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Canada’s engagement in Mali

Through an integrated approach, Canada is supporting Mali in its efforts to overcome the ongoing instability it has been facing since 2012, with the ultimate goal of helping to build a better future for all Malians. In close collaboration with Mali and its international partners, Canada contributes to efforts toward building foundations for durable peace, sustainable development, inclusive governance and shared prosperity. It is important to invest specifically in Mali as the country’s instability is negatively affecting the broader Sahel region, increasing the risk to Canadian investments and citizens, and neglects to fully include women in the peace process – exacerbating gender inequality and conflict.

To achieve this, Canada’s work in Mali focuses on:

  • Increasing Canada’s diplomatic engagement in Mali
  • Improving the lives of Malians, especially women and children, by reducing poverty and inequality through development programming
  • Providing vital humanitarian assistance to those in need
  • Supporting economic growth that works for everyone through promoting sustainable development and increased investments
  • Supporting security sector reform, including small arms and light weapons management
  • Supporting peace and reconciliation through a range of activities to promote stability, inclusion and gender equality, counter-terrorism capacity building, and encourage dialogue between the government and armed groups to establish a lasting peace
  • Preventing violent extremism and providing protection for crisis-affected civilians

Canada’s whole-of-government approach is built on overfive decades of cooperation with Mali, where Canada is recognized as a credible and strategic partner.

Canada’s areas of action

Diplomatic engagement

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Mali is one of Canada’s main partners in Africa and within La Francophonie. Canada and Mali established diplomatic relations in 1969 and continue to maintain a strong bilateral relationship over half a century later, with a key foundation being Canada’s development assistance program.

Canada has actively supported international efforts to restore stability in Mali since the 2012 coup d’état and the resulting crisis. This has included political and diplomatic support to help broker a peaceful settlement of the conflict. To that end, Canada works in conjunction with the Government of Mali, the United Nations, and other partners to enable the effective implementation of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, which is also known as the Algiers Accord (in French only). Such efforts are complemented by an increased emphasis on stabilization programming.

Development assistance

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Photo credit: Canadian Embassy in Mali

Canada is a long-standing partner for promoting peace, security and sustainable development in Mali. Since 2000, Canada has provided over $1.6 billion in international assistance to Mali, including $139.93 million in 2018 to 2019.

Canada is well positioned to help ensure the protection of the poorest and most vulnerable, especially women and children. Canada has the expertise, credibility, experience, and a network of strong partnerships on the ground, which has led to meaningful results and made a real difference in the lives of Malians.

A series of stories, written to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and Mali, demonstrates the success of Canada’s international development initiatives. The stories convey a historical and human perspective about the long-term results achieved through these initiatives and with the contribution of various partners. To learn more about the effect of Canada’s development assistance in Mali, please read stories about Mali.

Canadian development assistance in Mali focuses on the following key areas: improving basic social services, such as sexual and reproductive health and rights, nutrition and basic education; promoting growth that works for everyone through agriculture, irrigation and access to inclusive financial services; and promoting gender equality and inclusive governance. This assistance is in line with Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, and it has made it possible to achieve significant results in the fight against poverty and improving the living conditions of Malians. For more information on Canada’s development projects in Mali, consult the Project Browser.

Humanitarian assistance

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Photo credit: OCHA/Tanya Bindra

Canada’s humanitarian funding in Mali supports a gender-responsive, multi-sectoral response to the needs of conflict and drought-affected populations. Canada’s assistance is helping to provide food, treatment for acute malnutrition, drinking water, hygiene, sanitation, health services (including sexual and reproductive health services), protection (including support to survivors of sexual violence) and support to livelihoods for vulnerable populations. Since 2012, Canada has allocated more than $67 million in humanitarian assistance to Mali to address the effects of violence and food insecurity in northern Mali.

Trade and investment agreements

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Canada and Mali have an established trade relationship, which has significant growth potential. In 2018, bilateral merchandise trade reached $23.1 million, including $20.9 million in exports and $2.2 million in imports. In 2019, bilateral merchandise trade reached $29.5 million, including $26.6 million in exports and $2.9 million in imports. Mali is a country that offers opportunities for Canadian companies in different sectors, including mining, energy (especially renewable energy), agriculture, infrastructure, clean technologies, and education. Investments in the mining sector have become an important economic lever to support the trade relations between the two countries and contribute significantly to Mali’s fiscal revenues. Two Canadian companies, B2Gold and Robex Resources, opened gold mines in Mali in 2017 and 2018. The B2Gold mine is one of the largest in Mali, representing an investment of over $600 million.

A foreign investment promotion and protection agreement became effective in June 2016, which should further promote and secure investment between the two countries.

Promoting peace, security and stabilization

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Photo credit: RCMP

Canada supports Mali’s peace and reconciliation process through a range of activities that seek to improve security and stability in the region, support counter-terrorism efforts, and encourage dialogue between the government and armed groups with the ultimate goal of helping to establish a lasting peace in the country.

Canada recognizes that an inclusive political process with an increased and meaningful participation by women is critical to achieving a durable peace in Mali. To this end, Canada is supporting the implementation of all four pillars of the Algiers Accord: political reform; defence and security sector reform; development; and reconciliation, justice and humanitarian affairs. Canada is providing this support through financing and deployments within the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) as well as through civil society partners.Through these contributions, Canada is working to build local and regional capacities, including the capacity of partners to implement the WPS agenda; of civil society and government on justice and governance; of Malian and Sahel armed forces to increase security and reduce circulation of weapons, and of civil society and local society to prevent, stabilize and recover from conflicts.

