Synthesis: Security Sector Reform Process in Mali

Security Sector Reform Process in Mali

Executive Summary

Niagalé Bagayoko

The SSR process initiated after the 2012 crisis by local authorities with international partners’ support, did not start from scratch in Mali. Indeed, since the late 1990s, many initiatives driven by both state and non-state local stakeholders were adopted to improve Mali’s security system which has been marked—since the colonial era—by strong military influence in politics and the management of the state. Some of these initiatives, like the Shared Governance for Security and Peace Program (PGSPSP), deserve more attention in the current security context. Also, it is crucial to underscore and incorporate the national programs launched before massive support came from international donors, so as to achieve a reform process driven internally by actors of the Malian security system, rather than mere “ownership”.

Though significant challenges remain as of autumn 2017, it is important to highlight several achievements. First of all, the bulk of the institutional architecture directly responsible for the SSR process (SSR National Council –CNRSS-, the commissariat à la RSS, the CNDDR National Commission and the Integration Commission) has been established. More broadly, in terms of commitments, the Malian State has fulfilled many of its responsibilities, notably by appointing representatives within the newly created bodies and by harmonizing and modernizing (legal?) texts or adopting legislative and regulatory measures. Though the government has also invested substantial financial resources in the SSR process, its involvement has proven to be ambiguous and even uncertain in regards to the political will that actually underpins the above-mentioned initiatives.

The bloated composition of the CNRSS, as well as its attachment to the Prime Minister’s Office –and not the Presidency are likely to create operational problems. There is also the challenge of reconciling inclusiveness and technical expertise of the members appointed within the different bodies, namely by armed movements which are themselves characterized by dissension. In fact, disagreements between the Platform and the CMA armed groups have contributed in delaying the launch of the process, as the two coalitions, both of which signed the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, have remained slow in choosing their representatives within the SSR institutional architecture. Clearly, the conflicts between both movements have impacted the SSR process, and will likely persist as obstacles.

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