AfP’s Mali Affinity Group Represented at New York Event

On November 9th, several members of AfP’s Mali Affinity Group participated within a New York event called “Challenges and Opportunities for Civil Society Contributions to the Malian Peace Accord and its Implementation.” The meeting was sponsored by the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) and the International Peace Institute. It involved numerous stakeholders from the Malian Government, civil society and the United Nations. Below is a summary of discussion points:

Mr. Boubacar Thera, National Coordinator of the West African Network for Peacebuilding in Mali
The government of Mali has made positive steps to improve the economy; however, there’s a lot to be done to improve living conditions in the country and end human rights abuses in the North. The international community needs to continue to support Mail as it navigates this fragile peace. The UN mandate has helped stabilize things a bit. Currently, confidence is lacking between the security forces and the government, the security forces and the public, and the public and the government.

Ms. Saran Keita, President of the Peace and Security Network of Women in the ECOWAS Region
It’s extremely difficult to access all parts of the country. The government needs to be more receptive to suggestions from civil society. A majority of the population still do not understand the constitution or the peace accord, there needs to be an effort to disseminate information and education the general population.

Mr. Aguissa Ag Mohamed, Executive director of the Malian Coalition for the International Criminal Court
The fear of retribution and lawlessness is hampering the work of civil society. The government must understand the role of civil society and there needs to be representatives who can speak for civil society and the constituency they represent. There needs to be a mobilization of civil society.

Ms. Nene Konate, Executive director of the Malian Institute of Research and Action for Peace
If civil society organizations are to play their rightful role, there needs to be proper technical and financial support from the government for their work. Civil society needs international partners. Civil society must request support for ownership of the outcome. The focus of her group has been to build capacity with the assistance of international NGOs and to complement the work of the government.

Ambassador Issa Konfourou (Malin Ambassador to the United Nations): Acknowledged and thanked Mali Moving Forward members doing his opening remarks. In his view, the key challenges to implementing the peace agreement are:

-Stability, internal and external
-Insecurity at the local level, especially in Gao
-Drug traffickers

Overall, the speakers felt that they have shown to be willing partners to the government and that the government could do more to bring them into the fold. Ambassador Konfourou pushed back on that critique and said that civil society have been invited to meetings and that the government worked to update civil society groups. He did concede that the government could do more to diversify the types of civil society groups it works with, specifically youth and women’s groups.