Research Handbook on International Law and Terrorism
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Research Handbook on International Law and Terrorism

Edited by Ben Saul

This newly revised and updated second edition provides a comprehensive overview of international counter-terrorism law and practice. Brand new and revised chapters provide critical commentary on the law from leading scholars and practitioners in the field, including new topics for this edition such as foreign terrorist fighters, the nexus between organized crime and terrorism, and the prevention of violent extremism.
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Chapter 45: Counter-terrorism and pan-Africanism: from non-action to non-indifference

Martin Ewi and Anton Du Plessis


Continental action on terrorism in Africa has been slow, bifurcated and lacking rigidity. As continental institutions evolved from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to the African Union (AU), counter-terrorism actions in Africa have also evolved. The previous edition of this chapter has discussed the transition in continental responses and measures adopted by the OAU and the AU between 1992 and 2012, which demonstrated the policy shift from non-action to non-indifference. During this period, the OAU/AU took some important initiatives including the adoption of a normative framework that integrated the Pan-African body into the global counter-terrorism architecture. This edition of the chapter examines another policy shift, from the ad hoc counter-terrorism measures taken by the African Union during the period of non-indifference (2002–2010), to the emergence of an African Union counter-terrorism culture (2011–present) that go beyond mere indifference. During this period, counter-terrorism seems to have gained increased moral force and legality. The period has been marked by the granting of jurisdiction over terrorist offences to the African Court of Justice and Human and People’s Rights under the Malabo Protocol, adopted in 2014 – even if the Court is yet to be ratified by African states. Another emerging trend in AU’s counter-terrorism culture has been the routine condemnation of terrorist and violent extremist attacks in Africa and the world at large, as well as the AU’s increased concern at terrorism and its solidarity with countries heavily affected by the threat. The chapter also interrogates the AU’s responses to contemporary terrorist threats such as the one posed by foreign terrorist fighters and the expansion of ISIS in the continent. It discusses some of the inherent challenges faced by the Union in its new increased role and the future direction of counter-terrorism in Africa.

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