The independent resource on global security


Mali, Mount Hombori. Photo: Flickr/Jeanne Menj

Mali is struggling to build peace and achieve security after an armed rebellion broke out in northern Mali in January 2012. The crisis started as a Tuareg rebellion against the Malian government, the fourth in a series of rebellions starting in 1963. The 2012 rebellion developed into a violent extremist insurgency as a number of violent extremist groups joined in and took over several cities and territory in northern Mali.

A peace agreement was reached after international mediation, led by Algeria and with the participation of international organizations including the African Union and the United Nations, and by neighbouring countries. By June 2015, all parties had signed the agreement, marking the beginning of a comprehensive implementation process. However, several challenges remain to building a peaceful society in Mali.

Violence has now spread to the centre of the country, an area of socioeconomic diversity where pastoralist communities, farming communities, fishermen, traders—and a variety of ethnic groups—cohabitate. The perceived absence of trusted arbitrators to resolve disputes in central Mali—namely the state and customary authorities—who would normally be able to de-escalate disputes before they become violent, has led to a cycle of violence. This is compounded with the spread and multiplication of armed groups who are in part enabled by the proliferation of illicit trafficking of weapons over porous borders in the wider region.

One important role of civil society is contributing to the safety and security of the population. In the aftermath of the 2012 crisis in Mali, the local population has experienced, among other negative effects, gross violence and extreme human rights abuse. To address these issues and ensure the safety and security of the population, civil society can contribute to related policies and policy implementation at the local and national levels. SIPRI, in partnership with different donors and partners in Mali, monitors and reports on the safety and security challenges of the population at the community level across Mali, and uses these findings to support policy recommendations for the Malian government and international actors involved in the region.

Research staff

Dr Shourjya Deb is a Researcher in the SIPRI Sahel and West Africa Programme.
Dr Issaka Souaré  is an Associate Senior Researcher working with SIPRI’s Sahel and West Africa Programme.
Annelies Hickendorff is a Research Assistant with SIPRI’s Sahel and West Africa Programme.
Louise Edgren is a Research Assistant in charge of Budget and Finance with the Sahel/West Africa Programme.