Resolving the Sahel Crisis

Resolving the Sahel Crisis: Strategic Goals in Theory and Practice

The Sahel, marked with political instability and a rapidly worsening humanitarian and environmental crisis since 2011, is at the forefront of global security challenges today. With 2020 the deadliest year on record, the Sahel raises urgent questions about the disconnect between the theory and practice of strategic goals. Strategic theory is intended to inform an actor’s understanding of war. Strategy, reliant on the actor’s cognisance and understanding of the war they are faced with, needs to inform how they conduct it. Scholars have recognised strategy as a way of coping with situations where nobody is in total control rather than as a means of asserting control over situations. What implications do such insights have for states and their partners when faced with complex transnational crises as seen in the Sahel? What is the scope/limitations and responsibility of the international community for the resolution of such crises?



Moudjib Djinadou, Political Director, UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel

General Pascal Facon, Commander of Operation Barkhane 2019-20, French Army

Sir Hew Strachan, Professor of International Relations, University of St Andrews

Élie Tenenbaum, Research Fellow, Institut Français des Relations Internationales

Natasja Rupesinghe, Research Fellow, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs


Henning Tamm, Lecturer in International Relations, University of St Andrews


Speakers were invited to engage with the conceptual aspects as well as the situation on the ground, particularly the position and roles of various international actors (G5 Sahel Joint Force, African Union, UN, France & EU). Of particular interest were aspects such as challenges to coalition campaigns, capacity building of local partners, threats from regional instability, role of international funding support and the influence of experiences in Afghanistan, Libya, and Yemen as well as the legacies of the colonial era.

The event was held online on 8 April 2021. It was organised as part of the ‘Strategy Bridge’ project by Postdoctoral Research Fellow Sneha Reddy, with administrative support from Jennifer Halley. Please find the event webpage here.