Error message

Mali has witnessed significant progress since 2012, when a coup d’etat and a rebellion in the north led to extremist control of nearly two-thirds of the country. Malian authorities and the rebels are implementing a peace agreement under a democratically elected government. The success of this effort is central to improving stability in the Sahel, where about 4 million people are displaced by conflict. The U.S. Institute of Peace brought together U.S. government officials and experts on March 3 for a discussion on Mali’s transition, U.S. policies, and the specific role in Mali of USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives.

Peace in Mali- Political Transition and the Extremist Challenge in the Sahel-2-X3.jpg

Four years ago, Mali was destabilized amid a rebellion by northern armed groups, a coup d’etat by soldiers, and a security vacuum exploited by terrorists. Following interventions by the French military and a U.N. mission, the Malian government and a coalition of Tuareg and Arab groups have signed a peace deal. But al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other extremist elements have continued attacks, particularly on U.N. peacekeepers. In November, militant gunmen killed 20 people at a luxury hotel in Bamako. Such violence has underscored questions about the success of Mali’s transition.

USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) has worked in Mali since 2013. It has engaged with civil society and community organizations to support broad-based participation in the democratic process and to promote access to reliable information. Joel Hirst, OTI Country Director in Mali, along with a panel of experts, discussed Mali’s political transition and the issues still facing the country and the Sahel region.

Continue the conversation on Twitter with #MaliUSIP.


Nancy Lindborg, Opening Remarks
President, U.S. Institute of Peace

Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard, Panelist
Former U.S. Ambassador to Mali, 2011-2015

Kamissa Camara, Panelist
Senior Program Officer, West & Central Africa at National Endowment for Democracy

Joel Hirst, Panelist
Country Representative, Office of Transition Initiatives, USAID

Beth Cole, Moderator
Special Advisor on Violent Extremism, Conflict and Fragility, U.S. Institute of Peace


Related Publications

Q&A: The Siege in Mali

Q&A: The Siege in Mali

Friday, November 20, 2015

By: USIP Staff; Emily Fornof

As militant gunmen seize a hotel in the capital of the West African state of Mali, U.S. Institute of Peace Program Specialist Emily Fornof offers context for the incident. Fornof served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali, and is conducting graduate research on the country’s conflicts at George Mason University.

Violent Extremism; Democracy & Governance

Pakistani Party Chief Voices Concerns Over Entry Curbs

Pakistani Party Chief Voices Concerns Over Entry Curbs

Thursday, February 2, 2017

By: USIP Staff

“I do hope that this issue is sorted out very soon, because it is sending the wrong message and it’s shrinking the space for those of us out there fighting Islamic extremism on the front lines,” he told an audience of policy specialists, civil society leaders and others, in an event co-sponsored by the Heritage Foundation. Bhutto Zardari, the son of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, is chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, the largest opposition party in parliament. 

Violent Extremism; Global Policy; Democracy & Governance

Cooling Iraq’s Conflict With Community Dialogue

Cooling Iraq’s Conflict With Community Dialogue

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The violence of extremists—and the chaos they spawn—takes place in towns, villages, streets and homes, not along some far-off front line. That’s where extremist groups seek recruits and where residents they victimize plot revenge, said the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Sarhang Hamasaeed in a Ted Talk-style presentation during the Jan. 10 “Passing the Baton” conference. While national and international efforts to bring peace to such areas can help, dialogue and mediation at the community level has...

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Violent Extremism; Religion; Fragility and Resilience; Democracy & Governance

View All Publications