The independent resource on global security

Case study: Mali

Organization: Coalition Nationale de la Société pour la Paix eet la Lutte contre la Proliferation des Armes Légéres (CONASCIPAL) [Civil society against arms proliferation]

Title: Lutte contre le Terrorisme au Mali: Gestion, Prévention et une Mobilisation pleine et entière de la Société Civile [Fight against terrorism in Mali: management, prevention and a full mobilization of civil society]

This research looks at the perspectives of civil society groups and actors on counterterrorism policies and measures in Mali.

The northern regions of Mali—including cities like Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, which are located in border areas with Algeria, Niger and Mauritania—have been characterized by acute insecurity, often manifested in high levels of armed robbery, ethno-religious militias, kidnapping and other inter-group clashes. All of this occurs against the background of pervasive poverty, continuous low intensity conflicts and an extremely vast and poorly policed territory.

In recent years, new security threats such as drug trafficking and the penetration of terrorist groups—notably al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)—have emerged. This has made Mali another frontier in the global struggle against transnational terrorism, and a recipient of external assistance to combat terrorist groups. While the presence of AQIM in Mali has created important local and international security concerns, older forms of insecurity remain unique to local communities. The combination of these old and new insecurities has fuelled increased demand for and proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

The central focus of the research is the role of civil society in counterterrorism policy and measures in Mali. It also seeks to document civil society perspectives on these issues. Differences in perception between the people of the north and the authorities result in the people dealing with rebellions and acts of armed banditry that the government calls terrorism. The research aims to profile the lack of involvement of civil society and its impact on counterterrorism, and highlight the potential for civil society to contribute to counterterrorism efforts.