Thursday, 04.10.2018 - Faculty of Juridical and Political Sciences; University Cheikh Anta DIOP (UCAD) in Dakar

University symposium for the sharing of security strategies in West Africa

Based on the perception that armed conflicts are nowadays increasingly being fought within states rather than between them, new security challenges and threats have emerged. Amongst other security threats, climate change, resource scarcity and migration are increasingly endangering social cohesion and collective security in Sub-Saharan Africa, and particularly West Africa. To elaborate on such questions and develop concerted strategies to counter those threats, the Peace and Security Centre of Competence Sub-Saharan Africa of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES PSCC) and the Faculty of Juridical and Political Sciences of the University Cheikh Anta DIOP (UCAD) in Dakar jointly organised a meeting on 4 October 2018. During the workshop, postgraduate students of international relations presented their research focussing, amongst others, on mechanisms and leverages to counter security threats stemming from migration and climate change.

We are seeing a rise of new security issues around the world. Whereas the potentially most important security threat up to the middle of the 20th century stemmed from states waging wars against each other, new threats to security have arisen by matters like climate change, access to resources and migration. The full extent to which these particularly natural factors will endanger security not only in Africa, but around the world, is hard to estimate. This also stems from the interwovenness of the influencing factors as they are mutually enforcing each other. Climate change, for example, has already rendered some resources like potable water scarce in some regions, which in turn can induce increased migration. Africa specifically is being hit hard by climate change due to, for example, water shortages and extended periods of either drought or flood.

It is clear that no state will be able to counter these threats on its own and that concerted approaches are required to prevent and alleviate harm to the people, enhance the society’s resilience and to, ideally, address the root causes of climate change to the extent possible. Therefore, the FES PSCC in collaboration with UCAD hosted a workshop that aimed at developing techniques and mechanisms to counter those security threats and at enhancing the collaboration between the FES PSCC and the UCAD. Related to that matter, the workshop furthermore intended to sensitise the students for matters of security, and to include them in the political process of discussion and elaborating on countermeasures. Additionally, the studying of solutions to crises and conflicts in West Africa was to be democratised.

The event was opened by welcoming speeches given by Holger GRIMM, the director of the FES PSCC, and Pr. Mamadou Yaya DIALLO, the coordinator of the Master course International Relations. Afterwards, Sophie NONNENMACHER, Deputy Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Senegal, outlined the threats and opportunities stemming from migration and introduced the audience to the work of the IOM in Africa. Afterwards, eighteen Master II students of international relations held presentations they had previously prepared for in groups. Guided by Pr. DIALLO, the students elaborated on the following topics:

  • Climate change and terrorism
  • Migration and Climate
  • Natural resources, small arms and light weapons
  • Regional organisations focussing on climate and migration challenges

They presented their findings to the audience and particularly elaborated on recommendations of implementing mechanisms and leverages to counter those security threats. The sophisticated discussions and exchanges of experience and views that followed the presentations provided an opportunity for the participants to identify key challenges and approaches in tackling environmental security threats.

Whilst every group had a different topic, all participants shared the idea that the various security threats are interlinked and that the causes of, for example, climate change, are manifold, with particularly greenhouse gases contributing to global warming. Countering new security threats therefore necessitates a comprehensive and integrated approach by local, national, regional and international actors, aiming at both tackling the problems at its roots, and cushioning the impacts on security. Stressing the interconnectedness and the necessity to not just cure the symptoms, but to address the root causes of the various security threats, the different student groups’ recommendations had in common that they demanded:

  • Developed countries, which are among the main emitters of carbon dioxide, to reclaim existing international treaties like the Paris Agreement and to implement their specifications;
  • African organisations and states to collaborate and mutualise their security strategies by i.e. implementing legislation on greenhouse emissions to cushion the extent of climate change;
  • African states to enhance the resilience and the adaptability of their population to reduce the harm caused by adverse situations;
  • Each participant to reconsider his or her way of living as already small steps like carpooling can have an impact on global warming, when many people participate.

A second workshop will take place on 27 November 2018, during which the students will be elaborating on the impact of mediation on security, focussing on the approaches of various actors on multiple levels, including NGOs, civil society and the governmental sphere.

Peace and Security Centre of Competence Sub-Saharan Africa

Point E, Rue de Fatick x Boulevard de l'Est,
Residence Bity Lokho, 6th floor
B.P. 15 416
Dakar - Fann

+221 33 859 20 02