Liptako-Gourma Charter Signed By Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso

On Saturday, the military juntas of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso signed a pact entitled the ‘Liptako-Gourma Charter’ to support each other in the event of rebellion, insurgency, or external aggression. This charter comes as a result of the rise of Islamist insurgents in the region during the 21st century, including the widely known Al-Qaeda and Islamic State terrorist organizations. This agreement between the three neighboring nations will provide “an architecture of collective defense and mutual assistance to benefit [the] populations,” known as the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) according to Mali’s junta leader Assimi Goita.

Earlier this year, a military coup in Niger led to General Abdourahamane Tchiani taking the position of the leader of the military junta has led to increasing tensions with other African nations as well as international alliances. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) responded to the coup by threatening to use force to restore the semi-presidential system of government. With these increasing tensions, Mali and Burkina Faso had guaranteed that they would help Niger in the scenario of an attack on the nations. The three landlocked nations meet in a region called the Liptako-Gourma region, which has been plagued by Jihadism, or militant Islamic movements, in recent years, leading to increasing instability. Previously, these three nations were part of a 2017 alliance, supported by France, in efforts to combat Islamist organizations, but following the coup in Niger, tensions with France have significantly increased. 

While Islamist militarism is an issue that has plagued the region, and the world, for years, the solution of using military force will only increase tensions and conflict and does not lack the international support necessary to end these attacks permanently. This is not to say that nations should allow for terrorist organizations to attack civilians, but that using military power in response has not been shown to be an adequate response in truly defeating these powers. Additionally, the coup in Niger that overthrew the constitutional government receives criticism as it undermines the main principles of democracy by taking away citizen’s right to choose their leader as a representative of their interests.

The lack of international support and aid in this region has only allowed tensions to build up and conflicts to ensue, and more emphasis on this region needs to occur in order to help protect its civilians from further harm and support stability in all aspects. The region is plagued by patterns of insurgence and instability, and this problem will continue to persist if the same types of resolutions keep being used to diminish conflicts. The pact is primarily focused on military support between the nations, should an instance of armed rebellion or aggression occur in any of the three countries. The use of force as a tool of suppression within these communities fails to address the true issues the region is facing. In the international context, the nations’ relationship with France has deteriorated, and France has now withdrawn troops from Mali and Burkina Faso and faces strong escalation with the new military government of Niger. Additionally, Mali has asked the United Nations to end its peacekeeping mission in the country and withdraw. France threatened to support military intervention by other African nations as a result of forcing French troops out of all three countries, which were all also former French colonies. 

Rather than solving conflicts and addressing issues such as terrorism with international support and cooperation, the default to use military powers fails to truly address the situation and provide a permanent solution. The increasing tensions with the three nations in this alliance versus other African countries as well as the international community, through conflicts with France and the United Nations, will only lead to further harm.

While a crucial problem to tackle in today’s society is acts of terrorism and the rise of terrorist organizations, creating a military pact while refusing global support to maintain stability is not a sound solution. The coup in Niger this July has created increasing instability within the region, while also taking away the public’s power of democratically electing a leader. Now, this pact which provides military support between all three nations in the event of any insurgence, further takes away civilian’s power as they face the threat of violence if they rebel or revolt against the government. While this pact was created in the name of fighting terrorism, the three nations are instead moving towards more oppressive regimes by leaving their civilians vulnerable, rather than working towards more stable governments that would provide peace and freedom for citizens.

Rather than opting towards military solutions to insurgence and terrorists, governments should work in cooperation with one another, using more peaceful methods. The termination of the United Nations peacekeeping mission does not support the overarching goal of stability and peace, as the organization attempts to promote stability in nations struggling with internal conflict, only using military power when absolutely necessary to dissolve a threat. Rather than solving terrorism by using violence against already present organizations, governments and actors should instead focus on preventing terrorism before it has the chance to harm civilians. This involves international cooperation, rather than opposing alliances that fester tension. To do this, it is vital for states to produce legislation and create strategies to curb terrorism at its origin, including the crucial act of restricting financing towards terrorist organizations, as money allows terrorists to further its reach and cause greater harm. Cooperation with other nations as well as organizations such as the United Nations in order to allow for the best efforts to be put out in creating agencies and strategies to suppress terrorism, rather than having every nation work independently, even when some nations lack the stability to suppress powerful terrorist groups. Along with the important fight against terrorism, the coup in Niger is an example of a situation that has only led to increasing instability and tensions in the region.

Rather than using force and violence to oust a leader, civilians should be able to peacefully choose who they want to represent them, and this person or group of people should work together to better the lives of its citizens. Using violence as a means to achieve power is not a sustainable practice, and will only lead to more harm. 

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