The majority of authors discussing solutions for weak and failed states break down the answers into four categories: Status Quo, Division of Borders, Trusteeship or Shared Sovereignty Agreement, and State Death or Stateless Zones.
1)Status quo refers to the most popular actions in the past, including foreign aid, democracy building, and peacekeeping missions.
2)The Division of borders is pretty straight forward and suggests that larger countries break into more manageable and less strenuous countries.
3)Trusteeship is the temporary resignation of sovereignty over to another country, corporation, or institution in order to guide development or bridge peace or to allow countries to keep aid and institutions working during a transitional period. Shared Sovereignty differs as it become a dual partnership during this time of development, providing checks and balances and giving both equal say in the actions taken.
4)State Death says that countries can no longer provide the services required and can either become stateless zones (areas without sovereignty or centralized governments) or in the past more often but State Death can also be when smaller countries with limited resources are absorbed into larger countries who have the capabilities to develop outside their current sovereignty
Looking at Africa and Mali’s history, the answer to weak states or failing institutions and governments has often been loans by organizations such as the World Bank and IMF. There does come a smaller portion from charity and relief aid but the majority of assistance either has contracts attached with specific demands or they are loans with high interest rates. Some africanist academics are starting to wonder if the Core really does want to help the periphery as their actions are often very contradictory. Take the cotton industry, Mali received $37.7 million in US aid in 2001 but incurred losses of $43 million due in large part to US subsidies, Oxfam reports. Aid has helped in the short term to save lives and ease the burden on local governments but it has always been treated as the solution for Africa. Aid does not build institutions, infrastructure, or fair global practices. Mali’s budget consists of 60-80% aid each year, so when the violence occurred in the north all of the funds to pay for security and the army left, as well as 30-45% of the workforce who work for the NGO’s in country suddenly are unemployed.
Division of Borders:
A division of borders into Azawad and Mali is becoming more and more likely as the future for this territory. Azawad is the region in the North which has always been claimed by the Tuareg’s (a culture of nomadic arabs). All of the rebellions and strifes Mali has had throughout her short history since colonialism is due to the Tuareg’s not having their own state. It was part of the deal when the French arrived, but then the French suppressed them. Upon independence they asked again and the first Malian President Modibo Keita said no . He had communist perspectives and viewed the land north as a great place to develop and build like China and Russia and put in place legislative acts that discriminated against the Tuareg’s use of the land and force thousands to flee. After more than 50 years since Mali’s independence and still without sovereignty over their ancestral territory, the Tuareg’s grudgingly allowed Islamist Extremists into the region causing the current battles and organized crime issues in the north. Sadly, the Islamist Extremists are turning against the Tuareg’s who do not agree to their conservative views and it has become a lose-lose situation for all. A division of this territory would allow Tuareg’s to control a currently ungoverned area, providing stability in Northern Africa, and allowing Mali to focus development work on the 90% of the population that live in the Southern Region.
Trusteeship or Shared Sovereignty Agreement (SSA):
Trusteeship or a SSA are also options for Mali, as I foresee the past colonial relationship with France will continue to play a huge role in Mali’s future. Especially considering the reserves of uranium Mali holds and that 75% of France’s energy comes from nuclear facilities. Trusteeship is too strong of a relationship for Mali, as she has held fair elections before, and trusteeship would further ruin the trust of Malians in their own government. Therefore if a stronger partnership had to be created, an SSA with France would be appropriate in the development of Mali. Malians might even favor this as they then can have a stronger voice on the UN Security Council, World Trade Organization and other global organizations advocating for fairer global systems.
State Death or Stateless Zones:
As far as State Death or Stateless Zones, Mali has too strong of a history as the gem of Africa, and today’s international culture would never approve of pure death of the state. An option for stateless zones, however, could go hand in hand with the division of the country into Mali and Azawad as the nomadic Tuareg’s have their own governmental organization and practices that rarely need state institutions to govern. Although the United States, France, and other powers most likely will view stateless zones as breeding grounds for terrorism and extremists.
I’m including the following video trailer because:
1) It is a phenomenal movie that will give you insight into Mali, the culture, and people
2) It looks at these international organizations and the effects their “development” actions have had on daily lives
Abderrahmane Sissako wrote and directed this offbeat, satiric comedy which imagines how the powers that be in the West might be forced to answer for the damage they’ve done in the Third World. Mele (Aissa Maiga) is an attractive Malian lounge singer married to Chaka (Tiecoura Traore), though their relationship is on the verge of collapse. In their eyes, the African continent isn’t in much better shape than their marriage, and one day a makeshift courtroom appears in the courtyard near their shabby home. In the courtyard, a handful of powerful international organizations, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, are put on trial for their crippling effect on the African economy; as the evidence is presented which explains how these “friends” of Africa have saddled the nations with debts they can never repay, witnesses explain how these actions impact the daily lives of ordinary citizens, who pass through the trial as they go on with their days. Executive producer Danny Glover makes a cameo appearance in a “Cowboys and Indians” sequence which supposedly takes place in Timbuktu. Bamako (aka The Court) received its North American premiere at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival.
~ Mark Deming, Fandengo