The Sahel region confronts both its inhabitants and the international community with a huge set of serious challenges, ranging from weak states, transnational crime and jihadist insurgencies to poverty, refugees and lack of development. Thus, as the international community and Europe fear a deepening of the crisis, the region is higher on the international agenda than it ever has been, with several international interventions: by France (Operation Barkhane), the United Nations (MINUSMA), and several EU operations (CIVCAP-Sahel and the EUTM Mali). Despite all these efforts and the conclusion of a peace agreement for Mali in Algiers in 2015, the situation on the ground is not improving, and in Mali the conflict has spilled over from the northern to the central region.

The question that will be discussed in this seminar is if current approaches contains the right balance between security and development, and what balance there should be between the priorities of external stakeholders and the local needs in the region.

Amb. Diop is now serving as Special Advisor to the Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and is based at the African Union in Addis Ababa. Diop more recently served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mali as the country was recovering from a political and security crisis. As Foreign Affairs Minister, Diop worked on behalf of the Malian government as chief negotiator in the drafting of the 2015 Algiers Peace Accords with rebel groups.

Senior Research Fellow at NUPI Kari Osland chairs the meeting, and Research Professor Morten Bøås will comment.