A two day meeting of Ministers of Defense and Chiefs of Defense Staff under the auspices of the Mano River Union (MRU) Secretariat in collaboration with the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) has ended in Monrovia with a communique aimed at combating security threats in the sub region.
The meeting which was held from May 24 to 25 of May, 2021 at the Boulevard Palace in Monrovia, had as its objective to enhance cross border cooperation of Member States in the MRU region, ensure a common approach to addressing growing security threats, particularly terrorism in the context of the COVID 19 pandemic; and to review the gaps in the revised 15th protocol on Peace, Security, and Defense of the MRU so as to properly situate the regional security architecture within the framework of current realities in the sub region.
According to the communique issued by the participants, the meeting noted with satisfaction that, despite the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Member States have made some significant strides in addressing the shocks on its economies and efforts to safeguard the livelihood of the peoples in the region. On the other hand, it deplored the violent terrorist attacks recorded in some Member States of the MRU region.
It was also emphasized, according to the communique that the meeting reviewed the current security structures of the MRU Secretariat, and advised on the need for Member States to ensure a common strategy in preventing and addressing the growing security threats especially terrorism by activating and strengthening the joint rotational meeting of the Joint Security Committee (JSC), and the Technical Committee (TC), and operationalizing the Joint Border Security and Confidence Building Units (JBSCBUs) to a more optimal and realistic level.
The meeting welcomed the joint approach involving UN-System, ECOWAS and other development partners which helped in many ways to ease tensions in Member States of the MRU region.
The communique further stated that after due consideration of the issues discussed, the meeting resolved among other things that the meeting of the Joint Security Committee(JSC), Technical Committee (TC) and the Joint Border Security and Confidence Building Units (JBSCBUs) is reactivated, that Member States ensure coordination at national levels, that Member States develop a sub-regional counterterrorism strategy drawing inspiration from ECOWAS and that Member States should encourage regular meetings between Security Intelligence agencies.
The participants expressed satisfaction with the commonalities of proposals from Member states and the convergence of views on all the issues and concerns raised and were happy with the spirit of mutual understanding and cordiality that prevailed throughout their deliberations. They further emphasised the need for Member States to support the MRU in the implementation of the plan of action developed in addressing and preventing security related threats, particularly growing terrorism spill over risks to the subregion.
For their efforts, the participants expressed their appreciation to the Government of Liberia, the MRU Secretariat, and UNOWAS for the well-organized meeting and efforts to making it successful
The meeting was attended by H.E. Dee Maxwell-Saah Kemayah, Sr., Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia, Ambassador Medina A. Wesseh, Secretary-General of the MRU, Madam Giovanie BIHA, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General (D-SRSG) for West Africa and the Sahel, and representatives of ECOWAS, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular corps in Liberia as well as, Representatives from the UN System in the sub region, the Ministers of Defense and Chiefs of Defense Staff of MRU Member States, MRU and UNOWAS technical teams, Senators and Representatives of Liberia related to the subject matter.