ACSS’s research publications aim to expand the analysis and understanding of Africa’s security challenges. These publications are authored by ACSS faculty and independent scholars with the intention of generating evidenced-based insights while facilitating an exchange of views on effective strategies and practices for advancing Africa’s security. In this way and building on the Center’s strong network of relationships in Africa, the scholarship generated via the Research Program reinforces the Center’s ongoing educational and outreach efforts.

Recognizing that Africa’s security challenges are marked by their breadth and diversity, the ACSS Research Program pursues three integrated layers of analysis: strategic concerns, topical security challenges, and evidenced-based “best practices”. In this way, the Research Program aims to contribute to a conceptual framework for addressing security challenges in Africa as well as to solutions for specific priority issues. Consistent with the ACSS mission, all products generated from the Research Program endeavor to be practical, policy-relevant, and solutions-oriented.

ACSS publications include:

  • ACSS Research Papers

    The Africa Center’s Research Papers present focused policy-relevant examinations of priority security topics facing Africa. These reports provide needed background and analysis with the objective of informing policymakers on key considerations and paths forward.

    • Africa's Information Revolution: Implications for Crime, Policing, and Citizen Security

      By Steven Livingston, Africa Center for Strategic Studies | November 2013

      Africa cell phone 200x300

      Violent crime represents a daily threat to millions of Africans, particularly in the continent's rapidly expanding urban areas. Contributing to this quandary are high levels of corruption within and distrust of many police forces. At times, criminal gangs fill the resulting security vacuum. Africa's booming information and communications technology sector also has the potential to fill this vacuum along multiple tracks, from crowdsourcing community insights about crime hotpots to raising the effectiveness and accountability of weak police forces.

      Download Africa Research Paper #5 [PDF]

    • Fragility and State-Society Relations in South Sudan

      By Kate Almquist Knopf, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, September 2013 southsudanTwo years into South Sudan's state-building effort, Africa's youngest country faces a variety of trials: the threat of renewed conflict with Sudan, localized ethnic-based insurgencies, deepening strains from food shortages, and weak governance structures, among others. Underlying all of these challenges are fragile state-society relations, which have constrained a national dialogue on needed reforms. Trust and confidence in the government can be generated through a concerted effort to build inclusive coalitions of state and nonstate actors, expand independent media, and construct a rules-based, accountable foundation for the new state.

      Download the Research Paper [PDF]: ENGLISHFRANÇAIS

    • Stress-Testing South Africa: The Tenuous Foundations of One of Africa’s Stable States

      By Assis Malaquias, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, July 2011 townships_sa

      Political violence in South Africa is worsening and indicates the country’s potential fragility. Since the end of apartheid, steadily rising inequality has deepened the divide between a wealthy minority and a poor majority. Frustration with an uneven pace of change often ignites into violent protest. Elite competition for financial and political resources available through the state also drives violence within and between competing political parties, usually at the local level where intimidation and assassination are sometimes used to ensure electoral success. Much competition exists in a grey area where the distinction between politics and crime is blurred.

      South Africans still overwhelmingly support the democratic process and view the government as legitimate. From this foundation the state can move to head off emerging political violence and stem ebbing public trust. This will require breaking up the current intertwining of political authority and economic opportunity. Citizens must also see tangible evidence that government is interested in the socioeconomic priorities of ordinary people.

      Download the Research Paper [PDF]: ENGLISHFRANÇAISPORTUGUÊS

    • Africa's Evolving Infosystems: A Pathway to Security and Stability

      By Steven Livingston, Africa Center for Strategic Studies | 2011 Africa Undersee cables Political instability and violence in Africa are often the products of rumor and misinformation. Biased newspapers and radio programming, for example, are commonplace conduits of politically divisive causes. Against this backdrop, remarkably innovative uses of emerging information technologies have been adapted to substantially strengthen transparency, accountability, and security. Africa's civil society networks now have unprecedented opportunities to develop security-monitoring programs, provide information needed for effective health care, create banking services, and provide farmers with market information. These evolving innovations are often organic to Africa and therefore optimized to serve the immediate needs of the communities from which they originate.

      While new information technologies can facilitate less-than positive purposes, including crime and politically motivated violence, on the whole they are enhancing human security and sustainable economic development across Africa. In this ACSS Research Paper, Steven Livingston explores precisely how such technologies impact the lives of urban citizens and remote villagers alike and identifies ways to amplify the positive potential of Africa's evolving infosystems.

