Perceptions of security in the regions of Mopti, Gao and Timbuktu in Mali

As part of the “Just Future” programme, funded by
Cordaid, SIPRI and its partner POINT SUD are conducting
perception surveys among a representative
sample of 528 people in 16 communes and 18 localities
in the regions of Mopti, Timbuktu and Gao in Mali.

Perceptions of security in the regions of Maradi, Tahoua and Tillabéri in Niger

As part of the “Just Future” programme funded by
Cordaid, SIPRI and its partner LASDEL are conducting
perception surveys with a representative sample of
693 people in 6 communes and 27 localities in the
Maradi, Tahoua and Tillabéri regions of Niger.

“This time, we made a big leap forward”. Gender advocacy and women’s governance participation in Burundi

In 2022, Burundi saw the first-ever election of the community councils of notables of hills and city quarters. It is a far-reaching reform of justice governance and decision-making processes. The Association des Femmes Rapatriées du Burundi (AFRABU), as a Just Future alliance member, unabatedly and successfully advocated for the inclusion of women in the new council structure.

Governance structures in Burundi are decentralised down to the administrative level of the municipalities, and to the urban neigbourhoods and hill zones, of which there are some 2900, spread over 18 provinces. With the first-ever election, in every hill, of the conseils des notables collinnaires or council of hill notables, in September 2022, the people of Burundi had a say in how and by whom community disputes and conflicts are managed and settled. Because the council of hill notables is a judicial institution at hill level that carries out reconciliation in dispute cases out of the public order, including cases of gender-based and domestic violence, hereditary disputes, and disputes of land ownership. Elected members of the councils are called ‘abahuza’, or ‘conciliators’, as their core mission is to reconcile conflicting parties at the community level.

Bringing justice services closer to people

This newly created governance structure has points of resemblance with the age-old community-based institution of the Bashingantahe, the councils of elders whose mission is to safeguard peace and social harmony by conciliating conflicting parties. And which, very often, used to exclude women. The idea, ruled by the national government, that the councils of notables replace the older Bashingantahe structures, is much cause for debate. “There are important differences between the old and the new hill councils,” says Marie Concessa Barubike, project coordinator of Just Future alliance member AFRABU (Association des Femmes Rapatriées du Burundi, the association of women repatriated from Burundi). “Bashingantahe councils are not elected, they are traditional and membership is based on status. They do handle disputes, but they do not have any power to settle them legally. Hill and neighbourhood notables are elected, and their council is a judiciary institution, auxiliary to the community court. In case they cannot settle the dispute, they can refer it to the community court system. In short, for citizens, the council of notables is the first entry point in the justice system. Its establishment is an important step to bring justice services closer to the people.”

Breaking through a barrier

In September 2022, millions of Burundian citizens cast their votes and 44,244 notables were elected. Importantly, 10,781 of them were women. This is 24,4%. And even though women’s representation in the councils does not mirror demographical gender proportions by far, according to Marie Concessa this is big step forward. “Women in Burundi never won more than 20% of the votes in hill-level elections. This time, we did. And doing it we have broken through a barrier, we have passed a milestone. This is of historical importance, not only for women but for the inclusivity of governance and decision-making in the country as a whole.” But the leap forward didn’t come just by itself. “Society in Burundi is deeply patriarchal and traditionally women are kept out of a lot of decision-making structures,” she says. “It took a lot of concerted advocacy by civil society activists for women to be elected in such numbers.”

A learning laboratory

After living a challenging life in exile, Marie Concessa returned to Burundi in 1997. Back home she was struck by the degree of discrimination against women, including herself. She started taking part in advocacy initiatives that promoted the rights of women, youth, and minority groups in her country. Ever since 2009, when she joined AFRABU, she has been a strong and now reputable civil society activist. AFRABU has collaborated with Cordaid since 2014 in designing and rolling out advocacy initiatives and campaigns that promote the rights, as well as the representation and participation of women and youth in governance structures. Marie Concessa: “Cordaid has been a learning laboratory for me. Thanks to their support, AFRABU colleagues and myself have become stronger activists, with better lobbying and advocacy skills.” As a Just Future ally, in 2022, AFRABU, hand in hand with other civil society actors and in the run-up to the elections, has unabatedly campaigned for inclusivity of the councils of notables and their electoral process.

