Matt Herbert and Max Gallien

Smuggling has historically been a solution for Maghrebi states, ensuring stability in often marginalised areas. This has changed in recent years, with increasingly securitised policies being put in place.

These policies have had a significantly negative impact on borderland communities, leading to heightened unemployment, crime and migration.

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Key Findings

Historically, contraband commerce (the smuggling of food, fuel, clothes and people) has been a solution for Maghrebi states, offering a means of enhancing stability in sometimes fractious borderlands.

The security strategies of Maghrebi governments tacitly enabled contraband activities, as long as these dealings remained under the observation of and control of the state.

In recent years, Maghrebi government approaches have become increasingly zero-sum and securitised, owing to rising transborder violence and European efforts to buttress border security and limit migration.

The Maghreb’s borderland communities face growing unemployment, crime and migration as a result of these policies.

People living in border regions have sought to adapt and respond, although the informal sector in the region’s border areas remains in a state of crisis.

About the authors

Dr Matt Herbert is the Research Manager for the North Africa and Sahel Observatory at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, and a Senior Research Consultant at the Institute for Security Studies.

Dr Max Gallien is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies and a Senior Fellow at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

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