1. The Workshop on Enhancing Operational Land Border Security Cooperation in the Sahelo-Saharan Region was held in Tripoli, Libya, on 4 and 5 September 2013. The following countries participated in the meeting: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Sudan and Tunisia. Participants also included representatives of the African Union (AU) Commission, the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT), the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) and the Sahel Fusion and Liaison Unit (UFL).

2. The following regional and international partner institutions also participated in the Workshop: the European Union Border Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM Libya); the International Organization for Migration (IOM); the Libya Center for Strategic and Future Studies (LCSFS); the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA); the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (UNCTED); the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); and the UN Support Mission to Libya (UNSMIL). Diplomatic missions of AU Member States and international partners in Tripoli participated in the Workshop as observers.

3. The opening ceremony was marked by the statements made by the Assistant Under-Secretary for Political Affairs at the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Wafaa Bu’giegis, and the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission in Libya and Head of the AU Liaison Office, Ambassador Mondher Rezgui.

4. The Workshop was held within the framework of the implementation of the conclusions of the Ministerial Meeting on the Enhancement of Security Cooperation and the Operationalization of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) in the Sahelo-Saharan Region, convened in Nouakchott, on 17 March 2013. That Meeting agreed on a number of measures to enhance regional security cooperation, including strengthening of border security through practical measures to prevent movements of terrorist and criminal groups, enhancing intelligence sharing among states of the region and strengthening national capacities, notably through exchange of experiences, training and equipment. The Workshop further built on the areas identified in the Tripoli Action Plan, adopted by the Regional Ministerial Meeting on Border Security, convened by the Libyan Government, from 11 to 12 March 2012.

5. Participants acknowledged the multiplicity of the threats facing the borders of the Sahelo-Saharan region and the inter-linkages and convergence of these threats, which are manifested in all forms of transnational organized crime, including arms, drugs and human trafficking, as well as the increased involvement of armed and terrorist groups in criminal activities.

6. Participants expressed concern about the grave threats posed by cross-border criminal activities and their negative impact on sustainable socio-economic development in border regions, particularly on regional trade, tourism and other forms of economic activities, which, in turn, exacerbates and complicates the security situation and harms peaceful relations between and among the countries of the region.

7. Participants, therefore, stressed the need for a unified vision and fostering a sense of collective responsibility and mutual recognition of the vulnerabilities shared by the countries of the Sahelo-Saharan region, dictated by the security situation. They stressed the urgent need for the constructive engagement of all countries of the region in order to ensure mutual benefit and realize common security.

8. Participants reiterated that the Tripoli Action Plan represents an appropriate and ideal framework for enhancing cooperation between and among the countries of the region. They stressed the importance of the speedy operationalization of the mechanisms provided therein, which include coordination, exchange of information, confidence-building measures, as well as other operational measures for addressing the threats and risks to border security.

9. Participants welcomed the bilateral and multilateral agreements and arrangements concluded by some countries of the region, as an important and positive step towards strengthening security cooperation. They called for the expansion and replication of such security arrangements across the region, as well as for their speedy and effective operationalization.

10. Participants stressed the need for further communication, consultation, and collaboration among the countries of the region, in order to develop effective strategies for addressing the various problems that threaten the security and stability of borders in the region. Accordingly, they called for follow-up meetings and workshops at the regional and sub-regional levels, under the AU’s auspices, in order to further discuss and agree on concrete operational measures, modalities and timelines. They called for the continuation and institutionalization of such coordination and collaborations forums.

11. Participants stressed the importance of intelligence sharing among the various security agencies at the national and regional levels, to enable undertaking of timely and appropriate measures to secure borders and address the various forms of security threats.

12. Participants reiterated the importance of effective exchange of experiences and best practices in the field of border security, including establishing joint patrols and coordination committees, so as to enhance collaboration and optimize the utilization of available resources to address and fill the gaps created by the lack of human and material resources.

13. With regard to capacity building and training, participants stressed the importance of developing the necessary expertise and skills to raise the efficiency of personnel, particularly border police, so as to enable them to effectively detectand intercept all types of illicit trafficking across borders, including arms, drugs, human and contraband smuggling.

14. Participants called on the AU to support the implementation of the conclusions and recommendations of the Workshop, including coordination and collaboration in the area of border security; the delivery of capacity building and training support, particularly in the areas of regional exchange of intelligence and risk-related information, integrated border management (IBM), anti-trafficking and crime prevention, sharing of technical capacities and lessons learned; the establishment of coordination committees and border management working groups; and the launch of related pilot projects.

15. Participants looked forward to the consideration and endorsement of the conclusions and recommendations of the workshop by the Second Ministerial Meeting on the Enhancement of Security Cooperation and the Operationalization of the APSA in the Sahelo-Saharan Region, which is scheduled to be held in N’Djamena, on 11 September 2013.

16. Participants expressed their gratitude to the Libyan Government for the generosity and warm reception accorded to them and for all the arrangements made to ensure the successful conduct of the workshop.

Posted by Fisseha Abraham
Last updated by Tchioffo Kodjo

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