Organising advocacy from local to national levels

“The 01/03 law of 23 January 2021, which established the legal framework of the councils of notables and the subsequent decrees that regulated the election process, was completely mute to the call for the inclusion of women. It showed no gender awareness or sensitivity to existing gender inequalities. There were no requirements at all that of the 15 members per council, a certain number had to be women. This is not conducive to gender equality or justice. Yet, the councils themselves are meant to play a key role when it comes to social justice,” Barubike explains. Right from the start, in 2021, and under the umbrella of the Just Future alliance, AFRABU and its allies, advocated for a more gender-aware framework of the council of hill notables institution. “We went to communities and vulgarised, explained, and discussed the law with women in the hill zones in seven of the 17 provinces. This is also when we observed that our concerns were shared by women all over Burundi. Which gave us the support and legitimacy to proceed with our advocacy efforts on higher levels.” Part of these consultations were also the women leaders that, later on, would campaign in favour of female election candidates.   Subsequently, AFRABU connected with other national civil society actors, including the Forum National des Femmes (the national women’s forum) and the Asscociation des Femmes Juristes (association of women lawyers), who provided legal expertise. “Together, we formed a unit that prepared an advocacy paper, analysing the discriminatory character of the legal framework as well as presenting means to make it more favourable to the inclusion of women and youth.” This joint paper, initiated by AFRABU and signed by a large number of national civil society organisations, was then shared personally with political authorities, including the President of the Republic. Two separate notes, expressing the same concerns, were shared as well, one with the national commission overseeing the launch and operationalisation of the councils of hill notables, and the other to the Minister of Gender.

The role of the media in advocacy

AFRABU also involved local and national media outlets in its advocacy work. “Together with other civil society leaders we have frequently conveyed the message on radio, in on and offline opinion articles, that at least 30% of hill notable council members have to be women. We aired advertising spots telling listeners and viewers to vote for women. And prior to the elections, we also arranged with media outlets that women candidates had the opportunity to get their messages across, express themselves freely and convince voters on tv and radio shows,” Marie Concessa adds.   This concerted action had an impact. Maybe not the 30% impact women fought for, but still. “The electoral code that was established leading up to the September 2022 elections, contained certain articles stating that gender had to be taken into account. And some national and local authorities publicly announced that at least 30% of council members had to be women. This in itself was a recognition of our demands,” Marie Concessa states.

The joy is bigger that the feeling of disappointment

As for the election results, indeed the 30% goal was not met. “24,4% of the elected hill notables are women”, Marie Concessa says. “Hill-level elections, not for these new councils of notables, but for other governance structures, have existed since 2005. Women’s representation always lingered around 5% to 8%. This time, we made a big leap, thanks to hard work. All the more so, because the hill notable councils settle the kind of disputes in which women’s demands for justice aren’t met, like land disputes, family disputes, and cases of sexual abuse and gender-based violence. So, the joy is stronger than the feeling of disappointment for not having met our 30% goal. And of course, the struggle continues.” Through community sensibilisation, joint advocacy towards national political decision-makers, and media campaigns, AFRABU and other Burundian civil society leaders fighting gender inequality, managed to curb the gender muteness of the 01/03 Law. Not by changing the law, but by influencing its application on the ground and in the lives of people. After the election of thousands of women, AFRABU’s job wasn’t finished. “After the elections, in seven provinces, with Just Future support, we started training some of the newly elected hill notables. These training sessions were mainly about gender awareness and conflict sensitivity. By this I mean, for example, that hill notables must be very well aware of other conflicts within the community, related to the case at hand, and how a judgment or settlement can influence and sometimes aggravate other tensions and disputes. For this, you need to have the skills and the sensitivities, also to set up and lead community consultations in the right manner. Which is what we focused on in our training sessions.”

The ’gender effect’

The elections took place. In 2910 hill communities the councils of notables have been installed and have been in office for some months. Is there any noticeable ‘gender effect’? “We are in close touch with communities in the seven provinces where we have been doing citizen consultations and where we trained council members. What we hear and see there, is that decisions are taken jointly, by men and women. It might seem trivial, but it isn’t, it’s crucial. Because usually, in these kinds of decision-making structures it’s men who decide. Now, what we see in the councils of hill notables we follow, is that men cannot and do not take decisions by themselves. They can only come to a concluding decision if the women of the council took part in the decision-making.”

