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Africa Experts Discuss Current and Future Security Challenges
Representatives from NATO's 28 nations, partner nations, academic institutions and international organizations met at a conference on Africa at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) this week.
The event, organised by SHAPE's Comprehensive Crisis Operational Management Centre, put an important emphasis on security-related issues and gathered high-level representatives from NATO, the African Union (AU), United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), and think tanks including the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and Brookings Institute.
"This was a groundbreaking conference in that it is the first step on a journey we must continue," said Maj. Gen. Gordon B. Davis, Jr. SHAPE's Deputy Chief of Staff Operations and Intelligence. "In gathering so many Africa experts, partners, and organisations together, this conference improves NATO's awareness and growing understanding of the potential opportunities, challenges, and security threats emerging from this key region as well as how best to develop common approaches and partnerships to address common or at least complementary objectives.
"During the two-day conference, experts expressed their views and presented their latest findings on a series of topics, ranging from extremism and organised crime to security and migration. The senior military and civilian representatives in attendance discussed extremist groups including Al Qaida, Boko Haram and Al Shabab, and explored the roots of terrorism, recruitment processes and an overall strategic outlook.
NATO has been supporting the African Union (AU) in different ways since 2005. The Alliance's first mission on the African continent provided strategic lift.
Since then, NATO has been assisting with other missions and objectives including the AU Mission in Somalia for which NATO provided planning and strategic air- and sealift. NATO also provides assistance in developing long-term peacekeeping capabilities, in particular the African Standby Force (ASF) brigades.
In March 2011, NATO took control of all military operations for Libya under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1970 & 1973. As part of these resolutions, Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR was launched to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under attack or threat of attack, and ended on 31 October 2011.
"This conference is a perfect example of the comprehensive approach in action," said Davis. "By cooperating in this way, we can further improve our knowledge and understanding of this key region and work together with national and international partners in common areas of interest."
[Source: Nato, Allied Command Operations, Brussels, 28Jan15]
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