Conflict and Fragility

Policy briefs

Stabilisation and the Central Sahel

29 May 2024 - 09:50
Source: German soldiers from the UN contingent MINUSMA stand together during a visit of German Defence Minister von der Leyen to Camp Castor in Gao / Reuters
Supporting the state?

The international community hasn’t been successful in its efforts to support ‘stabilisation’ in the central Sahel. To learn lessons from recent engagement, this policy brief seeks to make three contributions to an already long list of ‘strategic misfits’. First, that ‘stabilisation responses’ are built on the wrong assumption “to bring back the state” and “expand state presence”, without serious work on how to reform the state that had to be brought back. Second, that external actors – and in particular Western governments – consistently overestimated their ability to influence and effect real change in the region and have to become more modest in their objectives. Third, that there is an urgent need to apply these lessons to the new area of policy attention: coastal countries of West Africa and the fight against violent extremism. This policy brief calls for a stronger reflection on what decades of largely failing Sahelian policy can tell us about how to engage with Coastal West Africa. 

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