Follow-up and data collection

To properly follow up on previous advocacy and training activities, AFRABU set up a trimestral data collection mechanism in 41 municipalities spread over seven provinces. “In our next data collection round, we will include interviews with community members, including elected councillors, women and men, of how and to what degree dispute settlement took place in gender and conflict sensitive manner.”   Data collection and on-the-ground gauging of gender and conflict awareness are mainly done by the many community members AFRABU has been training and working with over the years. “They now have the tools and questionnaires to do this on a regular basis. They probe members of their community, on topics like women’s and youth’s participation in decision-making, and on how satisfied they are with the gender awareness of community leaders, including hill notables and other leaders. Gender awareness is about more than addressing wrongs done to women. It is about addressing social inequality in all its forms. We will check, by taking samples of settled dispute cases, whether women, but also people with a handicap, young people and other groups that are often discriminated, were fairly treated and that their justice demands were properly addressed.”

Every step is a victory

Every year within the Just Future alliance, up to 2025, comes with specific goals and targets. 2022, with the elections, was an intense and successful year in Burundi, when it comes to the struggle for the inclusion of women in decision-making. But what is AFRABU’s long-term goal? Their dream? “To end the inequalities that come with the patriarchal system we are living in. We want to see the end of man’s superiority over women, in governance, legal systems, norms, and traditions. We will not get there in my lifetime, but every step is a victory. And change has to start at the community level, and from there, we change our country. Which is exactly what we have done in 2022.”

Q2 updates & upcoming events

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Advocating for inclusive security in Mali “Top-down approaches have failed. It’s high time to turn things around.”

For the past couple of years, as part of the Just Future Alliance, and in close collaboration with Cordaid, three civil society organisation have jointly campaigned for more inclusive security governance in Mali. In an increasingly militarised context, they continue to push for a human and bottom-up approach to security. What have they done in 2022? How do they work and what difference does it make?

written by Ellen Lammers and Frank van Lierde

Mali’s multidimensional crisis

Since 2012, when jihadist and separatist insurgencies broke out in the North of the country, Mali is gripped by a multidimensional political and security crisis. Armed conflict has been ongoing, jihadists affiliated with al-Qaida and Islamic State escalated their operations in central Mali and unrest spread to Niger and Burkina Faso.

Since 2020, the country is ruled by a military regime that has forced France to remove its troops, deployed since 2013 on an anti-jihadist mission. The country’s legislative power, the Conseil National de Transition, is also headed by a military leader, as are many other governmental bodies. Supposedly, Russian private security company the Wagner Group has been brought in to train and boost Malian armed forces.

As government control is weak, particularly in the North and Central parts of Mali, kidnappings and banditry have become common. Thousands of civilians have been killed across the country. More than 2 million people have fled their homes.

Collaborative civil society action in Gao

In this volatile and increasingly shrinking civic space context, in 2022 Just Future’s civil society allies operating in Mali have continued to take collaborative action to address Mali’s crisis. They did so by promoting, amongst others, a security system and security governance that is more responsive to people’s needs, more accountable, and people-centred. Their research and advocacy are geared, in short, toward a more democratically governed and inclusive security sector, against all odds. Most of their research and fieldwork took place in one of the country’s most insecure and troubled areas, the region of Gao, the millennia-old trans-Saharan multicultural trade centre and also the largest city in eastern Mali.

The Just Future alliance has three civil society partners working in or on the Gao region in operating in Mali. The ASSN (African Security Sector Network) is a pan-African network of security sector reform practitioners, academics and researchers, headquartered in Accra and with regional nodes across the African continent. It is headed by political researcher Niagalé Bagayoko. The RENEDEP (Réseau National pour l’Éveil Démocratique et Patriotique, (national network for democratic and patriotic awakening) is a leading Malian civil society organisation, promoting the inclusion of youth and women in governance and decision-making, access to justice and the rule of law. Its secretary general is Ibrahima Amadou Maïga. ADD (Aide au Développement Durable/Support for sustainable development) focuses on access to justice, peacebuilding, and people-centred security. It has a community-based approach and pays particular attention to the inclusion of youth and women in efforts to solve crises in conflict-affected communities. Its president is Hamzata Ag Didi.

