In 2012, another armed conflict erupted between armed groups in northern Mali and the administration in Bamako. This time, the predominantly Tuareg opposition forces coordinated themselves through the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (Mouvement national de libération de l’Azawad, MNLA) and sought complete independence from Mali. The MNLA rapidly wrested control of much of the north from the Malian armed forces. Citing the president’s poor handling of the crisis, senior officers in the military staged a coup d’état in March 2012, leading to further instability. The situation continued to worsen for government forces, and in April the MNLA proclaimed the formation of the Independent State of Azawad after driving all Government of Mali forces from region. Within months, the short-lived state of Azawad was overrun by militants of Ansar Dine and several other radical Islamic groups who had gained a foothold in the region in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.<sub>1</sub>In this chaotic and uncertain context, intercommunal violence and low-intensity armed conflicts between social groups, either competing for resources or reigniting old grievances, became a prevalent and pervasive issue across Mali. Although the 2015 Algiers Peace Agreement represents progress towards a peaceful solution to the war between the MNLA and the Malian government, implementation remains limited, radical Islamic groups still pose a major threat in the north, and low-intensity armed conflict continues to plague significant portions of country.<sub>2</sub>
In this context, the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) has been operating in Mali (with a mandate from the Government of Mali beginning in 2011) in support of the national peace process and in an effort to reduce armed conflict in the regions of Kidal, Gao, Ménaka, Timbuktu, Taoudéni, Mopti, and Ségou. By working with local communities and other stakeholders affected by conflict along with the armed groups involved, HD has successfully mediated a series of peace agreements and continues to advise on the development of mechanisms to prevent conflict relapses, including local peace infrastructure such as monitoring commissions. These successes include a peace agreement between two Tuareg communities, the Dawsahak and Imajgan, another between the Idourfane and Ibogolitane communities from the regions of Gao and Ménaka, another accord between farmers and pastoralists in the municipality of Djenné, and a fourth agreement between the Dogon and Fulani communities Mopti – all of which were signed in 2018.<sub>3</sub>The following year, HD mediated the negotiation of a humanitarian agreement in Djenné between Bambara and Bozo farmers, Fulani pastorialists, and an armed group that had emerged from the hunting community in the area.<sub>4</sub>These efforts have demonstrably reduced armed conflict in Mali.