Mapping environmental conflicts and cooperation



Tuareg Rebellion in Niger 1991-1997

Type of conflict sub
Intensity 3
Western Africa
Time 1991 ‐ 1997
Countries Niger
Resources Agricultural / Pastoral Land, Water
Conflict Summary From 1991 to 1997 different Tuareg groups were active in an armed struggle against the Government of Niger, demanding greater political autonomy and...
Tuareg Rebellion in Niger 1991-1997
From 1991 to 1997 different Tuareg groups were active in an armed struggle against the Government of Niger, demanding greater political autonomy and development funds for Niger’s north western regions, inhabited by Tuaregs. Important droughts in the Sahel in the 1970s and 1980s and subsequent migration of disaffected Tuaregs to Algeria and Libya arguably have played an important part in facilitating this conflict.
Conceptual Model

Climate Change

The Sahel region experienced severe droughts during the 1970s and 1980s, which affected Niger’s northern regions, home to several Tuareg groups.

Intermediary Mechanisms

The droughts deteriorated the already severe situation in the north and forced many Tuaregs to flee to neighbouring Algeria and Libya. As the economic situation in these destination countries worsened during the 1980s, many refugees returned to Niger. Like many of those who had never left the country, their access to arable and pastoral land was limited.

Fragility and Conflict Risks

Political marginalization and limited access to essential resources led the Tuaregs to demand more political influence and participation in national development policies. As these demands were not met by the Nigerien government, a rebellion broke out, which lasted from 1991 to 1997.

Climate ChangeEnvironmental ChangeIntermediary MechanismsFragility and Conflict RisksSocial and Economic DriversExtreme weather event is consistent with predictions regarding more frequent and/or intense extreme weather events.Economic developments lead to changes in land use.Changes in land use reduce available/usable land.Land scarcity hampers agricultural production.Extreme weather event leads to displacements.Problems related to migration/displacements lead to growing discontent with the state.Reduced availability of/access to natural resources provokes discontent with the state.An increase in the frequency and/or intensity of extreme weather events, such as floods or droughts.More Frequent / Intense Extreme Weather EventsA specific extreme weather event such as a flood or a storm.Extreme Weather EventA broad concept to cover economic growth in general but also specific economic changes or changes of incentives.Economic DevelopmentA change in the usage of environmentally relevant land.Land Use ChangeReduced availability of/ access to land.Increased Land ScarcityReduced availability of essential natural resources, such as land and water.Change in Access / Availability of Natural Resources(In)voluntary long and short-term movements of people within or across state boundaries.Displacements / MigrationChallenge to the state's legitimacy, ranging from peaceful protest to violent attempts at overthrowing the government.Anti-State Grievances
Context Factors
  • Water-stressed Area
  • Eroded Social Contract
  • High Unemployment
  • History of Conflict
  • Low Level of Economic Development
  • Political Marginalization
Conflict History

Between 1991 and 1997, different Tuareg groups engaged the Government of Niger, demanding greater political autonomy and development funds for Niger’s north-western regions. Combats between the warring parties and violence against the civilian population resulted in more than 180 deaths (UCDP, 2014).

From drought to conflict
Severe droughts in the Sahel in the 1970s and 1980s exacerbated the precarious situation of many Tuareg pastoralists in Niger’s north-western Aïr and Azawad regions. Having only little political influence and suffering from the structural neglect of Niger’s northern regions, many Tuaregs were forced to flee to Algeria and Libya. However, deteriorating economic conditions in these countries during the 1980s prompted their return to Niger, where the situation of their communities had still not improved. Some Tuareg returnees had served in the Libyan army and acquired considerable military experience. In addition, Tuareg groups in Mali had started a successful insurgency against their government a year earlier, setting the example for their kinsmen in Niger to start a rebellion (Hershkowitz, 2005; see also Tuareg rebellion in Mali).