Addressing insecurity starts with knowledge of on-the-ground realities

Thorough and in-depth collaborative research of these three actors, both in 2021 and 2022, has paved the way for community dialogue processes and further advocacy efforts towards security actors and authorities, on local, regional, and national levels. The overall rationale of this work is, in the words of Niagalé Bagayoko, “to give more prominence to on-the-ground experts and on-the-ground realities, and to pursue a bottom-up approach in addressing and solving conflicts”.

Top-down security governance and conflict management approaches, including international military and security missions, haven’t been successful, to say the least. “As we have amply seen in Mali, elsewhere on the African continent, but also in Afghanistan,” Niagalé adds.

In fact, these top-down approaches have tightened the knot of the country’s complex crisis. It’s high time to turn things around. Hence the importance, in the eyes of Just Future’s allies in Mali, of a bottom-up conflict-solving dynamic. “Top-down approaches have failed. They haven’t been able to address human suffering, as civilians remain the main victims of all violent actors. It is high time to turn things around. Bottom-up approaches, whereby the realities of local communities are the starting point, are the only way to make security governance more effective and responsive to people’s security needs,” Niagalé claims.

Two ASSN-RENEDEP and two ASSN-ADD research papers have intricately analysed and mapped conflict realities of the Gao area. One of the 2022 ASSN-ADD papers presents an overview of all the non-jihadist armed groups in the area, their history, organisation, administration, and financing. Why is it so important to map this? “Because very often, people from the outside involved in conflict-solving and peacebuilding efforts, even in the capital of Bamako, do not know the realities on the ground. How can peacebuilding and security missions be successful, if they are not in tune with reality?” says Hamzata Ag Didi. The research he contributed to provides knowledge of the history, culture, and causes for grievance of the Touareg, Songhay, Arab and Fulani (Peulh) people in multicultural Gao, of the armed groups affiliated with these communities, and of the role of the Malian armed forces. Addressing the intra- and inter-communal conflict in Gao, and in any part of Mali for that matter, starts with acquiring in-depth knowledge. Even addressing Jihadist insurgencies, requires this historical and sociological knowledge, as these post-2012 extremist movements often capitalize on existing communal frictions.

A 2022 ASSN-RENEDEP research paper analyses how, throughout the ages, traditional and customary leaders and institutions have played a major role in preventing, addressing, and solving conflicts in the ethnically diverse Gao region. It also shows how, by armed force and asymmetric rule, Jihadists have disturbed these intricate conflict-solving mechanisms. It comes with a strong recommendation towards current military authorities, to give back conflict-solving prominence to local customary institutions, as a means to increase stability, enhance trust and heal the social fabric.

Out of the shade of men

Capitalizing on this 2021 research, and also as part of the Just Future programme in Mali, further research investigations were carried out in 2022. One ASSN-ADD report details the mechanisms and motives of recruitment of youth in armed groups and self-defence structures. Knowing that is the first step in designing measures to stop this from happening. A consecutive ASSN-RENEDEP research effort focused on the role and importance of women in addressing and solving conflicts in Gao. Too often, in patriarchal contexts such as Gao, women are considered or stereotyped as living in the shade of men. Without in any way minimizing existing gender imbalances, this does not do justice to the powerful, subtle, and intricate ways women have always intervened as conflict-solvers in Gao society. Acknowledging that is crucial, not only to give more prominence to women-led and women’s rights networks in Mali but also to involve women more meaningfully in current processes to address Mali’s multidimensional crisis.

A victory in itself

Research by these Just Future partners in Mali was and is not a stand-alone effort. It is a first step and serves as a benchmark in longer-term advocacy strategies, and paves the way, under difficult circumstances, for community consultations, dialogue, and security sector reform.

“As in other African countries, civic space in Mali is shrinking. It has become more difficult for international researchers to conduct research on the ground due to the security and political situation. But from the inside, civil society actors such as Ibrahima and Hamzata from RENEDEP and ADD, keep pushing for dialogue. The fact that they manage to do that, and to involve the authorities in their efforts, is a victory in itself,” says Niagalé Bagayoko.

“The research papers, and sharing them with authorities up to the highest levels, have allowed us to set the stage for further advocacy action. We, both RENEDEP and ADD, are now involved in setting up security consultation committees in Gao,” adds Ibrahima Maïga from RENEDEP. “We train them, and support them in developing and implementing security action plans that address the security needs of communities. We use these community action plans, in turn, in our advocacy towards state security actors and authorities. This is how the chain works, bottom-up.”

