Achieving Peace in Northern Mali: Past Agreements, Local Conflicts, and the Prospects for a Durable Settlement

Achieving Peace in Northern Mali: Past Agreements, Local Conflicts, and the Prospects for a Durable Settlement

Achieving Peace in Northern Mali: Past Agreements, Local Conflicts, and the Prospects for a Durable Settlement

Achieving Peace in Northern Mali: Past Agreements, Local Conflicts, and the Prospects for a Durable Settlement

Synopsis

This report examines the prospects for stabilization in Mali following the political and military crisis that began in 2012. To this end, it examines Mali's peace settlements since the early 1990s to identify flaws and successes. The authors find that five recurrent issues have impeded the implementation of successive accords: the lack of representativeness of the peace-accord signatories; a flawed understanding of decentralization and democracy; the limited perceived legitimacy, in the north, of Bamako; persistent insecurity; and an absence of transitional justice and reconciliation. The report recommends building representativeness through a variety of measures to simultaneously address these issues and help craft a peaceful way forward for Mali. The report also explores whether Mali's neighbor Niger owes its current stability to a more favorable context, shrewd policies, or sheer luck and whether it might offer a model of resilience for Mali. The authors recommend emulating some of the policies that could account for Niger's sustained stability, such as better integration of Tuareg populations and a focus on development programs in addition to security, while recognizing that these do not make Niger impervious to a resurgence of the political turmoil it experienced in the past.

Excerpt

This report examines the prospects for stabilization in Mali following the political and military crisis that began in 2012. In that perspective, it examines why past peace accords failed and the extent to which those failures can be attributed to poor implementation and lack of good will from Bamako (the most commonly heard explanation) or to the presence of “spoilers” among northern communities whose political interests clashed with those of other factions. The report highlights the key grievances that have yet to be effectively addressed and suggests ways to include them in future peace and security agreements. Finally, to identify lessons that might be applied to Mali, the report examines the factors behind the relative stability of Mali’s neighbor Niger, which faces nearly all the same drivers of instability that Mali does.

This research was sponsored by the Office of African Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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