Technology that could be used in the fight against terrorism.

2016-07-25 09:17

The world is becoming an increasingly violent place.  Between January and June 2016, 838 terror incidents took place— increasing from 97 in January to 218 in June 2016—injuring and killing thousands of people globally.  It is not surprising, therefore that terrorism was a focal point at the African Union (AU) Summit to be held in Kigali, Rwanda from 10-18 July 2016.

The emerging countries have been particularly hard hit by these attacks.  Incidents of terrorism exacerbate already heavy development costs causing a decline in health and education, the disruption of social services, the disintegration of communities, damaged infrastructure and forced migration creating immense humanitarian problems.

Furthermore, violent extremism deprives people of their freedom and limits opportunities to expand their capabilities.  Sustained levels of insecurity impede the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and have negative implications for the socio-economic prospects of individuals and communities.

Emerging countries must deal with national security issues like violence, crime and terrorism but the situation in these countries is often exacerbated by the lack of resources for law enforcement, the lack of appropriately trained staff and the appropriate training to allow them to accomplish their mission.  The annual budgets for police and national security are nowhere near adequate to support these needs. However, they must find a way to get to grips with these destructive forces.

Innovative Financing for Development offers a solution to fund these national security issues.  This is through international remittances—when money is sent home to families from those living abroad.  This can be an important source of innovative development revenue for governments of emerging countries who can leverage these financial transactions for socio-economic development.

The World Bank estimates that in 2012, USD 454 billion in remittances were paid by migrant workers living overseas to emerging countries through formal channels and that this will grow to USD 534 billion.  This could be a powerful revenue-raising possibility for emerging countries who sorely need revenues for development in the face of dwindling Official Development Aid (ODA).  A micro-contribution can be placed on the financial remittance transaction and channelled to a special fund established to collect the revenues generated for use against terrorism. The monies could be used for humanitarian purposes, to strengthen a country’s police force, to train specialised forces to deal with terror attacks, to repair damaged infrastructure and to protect communities.  The list is not exhaustive.

However, because of the potential for fraud, money laundering and the potential financing of terrorism, it is imperative for governments to put in place an appropriate regulation and control system before embarking on the collection of special remittance levies. Without this, it becomes difficult to authenticate any transaction, to trace and verify each remittance transaction and to ensure that regulated exchange rates are applied.

The funds generated from micro-contributions on remittances can be used to:

  • supplement the funding of existing national security initiatives and programmes
  • assist any country to meet its financial commitments in co-financed and joint security initiatives and programmes
  • fund new national security initiatives and programmes

The implementation of innovative financing mechanisms in a growing number of countries demonstrates that the governments of emerging countries do not have to rely solely on debt and foreign aid in order to mobilise financial resources.  The money is there—it just has to be unlocked from the diaspora flows and dedicated to the fight against terror.  Untapped resources can be mobilised and secured in a sustainable way through the implementation of proven financial protection systems.

No country has to sit back and see its citizens, communities, towns and infrastructure destroyed through terror incidents.  International remittances can be a transparent, secure and sustainable source of Innovative Financing for Development (IFD) revenue for governments to beef up their national security.

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