      On May 3, 2011, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies hosted a roundtable on Africa’s Information Revolution Examines Implications for Governance and Security.

      Download the Research Paper [PDF] in: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Enhancing Civilian Protection in Peace Operations: Insights from Africa

      By Paul Williams, Africa Center for Strategic Studies 129576

      Recent incidents of systematic rapes in the eastern DRC and continued mass dislocations of populations in Somalia and Sudan have again thrust the issue of civilian protection and the responsibility of international peace operations onto news headlines around the world. Such episodes simultaneously damage the very credibility of peace operations. As home to 40 peace operations in 14 countries since 2000, Africa is at the forefront of grappling with the civilian protection issue.

      In this ACSS Research Paper, Paul Williams assesses the role civilian protection plays in peace operations, lessons learned from past civilian protection efforts, progress that has been made and key obstacles that remain in effectively providing protection to civilians caught up in armed conflict. Drawing on this experience, the paper puts forth ten priorities for improving civilian protection in ongoing and future peace operations – in Africa and beyond.

      ACSS's Research Papers present extended policy-relevant analysis on topics of pressing importance to Africa’s security.

      Download the Research Paper [PDF] in: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

  • Africa Security Briefs

    The Africa Center’s Africa Security Briefs are concise analyses of critical security challenges facing Africa that generate practical insights on a topic or context as well as actionable recommendations for policymakers and practitioners.

    • Creating Sustainable Peacekeeping Capability in Africa

      By Daniel Hampton, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, April 2014 Peacekeeping - MONUSCONearly half of all uniformed peacekeepers are African and countries like Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa have provided troops to UN and AU missions almost continuously over the past decade. Despite such vast experience, African peacekeepers are often reliant on international partners for training before they can deploy on these missions. Institutionalizing a capacity-building model within African defense forces is a more sustainable approach that maintains a higher level of readiness to respond to emerging crises and contingencies on the continent.

      Download the Security Brief [pdf]

    • Mitigating Radicalism in Northern Nigeria

      By Michael Olufemi Sodipo, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, August 2013 05-17-2013warcrimesOngoing attacks by Boko Haram and other violent Islamist groups coupled with an at times arbitrary response by Nigeria's security forces have contributed to a deteriorating security situation in the north. Increasingly frequent attacks and bombings also mask longer-running radicalization dynamics. A sustained approach targeting every stage of the radicalization spectrum, from addressing socioeconomic grievances, to cross-cultural peacebuilding initiatives, to rehabilitating radicalized members of violent Islamist groups, as well as a more measured use of force are needed to reverse this broader trend.

      Download Security Brief #26 [PDF] ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Peace Operations in Africa: Lessons Learned Since 2000

      By Paul D. Williams, Africa Center for Strategic Studies | July 2013 Heal-Africa-DRC-UN Photo-Eskinder Debebe More than 50 peace operations have deployed in Africa since 2000, including multiple African-led or hybrid African Union/United Nations initiatives. The frequency of these deployments underscores the ongoing importance of these operations in the playbook of regional and multilateral bodies to prevent conflict, protect civilians, and enforce ceasefires and peace agreements. Recent operations have featured increasingly ambitious goals and complex institutional partnerships. The achievements and shortcomings of these operations offer vital lessons for optimizing this increasingly central but still evolving tool for addressing conflict and instability.

      Download the Security Brief [PDF]: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS| PORTUGUÊS

    • The Lessons and Limits of DDR in Africa

      By Prosper Nzekani Zena, Africa Center for Strategic Studies | January 2013 Ammunition Collected From Militias in Côte d'Ivoire - UN Photo/Ky Chung With organized DDR initiatives in 10 African states, there is widespread recognition of the importance of these programs to advancing stability on the continent. Even so, these initiatives are often under-prioritized and -conceptualized, contributing to the high rates of conflict relapse observed in Africa. DDR efforts across Africa over the past decade indicate that DDR cannot substitute for measures that address core conflict drivers and is often hobbled by expedient but fragile efforts to integrate nonstate militias with a national defense force.

      Download the Security Brief [PDF]: ENGLISH | ESPAÑOLFRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Islamic Militancy in Africa

      By Terje Østebø, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, November 2012 Suspected Shabaab Members Captured in Somali Capital

      The rise in Islamic militancy in the Sahel, northern Nigeria, and the Horn of Africa has elevated attention to this evolving security concern. Hopes that Africa's historically moderate interpretations of Islam would suffice to filter extremist views from gaining meaningful traction seem increasingly misplaced. More generally, understanding of this unconventional security challenge is often based more on speculation than informed assessment. Responses must avoid conflating distinct Islamist actors while addressing local level perceptions of disaffection and under-representation that underpin support for militants.