For Hamzata Ag Didi “the research amply showed there is an inclusivity problem, or rather a lack of inclusivity problem. Instead of directly criticising authorities, which doesn’t work, the answer to that problem is to start processes of community dialogue. What is the essence of these dialogue or consultation committees? It’s creating a setting where all concerned parties, civil as well as military, with formal and informal leadership positions, all of them dealing with the severe impact of insecurity, can sit together and openly and frankly speak about security issues and take collective decisions. We are now in the phase of creating and supporting these committees in Gao.”

Dialogue is organised in a way that favours a trickle-up effect, taking community realities and security needs to higher decision-making levels. “Security-related recommendations that came out of the research are integrated into the security action plans of the community committees. Committee dialogue starts at the local level. The outcomes of that will be used for similar sessions at regional and national levels,” Hamzata adds.

Complementary collaboration

The key element of collaboration between ASSN, RENEDEP, and ADD, in research as well as in advocacy activities, is complementarity. “For ASSN, from a pan-African and international perspective,” explains Dr. Bagayoko, “everything we do in the field of security sector reform needs to be based on the intimate knowledge of actors who perfectly know realities on the ground, their cities, villages, region. Not only the security and conflict realities but also the underlying historical, cultural, and social codes and subtleties. People like Ibrahima and Hamzata possess this expertise. It is inconceivable that external so-called experts should and can define what security governance should look like in Gao, or in Mali for that matter. From our side, ASSN can support local experts to become more effective in bringing their messages across, to national and international audiences. We support and train them in setting up and carrying out scientific research, applying academic methodologies, and presenting robust, accessible, and accurate research data. ASSN comes with methodological expertise, ADD and RENEDEP provide content and substance.”

Social media arena

Dr. Bagayoko, being the reputable political scientist and security sector expert she is and as ASSN representative, is often invited to share her analyses and viewpoints on French and Anglophone national and international media. Doing that, she brings bottom-up research outcomes and security realities like the ones from Gao to even wider audiences.

This too, has become more challenging. “As researchers, it becomes more and more difficult to express ourselves on what goes on in the Sahel region,” she furthers, referring to the name-calling and abuse in the social media arena.

Under these increasingly restrictive circumstances, civil society actors constantly have to adapt approaches and strategies in order to continue their advocacy and reform efforts. “We have also decided to work more closely in line with the current authorities and seek whatever opportunity there is to promote security governance reforms within their parameters. This is what ADD and RENEDEP are doing on the ground. The fact that they manage to include military and security authorities in their community dialogue efforts, shows that they keep civil-military collaboration and inclusivity efforts alive in very dire circumstances,” says Dr. Bagayoko.

Ibrahima Maïga comes with another example of on-the-ground advocacy results. “We met several times with MINUSMA [the United Nations stabilisation mission in Mali] as well as with the CNT (Conseil national de transition), the CNDH (Human Rights Commission) and the Economic, Social and Environmental Council. After this, one of our people was asked to join a committee that, under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice, prepares a law that will give more prominence to customary authorities in conflict management. Recently, the national security sector reform office commissioned RENEDEP with two research and training assignments, which also come with community consultations. Only to show that civil society continues to create and grab opportunities to promote human and community-based approaches in Mali’s security governance reform.”

Stone by stone

“What Ibrahima is saying”, adds Dr. Bagayoko, “means that we can still collaborate with the institutions. It means that they need us, they need our expertise.”

Advocacy efforts do have an impact. But like slow cooking, change takes time. Especially if you can’t openly voice criticism and have to act as cautiously as you can. And especially in sensitive matters of security. “The will to change things is not something you can impose or enforce. It is something that can only be built, stone by stone, progressively, and methodically,” explains Ibrahima Maïga.

ADD and RENEDEP’s efforts to train people and set up and strengthen community committees are also a matter of trying to safeguard the perennity of their efforts. And a way to cover security risks. As Hamzata explains: “Security systems and security situations constantly change. We do whatever we can, but we run risks. Because of the simple fact that tomorrow we might not be there anymore, we try to set up structures, like the security consultation committees in Gao, that can continue to exist and function without our support.”

