Crisis in Mali: A peacebuilding approach
The crisis in Mali is defined by far too many commentators in terms of security for Western citizens, and realpolitik is dominating the agenda. In this paper we discuss what a peacebuilding approach to the conflict in Mali could look like.
While there are several narratives about Mali, the one currently dominating the agenda concerns the capture of Mali’s north by radicals and the perceived ungovernability of that region as a result of the lack of governance, and state complicity with criminal groups which in turn was exploited by well-armed, equipped and trained international terrorist groups.
The counter-terrorism campaign championed by France and its allies is in reaction to the various groups occupying the area, ranging from the jihadist al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) to salafist Ansar Dine. The campaign targets these groups as a security threat not only to the local countries and populations, but also to security in Europe.
However, counter-terrorism by external powers is not obviously consistent with peacebuilding – and, for Mali to recover from the current crisis, solutions must be rooted in peacebuilding, taking into account the historic, political, socioeconomic reality of the country. This angle is currently missing from many international narratives about intervening in Mali. In this paper we will discuss what a peacebuilding approach to the conflict in Mali could look like.
This paper is part of our Peace Focus series.