Insecurity in the Sahel: rethinking Europe's response

Coups, conflict and instability have increased in the Sahel. The EU’s ‘security first’ approach to the region – narrowly focused on security assistance for counter-terror and migration containment – has failed to address the underlying causes of conflict.

Instead, counter-terrorism operations have fed into escalating conflictual violence, inter-communal conflicts and structural impunity, especially regarding abuses by state security forces.

Our new briefing 'Insecurity in the Sahel: rethinking Europe’s approach', published in Perspectives by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, outlines the trend of securitisation in EU foreign policy, with a focus on European security engagement in the Sahel. This focus on external military assistance and security provision has consistently failed, as shown by the examples of Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. Instead of assuming that more military and security assistance will deliver better results in the Sahel, the EU and EU member states need to urgently consider how to adjust the logic of its response and integrate the lessons learnt from  the Sahel and elsewhere.

This briefing offers recommendations for the EU and European member states to do this. By engaging more with people in the Sahel, prioritising human security and balancing security assistance with investments in accountability, civil society participation in decision-making, and long-term development.

Read our other reports on European security assistance in the Sahel: ''European security assistance: the search for stability in the Sahel' and 'How not to lose the Sahel: Community perspectives on insecurity and international interventions in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso'