From the West African coast on the Gulf of Guinea, across the Sahel and the Sahara, illicit trafficking, particularly in drugs, is having a critical impact on governance, state stability and development.  These phenomena are too often analysed in sub-regional silos, without seeing the extent to which events in the littoral states along the Atlantic and the Mediterranean are interdependent.

As a consequence of both the growth in illicit trafficking in drugs and the erosion of state capacity to project itself into its borderlands, sophisticated protection economies have developed along the high-value trafficking routes. While this is not unique to the region, protection economies emerge in the absence of effectively functioning state institutions, and protection itself becomes a commodity. But protection can be expensive and its costs increase when applied to high-value commodities such as drugs.

The goal of the ATOM project is to provide catalytic, applied policy research, including representing the views and perspectives of local communities, and to facilitate dialogues amongst policy makers towards more effective, joined up responses to the challenges of trans-Saharan trafficking.

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