Senegal Foreign policy

By | March 23, 2021

The country in a regional and international context

As one of 16 countries located in Western Africa according to politicsezine, Senegal traditionally has close foreign policy relations with the western world, above all with the former colonial power France. The country also maintains a wide range of good diplomatic relations, is represented in many international organizations and has ratified numerous international agreements. At the same time, Senegal is closely connected to the Muslim world (for example in the organization of the Islamic Conference, the summit of which took place in Dakar for the second time in 2008).

In 2006, Senegal broke off diplomatic relations with the Republic of Taiwan and instead established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, which has since financed some major infrastructure projects.

After a more than three-year break in diplomatic relations with Iran, the two countries established in September 2014, diplomatic relations back on that of Senegal in February 2011 canceled had after the West African state had suspected the major trading partners, the rebel movement in the Having supplied Casamance with arms deliveries.

Germany and Senegal have problem-free and stable political relations.

Welcome to the Summit of the Islamic Conference

Welcome to the Summit of the Islamic Conference

The main themes of Senegal’s Africa policy are African unity and West African regional integration through the expansion of the West African Economic and Monetary Union UEMOA (Union Économique et Monétaire Ouest-Africaine), which was founded in 1994 and which has set up a customs union and aims for a common market based on the EU model. Senegal is also a member of the broader regional organization CEDEAO / ECOWAS (Communauté Economique des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest), which also includes Anglophone countries.

Other important international organizations of which Senegal is a member are the United Nations, the WTO and the World Bank, the IMF, the Comité Inter-Etat pour la lutte contre la Sécheresse dans le Sahel – CILSS), the G15 group and the international organization of the Francophonie.

In a politically troubled region with partially fragile neighboring states, Senegal tries to have a balancing and peacemaking effect, although it does not shrink from direct interference if it sees its own interests threatened (e.g. the direct military intervention in 1998 in the civil war in Guinea-Bissau in favor of President Viera).

In February 2013 Senegal took part in the international support mission for Mali MISMA with a contingent of 500 soldiers. The situation in northern Mali poses a threat to the stability of the entire region.

The relationship to the small neighboring country Gambia, which is completely enclosed by Senegal, is always latently problematic due to the lax treatment of the Gambian side with the rebel movement from the Casamance, which counts the Gambian soil as one of their areas of retreat. After the execution of two death sentences on Senegalese citizens in Gambia in August 2012, diplomatic relations were very tense, and President Jammeh suspended the planned further executions until further notice. Both countries tried to relax and in February 2013 the Senegalese president took part in the celebrations for the Gambian national holiday.


A typical fishing boat

A typical fishing boat

Many young people no longer see a future in Senegal

Many young people no longer see a future in Senegal

One topic that had received international attention in recent years was illegal migration to Europe by means of small fishing boats from Senegal. The motto “Barça ou Barsax” (Barcelona or Hell) describes the motives of (mostly) young people who dare their lives on the high seas and often lose it: Precarious living conditions, an enormous lack of prospects and high social pressure allow them to stay appear hopeless in their home country.

A relatively differentiated report of an EU parliamentarian visit to Senegal in 2008 sheds light on the background to the migration phenomenon.

In the meantime, in consultation with Senegal, the EU has reacted by sending Frontex troops off the Senegalese coast and Senegal has accepted the return of deported illegal immigrants from EU countries, which has been heavily criticized in its own country.

This effectively prevents the majority of young people from fleeing, but of course does not change the causes of their flight and their desire to come to the “Promised Land”, of which very few have a clear idea of coming.

What must not be forgotten is intra-African migration. Senegal is itself a country of immigration par excellence and also a destination for refugees for the neighboring countries, especially Mauritania, Mali and Guinea. In contrast to western perception, Senegalese also emigrate not only to Europe or the West, but first of all to the African continent (51% of all migrants, source: HDI).