Economic and political marginalisation
The Tuareg insurgency of the early 1990s has to be understood against the background of political marginalisation and increased vulnerability of Tuareg populations in northern Niger. Despite its rich uranium and oil reserves, northern Niger is still one of the poorest regions in one of the poorest countries in the world. Extractive industries have only provided few jobs to locals and have contaminated scarce water and grazing resources, on which Tuareg pastoralists rely, while their revenues have not contributed to the development of the region. Moreover, Niger’s Tuaregs have held little political influence since the country’s independence in 1960, resulting in only a limited amount of government funds dedicated to the development of the northern regions. This situation is further compounded by the progressive encroachment of irrigated cultures onto traditional pastoral land, all of which deprive Tuareg pastoralists of essential resources (Benjaminsen & Ba, 2009Fleury, 2010).

After three peace accords in 1993, 1994 and 1997, in which the government had promised political decentralisation and development funds for the northern regions, the last rebel group finally took down its arms in 1997. However, as in Mali, sluggish implementation of these accords led to renewed violence in 2007 (Hershkowitz, 2005MAR, 2004).

Resolution Efforts

In June 1993, a truce was agreed between the warring parties, which lasted only one month due to internal divisions among the rebels. The Government of Niger resumed negotiations with the rebels in June 1994 in Paris. France, Algeria and Burkina Faso served as mediators. The talks led to the signing of the Ouagadougou agreement in October 1994. The government agreed in principle to decentralize political power, improve security in war-affected areas and facilitate the resettlement of refugees.

Following further negotiations a comprehensive peace agreement was signed in April 1995 in Niamey, with the creation of a special committee charged with implementing the accord. Negotiations over the implementation of the Niamey accord started in October 1995 and continued amidst continued fighting, until a definitive ceasefire accord was signed in November 1997. However, delays in the implementation of the accord and slow progress in the improvement of Tuareg pastoralist’s living conditions eventually led to renewed violence in 2007 (UCDP, 2014).

Intensities & Influences
conflict intensity scale
International / Geopolitical Intensity
Human Suffering

Environmental Influences
Societal Influences

Manifest Crisis
Violent Conflict Yes
Salience within nation Regional
Agricultural / Pastoral Land, Water
Resolution Success
Reduction in Violence Violence reduced significantly, but did not cede.
Resolve of displacement problems Repatriation has taken place.
Reduction in geographical scope There has been no reduction in geographical scope.
Increased capacity to address grievance in the future The capacity to address grievances in the future has increased.
Grievance Resolution Grievances have been partially addressed.
Causal Attribution of Decrease in Conflict Intensity Conflict resolution strategies have been clearly responsible for the decrease in conflict intensity.
General opencollapse
Country Data in Comparison
ConflictNoData Created with Sketch.
Fault Lines Defining Conflict Parties
Purely Environmental | Cultural   ♦   Occupational   ♦   Economic   ♦   Urban / Rural   ♦   National / International conflict   ♦   Sub-national political

Participation Conflict Party     Conflict Resolution Facilitator
Government of Niger
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Tuareg rebels (Niger)
Functional GroupNon-State Violent Actor
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Government of Algeria
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleExternal
Government of France
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleExternal
Government of Burkina Faso
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleExternal
Entry Points for Resilience and Peace Building
3 Treaty/agreement The government of Niger promised political decentralisation and development funds for the neglected northern regions after a lengthy negotiation process that encompassed three peace accords in 1993, 1994, and 1997, finally resulting in a ceasefire. However, in 2007 violence renewed due to the slow implementation of the accord.
Further Details opencollapse
Conflict Characterization
Character of the contested good Common-pool resource: No one can be excluded from use but the good is depleted.
Structure of decision-making power / interdependence Asymmetric: The power to affect the environmental resource is unequal.
Broad conflict characterization Resource capture is not present.
Ecological marginalization is not present.
Data of involved Countries
Resources and Materials opencollapse