Mali’s peace networks: the role of Islamic religious leaders in conflict resolution

Thomas Hinkel, Bakary Fouraba Traore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article highlights the involvement of Muslim leaders in Mali’s conflict resolution process from January 2012 to the French intervention the following year. Built upon extensive fieldwork conducted throughout 2017, it discusses the mechanisms at play as religious mediators seek cooperation amongst three separate fault lines of potential conflict: between the state and the people, between ethnic communities, and amongst rival armed groups. Indeed, while most discussion of the role of Islam in Mali has focused on the jihadist strains threatening to tear the country apart from the North, our central conclusion is that it is in fact the more moderate, locally embedded religious forces that are partly responsible for holding the country together. Their ability to act across these three interfaces is derived from their organic ties to, and moral legitimacy with, a cross cutting matrix of ethnic and social groups that often find themselves in conflict with each other, yet nonetheless mutually acknowledge the moral power of Islam, and its local authorities, to set the terms of social interaction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-418
JournalConflict, Security & Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2020


  • Mali
  • Conflict resolution
  • Religion and peacebuilding


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