Energy and synergy

The Malian Just Future alliance in the Gao region, consisting of ASSN, ADD, and RENEDEP, is more than just a programmatic collaboration. “Alone, we can’t do anything. By joining hands, we create energy and synergy. ASSN’s support made us stronger. Our voice now reaches further. Which is a good thing. Because by only listening to international leaders, and not hearing what Malian communities have to say, nothing will be solved,” Ibrahima Maïga concludes.

To pick up on that, Hamzata Ag Didi has a specific plea: “We, civil society activists for change from Mali, need to be present in these international conferences, where Mali’s future is discussed. We are the ones who know the ins and outs of what is going on here. We run the risks on a daily basis. We adapt to whatever comes our way, be it military coups, severe instability and insecurity, jihadists, periods of transition. We deal with that. And we refuse to give in or to give up our mission. Which is to improve the living conditions of our fellow people and to defend their rights. For that, we should be heard, in Gao, in Bamako, and in the big cities of the world where important people talk about Mali, about us.”

From local to a bigger scale

Can bottom-up approaches and local advocacy and reform efforts, such as the ones by the Just Future alliance in Gao, make a difference on a bigger scale? Can they be the way to solve Mali’s multidimensional crisis, Mali’s gordian knot? “They certainly can,” says Ibrahima Maïga. “The state hasn’t been able to solve the crises, international forces haven’t solved it. Local communities need to take charge of their own security-solving solutions. We, civil society actors, take it upon ourselves to feed this local knowledge into national plans of action. Everything we do is geared towards making governance in Mali, whether it be of security, or justice, more inclusive, and more responsive to people’s needs and risks. More democratic.”

And to conclude, he adds: “Even if our vision and approach differs from those of the military, the state authorities do not reject us. And we don’t reject them. Things will change over time. Because in the meantime people like ourselves do all we can to strengthen civil society throughout the country. And this will, almost naturally, cause change for the better.”

Explore the reports:

Read the latest posts:

Local Security Perception in the Sahel – Q1 Reports

Insecurity in the Sahel region of Africa stems from multiple severe, violent local and trans-national conflicts that continue to expand to new areas in the region. These conflicts strongly deteriorate the quality of life of local populations. In order to understand the complex causes and effects of these conflicts, listening to local communities is crucial.

Together with Just Future’s local partners in Mali and Niger, Alliance partner SIPRI surveys local populations bi-annually over the course of 5 years to glean information about perceptions of safety and security, and whether communities in various areas feel protected from violence. The Q1 perceptions reports for Mali and Niger linked below resulted from this exercise.

The information from these perception studies is used by communities in their dialogue with local authorities to discuss security threats and how to resolve them. The data is also used by Just Future partners in their analyses, discussions with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the UN, regional bodies (ECOWAS, AU, EU), embassies and national governments. Using this evidence base, the Alliance lobbies for policy changes at various levels, from the local through the regional to the global level, that promotes and improves safety and protection for civilians in Mali and Niger.

Below the links to the Q1 Report for Mali:

Below the links to the Q1 Report for Niger:

Shari’a and Pashtunwali: Implications for Afghan Women

Just Future partners publish a new report on the interface between Pashtunwali and Shari’a law in Afghanistan, examining the effects on the position of women and proposing recommendations for engagement with the Taliban.

After the start of the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in May 2021, the Taliban intensified its multi-fronted campaign to overcome the Afghan security forces and gain control of large swaths of the country. This intensification culminated in the fall of Kabul on August 15, 2021, when the Taliban entered Kabul and claimed control over the entire country.

Since early September 2021, the Taliban has tightened its control and announced that it will, on a temporary basis, adopt the 1964 Constitution with the caveat that provisions in the Constitution that they interpret as being incompatible with Shari’a will not apply.

“[W]e are ruled by men who offer us nothing but the [Qurʾan], even though many of them cannot read… we are in despair.”

Dominating the narrative and concern of the international community during the evacuation and its aftermath has been the situation for women and girls in Afghanistan under Taliban rules on the place and role of women in society. The Taliban, however, is far from monolithic nor is it bound to the manner in which it ruled Afghanistan during its 1996-2001 iteration. To better understand and plan interventions to support Afghan women, this research examined the impact of the Taliban rule on the place of women in Afghan society through three dimensions. These were:

  1. The extent to which Shari’a-based law making and practice by the Taliban will have foundations in edicts of Pashtunwali (regardless of their narrative),
  2. The extent to which normative conflicts between Pashtunwali and Shari’a can be resolved, and
  3. The extent to which the rule of law – based on Shari’a, Pashtunwali, or a combination – would be adhered to in the different and diverse communities throughout the country given the long history of a weak centralized rule of law in Afghanistan.

