A common African-led peacebuilding framework to stabilize the Sahel

Soldier training Senegalese peacekeepers Soldier training Senegalese peacekeepers © U.S. military on Wikimedia

This article is a brief presentation of SIPRI’s report about the mediation and peacebuilding issues in the Sahel

Over the years, considerable efforts have been made and numerous parties have been engaged in the Sahel stabilisation process, with little success. Therefore, the new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) entitled “Conflict Mediation and Peacebuilding in the Sahel. The Role of Maghreb Countries in an African Framework” tries to put forward a new approach which, through a regional framework headed by the African Union, can coordinate and improve the operations of the different regional and international peacebuilding actors. The aim is to address more effectively the challenges in the region linked to extremism, rule of law, environment, and socio-economic issues.

The reasons behind the Sahel crisis are to be found in both regional factors, such as the Tuareg issues in northern Mali and Niger and the wider ongoing Malian crisis, and external factors, such as the instability brought about by the neighbouring war in Libya. SIPRI points out that the Maghreb countries have traditionally played an important mediatory role in the area, which makes them instrumental in the stabilisation of the region. The two most influential states used to be Libya, which does not currently exist as a state, and Algeria, whose growing tensions with Morocco and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) undermine its reconciling capacities. These elements of instability have weakened the various Sahelian states, leading to the proliferation of terrorist groups and criminal networks.

The number of actors involved in the Sahel peacebuilding processes is undoubtedly high, with a strong presence of the African Union (AU), ECOWAS, the United Nations (UN), the Group of 5 for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) and the European Union (EU). However, the report points out that better coordination of efforts is needed, which is why it proposes an approach to peacebuilding based on the organisations' level of operations, dividing them into national mediation, local mediation and local peacebuilding. The regional nature of the conflict requires that African actors, who have greater legitimacy and knowledge of the local context in which they operate, must be at the centre of the action, allowing for better integration between peacebuilding and local mediation.

SIPRI believes that the actor historically best suited to lead the national mediation process is Algeria. Recent tensions, however, have proved that the Algerian action still needs to be integrated into the AU's framework for action, which to date is proving to be the most inclusive and best equipped to mediate, coordinate and promote efforts to deal with the growing complications of the Sahelian crisis.

The various international actors, especially non-African ones, are therefore encouraged to deploy their considerable resources and share their practices through AU frameworks and coordination, particularly concerning the role played in local mediation by the UN and its Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the role of the EU and the UK in local peacebuilding. The aim is to achieve a cross-integration capable of responding effectively and inclusively to the local, national and international challenges to collectively promote long-term peace in the Sahel.



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Author: Matteo Consiglio; Editor: Margherita Curti

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