In June 2015, the warring parties in Mali signed a peace agreement aimed at providing stability to the besieged nation.
However, in May, the country experienced its own second time in nine months. Weeks before, there was a former rebel leader who had been part of the peace process murder. Violent groups, including those related to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS), frequently trigger attacks in northern, central and eastern Mali, and their presence extends to the south of the country and to the borders. Meanwhile, France has announced the withdrawal of Operation Barkhane, its counterterrorism effort in Mali and the Sahel.
As the UN Security Council prepares to vote later this month on whether to extend the UN peacekeeping mission there, it is time to check the reality of the effectiveness of international support. current in the country’s peace process.
Mali needs more practical help from the international community to overcome the stumbling blocks to peace and needs it now.
Finding out what to do next should begin with an examination of how the 2015 peace agreement was implemented – and not – Signed after the country’s civil war in 2012, the agreement involved rebuilding a unified national army and decentralize political power and decision-making, paving the way for a more stable and secure Mali. But the process of translating the agreement is actually stalled and, amid Bamako’s political turmoil, the prospects for implementation are fading.
As an independent observer independent of the implementation of the peace agreement, The Carter Center has first-hand information on why the agreement has been so difficult to comply with and what can really be achieved, which we have detailed in our reports.
While the 2015 agreement is far from perfect, it retains the basic features needed to resolve grievances at the root of Mali’s multiple civil wars since independence. In principle, the signatories – both the pre- and post-coup governments, and the Azawad Movement Platform and Coordination (or CMA) – still support it. The international community, which pushed hard for the agreement and pledged to support implementation, should now focus on urgent measures to break the balance and prevent this important pillar of peace in Mali and potential bulwark against the violent contagion of the region would fall by the wayside.
First, the coalition of countries that promoted the agreement should launch a renewed, high-level diplomatic effort, supported by senior international military advisers, to work with the government, the CMA and the Platform to develop a plan for to a unified national army.
The army’s inability to secure northern Mali and the apparent reluctance to integrate ex-CMA and platform fighters, as prescribed by the peace agreement, have created a security vacuum in the north.
Leaving aside the national army, the armed groups consolidated a new parallel security alliance. The alliance insists it responds to harsh local realities: the need to protect communities from violent groups and thugs and create a safe space for public services. But it is also an emerging rival for Mali’s national security and defense forces and has at times seemed reluctant to integrate its fighters and weapons into national forces. Alliance members also have a checkered history of relationships with violent groups.
The integration of armed groups into national forces is a prerequisite for a sustainable peace, while the creation of a unified national army would strengthen Mali’s ability to deal with threats from violent hardline and crime groups. organized. After six years of half-steps, it is time for all parties to agree on the structure and composition of the unified army and begin to put it in place.
Second, Mali’s neighbors, increasingly threatened by the country’s metastatic violence, should play a more prominent role in leading efforts to overcome specific obstacles to the implementation of the agreement and address the shared vulnerabilities.
After the coup in August 2020 and again after the recent coup, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States he responded with determination, pushing to return to civilian rule. The concerted encouragement and pressure of Mali’s neighbors are equally necessary to help the signatories convey the long-standing provisions of the agreement on power exchange, justice and economic development, many of which are which are fundamental demands of armed groups and have remained largely unaddressed. by the succession of national governments.
Finally, Mali’s partners should push the signatories to explain the potential benefits of the agreement to the public and understand the citizens ’perspectives on it. Many Malians distrust, misunderstand or oppose the peace agreement because they have not seen results and because political actors have largely characterized it. Interim outreach efforts have begun, but more are needed, including town halls, listening sessions and radio campaigns, which could be supported by the international community. With access to information, public apprehensions should decrease and accountability improve.
A fundamental change of direction is needed for the Mali peace agreement to be viable. Mali’s international partners have long seen a supporting role in the peace process, assuming the government could take responsible corrective action to address the country’s problems. The recent coup questions this assumption and stresses that the Malian parties need renewed and focused international support to fulfill the promise of the agreement and address the fundamental issues of violence the country has suffered since 2012.
Resolute and vigorous action by international supporters of the agreement could provide the support the Malian parties need to move forward. In the absence of such action, the 2015 agreement will continue to fade and the prospects for sustainable peace in Mali and the region will be reduced.
The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.