Canada’s engagement in peace operations

Canada made a clear commitment to renew its engagement in the full spectrum of multilateral peace operations. Canada’s approach to peace operations is about doing things differently. Canada aims to contribute to a transformation of peace support operations through the implementation of ambitious initiatives. For instance, Canada is working to promote women’s representation and meaningful participation in conflict prevention and resolution. For more information, please consult the website of the Elsie Initiative, which aims to increase the meaningful participation of women in United Nations peace operations. Through the Vancouver Principles on peacekeeping and the prevention of the recruitment and use of child soldiers, Canada works to improve the fate of children in situations of armed conflict. To achieve this, Canada prioritizes, as part of peacekeeping operations, the protection of children as one of its central tenets of the general mandate of United Nations peacekeeping missions.

Peace and Stabilization Operations Program

Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOPs) is leading stabilization programming in Mali and the Sahel. Likeminded partners, the Peacebuilding Fund and the UN consult Canada on stabilization strategies and opportunities in the region. Canada has invested more than $30 million from 2016-2019 and is providing an additional $28 million for the 2019-2022 period in Mali and the Sahel in support of civil society organizations, international non-governmental organizations, Malian authorities and the United Nations. Canada is also providing $9.8 million to the MINUSMA Trust Fund (2016-2020), and supporting the deployment of two gender advisors to the mission.

PSOPs programs in Mali are helping advance the implementation of the Algiers Accord, and promote the inclusion of women at all levels of the peace process and its implementation.  PSOPs programs also support UN-led peacebuilding and stabilization effortsin order to foster dialogue and understanding among conflict-affected communities, particularly supporting women and youth as agents of peaceful change. For more information, consult the interactive Project Browser. For more information about Canada’s policy on women’s participation in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding, consult its website on Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.

As result of a project with Search for Common Ground, 360 peace ambassadors were trained on leadership, conflict transformation, and peacebuilding in Central and Northern Mali, of which 151 were women. These ambassadors led local assessments of conflict in 12 communities and initiated 61 peace initiatives to address these conflicts. Themes addressed included community dialogue to resolve inter-communal tensions, mediation of land conflict issues, building capacity of traditional mechanisms in conflict resolution, involving youth and women in peace-building efforts with security forces, and organizing peace-building activities to encourage better social cohesion and confidence building amongst communities

Through Canada’s support to the Mercy Corps, 688 Malians were trained on women’s empowerment, advocacy, participatory governance processes, political engagement, the peace process, conflict resolution, as well as social media advocacy.

Justice, Prevention and Reconciliation

The main results of Canada's contribution to Mali through the Justice, Prevention and Reconciliation (JUPREC) and Strengthening the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) projects that we have put forward to the PPF include the following: 

  • A strong TJRC that provides hope, reduces tension and violence and actively contributes to the search for truth.
  • More than 15,000 people, the majority of whom were women, were able to make statements before the TRCJ, demonstrating their confidence in the peace process. Thousands of them were accompanied by the Canadian Border Services Agency to do so.
  • Thanks to strengthening their capacity to act, particularly with respect to gender equality, thousands of women and victims of the conflict are moving from a passive to an active role in the peace process.
  • A mapping of human rights violations from 1960 to the present day and the recommendations of 3,755 victims, the majority of whom are women, serve as the basis for the CVJR's investigation strategy and form the basis of the national reparations policy.
  • Popular consciousness is being awakened and is leading to struggles to counter threats of injustice and impunity, such as the recent adoption of a "Law of National Understanding" that could lead to impunity for the most serious crimes committed during the conflict.

Emblematic cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity and gender-based violence are being brought before national and regional courts, thus reducing impunity. A new generation of human rights lawyers, many of them young women, is emerging to bring the voices of women and people in vulnerable situations to the fore.

Operation PRESENCE

In Mali, Canada deployed an Air Task Force (ATF) of helicopters to MINUSMA for a period of one year. Known as Operation PRESENCE - Mali (from August 2018 to August 2019) the ATF provided critical medical evacuation, logistics and transportation capability to the United Nations out of Gao, northern Mali. This contribution provided essential support to MINUSMA and a key element of its mandate to support the implementation of the Algiers Accord.

With the completion of the ATF’s deployment, Canada is maintaining multiple contributions in support of the UN mission in Mali, including up to 10 Canadian Armed Forces members, civilian police officers and financial support, with the aim of facilitating the implementation of the Algiers Accord.

Canadian Police Arrangement

Since January 2019, Canada has been deploying police officers to Mali in support of the implementation of Mali’s Peace and Reconciliation Agreement and reform of Mali’s security services. Canadian police officers are serving with MINUSMA and the European Union’s civilian capacity-building program, EUCAP Sahel Mali. Canadian police are providing advice and leadership on issues such as community policing, human rights and gender equality.

Moreover, Canada is providing police trainers and $1M in funding (2018-2020) to the École de maintien de la paix Alioune Blondin Beye (EMPABB) in Bamako until March 2021. EMPABB seeks to strengthen the capacities of West African States in support of peace and security sector reform. This includes developing and delivering course curriculum for policing activities, with the goal of enabling African police officers to participate in peace support operations carried out within the framework of the United Nations, the African Union, or any other regional organization.

Canadian police are deployed to international peace and stabilization operations through the Canadian Police Arrangement, a partnership between Global Affairs Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Public Safety Canada.

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