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Completed Projects

Countering Violent Extremism in Mali (MERIT)

Since 2016, ICCT has been developing and implementing activities in Mali to prevent and counter violent extremism in prisons and local communities. We have focused on improving the management of Violent Extremist Offenders (VEOs) in prison and on increasing the resilience of Malian youth and their communities against violent extremism. Young people play a key role, as they represent a majority of the Malian population (almost 70% are 24 years or younger) and therefore the future of the country. Their engagement in promoting alternatives to violence is therefore crucial for any counter-terrorism initiative to succeed.

The activities have been conducted in collaboration with local, national and international actors including MINUSMA, the Malian Prison Administration, the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and civil society organisations and in partnership with various members of the international community, such as the Royal Danish Embassy in Bamako and the US Bureau of Counterterrorism.


About the project

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Drawing on comprehensive evaluation of prison staff’s capacity to manage VEOs and conduct risk assessment, as well as input from these practitioners, ICCT designed a tailored risk assessment tool and trained 75 prison staff on its use, delivering modules that ensured these participants could themselves become ‘trainers’. ICCT guided the piloting of this tool in two Mali prisons, overseeing 35 risk assessments.

ICCT simultaneously conducted activities to facilitate youth resilience. ICCT delivered a total of seven trainings on media literacy, alternative narratives, and public speaking to 30 Malian youth leaders, alongside developing a mentorship program by which youth participants could grow and professionalize their leadership skills. This was done to increase the local impact of their efforts to promote peace and resilience toward violent extremism. ICCT produced ‘The Voices from Mali’ series, which gave space for Malian youth to express their opinions on youth resilience in their country, to platform this learning and spread one such counter-narrative under local ownership.

ICCT also conducted significant research on the impact of the presence of terrorist – and other criminal – groups on (the resilience of) youth in central and northern regions of Mali. In partnership with UNICRI, ICCT conducted 30 in-depth interviews with VEOs, 30 qualitative interviews with youth, and 300 surveys of Malians across the localities of Bamako, Mopti and Menaka. ICCT published a number of research reports with key insights summaries, including identifying the main risk factors to which Malian youth are exposed.