On 23 May 2013, The Hague Institute for Global Justice convened a select group of high-level experts and policymakers to discuss the latest developments in Mali and the response of the international community. The roundtable concluded that urgent action is needed, not only to maintain and improve security in Mali, but also to address the drivers of conflict, which include tense relations between the north and the south, the spread of criminal and terrorist groups in the north, and pervasive corruption and state involvement in criminal activities.

This brief builds on the conclusions of the roundtable. It argues that these underlying problems received too little attention in earlier efforts to stabilize the country and spur development. In addition, the brief argues that the approach adopted by the donor community in providing assistance and, in particular, the almost exclusive reliance on central state institutions to channel aid, deepened a number of these problems.

The brief concludes by sketching the contours of a comprehensive peacebuilding agenda for Mali, with directions for initiatives to be undertaken at the political level and in terms of security, transitional justice, good governance, rule of law, and economic development. In addition, recommendations outline how donors can avoid contributing to instability and help ensure that the logic and purpose of the comprehensive agenda are maintained over time.

Marije Balt is a former diplomat of the Dutch government and continues to work on Mali, currently as a peacebuilding expert at SpringFactor. Marco Lankhorst is a former Senior Researcher at The Hague Institute for Global Justice.