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  • Author: Anna Schmauder
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: The Malian peace agreement of 2015, known as the Algiers Agreement, aimed to improve relations between select representatives of northern Mali and central state authorities through decentralisation. Yet, in contrast to ongoing counterterrorism efforts, governance reform through the decentralisation process has received little attention from either the Malian government or its international partners. As a consequence, effective decentralisation in northern regions remains limited at this point in time. This policy brief contributes to the debate on decentralisation in Mali by illustrating how decentralisation in northern Mali has become an issue of contestation between central state authorities and armed signatories. Decentralisation remains captured in a logic of territorial control, in which the representation of armed signatories takes precedence before the needs and interests of marginalised tribes and communities in northern regions. Central state authorities and signatories have been reinforcing this logic of representation, each trying to hamper the influence of the other over territorial control in northern regions.
  • Topic: Governance, Fragile States, Conflict, Decentralization
  • Political Geography: Africa, Mali
  • Author: Loïc Bisson
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Countries in West Africa were quick to take strong prevention and mitigation measures to stem the spread of COVID-19. But border closure, curfew, market closure and limited internal movement already impact key value chains in the region and threaten livelihoods. It risks lowering decent working conditions and labour rights and increasing child labour and gender violence. Informal, migrant and female workers are especially at risk and are likely to take the brunt of the economic downturn. Disruptions in the food value chain also endangers food security in the region. Instability in West Africa threatens both European and Dutch economic, security and geopolitical interests. By virtue of being involved in various West African value chains, European and Dutch consumers and companies bear both leverage and responsibilities in regard to secure livelihoods, good working conditions free of gender violence and respect for labour rights in West Africa.
  • Topic: Labor Issues, Fragile States, Global Value Chains, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, West Africa
  • Author: Fransje Molenaar
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Over the course of 2019, and despite being located in a region marked by violent conflict, the Inter collectivité du Sourou achieved a unique feat in the West African region. It developed an Integrated and Sustainable Development Programme (ISDP) that defined concrete actions to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Sourou river plain in Mali in an adaptive fashion and set itself up as the main coordinator for the implementation of this plan. Both achievements will help the region coordinate natural resource management – thereby addressing one of the region’s root causes of conflict. This policy brief outlines how the effective devolution of power was achieved through an inclusive rather than a ‘rubber stamp’ approach to the planning process and by having a donor that made the improvement of local governance a result of its own intrinsic value. For the long- term implementation of the ISDP, care should be taken to ensure the continued inclusivity and representativeness of local development and resource management while remaining mindful of the interaction of this new governance structure with existing governance and power structures.
  • Topic: Natural Resources, Governance, Sustainable Development Goals, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, Mali, Sahel
  • Author: Loïc Bisson
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: In the Sahel, market closures, border closures and movement restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 have disrupted the structurally weak pastoral sector, already made vulnerable by conflict. There are several signs of the negative impacts of COVID-19, such as difficulties in moving food and people, poor access to markets, rising food prices and loss of livelihoods. In Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, the pandemic adds to ongoing problems of conflict and political instability. The threat to pastoralists is to lose their herds through overgrazing, zoo-sanitary diseases or lack of income to feed the animals. If pastoralists go bankrupt, they could be forced to sell their livestock at devastatingly low prices to large landholders or wealthy neo-pastoralists. This scenario would aggravate an already-growing trend in the region – escalating economic inequality and the consolidation of wealth among an elite. This risks fuelling inequality and deepening existing fault lines. The priority for Sahelian governments should be clear: keep food coming and people moving, and develop a post-COVID-19 strategy to tackle the vulnerabilities revealed by the pandemic.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Poverty, Conflict, Pastoralism, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sahel
  • Author: Ana Uzelac
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: European Union (EU) policies towards Africa have in the past years experienced a shift away from forging relations based on trade and development, to cooperation based on and measured by the successes of joint migration management. This shift has been producing often controversial outcomes for the EU, African countries and migrants themselves. Just under four years since the pivotal Valetta Summit on migration, the evidence base of these policies’ poor human rights record is growing, as is the evidence base on their localised adverse economic and societal impact. The impact of EU policies on the regional integration processes in Africa – once a pillar of the EU’s Africa strategy – has, however, not yet been sufficiently documented. But the emerging evidence and policy analysis strongly suggest that the EU policies in West Africa have the power to create incentives and even localised policy outcomes that could in the medium term challenge ECOWAS commitments to freedom of movement, and in that way also likely slow down the processes of regional economic and political integration. Paradoxically, the EU policies aimed at curbing migration may thus also end up slowing down the development processes in West Africa that the EU perceives as one of the key approaches to tackling the root causes of migration.4 It may also lead to a weakening of the existing economic coping mechanisms within these countries, and thereby potentially also to increased migratory pressures. This policy brief, by Ana Uzelac, looks at the emerging patchwork of evidence around the impact of EU migration policies on regional integration in West Africa, with a view to offering initial advice to policy-makers on how to prevent the outcomes that could slow down the economic development of the countries of West Africa, further weaken the EU’s human rights record abroad and undermine the long-term goal of sustainable managing migratory pressures on the continent. Download publication.
  • Topic: International Relations, Migration, European Union, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, West Africa
  • Author: Tom Middendorp, Reinier Bergema
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Development and security cannot do without the other. It is not enough to counter violent extremism by addressing the symptoms; understanding and focusing on root causes, in regions such as the Western Sahel, is essential to countering violent extremism. Countries in the Western Sahel suffer from the consequences of climate change: increasing droughts and water shortages make it harder for 50 million people – who depend on agriculture and livestock for their survival – to support their families. Joining a non-state armed group, for income and food, becomes ‘a tempting, or sometimes even the only, alternative.’ To address these challenges, the authors propose five recommendations: 1. Routinise and institutionalise attention to climate change in security institutions 2. Factor in (counter)violent extremism and counterterrorism into climate change efforts 3. Create a comprehensive early warning mechanism 4. Ensure comprehensive engagements: terrorist threats are not only a military issue, addressing economic and financial sources, online recruitment, supply chains, and climate change is essential for strong stabilisation efforts 5. Improve regional cooperation
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Development, Violent Extremism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sahel