Abuja: Asserting that terrorism can only be defeated by organised global action, India today called for restructuring the legal framework by adopting a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.
In an address to officers of the National Defence College here in the Nigerian capital, Vice President Hamid Ansari said societies that stand for peace and humanism have to increase their cooperation and strengthen efforts to prevent supply of arms to terrorists, disrupt terrorist movements, and curb and criminalise terror financing.
“We have to help each other by sharing intelligence, securing our cyber space, and minimising the use of Internet and social media for terrorist activities,” he said while delivering his lecture on “Emerging Security Imperatives in the context of India-Nigeria relations”.
Describing terrorism as one of the most egregious sources of human right violations and a major impediment to development, he said, “Your country, like my own, has suffered the horrors of this scourge of humanity. Terrorism today has global reach, no city remains safe. There is a new level of threat to pluralist and open societies.
“Use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy is to be unequivocally condemned. There can be no distinction between good and bad terrorists. A terrorist is a terrorist; one who commits crimes against humanity cannot have any religion, or be afforded any political sanctuary.”
He said the long standing defence partnership between the two nations is symbolised by institutions such as the Nigerian Defence Academy at Kaduna; the Naval College at Port Harcourt and other elite military training establishments in Nigeria.
“Many illustrious Nigerian officers have been the flag bearers of our bilateral cooperation. Today, we have an Indian Army Officer present amongst you as a participant of the ongoing NDC Course. This augurs well for our cooperation in the future.”
Considering the diverse security challenges of our times, stronger India-Nigeria relations would not only be mutually beneficial, but would also add to the regional and global security, he said.
“Together we stand as giants of Africa and Asia respectively and as we march ahead in our quest for economic and military security, collaborative efforts borne out of mutual trust can be leveraged effectively to achieve our strategic goals,” the Vice President said.
He also said both the countries must find ways of using international opinion as a force multiplier.
“No country in the world, howsoever powerful, can counter the emergent threats unilaterally. This, therefore, makes diplomacy doubly important for developing economies such as ours. Effective diplomacy is an important alternative to excessive defence spending.
“Therefore, it is important to devise methods of effectively participating in international fora, in influencing world opinion,” he said.
He said threats posed by religious fundamentalism, ethnic violence and economic disparities can no longer be ignored, particularly when globalisation and information technology can make changes “fast, furious and most unexpected”.
The task of defining and implementing a security paradigm is far more challenging in democratic, pluralist, developing societies with heterogeneous populations having diversities of religion, ethnicity and languages, he said.
“For democratic societies, the measure of security is derived from the perspective of the lowest common denominator – the well-being of the citizen or the individual,” he said.
“When we look at countries with such similarities, India and Nigeria come to the fore,” he said, adding both the nations are linked by common historical experiences of colonial rule and in the contemporary context, are united in the desire to work towards democratic pluralism, with the core values of liberty, equality and tolerance.
“Management of ethnic and communal conflicts and resolving them are important areas of governance, as are the identification of threats posed by religious fundamentalism, ethnic violence, economic disparities and deprivation. These challenges can no longer be ignored,” Ansari said.
He noted that both Nigeria and India, face similar security challenges ranging from climate change and diverse societal needs, compounded by the spread of terror.
Invoking Kautilya, Ansari said the 3rd century BC strategic thinker dwelt on the subject of threats that states encounter and developed a typology – those of external origins and internal abetment; those of internal origins and external abetment; those of external origins and external abetment; and those of internal origins and internal abetment.
According to him, the decline in inter-state warfare in the first decade and a half of the present century has been coupled with an increase in lower intensity civil conflicts.
“Consequently, the idea of security has expanded beyond the traditional sphere of military security, which had primarily been concerned with defending the border of a country from invading enemy.
“There is growing recognition that security of any given society is also impacted by several non-military factors, including political, economic, environmental, social and human domains,” he said.
He said that complex interactions between various security dimensions create the context for today’s security agenda.
“The trends for the next 20 to 50 years point to a bleak picture – one where the worsening effects of climate change are likely to contribute to economic deprivation which in turn could lead to conflict and forced migrations.”
He said many of the states have radiated insecurity towards their citizens and residents and thus destabilised their own societies and polities.
“This has led to state failures and implosions in the internal dimension and to regional and even global crises in the external dimension. One cannot escape the harsh conclusion that States have, quite often, been significant contributors to individual and systemic insecurity.”
The ambit of discussion, according to Ansari, does not remain confined to maintenance of state sovereignty and territorial integrity and would often depend upon demonstrated good rather than its a priori acceptance.
“Both, together, necessitate a paradigm shift.” he added.