Context

At the beginning of 2012, Mali experienced an unprecedented political and security crisis. Since then, some steps have been taken to stabilize the country and restore peace, most notably through the signature of the 2015 Algiers Peace Agreement. However, the security and stability of Mali remain of concern, and the violence has since spread to other regions of the country. A plethora of internal and external actors influence conflict dynamics in the country today – and the presence of different armed groups continues to be a major destabilizing factor. National and international armed forces, including a large UN Peacekeeping mission, still struggle to protect civilians; national and international efforts do not seem sufficient to restore peace, as conflicts, mistrust and violence continue to rise. It is largely admitted that significant efforts are still required to address the structural problems that triggered the 2012 crisis, as well as the subsequent conflict and multi-dimensional violence that we see in Mali today.

In 2013, Interpeace and its partner, the Institut Malien de Recherche Action pour la Paix (IMRAP), conducted a national dialogue and research process to identify obstacles to and priorities for peacebuilding. More than 5,000 Malians were consulted in the eight regions of the country and refugee camps in Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger, resulting in the report “Auto-portrait of Mali”. Four major obstacles and priorities for peace were identified: the erosion of societal values, poor access to employment for youth, failure of governance and chronic insecurity. While the results are key to Interpeace’s work in the country, the country-wide dialogue process that began in 2013 defined the path forward for our work in Mali.



Goal

We aim to promote and achieve participatory and inclusive dialogue, particularly aimed at defining community-led actions to restore trust and collaboration between communities, authorities as well as security and defence actors. We also aim to support and inform the international community of community conflict dynamics, leading to more peace responsive programming and approaches. Our work is based on deep-rooted understanding of systemic conflict dynamics participatory and inclusive approaches to peacebuilding.



Supporting trust-building between communities and security and defence forces through women’s participation

Malians consulted by Interpeace and IMRAP agreed by consensus that the immediate priority should be to put an end to chronic insecurity by restoring trust between communities and the secuirty and defence forces (SDF) responsible for their protection. Indeed, in the eyes of both SDF and civilians, their mutual mistrust and the resulting lack of collaboration largely explain the current inability of the SDF to carry out their functions: Interpeace and IMRAP supported the Ministry of Security and Civil Protection in drafting their national policy on trust-building between security forces and communities. Malians also identified the active participation of women as a central element of trust-building. IMRAP and Interpeace led a participatory-action process to understand perspectives on role of women in security sector reform, and in the SDF.  The PAR process led to the production and dissemination of the...

Supporting the inclusive and participatory implementation of the Peace Agreement

The Mixed Patrols, better known as the Mécanisme Opérationnel de Coordination (MOC) are an armed body formed by former combatants from the three signatories of the peace agreement: the CMA, Plateforme and the Malian state/army. Their primary mandate is to protect Disarmament, Demobilization and Re-integration (DDR) sites, as part of the implementation of the 2015 Peace Agreement. The MOC are often perceived by the community as the main driver of insecurity and tensions in Gao. Its tense relations with local populations have aggravated the conflict. As a way to counter this reality, IMRAP has launched a trust-building process between the MOC and populations in this extremely tense environment, currently leading to the realization of joint community-led and owned actions. Interpeace and IMRAP have also supported the production of explanatory video-clips about the mission and mandate of the MOC, which ...

Promoting conflict sensitive programming

Interpeace has become the main point of reference in Mali regarding conflict sensitive programming. Interpeace’s Advisory Team (IPAT) with Canada, through the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program, trained MINUSMA staff in a context of a growing pressure on international actors in Mali to adapt its programming to be more conflict sensitive. The training on conflict sensitivity is also done to local actors in order to create a pool of experts that can effectively train others. Moreover, local analysis of conflict and resilience dynamics in Mopti and Gao, which were developed by Interpeace and IMRAP have set a standard about how to analyze local contexts, to inform and adapt programming. A comparative analysis of local conflict and resilience dynamics in the Ansongo, Bourem and Gao regions have been published. Interpeace is extending this work to humanitarian and development organisations, whil...

Transforming peacebuilding in Mali through innovative partnership models and methodologies

Since the publication of the “Auto-portrait of Mali”, Interpeace and IMRAP have been leading processes as a means of enhancing and strengthening dialogue, reconciliation and social cohesion within communities, based on priorities set by Malians themselves. Conscious of the limitations of the present system of peacebuilding in the country, Interpeace and IMRAP joined the Institute of Development Studies and Humanity United to develop a sustainable, long-term, multi-actor approach to peacebuilding owned by Malian communities from bottom to top. The process aims to promote and reinforce communities’ accountability and engagement to facilitate conflict prevention, management and resolution that are built upon local dynamics of resilience and locally-led and owned analyses. Communities will identify solutions – based on their resilience capacity – to the conflict and develop and implement appr...

Analyzing the root causes of youth-led violence in West Africa and the Sahel Region

Generally analyzed through the lenses of “radicalization” or “violent extremism”, dynamics of young people engaged in new forms of violence is the focus of growing international scrutiny, especially in West Africa. However, as this interest grows, we realize that our current understanding does not allow us to fully grasp the phenomenon’s complexity. Furthermore, young people are rarely associated to this analysis and even less so to the solutions developed. Therefore, the solutions proposed can only be partial or ineffective. A Participatory Research led by Interpeace, together with its partners IMRAP and Indigo Côte d’Ivoire, supported by UNICEF, describes how societies and dynamics surrounding young people in Mali and Côte d’Ivoire structure the trajectories of some of the latter towards violence. Ideology (namely religious) appears less like a decisive motivation, but rather as l...

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