in Niger. The IBM division of IOM has the institutional responsibility for overseeing activities related to border management solutions and immigration and visa support services. The Division provides assistance to governments in developing, testing and implementing new approaches to address particular migration processing challenges, including the use of biometrics and automated processing solutions. More specifically in Niger, the IBM unit, with its broader scope of activities, is promoting humanitarian border management, integrated border management, the deployment of the Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS) across the sub-region countries, community engagement, and technical and material capacity building.
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