Political violence in the Sahel-Sahara

The Sahel and the Sahara are faced with exceptional political instability involving a combination of rebellions, jihadist insurgencies, military coups, protest movements and illegal trafficking.

In this new OECD working paper and blog, I argue that the Sahel-Sahara is not just the victim of an escalation of wars and conflicts that marked the 20th century. The region has also become the setting of a globalized security environment, which blurs the lines between what is local and global, military and civilian, domestic and international, politics and identity.

Using ACLED data on violent events from 1997 to 2016, I show that the current period combines three types of organized violence: armed struggles for political power, criminal activities for personal gain, and human rights violations to create homogeneous ethnic and religious areas. I also highlight the need to strengthen regional co-operation, restore the legitimacy of governments, and establish inclusive governance solutions in conflict zones.

The paper is an update of the chapter entitled “Security issues, movement and networks in the Sahara-Sahel” I wrote for the OECD Atlas of the Sahara-Sahel in 2014. It also builds on “Strange bedfellows”, a blog I wrote with Antonin Tisseron in The Broker in 2015.


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