It is with a heavy heart that we all watched last week’s terrorist attacks in Beirut and Paris unfold. Our condolences go out to the families of those affected by these attacks, and to all those around the world affected by the scourge of terrorism. AWEPA stands firmly behind those who are working to ensure that such tragic events never happen again.
Yet we are painfully aware that the chances of another terrorist attack are not a question of if, but when and where. Governments understandably focus on a security response in the period immediately following such attacks. However, in the long term we need to focus on addressing the root causes of terrorism and violent extremism.
AWEPA recently organised a high-level seminar in Brussels on “Peace, Security and Sustainable Development: Tackling the root causes and consequences of violent extremism and terrorism.” During this seminar, African and European parliamentarians agreed on the importance of building inclusive societies where all minority groups feel that their voices can be heard in order to address terrorism.
Here in Europe this means that we have to take a look in the mirror and ask ourselves whether minority groups truly feel that they are represented in governance structures. We also have to remind ourselves that the reactions of governments to terrorist attacks can themselves unintentionally lead to a further increase in violent extremism.
The final Declaration of the seminar includes recommendations on what parliamentarians can do to address the root causes and consequences of terrorism and violent extremism. The Paris attacks have reminded us of the urgency for parliamentarians around the world to act upon these recommendations.
Parliaments are at the heart of democracy and should represent all voices in society. Yet all too often we see that parliaments are insufficiently prioritised and under-funded. AWEPA stands behind the conclusions of the recent Valletta Summit on migration between Africa and Europe to strengthen cooperation and address the current challenges but also the opportunities of migration.
In light of the long term approach taken at the summit, AWEPA calls for a critical amount of investment to be directed towards parliamentary strengthening in Africa in order to build accountable and inclusive governance institutions and societies. Only with such an approach can we begin to ensure that the tragic events in Paris and Beirut are not repeated.