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Lessons Learned from the 1990–1997 Peace Process in the North of Mali

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The intra-state conflict in Mali between 1990–1997 represents a rare case of successful management of an internal violent conflict in Africa in the post-Cold War era. This article examines the conditions that permitted negotiations to yield a lasting peace in Mali. ``Success'' is measured in terms of the ability to arrive at an agreement that is not only signed by all parties, but that can be effectively implemented as well. The case of Mali exemplifies a conflict that was ``ripe for resolution'' at the outset of negotiations and yet required considerable effort to ensure success beyond the initial negotiated agreement. The article presents some lessons learned from the negotiation process and an analysis of why the outcome was durable. In Mali, ripeness was complemented by the ability to build trust and confidence through careful timing, by a flexible mix of informal and formal negotiations at different stages of the conflict, by appropriate third party intervention, and by popular participation from civil society. All of these factors were essential to success.

Affiliations: 1: The Research Council of Norway, Stensberggata 26, P.O. Box 2700, St. Hanshaugen, N-0131 Oslo, Norway (E-mail:


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