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The Great Illusion: Security Sector Reform in the Sahel


Security sector reform (SSR) is regularly cited by states and regional organisations as crucial for stability in the Sahel. However, these declarations and interventions are not based on deep analysis, and much of the literature focuses overwhelmingly on the role of external actors or technical aspects of SSR. Against this backdrop, three preliminary factors need to be addressed in order to reform the security sectors in Burkina Faso and Mali: abuses and violations by regular armies; state support to non-state armed groups; and the securitisation of the region by external actors. In this context, SSR remains hamstrung and illusory: it is not inclusive, which threatens to undermine its outcome.
Keywords: Mali, Burkina Faso, Sahel, SSR, securitisation