West African Studies

ISSN :
2074-353X (online)
ISSN :
2074-3548 (print)
DOI :
10.1787/2074353x
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This series of books examines economic and social issues being faced by West Africa.  
Also available in: French
 
Global Security Risks and West Africa

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Global Security Risks and West Africa

Development Challenges You do not have access to this content

Sahel and West Africa Club

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Author(s):
OECD
Publication Date :
02 Feb 2012
Pages :
136
ISBN :
9789264171848 (PDF) ; 9789264110663 (print)
DOI :
10.1787/9789264171848-en

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This publication explores current global security issues, their development in West Africa and their potential impact on regional stability. It takes a close look at issues such as terrorism and trafficking, climate change, and the links between "security and development". Some of these issues are still the object of heated debate. This book draws attention to the risk of oversimplified analyses and biased perceptions of security risks. It also highlights the need for coordinated policies and dialogue between West Africa, North Africa and OECD countries.

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  • Click to Access:  Preface
    The beginning of the 21st century marks a turning point in West Africa’s history, moving from an era where conflicts and sources of instability were primarily "endogenous" to the emergence of "exogenous" global threats such as terrorism and large-scale drug trafficking. These new threats are added to the local causes of "endogenous" conflicts (competition for resources, irredentist claims, circulation of weapons, border issues, instability of fragile states and weak democracy). However, "exogenous" threats are not triggered or caused by local causes. It is important to understand how internal and external threats coexist and hybridize. Although currently crystallised in the Sahel, the extent of these dynamics encompasses all of West and North Africa.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Emergence of Criminal Global Networks in West Africa

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    • Click to Access:  Reversal of fortune
      Since 2007, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has failed to realise its goals in Algeria, the Maghreb and has never carried out an attack in the West. And instead, driven by a mix of necessity, opportunism, a change of ideology in its leaders and a more favourable operating environment, it has intensified its activities in the Sahel, where it now has the potential to pose a significant and tenacious threat to regional security, stability and development. AQIM is neither a large nor a mainstream movement but it is a capable terrorist organisation within the region, and having intensified its activities in the Sahara and accrued considerable wealth from kidnapping operations appears now to be in an advantageous position to exploit the insecurity wrought by Libyan civil war. The contention of this paper is that there is now a serious risk of AQIM reversing years of stagnation and failure, and reinvigorating the jihadist cause in North Africa in a way that few observers of the group would have foreseen before the Arab Spring of 2011. The Sahel countries are therefore at a critical juncture in terms of terrorism threat and response.
    • Click to Access:  The security challenges of West Africa
      West Africa has been faced with a multitude of wide-ranging security challenges. This article provides a comprehensive assessment in understanding some of the region’s security challenges. It highlights their negative impact to the stability, development and economies of the region. Three concurrent factors are identified: 1 –persistent internal conflict emphasised by the structural weakness of governments; 2 – jihadist terrorism as a manifestation of the rise of radical Islam and the presence of AQIM in the Sahel; and 3 – the growth of organised crime including drug and human trafficking and piracy. The role of key regional and external actors in fueling insecurity in the region is also analysed. It concludes that security challenges can no longer be solved in a national or regional framework. The transnational connection between the Sahel and West Africa with North Africa is an important element that supports the expansion of such a framework. Regional, transnational and international co-operation are effective and long-term solutions that will improve the security landscape of the region as a whole.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Climate Change and Security

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    • Click to Access:  The climate of the Sahel
      The Sahel, here defined as the portion of Africa between 12°N and 20°N, is a semi-arid eco-region that separates the Sahara desert from the Sudanian tropical savanna. This flat region is known to be particularly vulnerable to natural variability as most of the human activities in the region depend on the highly volatile single annual rainfall season, June through September with the maximum in August. The severe droughts that hit the region in the late seventies and early eighties act to remind us of the direct consequences of these events. This has been arguably the longest and the most geographically extended drought recorded anywhere in the world during the 20th century.
    • Click to Access:  The Sahel and the climate security debate
      With climate change becoming a leading global political issue, the idea that there is a close link between global warming and violent conflicts has also caught international attention. The Sahel, in particular, is pointed out as the clearest example where there are climate-driven conflicts. Many politicians and international civil servants in particular, seem attracted to this idea. For instance, in a newspaper article UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a connection between global warming and the Darfur conflict (Ban 2007). The idea was also at the crux of the decision to award the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to former US Vice President Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, human-induced climate change is one of the main causes of violent conflict and war in the world today...
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts The "Security and Development" Nexus

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    • Click to Access:  Climate change in the Sahel
        Climate change1 and speculation over its security implications pervade political and public discourse. Against this backdrop, recent incidents involving terrorism and trafficking in the Sahel which is identified as one of the most vulnerable to climate makes this region a most pressing security concerns of the OECD countries.
        As emphasised in Article 1, the climate of the Sahel features extreme variability in precipitation from one season or decade to another. Nevertheless, the scientific community has been unable to reach consensus on the causes of lengthy drought at the end of the 20th century, or on the directions of climate change.
        As for the cause-and-effect relationship between climate and security, climatic variables would seem secondary, and often indirect, as compared with political, historical and economic variables. These uncertainties, highlighted by the recent SWAC/OECD study, would suggest that security should be tackled in its expanded dimension (human security), in particular by focusing more on food security and optimising the "management" of climatic variability in future policies.
    • Click to Access:  The securitisation of climate change in the European Union
         The securitisation of climate change has entered the international agenda creating concerns about the appropriateness of security responses to an issue such as climate change. Nevertheless, the European Union (EU) has identified climate change as an international security issue and is seeking to take the lead in shaping international response to the security implications of climate change.
         This chapter addresses the securitisation of climate change in the EU and analyses the policy implications of such a process. It argues that contradicting predictions of militarisation as well as the causes and consequences of climate change are being addressed through mitigation and adaptation measures. Moreover, at the international level, the EU is enhancing dialogue and co-operation with key partners and countries most at risk.
         The chapter further addresses the specific case of the African continent and in particular the Sahel region, demonstrating how climate related conflicts and climate induced migratory pressures are issues of main concern to the EU. Although acknowledging the possible negative implications of such a narrow focus, it is argued that as current EU policy for the region emphasises development assistance, there is no strong evidence that securitisation will have a negative impact for the region.
         Overall, it is argued that although the securitisation of climate change did not result in the adoption of traditional security measures, it instead reinforced environmental measures. As these were invested with a security purpose, it can be argued that the securitisation of climate change is contributing to the transformation of security practices.
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