      Download the Security Brief: ENGLISHFRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Building Africa's Airlift Capacity: A Strategy for Enhancing Military Effectiveness

      BlackhawkBy Birame Diop, David Peyton, and Gene McConville. Africa Center for Strategic Studies, August 2012. Growing security threats posed by agile and maneuverable forces such as narcotics traffickers, coastal pirate gangs, and nonstate militias have underscored the critical importance of security force mobility to monitor and protect Africa's enormous land mass and more than 30,000 km of coastline. While commonly viewed as too expensive, airlift assets provide vital capabilities and multiply the effectiveness of Africa's resource-limited militaries and collective peace operations.

      Download the Security Brief: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Unfinished Business: A Framework for Peace in the Great Lakes

      DRCMap By Rigobert Minani Bihuzo. Africa Center for Strategic Studies, July 2012.

      Despite numerous peace agreements, Africa's Great Lakes region has been in a persistent state of conflict for the past two decades. The contributions and shortcomings of some of the most significant previous peace initiatives, however, offer vital lessons as to how to mitigate the local level tensions, national political dynamics, and competing regional interests that have led to recurring outbreaks of violence.

      Download the Brief: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Boko Haram's Evolving Threat

      By J. Peter Pham, Africa Center for Strategic Studies | April 2012Photo Credit: George Osodi/IRIN

      A surge in large-scale attacks over the past year by Nigerian Islamist terrorist organization Boko Haram presents a serious threat to stability in West Africa’s most populous state and the world’s sixth largest oil exporter. The group has successfully expanded its geographic reach, mastered new sophisticated tactics, and targeted symbols of international presence in Nigeria. In this Africa Security Brief, J. Peter Pham assesses the significance of this upsurge, examines the origins and goals of this opaque group, and puts forward priorities for responding to this threat.

      Download Security Brief #20 in: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Addressing Côte d'Ivoire's Deeper Crisis

      Abidjan-webBy Thierno Mouctar Bah. Africa Center for Strategic Studies, March 2012.

      Although Côte d'Ivoire's traumatic post-election standoff has been resolved, legacies of a national identity crisis fostered during ten years of exploitation of ethnic and regional divisions have left this strategic West African country vulnerable to further instability. Avoiding this will require constructive engagement from Côte d'Ivoire's neighbors. International partners' assistance is also needed to build stronger national institutions, particularly a more independent electoral commission and professional military, as well as reinforcement of traditional reconciliation mechanisms.

      Download the Brief: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Regional Security Cooperation in the Maghreb and Sahel: Algeria’s Pivotal Ambivalence

      By Laurence Aïda Ammour, Africa Center for Strategic Studies | February 2012 army_algeria

      Despite growing concerns across the Sahel and Maghreb over the increasing potency of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the diffusion of heavily armed mercenaries from Libya, the expanding influence of arms and drugs trafficking, and the widening lethality of Boko Haram, regional security cooperation to address these transnational threats remains fragmented. Algeria is well-positioned to play a central role in defining this cooperation, but must first reconcile the complex domestic, regional, and international considerations that shape its decision-making.

      Download Security Brief #18 [PDF]: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Africa's Militaries: A Missing Link in Democratic Transitions

      Mauritania_military-w By Mathurin C. Houngnikpo. Africa Center for Strategic Studies, January 2012.

      The institutionalization of democratic norms in Africa's militaries is often lagging behind advances made in civilian institutions and civil society. In some situations, security sectors have actively aligned themselves with incumbent leaders seeking to stay in power or directly intervened in politics, thereby discrediting the entire security sector and marginalizing its role when transitions do occur. With national elections becoming increasingly routine and subject to stricter oversight, such dilemmas will continue to be front and center in Africa's political development.

      Download the Brief in: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Alternative Dispute Resolution in Africa: Preventing Conflict and Enhancing Stability

      By Ernest Uwazie, Africa Center for Strategic Studies | November 2011 AlternativeDisputeResolutionInAfrica2 Low-level disputes in Africa can spiral into violence and conflict due to the lack of effective judicial systems that can provide a credible and timely process for resolving differences. Alternative Dispute Resolution techniques can strengthen dispute settlement systems and bridge the gap between formal legal systems and traditional modes of African justice. They may have particular value in stabilization and statebuilding efforts when judicial institutions are weak and social tensions are high.

