In spite of concerted international and regional engagement to contain the spread of jihadist insurgencies, the security situation continues to deteriorate in West Africa’s Sahel region. This project analyses jihadist insurgent governance in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria.
Jihadist insurgents are usually considered to be "Islamist terrorists" who rule through brutal violence and who finance their activities through criminal networks. Rarely are they considered to ‘govern’. However, scattered evidence from the Sahel suggests that contrary to conventional wisdom, the picture is not so one-dimensional. Our ongoing research suggests that jihadist insurgents do govern, and the way they do so varies between groups. They may use coercion, provide minimal services like mobile courts, intervene strategically in rights-based conflicts over resources, and develop social bonds with communities.
We will undertake across and within-case comparison of a number of understudied jihadist insurgencies in the region. In doing so, we aim to challenge dominant narratives about jihadist insurgencies, and contribute to building a better evidence-base to inform policymakers and practitioners. Thus, our ambition is to significantly shift the state of the art on rebel governance.
JIGOV-Sahel will incorporate bottom-up perspectives from local communities through fieldwork and partnerships. Our findings will be carefully disseminated to a wide range of stakeholders, including local peacebuilding and development actors, policymakers, as well as to the general public in Norway, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria. We will produce a series of academic articles, policy briefs and organise seminars in policy and academic settings. Finally, we will develop a photo-essay and organise several exhibitions to share our findings to broader audiences.
The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway, FRIPRO.
Related projects at NUPI:
ARGA represented by Dr. Abdoul Cissé (also partner in PREVEX, FRAGVENT, among others)
University of Oxford, represented by Professor Stathis Kalyvas
Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), represented by Dr. Idayat Hassan
African Security Sector Network (ASSN), represented by Dr. Niagelé Bagayoko
Often depicted as “Islamic terrorists”, jihadist insurgent governance has rarely been systematically researched in the academic literature. In this seminar, we will discuss what the research tells us about how jihadists govern and why their governance differs not only between different groups but also within the same group.