In recent years, Mali has been confronted by a profound crisis with serious political, security, socio-economic, humanitarian and human rights consequences. In January 2012, the insurgency quickly escalated into a coup d’état casting once again Mali in a conflict and exposing the whole area to new waves of violence, instability and insecurity. The fighting created the conditions and space for extremist Islamist forces to get involved, influence and orient the insurgents struggle. Succeeding a foreign military intervention aiming to limit the separatist movements, the United Nations put in place the “Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali” (MINUSMA).
The instability of Mali dates back to its independence in 1960. Whilst the international community is struggling to find answers to the multiple challenges that will lead to the long-lasting stabilization of Mali, the question arises as to whether peace will be possible without taking a broader perspective of the troubled Sahel region. It is increasingly recognized that identity struggles in the region cannot be stopped until each of the single quests are peacefully engaged and duly addressed. These waves of insurgencies – in Mali and in the sub-Saharan Africa – are the consequences of an incredibly diversified context in which state borders are, in large part, still the ones that were arbitrarily drawn up by the European powers during the period of colonization.
It is time for the international community to start considering the idea that addressing these struggles, besides being often legitimate on the basis of the people’s right to self-determination, would represent a first important step in a fully self-owned process of development of the African continent. Moreover, such an approach could eventually lead to a pacification and stabilization of the region and allow positive and constructive energies, often stifled by extremisms, of the continent to come forward and start, this time, a new wave of growth and progress.
Lead by former SRSG and specialist for the Sahel region, Ahmed Ould-Abdallah, the discussion will focus both on strategies for the successful transition within the realm of the peace mission in place as well as on the cross-border implications of the ongoing conflict.
- Ms. Sally Fegan-Wyles, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Acting Head of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research
- H.E. Ahmed Ould-Abdallah, President, Centre for Strategy and Security in the Sahel Sahara (Centre 4S)
- Lt. Gen. the Honorable Roméo A. Dallaire (Ret’d), current Canadian Senator and Founder of the Child Soldiers Initiative (CSI)
- Lt. Gen. Chikadibia Obiakor, Former UN Military Advisor for Peacekeeping Operations and Former Force Commander of the UN Mission in Liberia
- Mr. Éric Blanchot, Coordinator for the Sahel region, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue
- Mr. / Ms. Geneva Center for Security Policy (tbc)