The research developed in this report was primarily conducted for the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. My appreciation goes to Marianne Peters, Rule of Law officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and to Roelof Haverman, first secretary at the Netherlands Embassy in Bamako, for their spirit of inquiry and support throughout the research project. I am also grateful to the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law, which partially supported this project via their Knowledge Management Fund.

I owe a debt of gratitude to all Malians who received me so generously and who agreed to be interviewed in a time when their country remains embroiled in serious internal conflict. In addition, I would like to acknowledge the work of my Malian research assistant, Soumaila Sidibé, who facilitated a number of the meetings that led to greater insight into the conflict dynamics in central Mali and who proved knowledgeable company during field work Bamako and Mopti. Likewise, Kjeld van Wieringen, intern at the Conflict Research Unit, has my grateful appreciation for the background research for this report.

In the same vein, I very much appreciate the advice of the numerous researchers, policy makers and implementers who accompanied me throughout the research and writing process. I also like thank MINUSMA for facilitating our transportation throughout the country.

The report also significantly benefitted from a good peer review. My thanks for this go to Edoardo Ballardo (University of Naples), Megan Price (Knowledge Platform Secuirty and Rule of Law), Kalilou Sidibé (University of Bamako) and Erwin van Veen (Conflict Research Unit) and to all those who wished to remain anonymous due to their professional status. A particular acknowledgement goes to Fransje Molenaar, head of the Sahel Programme at the Conflict Research Unit, for her trust and constant support throughout this research project. This publication would not have been possible without her thorough and generous feedback and her dedicated mentorship.