Corruption is widely recognized as one of the fundamental drivers of conflict in Mali and a lack of accountability to the population from the defence and security apparatus has fed into the unrest. With the support of the UNDEF, and in partnership with Transparency International’s National Chapter in Mali CRI-2002, we are seeking to reduce the risk of corruption in the Malian defence sector, through strengthening civil society’s expertise on defence accountability and good governance and building its capacity to influence anti-corruption reforms in the sector.
In many countries, there is a critical disconnect and lack of communication and understanding between civil society and defence and security institutions which results in very limited interaction and engagement. This hinders the effectiveness and accountability of defence institutions and restricts civilian understanding and knowledge of the sector which can lead to a shortfall in trust between the two.
We have conducted detailed research into institutional safeguards in Malian defence institutions and held a series of regional focus group discussions to form a solid evidence base to help build the capability and coordination of civil society advocacy efforts for greater defence accountability. The creation of a national Civil Society Organisations (CSO) Forum specialised on defence and security issues, made up of 30 Malian CSOs with its own structure and strategy has helped to coordinate civil society efforts and establish a credible platform with which to engage with the defence sector. We have also worked to build relationships with key government agencies in Mali and organised leadership days, bringing together senior defence officials with civil society actors to bridge the gap between the two and foster consensus on necessary reforms. This approach has been complemented by an ongoing media campaign which is raising awareness as to the detrimental effects of defence sector corruption among the wider Malian population.