Oxford, England — Long-term peace in Mali will require major investment in governance, along with humanitarian and early recovery support for the crisis-stricken West African country, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark said Monday.
"UNDP will focus its interventions in Mali on peace consolidation, building the capacities of transitional institutions, and assistance for disaster risk reduction and community resilience," she said. "We will support the processes leading to the next elections and the preparation of a development programme for the north of the country."
Long-term stability "requires dedication to inclusive governance and to inclusive and equitable development across the country," she said in a lecture at Oxford University, adding, "Humanitarian support and early recovery activities must proceed together, paving the way for a resumption of long-term development."
"In the North, state authority and services must be re-established, infrastructure rehabilitated, and livelihoods restored. Reestablishment of the rule of law will also be vital to putting the country back on track."
Humanitarian access is said to be improving in Mali but the situation remains volatile, with some 10 million people in the wider Sahel region at risk of starvation this year. The Sahel region comprises Mali, as well as Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Gambia, Cameroon, and Nigeria. The humanitarian community has appealed for more than US$1.6 billion to help millions in need in the region.
In Mali, more than 4.3 million people are in need of humanitarian aid - including 500,000 considered food insecure - since fighting erupted in January 2012 between Government forces and Tuareg rebels, uprooting thousands. Since Jan. 11, some 4,000 French troops backed by warplanes and helicopters have driven Islamist rebels from urban centers in northern Mali into the mountains and desert.
Mali conflict increasingly typical
Mali's crisis "is an example of the types of conflicts we are increasingly witnessing: The conflict there is not a war between states, but, rather, within a state. It has regional dimensions... Battle lines are not clearly drawn," Clark said.
"Mali's road back from this combination of violent conflict and constitutional crisis will require international support for some time, including for resuming development progress."
Preventing conflict generally requires establishing good governance, improving living conditions, reducing inequality, and addressing political, social, and economic exclusion, Clark said.
While the historical UN approach to resolving violent conflict meant facilitating comprehensive, one-time peace agreements followed by efforts to repair the damage caused by war, "in today's more fluid conflicts, where peace agreements are signed, they are often not holding," she said.
"Even without a relapse into full-scale conflict, weak post-conflict governance often allows other forms of violence to flourish, such as sexual and gender-based violence, and murder rates after civil wars end politically tend to increase dramatically."
Development deficits, exclusion, insecurity
Many drivers of conflict are rooted in development deficits, suggesting many opportunities exist for development actors to contribute to breaking the cycle of armed violence, she said: "Political and social exclusion can also be powerful motivators of upheaval leading to conflict as we have seen in a number of countries, in recent times."
"Peace and sustainable development begin with the ability of all people to have a voice and participate in decisions affecting their lives, with effective and inclusive institutions, and with the ability to manage emerging risks and crises," she said.
Some 1.5 billion people worldwide live in fragile and conflict-affected states or in countries with very high levels of criminal violence, which poses unique development challenges, she said.
"Without a sense of security, people don't invest in their own future. Crops can't be planted if fields are mined, or harvests can't be reaped. It isn't reasonable to expect families to send children to school if they risk violence en route. Strengthening an individual and collective sense of safety is essential to peace-building and advancing human development."