      Download the Brief [PDF]: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Sifting Through the Layers of Insecurity in the Sahel: The Case of Mauritania

      By Cédric Jourde, Africa Center for Strategic Studies

      mauritania_armyIncreasing narcotraffic and a more active AQIM are elevating concerns over instability in the Sahel. However, the region’s threats are more complex than what is observable on the surface. Rather, security concerns are typically characterized by multiple, competing, and fluctuating interests at the local, national, and regional levels. Effectively responding to these threats requires in-depth understanding of the multiple contextual layers in which illicit actors operate.

      Download Security Brief #15 [PDF]: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Nigeria's Pernicious Drivers of Ethno-Religious Conflict

      By Chris Kwaja, Africa Center for Strategic Studies | July 2011nigeria_mosque-horz Nigeria's long-running "indigene-settler" conflict in and around Jos, Plateau State has escalated in recent years and may spread to other ethnically mixed regions of the country, heightening instability. Navigating such inter-communal fault lines is a common challenge for many African societies that requires looking past symptoms to address systemic drivers. In Nigeria, this will entail measures that directly mitigate violence as well as realize constitutional reform.

      Download Security Brief #14 in: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Optimizing Africa's Security Force Structures

      By Helmoed Heitman, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, May 2011 asb 13Combating irregular forces has become a common feature of the contemporary African security landscape. However, the security sector in most African countries is ill-prepared to conduct effective counter-insurgency operations. Realigning force structures to address these threats while building security sector professionalism to gain the trust of local populations is needed to do so.

      Download the Article in: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Urban Fragility and Security in Africa

      nigeria_violence_2011By Stephen Commins, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, 2011.

      Estimates are that more than half of all Africans will live in cities by 2025. This rapid pace of urbanization is creating a new locus of fragility in many African states – as evidenced by the burgeoning slums around many of the continent’s urban areas – and the accompanying rise in violence, organized crime, and the potential for instability. These evolving threats, in turn, have profound implications for Africa’s security sector.

      Download the Brief in: ENGLISHFRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • West Africa’s Growing Terrorist Threat: Confronting AQIM’s Sahelian Strategy

      By Modibo Goïta, Africa Center for Strategic Studies | February 2011 aqim Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has undertaken increasingly frequent and effective attacks in the past year, posing a dangerous and growing threat in Africa's Sahel region. Reversing this trend presents a particularly complex challenge as AQIM has simultaneously strengthened ties to local communities and regional criminal networks. Efforts to counter AQIM will require collaborative region-wide strategies that feature complementary security and development initiatives.

      Download Security Brief #11 [PDF]: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Investing in Science and Technology to Meet Africa’s Maritime Security Challenges

      moi By Augustus Vogel. Africa Center for Strategic Studies, 2011.

      A growing number of Africa's security challenges - narcotics trafficking, piracy, illegal fishing, and armed robberies, among others - take place at sea. Illicit actors exploit Africa's maritime space given its expansiveness and the limited number of vessels African governments can field to interdict this activity. Technology can dramatically improve Africa's maritime security coverage. However, to do so will require engaging Africa's scientists who can guide and sustain these efforts. This will yield not only security but environmental and meteorological benefits for the continent.

      Download the Security Brief [PDF]: ENGLISHFRANÇAISPORTUGUÊS

    • Democracy and the Chain of Command: A New Governance of Africa’s Security Sector

      By Dominique Djindjéré, Africa Center for Strategic Studies | 2010 ivory_coast_armyAs many African countries continue down the path of democratic reform, Africa's defense and security forces must make fundamental changes to adapt to a democratic model of governance. In this paper, General Djindjere puts forward five priority reforms Africa's defense and security forces should pursue to facilitate this transition. In addition to building professionalism, the legitimacy and trust security forces will gain in the eyes of their compatriots from this process will lead to greater effectiveness and popular support for national security efforts.

      Download Africa Security Brief #8 [PDF]: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Nonstate Policing: Expanding the Scope for Tackling Africa’s Urban Violence

      urban_violense_africaBy Bruce Baker. Africa Center for Strategic Studies, 2010.

