The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal are linked by history, by people and by their borders. This closeness has led to the expression 'brotherly peoples' being coined. Thus, if we examine the relations between these three countries from a geographical and security point of view, we quickly realise that, independently of the natural region of Casamance where a conflict has been raging for nearly 35 years, various security issues and threats exist and interact. These include drug trafficking, cross-border crime, the proliferation of small arms, a criminalised economy, political instability, etc. In fact, there is growing insecurity in the cross-border areas that must be identified and controlled to prevent the installation of chronic instability that would destabilise these three border countries.
Even if the facts show that these three countries have not yet experienced open conflicts linked to violent extremism or radicalism, the fact remains that they are still at risk because of the porous nature of their borders, but above all because of the cases of extreme violence between cross-border communities, trafficking in human beings, arms, wood and drugs, and cattle rustling. Indeed, at the social level, there is a proximity between the communities which constitutes a sort of "communicating vessel", so that when one of the countries experiences a conflict or crisis, its neighbours feel it and experience it too. The sub-regional and transnational dimension that these security threats tend to take on makes cooperation between the three states in the area necessary and unavoidable in order to deal with them. These multidimensional forms of insecurity require new approaches based on the involvement and collaboration of all actors, including those from the academic world.
It is in this sense that the Peace and Security Competence Centre of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung has organised this conference to reflect on the role and involvement of the academic world in the search for solutions to the security challenges common to Senegal, The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau.
The conference included a number of panels on a variety of complementary topics :
The exchanges and discussions brought out several observations. Among other things, the most unanimous observation made by the academics was that the communities living in the border areas do not always take into account the border limits. The same communities and families live on both sides of the same border. This ease of movement of people in these three countries (Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal) is evidence of the porous nature of the borders and contributes to the ease of movement of armed groups from one country to another and to the establishment of rear bases there. The possibility of moving so easily across a border is a real asset and an ideal breeding ground for the development of insecurity and cross-border crime. Secondly, it was noted that there is little cooperation between the universities of the South and that the security issue has been left to the defence and security forces alone.
In view of these observations, many recommendations were proposed, including the following :
In the short term :
In the long term :