The African Union (AU) has a well-developed normative framework to combat terrorism with the 1999 AU Convention on the Prevention and Combatting of Terrorism and its 2004 Protocol which gives responsibility to the AU Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) to ‘co-ordinate and harmonize continental efforts in the prevention and combating of international terrorism in all its aspects.’ In the same year, the AU established the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) in Algiers as a means to centralize information and research on terrorism and to develop counter-terrorism capacity building programs. The ACSRT also provides a forum for interaction and cooperation among Member States and Regional Mechanisms. To further strengthen AU counter terrorism efforts, in October 2010, the AU appointed a Special Representative for Counter-Terrorism and, in 2011, the AU Assembly adopted the African Model Law on Counter Terrorism to assist states in harmonizing legislation on terrorism.
On 2 September 2014, the AU convened a Heads of State-level Peace and Security Council meeting in Nairobi, Kenya resulting in a AU PSC decision setting out a series of objectives for both AU Member States and the AU Commission. The AU PSC tasking of the AU Commission included establishing a Counter Terrorism Fund and convening an annual AU Coordination Forum to coordinate efforts in counter-terrorism. Pursuant to the AU Non-Aggression and Common Defence Pact, the PSC called for the establishment of specialized joint counter-terrorism units at the sub-regional level within the framework of the African Standby Force (ASF) and, pending the achievement of the ASF, the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC). The AU PSC also welcomed efforts to enhance legislation, intelligence sharing, operational capability and coordination through the various AU-led initiatives including the Sahel Fusion Liaison Unit (UFL), the Nouakchott Process, the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) and the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT). The Council also welcomed the creation of the African anti-terrorism Model Law, which will seek to harmonize domestic counter terrorism legislation, and endorsed the AU Assembly decision to establish the African Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL) in its role to enhance inter-state police cooperation, particularly in addressing transnational crime. The Council also expressed their determination to operationalize the PSC Sub-Committee on Counter-Terrorism and called on this Sub-Committee to develop a capacity to investigate financial support to terrorist groups and strengthen the AU sanctions regime.
UNOAU assists the AU in operationalizing the decisions of the AU PSC and in ensuring coordination with the relevant UN agencies. This includes helping to coordinate the use of funds received for counter-terrorism, including that received from the Organization of Islamic States (OIC). It also includes coordination in the development of initiatives to curb the process towards radicalization and violent extremism and the convening of annual open sessions on counter terrorism to coordinate efforts. UNOAU is also liaising with the UN Security Council sanctions committee to explore assistance to the AU PSC in the operationalization of its sub-committee on terrorism and sanctions. UNOAU also liaises with and supports the AU in its efforts to further the sub-regional arrangements of the Nouakchott and Djibouti processes which regularly convene chiefs of intelligence.