Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global Governance

Program Name/Specialization

Conflict and Security


School of International Policy and Governance

First Advisor

Timothy Donais

Advisor Role

Ph.D Advisor

Second Advisor

David A.Welch

Advisor Role

Committee Member

Third Advisor

Alistair Edgar

Advisor Role

Committee Member


This dissertation examines the politics and assumptions underlying regional security governance in Africa through the prism of the challenges posed by the intricacies of domestic governance in the Sahel. Based on a study of the actions of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) during the conflict in Mali (2012-), this dissertation argues that at the core of the challenges faced by the APSA in Mali, is the fundamental mismatch between the processes of regional governance initiated by African regional actors, which are rooted in the Westphalian conception of statehood, and the realities of everyday governance in which subnational actors play an important role in delivering governance. Subnational actors can behave either in support or in opposition to the state. Furthermore, they often initiate through their actions, regionalism processes from below, which challenge the formal processes established at the inter-national level and around which the APSA is built.

Based on fieldwork in Bamako, Addis and Abuja, this dissertation demonstrates that the Malian experience spurred a new will at the AU to address the limitations of APSA, a continental will that led to innovative and trans-regional approaches to addressing respond to regional challenges. At the same time, this new will clashed with the subsequent stronger involvement by extra-continental actors in addressing the region’s multifaceted challenges through bilateral and multilateral engagement with Sahelian countries. In this process through which ad hoc mechanisms emerge to fill the security gaps of the existing architecture, the legitimacy of the APSA in relation to extra-continental actors is increasingly contested and renegotiated.

In the end, the APSA reflects an ideational aspiration, mandated with addressing conflicts often rooted in the state-society complex while lacking the autonomy to act on governance. The implications of these findings are that it is imperative for African regional actors to reconsider the nature of statehood where they intervene and recognize their dependence on member-states, in engaging with all actors involved in governance at the domestic level, formal and hybrid.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season