CFP: space, borders, conflict and insecurity in West Africa.



West Africa Peace and Security Network (WAPSN) Symposium 2018, Bamako, late April/early May 2018 (exact date tbc)


This call for contributions to the WAPSN symposium 2018 invites proposals on the topic of space, borders, conflict and insecurity in West Africa.


In West Africa, conflict and insecurity are constantly depicted as transnational or spilling over borders. Terrorism is said to destabilise countries throughout the Sahel region; maritime insecurity is presented as spilling over into all Gulf of Guinea coastal countries; and West Africa appears to be at the centre of a network of organised criminality that has extended its tentacles from South America to Europe.


Space and borders in West Africa are at the core of our analyses of the causes of conflict and insecurity. For example, porous borders and traditional trading routes that cut across state borders are often incriminated in assessments of insecurity in the region. Space and borders are also central to the policies that are elaborated to deal with conflict and security issues. Indeed, the West African bodies used to mediate or to implement security policies are increasingly chosen according to their geographical scope. At the same time, the ways in which policy-makers and academics link insecurity, space and borders also have an impact on the organisation of West Africa as a political space. For instance, prioritising the G5 as the most appropriate body to deal with terrorism in the Sahel can have an impact on the legitimacy of ECOWAS as a regional security actor.


The WAPSN symposium 2018 welcomes contributions engaging with these issues and providing theoretical and empirical material, as well as methodological reflections on:


Conflict, insecurity and borders: In which ways are conflicts and insecurity spilling across borders in West Africa? What are the latest developments? How are the narratives on the transnational dimension of insecurity produced and with what effects?


West African policies, borders and space: What are the appropriate geographical levels to deal with transnational security issues in West Africa? Is there overlapping and/or competitions between various West African institutions and bodies? In which ways should geographies of insecurity determine policies?


International interventions, borders and space: As French Operation Barkhane has developed a regional dimension, will this be a common feature of international interventions in West Africa? What are the effects of this new feature of interventions on the management of insecurity, sovereignty, access to international resources, or on the inclusion and marginalisation of actors?


The construction of regional space and security practices: How are security practices in West Africa (re)defining the West African political space? Are new ‘security regions’ appearing such as the Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea? What are the consequences on ‘West Africa’?


Abstracts and enquiries may be directed towards Dr Elisa Lopez ( and Dr Kalilou Sidibé ( before 8 January 2018.


West Africa Peace and Security Network Symposium 2017 call for papers

For its 2017 Symposium, the West Africa Peace and Security Network welcomes proposal for papers on the theme of: Back to the Future? Conflict Resolution and Sustainable Peace in Contemporary West Africa

A plethora of literature exists on the violent conflicts in West Africa and how they are managed most especially through peacekeeping missions. On the other hand, scant attention is given to the study of how the root causes of the extremist violence in the region are addressed or can be removed through conflict resolution mechanisms. The 2017 WAPSN Symposium seeks to address this existing lacuna in our knowledge system in a manner that makes a contribution to the attainment of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in West Africa. This emphasis compels a critical look at the difference between conflict management and conflict resolution and applying this to the understanding of the present and future scenarios in West Africa.

The goal of conflict management is to control the spiral of a conflict in a manner that reduces its damaging effects. In this case, the conflict is assumed to be a terminal problem that is easier to manage than solve. Taking this into consideration, peacekeepers (whether along the Chapters 6, 7 or 8 trajectories) focus more of their energies on calming the conflict situations and limiting casualties, with the result that exit strategies for peacekeeping missions are often based on noticeable reduction in violence. It is one thing for the violence associated with a conflict to be terminated and it is another for the root causes of the conflict to be removed. The end of physical hostility between belligerents does not also suggest that the psychological damage done to the fabric of the society by the violent encounters has been resolved. Hence, in many post conflict societies in West Africa today, people still refer to the past. The Nigerian civil war was fought from 1967 to 1970. Some Igbo people are still nursing the “Biafran” agenda of exiting from Nigeria. Many lives have been lost in 2016 for this. The militant youth in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria are back to the creeks blowing up oil pipelines. A lot is spent on defeating Boko Haram in Nigeria but there is little commitment to addressing the core issues that brought the insurgents into being. It may be recalled that there were many phases in the Liberian crisis. One phase ends and another starts later. This is largely because the core issues in the conflict were not addressed. The country has consistently found it difficult to experience any political stability. The violence in Mali might have abated but the conflict issues are yet to be resolved.

By focusing on “conflict resolution” WAPSN seeks to reclaim the knowledge of the salient issues that have to be addressed in order for these violent conflicts to be better dealt with. What can we learn from past experiences? What are the futures of conflict resolution as a normative project, as a research programme, and/or as a practice for building peace?

WAPSN welcomes 250-word proposals for papers that address past examples of conflict resolution or failure and/or the current state and the future possibilities of conflict resolution in managing or transforming West African conflicts. Whether understood as a normative project of conflict transformation or of managing the status quo, as a research programme that challenges disciplinary understanding of conflict, or as a policy practice, it is imperative to assess or reassess the possibilities of conflict resolution. We strongly encourage submissions that link the epistemological and ontological, theoretical and methodological issues in developing conflict resolution approaches to the promotion of sustainable peace in West Africa. The following are potential topics for consideration:

·         Links between the normative, theoretical and practical aspects of conflict resolution

·         Best practices in the use of conflict resolution

·         Conflict resolution in post conflict peacebuilding

·         Application of ECOWAS normative framework for peace

·         ECOWAS Council of the Wise

·         Governance and security

·         The intervention of eminent persons

·         National Peace Councils

·         The role of traditional political authority or mechanisms in resolving conflict

·         Role of CSOs

·         Case studies of conflict resolution successes or failures

Proposals in French or English should be sent to: by 6 January 2017. Note that the 2017 Symposium will take place in Montreal in early May 2017 (date tbc) and that the main language of the conference will be French. Please note also that paper givers should normally approach their institution for funding to attend the Symposium. While some limited funding may be available to assist colleagues who wish to take part in the Symposium, this cannot be guaranteed at this stage.