Why there is a need to reframe the discourse on armed groups in Mali: Requirements for successful disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration

Release date: 2019-10

In Policy Brief „Why there is a need to reframe the discourse on armed groups in Mali” the author Claudia Breitung addresses requirements for successful disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration in the country.

In particular, she gives the following policy recommendations:

\ Get agreement on integration modalities before advancing with global DDR in Mali  

There is an urgent requirement to endorse the Presidential decree on the modalities of the allocation of  ranks, command functions, and the reclassification of  ex-combatants of signatory movements in the relevant structures established by the state, including the  army and security forces. If first tranches of ex-combatants are not successfully (re-)deployed, the United  Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization   Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the government need  to halt and reconsider the pilot process. 

\ Progress in security sector reform is a prerequisite for DDR

DDR has to be more closely tied to progress in reforming  the Malian security sector. Distrust in the state and its  failure to provide protection have been quoted as one  of the main drivers of armed conflict in Mali. Integrating  more individuals into a force that lacks accountability  and oversight mechanisms might indeed worsen the  problem rather than solving it. International assistance  to the DDR process should be conditioned upon government efforts to enhance the capacity of the military  justice system and the strengthening of the oversight  role of civil society and parliament. 

\ Reframe the discourse on non-state armed groups

The discourse on Mali, which is currently driven by  counter-terrorist rhetoric, needs to be reframed. It has to shift from fighting terrorism to broader multi-dimensional peacebuilding. Stabilisation policy in Mali  needs to avoid a too narrow programmatic focus on  preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE).  International stabilisation actors, the Malian government and civil society need to develop and strengthen  programmes and tools addressing the root causes that  drive non-state armed groups to use violence. 

\ Address root causes of the conflict and respond to grievances non-state actors have

Taking a broader perspective in dealing with non-state  armed actors in Mali requires a better analysis of the  grievances these actors have. The government, supported  by the international community, needs to work on  strategies that acknowledge and better respond to these grievances rather than primarily focusing on ‘defeating terrorists’ through military security approaches.  International assistance to other policy areas must be  conditioned upon political will on the side of the Malian  government to address the root causes of the conflict.