Terrorism is a multifaceted threat to peace and security, which has been further magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Across Africa, terrorist groups are strategically and operationally capitalizing on the pandemic, and its adverse implications on the lives and livelihoods of millions. They are seizing this opportunity to increase their operations, enhance territorial gains and augment recruitment efforts. In addition, the pandemic has heightened feelings of anxiety, fear and uncertainty, thus rendering individuals more susceptible to the radical ideologies of terrorist groups. As such, many of these groups are repositioning themselves as the more efficient service provider in their communities, particularly in light of the diversion of government attention and resources to combat the pandemic.
This session is premised on the imperative of viewing the pandemic as a governance challenge necessitating the investment in a preventative approach that is based on inclusive governance and sustainable development. It will highlight the centrality of adopting both a whole-of- government and whole-of-society approach to ensure that responses on the national and local levels not only contribute to immediate recovery needs, but also strengthen the foundation for sustaining peace. As such, the session will examine lessons learned and best practices from peacebuilding efforts in Africa that aim to both capitalize on peace dividends and leverage pillars of resilience. In this context, understanding real and perceived grievances and vulnerabilities of communities is paramount to designing effective interventions that strengthen social contracts and cohesion, and address underlying drivers of fragility, violence and conflict, including radicalization and extremism conducive to terrorism.