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France’s interventions in Mali and the Sahel: a historical institutionalist perspective

Chafer, Tony, Cumming, Gordon D. and van der Velde, Roel 2020. France’s interventions in Mali and the Sahel: a historical institutionalist perspective. Journal of Strategic Studies 43 (4) , pp. 482-507. 10.1080/01402390.2020.1733987
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France’s interventions in Mali and the wider Sahel appear to mark a new departure in French military policy in terms of the approach to multilateralism adopted, the regionalisation of the response, and the levels of violence deployed. Yet how ‘new’ is this approach, when set against the historical backdrop of French military interventions in Africa? Should it be seen as a modified version—an adaptation—of the new type of multilateral engagement that emerged in the wake of the 1994 Rwandan genocide? Using a historical institutionalist lens, employing the notions of critical junctures, ‘layering’, and ‘drift’, this article briefly sets out the unilateral approach that marked French military policy in Africa prior to 1994 before going on to analyse the multilateral approach and associated path-dependent practices that emerged after the Rwandan genocide. Drawing on elite interviews in Europe, the US and Africa, the article shows that, while France’s engagement in the Sahel is characterised by an ostensibly novel multilateral approach, it does in fact combine new and old norms, ideas and practices.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Modern Languages
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0140-2390
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 February 2020
Date of Acceptance: 13 February 2020
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2020 22:13

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