African borderlands are becoming more violent

Source: OECD (2022) based on ACLED data.

The growing importance of transnational conflicts in North and West Africa calls for more spatialized approaches that can map how borders shape political violence. While numerous single-case studies throughout the region have shown the salience of borderlands for violent groups, little is known about the overall relationships between political violence and borderlands region-wide.

The new report on borders and conflicts published by the OECD Sahel and West Africa Club this week contributes to fill this gap. Using spatial analysis and ACLED data, this report examines the increasing prominence of borders and borderlands for state actors and their adversaries in the region.

Three crucial questions for the future of counter-insurgency operations in the region are discussed: Are borderlands more violent than other spaces? Has the intensity of violence increased in border regions over time? And are some borderlands more violent than others?

The report was launched at the Munich Security Conference on February 19th, 2022 by SWAC Director Laurent Bossard and my colleague Steve Radil. It is part of our ongoing research project on the spatial evolution of conflicts in North and West Africa funded by OECD/SWAC.

Trémolières M, Walther O, Radil S. (2022), Borders and Conflicts in North and West Africa, West African Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris,

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