Northern Africa

Updated: Feb 5

Rudy Atencio

U.S. Congressional TX CD7

Harvard University (extension studies 2017)

International Conflict and Cooperation

West Africa vs. Destabilization and Famine


To all members of the African Union, this policy memo serves the purpose for the call to action by all African nations vested in maintaining regional stability and international cooperation in West Africa. In 2009 Islamic militant groups by the mane of Boko Haram, began an insurgency in the northern part of Nigeria. Boko Haram’s, rebellion has left more than 2.3 million people displaced; meanwhile, murdering more than 20,000 innocent people. In 2014, the insurgency also kidnaped 276 young Chibok girls in the state of Borno in the north of Nigeria at times, using them, as suicide bombers (Winsor 2014). The actions of the insurgency have led to the domestic destabilization of Nigeria as well as the socio-economic dimensions we see today. As a result of regional instability nearly 450,000 children are undernourished, and as of this year, while the emerging famine accompanies a stagnant economy, creates a perfect storm, whereby a narrow economy, and political apathy leads to regional, social, and political upheaval.  

Also important to mention, is that Nigeria’s dictatorial leadership could be under siege due to the fact President Muhammadu Buhari has sought treatment in the west. Because militant regimes usually cater to a small group of key supporter’s, ill health in Nigeria’s leadership, is a liability to the structure of power (Bueno 2012). International pressure via economic sanctions would risk weakening Nigeria’s stability by transferring power into the hands of Boko Haram who would surely seize the opportunity created by a power vacuum. In the 1970’s the Shah of Iran also, sought treatment by the west, resulting in a crumbling regime which unlocked an opportunity seized by the ayatollah. This culminated frayed relations with the west, as well as economic sanctions that would ultimately change the structure of power within Iran, leading to an era of regional instability (Steigman 1988). Mentioning Iran’s history may seem unrelated, however, international cooperation in the 1970’s failed, due to a lack of regional infrastructure mirroring today’s A.U. which could avert a modern day coup, similar to the Shah’s overthrow during the 70’s. Ignoring Nigeria’s domestic issues is a fatal mistake, as it would create a power vacuum that could lead to disappointing relations between the Nigerian people and the international community, further isolating Nigeria, and thus spurring the rise of a brutal Islamic state which would replace the failing regime. Political destabilization of western African would ensure a win set for Boko Haram. As such, the goal of this memorandum is to yield two concerted solutions which address the famine, while quenching the threat on the northern front.

Addressing the threat:                                      

In 1994 the Organization of African Union now the A.U. created a task force meant to create a “Resolution on the Strengthening of Cooperation and Coordination Among African States” (Kadjo 2015). This union was solely created in order to fight the issue of terrorism which might stem form extremism, and has now military authority under the African Union Counter Terrorism Framework (ACTF). The existing framework gives the A.U. a tremendous amount of power under the Declaration of the Code of Conduct for Inter African relations, which rejects “all forms of extremism and terrorism, whether under the pretext of sectarianism, tribalism, ethnicity or religion” (Kadjo 2015), and serves as an organ, to the A.U. for dealing with the impending threat by Boko Haram. If such a threat is not dealt with, the insurgency is sure to seize power in the same manner the ayatollah did in the 1970’s as well as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi did more recently during the ISIS insurgency.

A Dynamic Economy vs. Resource Extraction:

While dealing with the threat of an insurgency is important, the A.U. should also be cognizant that Nigeria has been an economy that has been forced into recession due to the falling price of oil. Thus the creation of an economy outside of resource extraction would surely lead to the ability to address the productivity of food resources within Nigeria’s borders. As such, it is recommended that the A.U. allow for the United Nations to cooperate via a pre-existing program called the “Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program” (, which is also a preexisting organ of the U.N. Allowing for Nigeria to not only, develop its own internal sustenance programs, but is also in Nigeria’s best interest to be able to sustain itself, by developing agricultural projects that both diversify its economy outside of resource extraction while also solving the food shortage.


Bueno M., & Smith, A. (2012). The dictator's handbook: Why bad behavior is almost always good politics. New York, NY: Public Affairs.

Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) | Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, OSAA. (2015). Retrieved from

Kadjo, T. (2015, November 23). The African Union Counter Terrorism Framework - African Union - Peace and Security Department. Retrieved from

Steigman, A. (1988). Case 134 Iranian Hostage Negotiations: November 1979-January 1981. Institute for The Study of Diplomacy, 1-17.

Winsor, M. (2017, April 14). Nigeria marks 3 years since 276 Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram - ABC News. Retrieved from

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