Most standard analyses and policies aimed at peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction in West Africa understand members of armed groups, and especially their leaders who engaged in illicit commerce, as criminals. This analysis and the policies that follow from it miss the extent to which these transactions now contribute to the construction of new political relationships and are seen by those who participate in them as one of the few avenues for active participation in the post-war economy and politics. This article explains how illicit commerce underlies new political relationships in West Africa. It shows how measures to disrupt these transactions can destabilize politics. But often those who participate in illicit markets prove able to manipulate externally imposed measures and assert their own interests.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Political Science and International Relations