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Prioritising Local Governance: A Sociological Approach to Managing Organised Crime through Local Peace Mediation Processes

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van Santen, Emma 


Drug-trafficking has historically funded armed rebellions in Mali and fuelled inter-ethnic and inter-clan conflict over control of drug-trafficking routes in Northern communities. The proceeds of drug-trafficking have also financed the local governance of northern communities in Mali in the absence of effective state governance. Because of community reliance on organised crime for local governance services, the efforts of the 2015 Bamako national peace process to stamp out organised crime using confrontational law enforcement strategies without providing alternative sources of local governance only fuelled Northern grievances against the state.

Transformative approaches to peace mediation conducted at the local level – which use inclusive community-based dialogue and socio-economic development strategies to gradually turn criminal governance into legitimate governance – are required to effectively displace organised crime in Northern communities in the long-term. The security classifications currently relied upon by peace mediators to manage organised crime through national and local peace processes have limited capacity to inform transformative mediation because they remove organised crime from its socio-political context. This brief argues that sociological concepts and empirical analysis, which places organised crime in its social context and frames organised crime as a problem of local governance, can inform inclusive transformative local mediation focused on organised crime.



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Institute of Peace and Security Policy Brief Series

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