At a United Nations General Assembly meeting this week in New York, Denmark and Burkina Faso advocated for increased co-operation in the area of global counter-terrorism, stressing the importance of countering the rise of violent extremism in western Africa.
The deputy permanent representative of Denmark to the UN, Erik Laursen, and the Burkinabé minister for territorial administration and security opened the meeting, immediately placing focus on the Sahel region of western Africa.
The Sahel – which includes Mali, Nigeria, South Sudan – is plagued by political instability and violent extremism.
“The best way to fight terrorism and violent extremism is by preventing people from becoming terrorists in the first place,” explained the foreign minister, Martin Lidegaard, in a press release.
“That is why prevention is a priority for the Danish government’s counter-terrorism efforts. Our co-operation with Burkina Faso and our work in the Sahel demonstrates Denmark’s readiness to be at the very front when it comes to translating the principles of the UN's counter-terrorism strategy into actions."
A history of concern
In September 2013, Denmark launched a five-year, 125 million kroner stabilisation program in the Sahel region that targets the same concerns.
The program is targeted at three things: “support for dialogue and reconciliation, security sector support and countering violent extremism and organised crime”, according to the Foreign Ministry.
The wild west Africa
Last year, Islamist militants seized half of Mali’s territory, and though they were eventually forced to relinquish some of the land, the violence continues.
Just last month, an extremist attack in Kidal left more than 25 dead, including eight civilians.
This, along with the recent abduction of more than 200 Nigerian school girls by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, has led to increased international attention on the region.