      The increasingly internal nature of Africa's security threats is placing ever greater pressures on Africa's police forces. Yet severe resource and capacity limitations, combined with high levels of public distrust, leave most African police forces incapable of effectively addressing these expanding urban-based threats in the near term. This Security Brief examines the potential of nonstate policing organizations - community-based groups with local credibility and knowledge - to help fill this gap.

      Download the Security Brief [PDF]: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Africa's Fragile States: Empowering Extremists, Exporting Terrorism

      FragileStatesBy Zachary Devlin-Foltz. Africa Center for Strategic Studies, 2010.

      Persistent reports of extremist activity from across Africa have deepened concern over the spread of radicalism on the continent. Extremists capitalize on political and security vacuums within Africa’s fragile states to grow their support base and consolidate their strength. Stable states that provide opportunities for political participation empower moderates while delegitimating extremists’ use of violence.

      Download the Article [PDF]: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Cocaine and Instability in Africa: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean

      By Davin O'Regan, Africa Center for Strategic Studies | July 2010 AfricaBriefFinal_5

      Africa is facing an increasingly menacing threat of cocaine trafficking that risks undermining its security structures, nascent democratic institutions, and development progress. Latin America has long faced similar challenges and its experience provides important lessons that can be applied before this expanding threat becomes more deeply entrenched on the continent - and costly to reverse.

      Download the Security Brief: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Misinterpreting Ethnic Conflicts in Africa

      By Fr. Clement Mweyang Aapenguo, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, April 2010 Demobilization_of_Burundian_MilitaryEthnic conflicts in Africa are often portrayed as having ages-old origins with little prospects for resolution. This Security Brief challenges that notion arguing that a re-diagnosis of the underlying drivers to ethnic violence can lead to more effective and sustainable responses.

      Download the Security Brief [PDF]: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Lessons Learned from Peace Operations in Africa

      Ugandan African Union By Paul Williams. Africa Center for Strategic Studies, 2010.

      Peace operations have been a principal tool used to curb conflict in Africa over the past decade, with over 40 operations deployed since 2000. This Security Brief takes stock of lessons learned from these experiences and the implications they hold for improving the effectiveness of future peace operations in Africa.

      Download the Security Brief [PDF]: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Navies versus Coast Guards: Defining the Roles of African Maritime Security Forces

      marine-forces-in-puntland-receive-two-coffins-containing-the-remains-of-slain-somali-pirates By Augustus Vogel. Africa Center for Strategic Studies, 2009.

      Piracy, illegal fishing, and narcotics and human trafficking are growing rapidly in Africa and represent an increasingly central component of the threat matrix facing the continent. However, African states’ maritime security structures are often misaligned with the challenges posed and need coast guard capabilities and an array of intra-governmental partnerships.

      Download the Security Brief [PDF]: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

  • Books

    ACSS faculty will periodically produce books and opinion pieces on Africa security issues with the aim of advancing scholarship or sharpening the analysis of policy options.

  • Special Reports

    On certain fast evolving strategic developments, ACSS will generate Special Reports that attempt to raise awareness of the issues faced, assess the challenges, and review possible courses of action.

    • Advancing Stability and Reconciliation in Guinea-Bissau: Lessons from Africa's First Narco-State

      By Davin O'Regan and Peter Thompson, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, June 2013 official-bringing-out-the-parcels-of-drugs-during-search Large quantities of cocaine have flowed through Guinea-Bissau for nearly a decade, accelerating a cycle of coups and crises that demonstrate the broad threats posed by narco-trafficking in Africa. The direct involvement of military and political leaders in the trade has also hollowed out state structures, creating a significant obstacle to stabilizing the situation. Addressing these challenges will require fundamental reforms to the presidency, a top-heavy military, and international counter narcotics cooperation.

      Download the Report [PDF]: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS

    • Africa and the Arab Spring: A New Era of Democratic Expectations

      By Africa Center for Strategic Studies | November 2011 senegal_anti-Wade_protests-300x199

      Military coups in Mali and Guinea-Bissau and the persistence of “big-man” politics have renewed questions over the viability of democratic governance models in Africa. These developments have overshadowed a deepening institutionalization of democratic processes in Africa over the past decade. The Arab Spring, likewise, sparked a broader debate about the legitimate claims on authority across the continent. These crosscurrents reflect an ongoing struggle for governance norms in Africa that will require active engagement from African reformers and international partners to sustain Africa's democratic trajectory.

      Download the Special Report [PDF]: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS