The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is currently in league with the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to arrest the growing insecurity in Niger, the African country vulnerable to terrorism and violent extremism.
In partnership with the National Assembly of Niger, the international bodies in the second week of June organised a conference for parliamentarians from the region in Niamey.
This came as the National People’s Congress (NPC) of China promise to donate $1.00 million to the IPU for its work on countering terrorism and violent extremism within the framework of a joint project with UNODC, and the UNOCT.
IPU Secretary General, Martin Chungong, and NPC Standing Committee Secretary General, Yang Zhenwu, signed the agreement on the donation at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
The money will go towards developing a parliamentary response to countering terrorism, including cyber-terrorism and extremism conducive to terrorism. It will also support the High-Level Advisory Group on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism, set up to serve as the global focal point for parliamentary activities in this area.
The conference, organised by the IPU and the NPC, is the fourth in the series and is aimed at fostering cooperation between parliaments on the SDGs. During the conference, participants will discuss issues such as agricultural development, scaling up nutritional standards, creating jobs for rural youth, empowering women and building inclusive economies in developing countries.
Speaking at the conference, IPU’s Chungong thanked the NPC for the financial support provided to the organisation, saying their support made it possible to hold seminars such as the present one.
Chungong emphasized the importance of parliaments in achieving the Goals “through their ability to turn the voluntary commitment to the SDGs into enforceable laws, to hold their governments to account on development policy choices and strategies.”
He warned that according to data from the United Nations, no country was on track to achieve the SDGs. “Extreme poverty is still rife, inequality is stuck at very high levels, hunger is on the rise, global climate is changing much faster than expected. We need to do things differently to make a difference, and political commitment and an inclusive approach are imperative in this regard.”
The opening of the seminar was presided over by the Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Ding Zhongli, who expressed China’s commitment to stronger ties with the IPU. He stressed the importance of cross-regional exchanges in helping parliaments contribute effectively to the achievement of the SDGs. China was pleased to share its experience in lifting millions of Chinese from poverty yearly.
Sahel countries are increasingly exposed to insecurity resulting from armed conflict, terrorist activities, illicit trafficking and related crime. Terrorist radicalization and recruitment, especially among youth, are of particular concern in a region where two thirds of the population are under the age of 25.
The conference was the second in a series of capacity-building activities organized by the IPU-UNODC-UNOCT Joint Programme on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism. Since 2017, the programme has been helping parliaments implement IPU resolutions, international conventions, protocols and UN Security Council resolutions related to terrorism.
The conference was attended by parliamentarians from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Mali, Morocco, Niger and Senegal. Austria, Italy and Kenya participated in the the IPU High-Level Advisory Group on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism. Parliamentarians from the ECOWAS Inter-Parliamentary Commission and the African Parliamentary Union, as well as the High Representative of the African Union on Mali and the Sahel, the Special Representative for Counter-Terrorism Cooperation of the African Union, and representatives from the Lake Chad Basin Commission, civil society and victims of terrorism organisations were also present.