“The spread of violent extremism and terrorism pose significant challenges to Africa’s security, long-term development goals, and democratic gains,” said U.S Ambassador to the African Union Mary Beth Leonard. “These threats to the global community,” she warned, “can only be addressed with a global response.”
Ambassador Leonard’s remarks were made at a workshop, earlier this month, co-hosted by the U.S. Mission to the African Union and the AU Commission on preventing and countering violent extremism.
The workshop highlighted the use of public diplomacy resources such as exchanges and TechCamps as successful examples of coordination to build security expertise within the AU, furthering the Mission objective of advancing peace and security.
The workshop supported the AU’s 2002 Plan of Action for the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, identified areas of potential collaboration, and charted a way for future engagement.
“On this continent as elsewhere, a comprehensive approach, where Africans are empowered to lead and devise their own solutions to address the drivers of violent extremism is critical to not only advancing the United States’ foreign policy goals but to realizing the aims of Agenda 2063– an African continent that is peaceful and prosperous.
“The United States stands as your steadfast partner in achieving these goals,” said Ambassador Leonard.
“With almost 70 percent of Africans under 25 years of age,” Ambassador Leonard noted, “it is important that all stakeholders see youth as partners for peace rather than as the cause of conflict. Additionally, when women are included in peace and security efforts—in peace keeping missions, peace negotiations, and political decision-making—communities are safer.”
“I know from experience that the security challenges in Africa are formidable, but by marshaling our values, our partnerships, and our resources, I’m confident that together we can overcome them,” she said. “I would like to end by reiterating that the United States remains a steadfast partner for Africa and continues to stand by the AU in its bold vision for sustainable peace and prosperity.”