Sub-Regional Forces in the Fight against Violent Organisations: the G5 Sahel Joint Force in Mali

Led by Marie Sandnes

Apr 2019 – Mar 2022

This PhD project is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Defence.


  • Karin Dokken, University of Oslo
  • Pinar Tank, Peace Research Institute Oslo

This project aims to understand how the G5 Sahel joint force impacts military operations in Mali. Over the past few years, the UN and other international agencies have increasingly emphasised the important position of regional and sub-regional actors in responding to conflicts and security threats. The joint force of the G5 Sahel was established in 2017 by Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso in order to combat 1) terrorism and insurgencies, 2) organised crime and 3) illicit trafficking in the Sahel. This project focuses on the former: combatting terrorism and insurgencies. The G5 Sahel joint force is largely funded by external states and organisations, such as the EU, France, USA, Saudi Arabia, China and the Emirates, to mention a few. The expectation is that a sub-regional force will respond more appropriately to the security situation as the soldiers will be local and thus understand local dynamics, language, culture and thus also navigate the terrain more effortlessly.

Mali is often referred to as a hub for the security situation in the Sahel and has in recent years been subject to heavy international presence, particularly by France, the EU and the US. This project will thus 1) examine the underlying reason and justification for establishing a new force to operate in the same theatre as several other forces do; 2) study how the force impact military operations in Mali both as a stand-alone entity, but also in coordination with external forces present, such as the French-led counterterrorist operation Barkhane, and; 3) explore the regionality of the force by also analysing the role external actors play in the operationalisation of the joint force. 

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