The EU’s Strategy for Sahel Security

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The security of the Sahel is crucial for the European Union. The Sahel region of Africa is plagued by poor governance, extreme poverty, frequent famine and drought, and a burgeoning youthful demography. All these factors, among others, have contributed to a spiraling irregular migration, Islamist extremism, and transnational organized crime. All of these pose serious challenges not just to the Sahel, but also have spillover effects outside the region – in particular in the EU, given the Sahel’s close proximity to the EU. These challenges call for concerted efforts to tackle development and security in the region. Based on this, the EU, over the last few decades, has invested heavily in the Sahel; one of the vehicles to promote development is the EU Sahel Strategy.

The strategic objective of the EU Sahel Strategy is focused on the development-security nexus and hinges on four pillars for its implementation: prevention and countering radicalization; creation of appropriate conditions for youth; migration and mobility and border management; and the fight against illicit trafficking and transnational organized crime. The EU Sahel strategy is implemented via the Regional Action Plan, with an emphasis on closer collaboration and cooperation with Sahelian and neighboring countries. The plan is complemented by other initiatives, such as the Global Alliance for Resilience Initiative, launched in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in December 2012; the G5 created in 2014 by the heads of state of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger to address the main challenges in the Sahel, particularly in security and development; the Bamako ministerial platform of the UN, African Union, World Bank, and EU to coordinate the Sahel strategies; the Nouakchott Process launched in 2013 to promote collective security in the region under African Union auspices; and the revitalization of the Lake Chad Basin Commission to tackle common border issues, in light of the increased threat to the Sahel region from Boko Haram activities.

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