Dialogues about Security Challenges in the sahelo-saharan Region

What is the idea behind this project?

Drawing on the lessons learned from the recurrence of crises and the persistence of conflicts in the sub-region due to the inability of states to establish lasting stability and security, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has initiated a project entitled "Security Dialogues in the Sahel-Sahara region : Rethinking the Security in the sub-region" with a view to promoting national and sub- regional dialogue on cross-border issues and challenges as well as the interdependence between North Africa and West Africa.

Most of the countries in the Sahel-Sahara region are facing political, economic, social and environmental difficulties. This is due to the material weakness of the State and failing governance, the difficulty of controlling the national territory, the porosity of the borders and the increasing presence of gray areas. In addition, their economies are fragile, despite substantial natural resources, since they are subject to low levels of industrialization due to a combination of an almost total lack of foreign direct investment and difficult weather conditions.

Beyond the national peculiarities, the countries of the region are all preoccupied by the same challenges and threats. Regional actors must adopt new strategies in the North as well as in the South of the Sahara. Threats are cross-border and non-state actors are multiplying and benefiting from the fragility of border areas. The Sahel-Sahara region is on the verge of becoming a transit point for hybrid security threats. In Libya and Mali, for example, territories are occupied by extremist groups that set up and form recruitment unit. Similarly, the strengthening of cultural identities on the domestic front threatens to undermine feelings of national belonging, potentially culminating in internal conflicts.

The human security threats and challenges are interdependent and require a common approach through national, regional and international mechanisms to promote stabilization and development in the Sahel-Sahara region around the state.

The project aims to foster regional dialogue while bringing together countries from the Maghreb and the Sahel region mainly Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal and Tunisia.

What is the project approach?

The multi-annual project runs from 2015 to 2019 and is organized cyclically. The first cycle of the project which is currently in the closing phase consist of: 

  • Drafting country studies in order to gain comparative perspectives on the different countries and identify the major threats and challenges they have in common;
  • Validating each study through national validation workshops;
  • Organizing expert workshops, attended by the authors of the studies;
  • The holding of a sub-regional conference to present the results of the workshops of experts and country studies in a single synthesis report.

The second cycle will consider workshops, conferences and publications to disseminate policy recommendations and introduce them into the policy processes of the countries of the sub-region and their political partners (EU, AU, G5, ECOWAS, UMA).

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