Researcher ORCID Identifier


Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Pierre Englebert

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Since democratization in the 1990s, Mali has pursued governmental decentralization policies, ranging from administrative deconcentration to fiscal devolution. In many cases, governmental decentralization is seen as a post-conflict tool aimed at promoting various goals such as development or greater autonomy for some groups and regions. In Mali, several Tuareg rebellions in the northern regions of the country have been a major impetus for decentralization debates. To date, however, governmental decentralization has failed to bring peace and sustained development to the region. Under former Presidents Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT) and Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (IBK), the central government has used decentralization as a means to appease citizens, donors, and peace treaty signatories while failing to make substantive progress on implementation. At the same time, the Malian state under ATT and IBK has been either unwilling or unable to establish a coherent, non-repressive security presence in the north, opting instead to offload security responsibilities to armed actors such as traffickers, ethnic militias, and international interveners, a practice that I term the “decentralization of security.” By forgoing this Weberian monopoly on the legitimate use of force and continuously failing to implement governmental decentralization, the Malian state has severely damaged its credibility and legitimacy in the north, a region in which the state has only had very limited legitimacy since independence in 1960. Ultimately, the intersection of these policies and their failures has protracted the current crisis in Mali and destabilized the entire nation.