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OCAF 2090 - Security Issues in Sub-Saharan Africa

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English

Voir les plans de cours et bibliographies



Course Description

Objective of the course: - Understanding the new security paradigms and new security threats in Africa - Understanding the security actors and their strategies in Africa This course will introduce the students to the present security environment and challenges in Sub Saharan Africa. The present threats (social and ethnic conflicts, organized crime, radical religious groups, etc.) and the responses by security actors (governments, international organizations, conventional and unconventional forces, humanitarian actors, private contractors, etc.) will be analyzed. The relevance of the present security responses and strategies will be discussed and questioned in the broader context of new social, economic and political dynamics in Sub Saharan Africa. Balanced mix of theoretical and practical.


VIRCOULON, Thierry J. (Project Director, International Crisis Group)

Course validation

Students will have to deliver two papers, one mid-course and one at the end of the course. The first one will be a commentary about a specific event or policy document (UN resolutions, AU statements, EU strategy, etc.) 50% of the grade. At the end of the course, the students will have to deliver a research paper (10-15 pages) 50% of the grade. This research paper will be a critical reflection about a contemporary security issue that has not attracted much international attention.

Required reading

1.The struggle over land in Africa, conflicts, politics & change, Ward Anseeuw & Chris Alden

Additional required reading

  • 2.Wars, guns and votes, Paul Collier
  • 3.Africanistan, Serge Michailof
  • 4.Forgotten genocides, René Lemarchand

Plans de cours et bibliographies

Session 1: Understanding the peace and security architecture: doctrine versus realities
Recommended readings:

  • The African Union Peace and Security Council,
  • A Five-Year Appraisal (available on the ISS website);
  • Africa’s new peace and security architecture, Converging the roles of external actors and African interests (African Security Review);
  • EU support to African security architecture: funding and training components (available on the EUISS website);
  • Implementing peace and security architecture (I): Central Africa; Implementing peace and security architecture (II): Southern Africa;
  • Implementing peace and security architecture (III): West Africa (ICG reports available on website);
  •  The African Union as a security actor: African solutions to African problems? Crisis States Research Centre.

Sessions 2 and 3: Military interventions in Africa: between peacekeeping and war on terror
Recommended readings:

  • Kenyan Somali Islamist Radicalisation (ICG report available on website);
  • Terrorist attacks in Niger, not another Mali (available on the EUISS website) ;
  • Contestation islamiste en Mauritanie: menace ou bouc émissaire (available on IFRI website);
  • Boko Haram (ICG reports available on website).

Sessions 4 and 5: Emerging security actors in Africa and securitization of western policy in Africa
Recommended readings:

  • Rising powers and the African peace and security architecture (Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Center);
  • Emerging actors in Africa: Impact and opportunities for EU-Africa and global relations – conference report;
  • Engaging African diasporas for peace (available on the EUISS website);
  • La Chine en Afrique: intérêts et pratiques (available on IFRI website);
  • The EU and China’s engagement in Africa: the dilemma of socialization (available on the EUISS website);
  • China’s growing role in African peace and security (Safer World paper);
  • Assessing Turkey’s Role in Somalia (ICG report available on website);
  • The Kenyan Military Intervention in Somalia (ICG report available on website);
  • From Market for Force to Market for Peace: Private Security and Military Companies in Peacekeeping Operations (available on the ISS website) ;
  • U.S. strategy toward Sub Saharan Africa (White House); Obama, Africom and US military policy toward Africa (Northwestern University);
  • The United States` Security Policy in Africa and the Role of AFRICOM (available on ISS website) ;
  •  EUISS yearbook of European Security (available on the EUISS website);
  • ESDP, the first ten years (available on the EUISS website);
  • Eupol Kinshasa and Eupol DRC (in European Security and Defence Policy);
  • EU-UN cooperation in military crisis management: the experience of Eufor DRC in 2006 (available on the EUISS website);
  • The security by proxy? The EU and sub regional organizations: the case of ECOWAS (available on the EUISS website).

Session 6: Political dissent in African states
Recommended readings:

  • IDEA website; Journal of Democracy;
  • DR Congo: is Democratic Change Possible? (ICG website);
  • Elections in Burundi: moment of truth & Burundi: Peace sacrificed (ICG website);
  • Burkina Faso: meeting the October target (ICG website).

Session 7: The problem with African armies
Recommended readings:

  • Why are African armies so bad? (The Africa Report) ;
  • African Armies are better than you think (The Africa Report);
  • Africa’s 7 Strongest Military Forces; African Armies: the real story; Guinea: Reforming the Army (ICG report available on website);
  • Security sector reform in Guinea Bissau: an opportunity not to be missed (ICG report);
  • Candide in Congo: the expected failure of security sector reform (IFRI website).

Session 8: Criminalization of the economy
Recommended readings:

  • Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime website;
  • Understanding Criminality in West African Conflicts (International Peacekeeping);
  • Contrôler les trafics ou perdre le nord: notes sur les trafics en Mauritanie (available on IFRI website); Physionomie et enjeux des trafics de la bande sahélo-saharienne (available on IFRI website) ;
  • The Gulf of Guinea: The new danger zone (ICG report available on website);
  • This present darkness, A history of Nigerian organized crime (Stephen Ellis);
  • La reconstitution de l’armée centrafricaine: un enjeu à hauts risques (IRSEM website).

Session 9: Resource conflicts (land, minerals and hydrocarbons)
Recommended readings:

  • Resource Rents, Gouvernance and Conflict (Journal of Conflict Resolution);
  • Chad: escaping from the oil trap; ICG reports on the Niger delta (ICG reports available on website); The politics of amnesty in the Niger delta (available on IFRI website);
  • L’Afrique de l’Est, une géopolitique pétrolière à haut risque (available on IFRI website);
  • Blessing or curse: the rise of mineral dependence among low and middle income countries (Oxford policy management);
  • Land, liberation and compromise in Southern Africa (Chris Alden & Ward Anseeuw); Oil, profits and peace (Jill Shankleman).

Session 10: The migration crisis as a security crisis
Recommended readings:

  • UNHCR website; Migration Policy Center website;
  • Smuggled futures: the dangerous path of the migrant from Africa to Europe (Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime);
  • Europe’s migration crisis (Council on Foreign Relations).

Session 11: The issue of justice and reparations in post-conflict African countries
Recommended readings:

  •  ICTJ, HRW and Amnesty International websites;
  • Transitional Justice and Reconciliation after Violent Conflict (Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance);
  • Myths and Facts about the International Criminal Court (Human Rights Watch).

Session 12: Working about and in international affairs – presentation by some professionals

Short biography

Thierry Vircoulon is a graduate from the French Public Management Institute (ENA), the Institute for Political Studies in Paris and the Sorbonne University in Political Science. He has previously worked for the French Foreign Ministry and the European Commission, notably in South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Most of his work is focusing on governance, SSR and the linkage between conflicts and natural resources. He has worked for several groups of experts (UNODC, OECD and UA/EU) and he is presently a research associate at the French Institute for International Affairs and a member of the Global Initiative against Transnational Crime. He is the author and co-author of several books about South Africa and Democratic Republic of Congo.