This report examines these question, enabling a greater understanding of the interface between Pashtunwali and Shari’a in theory, and providing recommendations for the international community’s engagement with the Taliban.

Read the report below:

Read the policy brief here:

Cover photo credit: Daniel Arrhakis – Shadows of Betrayal (

Archiving and preserving evidence of mass crimes in DRC

In South Kivu, Just Future partner organization SOS Informations Juridiques Multisectorielles (SOS-IJM) trained a group of legal clinic facilitators of on archiving and preserving evidence of mass crimes. The training was organized as part of the Just Future program implemented in the DRC in partnership with Cordaid.

In his opening remarks, Justin Bahirwe Mutabunga, coordinator of SOS-IJM, noted that the training aims to strengthen the capacity of participants to develop strategies to safeguard key evidence of mass crimes. By preserving this evidence, victims of massacres and violence committed in South Kivu province, and in the DRC in general, will be better able to seek justice.

For Ms. Huguette Matabaro, who leads SOS-IJMs lobbying and advocacy, the legal clinics are alternative mechanisms of conflict resolution. By enabling the safeguarding and archiving of testimonials and other evidence of crimes committed in South Kivu over the past 20 years on behalf of victims, the legal clinics will contribute significantly to transitional justice in South Kivu.

“We expect that the legal clinic facilitators will start collecting data and evidence and preserve it well, so that if the situation in DRC appears before the International Criminal Court or another tribunal, this evidence will be presented and victims will be able to obtain justice,” she said.

“After this training, we will follow up with data collection in legal clinics. And we won’t only collect data, but also the archive and document it,” concluded Matabaro.

The participants of the workshop trained in different techniques of collection, transmission, storage and sharing of evidence of mass crimes. They exchanged on secure communication and digital security for data protection. The workshop offered an opportunity for participants to strengthen the security of their platforms and digital tools, including social network accounts, phones and laptops.

“We were very pleased with the subject matter that was very well chosen in relation to the theme,” noted a participant.

Mr. Dieudonné Marhegane said he benefited a lot from this training. As a human rights defender, the lessons received will help him to protect and preserve his data for posterity and to share them with people further afield.

“For our work as archivists, I know that with electronic archiving, we can now easily reach our data. Before we did the archiving manually. Now can keep them online in servers, through Gmail or Drive for example. This will help us to have evidence available and share with people elsewhere, “he said.

The next step will be the gradual collection, documentation and archiving of data. These activities will take place in legal clinics.

Local Perceptions of (In)security in the Sahel

Insecurity in the Sahel region of Africa stems from multiple severe, violent local and trans-national conflicts that continue to expand to new areas in the region. These conflicts strongly deteriorate the quality of life of local populations. In order to understand the complex causes and effects of these conflicts, listening to local communities is crucial.

Together with Just Future’s local partners in Mali and Niger, Alliance partner SIPRI surveys local populations bi-annually over the course of 5 years to glean information about perceptions of safety and security, and whether communities in various areas feel protected from violence. These surveys have resulted in the perception studies for Mali and Niger linked below.

The information from these perception studies is used by communities in their dialogue with local authorities to discuss security threats and how to resolve them. The data is also used by Just Future partners in their analyses, discussions with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the UN, regional bodies (ECOWAS, AU, EU), embassies and national governments. Using this evidence base, the Alliance lobbies for policy changes at various levels, from the local through the regional to the global level, that promotes and improves safety and protection for civilians in Mali and Niger.

Below the links to the Survey and Policy Paper on Mali:

Below the links to the Survey and Policy Paper on Niger:

Light Weapons and DDR in DRC

This paper is the final report of the study on “The issues and challenges of light weapons control and the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration processes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo”, prepared by Securitas Congo and the African Security Sector Network (ASSN). 

Based on surveys and interviews with a random sample of 1000 people and a dozen discussions with the various key players involved in arms control in the DRC, this study is meant to support Congolese government’s efforts to set up strategies against armed violence and light weapons availability in the DRC.