Preparing for peace: International and local responses to the spread of violent extremism

The likely spread of violence from Sahelian states to the broader region, specifically the coastal countries Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, and Benin has recently become a key policy concern. In light of the apparent failures to effectively address insecurity in the Sahel and given the growing political tensions with military govern­ments in the region, inter­national and regional actors are shifting focus from the current to the potential future sites of violence. From that perspective, the coastal countries are still imagined as able to prepare for a non-violent future; and international efforts are geared towards supporting this preparation. But how to prepare for peace? How is the spread of violence antici­pated and made known? And what priorities and strategies determine the various efforts to prevent the anticipated ‘spill-over’?

Building on a growing literature on antici­patory (inter­national) governance, this research project explores different rationales and practices of preparing for peace in coastal African countries and the under­standings of (in)security and peace under­pinning them. Concretely, it will focus on the inter­section or dissection between inter­national practices and priorities of preparing for peace on the one hand and those of local communities living in the areas antici­pated to be the first directly concerned by the potential spread of violence. Research will initially be focused on Ghana and then in a second step widened to other coastal countries. Ghana is not only one of the four coastal countries likely to be concerned, but also the seat of the newly revived Accra Initiative, which has become a key focus of international support. Methodo­logically, the project will be based on semi-structured interviews as well as a survey with a set of closed and open-ended questions conducted in different communities in Ghana’s Upper West and Upper East Region.

Project director:


Maria Sibylla Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA)
Maria Sibylla Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA)