Written By: Emmanuel David Togba
Getting the records straight! In 2017, after running a short project profiling Liberia Terrorism threats and social control program sponsored by EU, I submitted findings to the Liberian Government. I have advised that Liberia is missing out lot of opportunities which includes expanding on the new Counter Terrorism law to include among other things a Counter Terrorism Research Center with a sole responsibility of supporting global efforts in the fight against terrorism.
Fundamental safeguards for Counter Terrorism
The United Nations has called for the establishment of an Integrated Assistance on Countering Terrorism (I-ACT). The UN general Assembly adopted a Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (GCTS) on 8 September 2006. The strategy is a unique global instrument to enhance national, regional and international efforts to counter terrorism. Through its adoption that all Member States have agreed to a common strategic and operational approach to fight terrorism, not only sending a clear message that terrorism is unacceptable in all its forms and manifestation but also resolving to take practical steps individually and collectively to prevent and combat it. Those practical steps include a wide array of measures ranging from strengthening state capacity through local instrument and the establishment of a secretariat for research that better seek to coordinate United Nations counter-terrorism platforms. Under Annex I (Plan of actions) section II: Measures to prevent and Combat Terrorism: The UN agreed for individual members to create Counter Terrorism Centers/ Mechanisms. Should they require assistance to this end, the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee and its Executive Directorate, consistent with their existing mandates, will facilitate with funding and capacity.
In 2017, Liberia passed a new Counter Terrorism Act (The Liberian Anti-Terrorist Act) which basically defines what constitutes terrorism.This wasn’t enough to fit in the world class global terrorism plan because it contains slighter functional and structural makeup of the framework. However, many saw it as a preparatory stage to be followed by actions like forming a center or secretariat that will eventually deal with Counter Terrorism compliance and accessing funding to sustain the endeavors in line with several global instruments gearing towards aggregating global efforts in the fight. To this point, Liberia and several countries have fallen short, thereby filling to meet obligatory deadline as enshrined.
Why the Cargo restrictions on some of Liberia ports?
The restrictions on several ports in Liberia according the U.S Homeland Security Advisory dated October 2018 (1-18) constitutes initial actions gearing towards compliance in line with the Maritme Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA). The MTSA has mandated that the United States Coast Guard evaluates the effectiveness of anti-terrorism measures in foreign ports and provides for the imposition of conditions of entry on vessels arriving to the United States from countries that do not maintain or upgrade effective Counter Terrorism Measures (CTM).
These mandatory standards were set after the 11 September attacks. Governments worldwide have taken measures to better protect ports and maritime transport against terrorism since shipping in this case, is perhaps the most international of all the world’s great industries – and one of the most dangerous too. It has always been recognized that the best way of improving safety at sea is by developing international regulations that are followed by all shipping nations to which Liberia is no exception. This International Ship and Port Facility Security aimed at detecting terrorism threats and preventing acts of terrorism at ports and on the sea.
Benefits for Compliance
The International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) has since formed the basis for a comprehensive mandatory security regime for international shipping. The main objectives of the ISPS Code include: establishment of an international framework that fosters cooperation between Contracting Governments, Government agencies, local administrations and the shipping and port industries in assessing and detecting potential security threats to ships or port facilities used for international trade, so as to implement preventive security measures against such threats; determining the respective roles and responsibilities of all parties concerned with safeguarding maritime security in ports and on board ships, at the national, regional and international levels; to ensure that there is early and efficient collation and exchange of maritime security-related information, at national, regional and international levels and to ensure that adequate and proportionate maritime security measures are in place on board ships and in ports.
Consequently, all Countries are automatically qualified to access array of benefits once compliance issues are resolved- accessing global Counter Terrorism funding, Counter Terrorism Capacity development, development of new port facility technologies and etc. For instance, the U. S Homeland Security support for Counter Terrorism in foreign ports amounts to a US$178 Million yearly grant meant to strengthen port facility security. UK operates a package of more than £160 million yearly towards global terrorism followed by Australia, Germany, Dutch government and others. In addition, EU spends 2.5b Euros yearly on Counter Terrorism efforts while records show that the United States Government since the 11 September has spent US$ 2.8 trillion on counter terrorism efforts. To this effect, countries with global Counter Terrorism efforts benefit huge amount yearly towards strategy sustainability and capacity building. However, funding in this category are subject to compliance; one which calls for the establishment of distinct Counter Terrorism effort which includes the establishment of Counter Terrorism Research Center, training of Counter Terrorism Professionals, upgrading from manual to technological surveillance and etc.
In conclusion, like the Climate Change Secretariat, Liberia needs a specialized Counter Terrorism Research Center to deal with terrorism issues and regularized Liberia profile towards Global Counter Terrorism Compliance at zero operational cost to the Liberian government. This will help strengthen Liberia Security corridor, train more Liberian in the field of counter terrorism, and expand on additional sources of revenues. Local compliance focusing on the tourism industry- hotels, beaches, resorts, night clubs and others generate additional domestic funding and improve on Liberia investment climate.
Emmanuel David Togba MA, CCI, BA,
MA- Counter Terrorism, International Crimes and Global Security