Senegal, a Nation of Contrasts
In March, World Justice Project researcher and ACLS Mellon Fellow, Joe Haley, traveled to Africa to
interview local government officials and civil society activists. The purpose of this research was to
understand access to justice—the capacity of ordinary people to resolve their everyday justice problems
fairly without undue hardship—in the Sahel, a semi-arid region that snakes along the southern edge of
the Sahara desert, from Senegal and Mauritania in the West to Sudan and Eritrea in the East.
The Sahel is marked by high levels of poverty and environmental fragility. It is also host to one of the
world’s most intractable conflicts. Since 2012, national and international forces have been locked in a
pitched fight against Islamic extremists in Mali, Niger, and Chad. This conflict has profound implications
for West and Central Africa, as it has disrupted economic activity and displaced hundreds of thousands of
people. In the following series of personal essays, Joe speaks with local practitioners to ask, how can
access to justice build peace and resilience in the Sahel?