West African Papers

The West African Papers series explores African socio-economic, political and security dynamics from a regional and multidisciplinary perspective. It seeks to stimulate discussion and gather information to better anticipate the changes that will shape future policies. The series is designed for a wide audience of specialists, development practitioners, decision makers and the informed public. Papers are available in English and/or French, and summaries are available in both languages. Initiated by the Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC) to highlight and promote West African issues, the work presented is prepared by its Secretariat, Members and partners, other OECD departments, related international organisations, associated experts and researchers.

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The fragmentation of conflict networks in North and West Africa

African armed conflicts involve a myriad of state forces, rebel groups and extremist organisations bound by rapidly changing alliances and rivalries. Organisations that were allies one day can fight each other the next and co-operate later still. The objective of this note is to update the pioneer work on conflict networks conducted by the OECD Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC) in the region by using a formal approach to networks known as dynamic social network analysis. Leveraging a dataset of 3 800 actors and 60 000 violent events from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) from 1997-2023, the note monitors how the co-operative and rivalrous ties between violent actors have changed over time, both at the regional and local levels. The growing number of belligerents, increasing density of rivalrous relationships and growing polarisation of the conflict networks observed in this note are extremely worrying for the future of the region. Not only do they make peaceful efforts more difficult than ever, but they also contribute to increasing the number of potential victims among the civilian population.

Anglais Egalement disponible en : Français

Mots-clés: political violence, conflict, West Africa, networks, North Africa, dynamic social network analysis, Sahel
JEL: H56: Public Economics / National Government Expenditures and Related Policies / National Security and War; D74: Microeconomics / Analysis of Collective Decision-Making / Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions; N47: Economic History / Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation / Economic History: Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation: Africa; Oceania; D85: Microeconomics / Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty / Network Formation and Analysis: Theory
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