Chapter 19: The challenges of mediation in gray zones: the case of Mali
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How do gray zone dynamics affect efforts to mediate negotiated outcomes to armed conflict? Drawing upon the case of Mali, where the UN and Algeria have each attempted to bring about durable peace, the chapter argues that gray zone dynamics complicate such mediation initiatives. They make it difficult to bring actors to the table, to find mutually acceptable solutions, and to coordinate and impart coherence to the often multiple and simultaneous efforts to find mediated solutions. Even as mediation efforts may result in peace agreements – as was the case when Malian actors signed a peace accord in 2015 – gray zone dynamics complicate implementation. They particularly pose challenges for the management of spoilers, particularly where background conditions include terrorism and trafficking. Yet, the temptation to use security responses to address low-level violence and terrorist attacks runs the risk of closing the space for further mediation. The chapter concludes with implications for theory and practice.

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