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Understanding the role of defense and security forces in the prevention of violent extremism in West Africa

12 September, 2022



This report presents the synthesis of a study initiated by the Swiss FDFA and DCAF.

It focuses on the role of defense and security forces (DSF) in preventing violent extremism in seven West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, and Togo).

Due to the persistent presence of armed groups and violent extremism in this region, these countries used to provide a traditional security response.

This study allows to explore the policy, legislative, and operational frameworks related to the role of DSF in preventing violent extremism in all the countries covered, in order to reorient defense and security policies towards more human security. Indeed, the latter play a key role and must first and foremost have a preventive action through the establishment of a solid and sustainable dialogue with the populations.

The purpose of this report is therefore to show how the co-construction of security can help to prevent violent extremism. 

"By putting the defense and security forces at the heart of prevention in an innovative way, this new vision invites them to go beyond the reactive dimension of their traditional mandate, without denying it, to also assume roles of pacification and co-construction of security."