Mali FNF
Entrance to the training building "Ecole du Maintien de la Paix" (EMP) in Bamako. The building complex is one of the largest education and training facilities for UN peace and stabilization missions in West Africa.

Strengthening human rights and the rule of law - integrating refugees

Ecole du Maintien de la Paix education centre, which we also use for human rights events

Driveway to the “Ecole du Maintien de la Paix” (EMP) education centre in Bamako. The building complex is one of the largest training facilities for the UN peacekeeping missions in West Africa.

The crisis in Mali began in 2012. It was characterised by ongoing armed conflict involving groups of separatists, the intrusion of jihadists, a military coup, and French military intervention. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 350,000 people from the north of the country were forced to flee from fear of terror and violence. At the height of the hostilities, up to 600,000 people were displaced. Of these, 200,000 were internally displaced persons who sought safety in the southern parts of Mali. 

Peace processes and migration 

The government of Mali is facing the challenge of achieving reconciliation with the militias in the north of the country. Here, the plan is to gradually transfer state authority to local representatives, but without endangering the unity of the state. The process has to be accompanied by measures to strengthen state and civil society institutions, as well as numerous economic and political reforms. This is the only way to restore Malians’ trust in politics and the public administration – necessary conditions for the return of the refugees and social cohesion. Additional tasks include building up an effective Malian army capable of supporting peace after the end of the international stabilising mission and able to protect the populace against attacks. Women and the youth are particularly vulnerable to the causes and effects of flight and the resulting human rights violations. Their role and potential in rebuilding state, political and civil society institutions as well as in managing and mitigating conflict requires urgent support.

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom has been working in Mali since 2013.  The Foundation’s director for West Africa, Jo Holden, and his team coordinate activities in Mali from their offices in Dakar. Measures are tailored to the target groups’ needs and include training, public conferences and further education. Two topics enjoy particular prominence: 

1. Civic education and promoting democracy and the rule of law 

The Foundation supports its liberal political partners and civil society groups in Mali in the areas of democracy support and promoting the rule of law. It advocates for political and economic reforms. Selected politicians and future leaders participate in training courses in the region as well as programmes of visits to Germany. Through theses activities, partners are able to build networks with liberal peers in Africa, Europe and worldwide. The Foundation also places great importance on supporting youth and women’s organisations with a liberal orientation.  

2. Human rights and crisis management 

The Foundation supports human and refugee rights as well as conflict and crisis prevention. The aim is to combat the causes of migration and flight and assist in the integration of refugees by strengthening the culture of democracy, democratic institutions, and human rights. To this end, solution proposals and policy recommendations are developed in collaboration with representatives from politics and the public administration, the security forces as well as human rights and migrant organisations. 

The human rights seminars hosted in cooperation with the Strasbourg-based International Institute for Human Rights (IIDH) form an important part of the Foundation’s human rights work in Mali. At these events, judges, lawyers, government representatives, administrative staff, journalists, representatives of the security forces and NGO members receive joint training. This improves the ability of civil society to demand and implement human rights. The challenge is to make human rights activities more hands-on and prominent to raise understanding in the population and ownership on the part of the partners. This includes involving African trainers, working with a variety of Malian and international institutions, and public relations work using online publications, films and radio and TV programmes. In the medium term, these activities contribute to promoting awareness of human rights as a core liberal value, while also building respect for civil liberties and greater tolerance.


The following two liberal parties are the political partners in Mali: 

Union pour la République et la Démocratie (URD)

Parti Citoyen pour le Renouveau (PCR)

The Foundation’s work focuses mainly on the parties’ youth and women’s organisations. In the field of human rights, the Foundation works with: 

Commission Nationale des Droits de l’Homme (CNDH), Mali's Human Rights Commission

Fédération Nationale des Collectifs d'Organisations Féminines du Mali (FENACOF), the umbrella body of Mali’s women’s organisations

Haut Conseil des Collectivités territoriales, the High Council of municipalities and regional authorities

Further FNF partners in Mali include the international stabilisation mission MINUSMA (Mission Multidimensionnelle Intégrée des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation au Mali), the international observatory for democracy and conflict resolution OIDEC (Observatoire International de la Démocratie et de la Gestion des Conflits et des Crises) and the Malian branch of WILDAV (Women in Law and Development in Africa).

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