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President Faure Gnassingbe greets Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense James Saenz, Assistant to the Administrator Rob Jenkins, Assistant Secretary Anne Witkowsky, and U.S. Ambassador to Togo Elizabeth Fitzsimmons.

The West African nation of Togo and its coastal neighbors are intensifying their efforts to bolster security, governance, and economic resilience in communities threatened by violent extremism.  The United States is partnering with Togo in this critical endeavor and marshaling support under the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflicts and Promote Stability (SPCPS), a whole-of-government initiative with 10-year plans approved by President Biden in March 2023.  This could serve as a model for new forms of partnership and prevention. 

Togo is a country of strong traditions, culture, and resources.  It boasts one of the world’s largest deposits of fertilizer phosphates, a 35-mile stretch of scenic palm-lined beaches on the Gulf of Guinea coast, and a Land of the Koutammakou cultural heritage site recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) However, Togo’s mineral deposits, tourism appeal, and cultural pride are increasingly under threat.  Like many of its West Africa neighbors, Togo faces the destabilizing effects of violent extremism at its border with the Sahel, threatening the country’s sustained peace, stability, and prosperity.  

A Milestone in the Fight Against Violent Extremism 

The Government of Togo established the Inter-Ministerial Committee for the Prevention and Fight against Violent Extremism (CIPLEV), in 2019 with support from a public diplomacy grant from the U.S. embassy in Lomé, Togo.  The committee includes representatives of the Ministries of Decentralization, Health, Justice, Social Affairs, and grassroots development, among others.  In addition, they also created sub-committees at the prefectural and communal levels to collaborate with the national level committees and establish unity of effort.  These subcommittees include representatives from civil society as well as the security forces, religious leaders, and local authorities working together in an integrated fashion to optimize successful outcomes.  These efforts reflect the government’s awareness of the gravity of the violent extremism threat, and its assessment that security forces cannot counter it alone.  Unique in its constitution, CIPLEV is showcasing the strengths of a holistic approach to countering violent extremism.   

Government of Togo Leadership + U.S. Support = CIPLEV 

DCM Hawkins, CSO TDY Ambe, PAO Ritchie, and Ambassador Fitzsimmons at the grant signing ceremony with Col. Akobi of CIPLEV, Mr. Dacko of CAO, and Dr. Penn of TI-MONDO pose for a photo.
Ambassador Fitzsimmons and U.S. officials participate in the grant signing ceremony with Col. Akobi of CIPLEV and grantees Mr. Dacko of Centre Afrika Obota and Dr. Penn of TI-MONDO.

In 2022, President Biden announced that the United States would prioritize partnerships with countries of Coastal West Africa, including Togo, to implement the SPCPS.  Earlier this year, President Biden transmitted to Congress the 10-year plan for implementing the SPCPS with the Coastal West African countries of Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, and Togo.  This was followed up by a historic visit by Vice President Harris to Ghana, during which she announced that the United States will marshal more than $100 million in assistance to Coastal West Africa.  

The United States supports Togo and its Coastal West African neighbors in this integrated approach to conflict prevention and stabilization.  A whole-of-government effort, combining security, development, and peacebuilding, in concert with Congress to provide additional assistance to the region over the coming years.  Under the SPCPS, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department have begun implementing new programs to help strengthen economic development and increase governance and resilience in at-risk communities, including in northern Togo.  The United States is also collaborating with international partners to bolster joint investments in border governance to build unity of effort between local populations and security actors.  The Department of Defense complements these programs with civil-military engagements and robust capacity building and training for partner forces. 

Under this initiative, the United States has increased support for CIPLEV, including two new grants announced by U.S. Embassy in Lomé.  The first focuses on capacity building to improve community dialogues and develop an early warning system.  The second is focused on developing structured community dialogues in partnership with nearly 2,000 local authorities, municipal actors, and young citizens in nine communes most vulnerable to violent extremism.  In the nine months since deploying the grant, thousands of CIPLEV support agents have been trained across Togo’s Savanes, Kara, and Centrale border regions, and the nascent early warning system is already collecting invaluable Violent Extremist Organization (VEO) threat data.  

At the end of last year, a senior defense, diplomacy, and development (“3D”) interagency delegation visited Lomé, Togo, and met with government and civil society leaders to affirm this strengthened partnership.  During a meeting with the Republic of Togo’s President, Faure Gnassingbe, the 3D delegation and U.S. Ambassador to Togo Elizabeth Fitzsimmons affirmed that a whole-of-government approach to addressing insecurity in Togo offers the most effective and sustainable path for success.   

CIPLEV President is a 2023 International Visitor Leadership Program Participant.  

This summer, Col. Messan Akobi, who serves as the Secretary General of the Ministry of Security and Civil Protection and President of CIPLEV, was selected as a 2023 Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program participant.  His cohort focused on countering violent extremism in Africa and participants came from Togo, Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Niger, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. While in Washington D.C., the participants: 1) learned more about U.S. programs that counter violent extremism, including those that exemplify the relationship between federal, state, and local entities; 2) explored the underlying conditions that fuel extremism – political grievances, communal conflicts, social structures, and economic disparity – and the emerging trends that creatively address them; 3) examined community-based efforts designed to build strong community resistance to violent extremism and promote tolerance, including community policing and prison rehabilitation programs; and 4) discussed how different sectors of American society work together to resist violent extremism, including government, academia, civil society, religious communities, and the private sector.  All the participants took home with them many lessons learned which will further strengthen their ability to build successful strategies for countering the threat of violent extremism in their respective countries. 

With buy-in from the top of the Togolese government, and partnerships across the public and private sectors, the U.S.-Togo partnership is paving the way for achieving sustainable security outcomes through CIPLEV.  By reinforcing CIPLEV’s whole-of-government organizational and functional capabilities, the U.S. government is empowering CIPLEV to lead Togo’s national strategy to counter violent extremism, and to serve as a model and catalyst for other countries in the region.  

This is just one example of how the United States is partnering with Togo to strengthen resilience in the Coastal West Africa sub region. 

U.S. Department of State

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