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.