Ending the armed conflict in Mali (Kidal region)


Mediation by the governments of Algeria and Libya helped to establish a framework to end the Third Tuareg Rebellion in Mali, but the conflict itself was ended by talks hosted by local politicians.

After over a decade of relative peace, northern Mali was subjected to another armed conflict in 2006. A breakaway faction of the Tuareg movement known as the Alliance of 23 May for Democratic Change (Alliance démocratique du 23 Mai pour le changement, ADC) launched a series of attacks in the Kidal Region of northern Mali, demanding the full implementation of the National Pact that had been agreed in 1992.1 Building on its success during the previous Tuareg rebellion in Mali, the Government of Algeria mediated fresh negotiations almost as soon as the fighting started. The talks culminated on 4 July 2006 (just three months after the fighting began) with the signing of the Algiers Accord for the Restoration of Peace, Security, and Development in the Kidal Region.2 The terms of the agreement began to be implemented in 2007, inspiring large numbers of ADC personnel to lay down their arms and end their rebellion.3The prospect of ending this conflict before it gathered pace (UCDP did not record 25 battle-related deaths in 2006) was, however, terminated when the ADC split in May 2007, with one faction electing to continue the armed struggle.4 This faction changed its name to the North Mali Tuareg Alliance for Change (Alliance Touareg Nord Mali pour le Changement, ATNMC) and forged bonds with armed groups in neighbouring Niger, threatening to add an interstate dimension to the conflict.

Talks between the ATNMC and the Government of Mali took place in December 2007, again with Algerian mediation. Although some progress was made (such as a prisoner exchange), this peace process was derailed entirely when the ATNMC launched a series of offensives against the Malian armed forces, in some cases far to the south of the country. Aware of the limitations of military operations against the Tuareg, the Malian government continued to choose dialogue and negotiation, taking up an offer from the Government of Libya (which still enjoyed strong links with Tuareg communities) to mediate further talks. A brief ceasefire and another prisoner exchange took place in September 2008 because of these negotiations, but a final battle between the Malian armed forces (this time supported by considerable numbers of Tuareg personnel) and the ATNMC took place on 21 January 2009 in which the latter was defeated. Two days later, the remaining ATNMC cadres ended their insurgency after talks mediated by local politicians, ending the Third Tuareg Rebellion in Mali.5In the aftermath of the conflict, disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration programmes were implemented across Kidal and investment to the area did increase, but armed conflict erupted in Northern Mali once again in 2012.6

1 Stephanie Pezard & Michael Shurkin. Achieving Peace in Northern Mali: Past Agreements, Local Conflicts, and the Prospects for a Durable Settlement. (Santa Monica: RAND, 2015) p.16-7

2 Accord d’Alger pour la Restauration de la Paix, de la Sécurité et du Développement dans la région de Kidal, 2006. Available at: https://peacemaker.un.org/mali-accordalger2006 (Accessed 26/01/2022)

3 Jean Sebastian Lecocq. The Desert is Our Country: Tuareg Rebellions and Competing Nationalisms in Contemporary Mali. (Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam, 2002) p.335

4 UCDP. Mali: Azawad. (UCDP, 2022) Available at: https://ucdp.uu.se/conflict/372 (Accessed 26/01/2022)

5 Lecocq. The Desert is Our Country. p.337-9

6 Pezard & Shurkin. Achieving Peace in Northern Mali. p.19-20

Start Year


End Year



Kidal Region, Mali

UN Regional Group


Type of Conflict

Vertical (state-based) intrastate conflict

Type of Initiative

Mediation of a peace agreement

Main Implementing Organisation(s)

The governments of Algeria and Libya, and local people and organisations




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