Based on a comparison of the various chapters’ main findings, a number of common themes emerge regarding the legitimacy of traditional authorities. This chapter will first evaluate how such legitimacy is derived, in what areas or functions it is particularly pronounced, and how it is sustained. It will then the outline shortcomings of, and challenges to, traditional authorities’ legitimacy in all three countries. Finally, based on the above comparative examination, the chapter will set out a series of key takeaways and recommendations that could contribute to effective future interventions in local governance in Niger, Mali and Libya.

6.1 Sources of legitimacy of traditional authorities

6.1.1 Rules

Traditional authorities in areas of limited statehood come to power through various mechanisms, but the majority ascend to positions of influence via customary rules and traditions, which correspond to an elitist framework. In Libya, an individual’s stature and level of experience within their tribe, coupled with their tribe’s level of influence in the community, are the two key factors in determining tribal elders and other prominent tribal members. In turn, these prestigious figures designate positions of authority within closed consultations and votes. In Niger, the majority of tribal positions are inherited or likewise designated by tribal elites, reinforcing a hierarchical patronage system. Recent legislation reinforces these customs, with a 2015 law stipulating vaguely that ‘any Nigerien from a given traditional or customary community can apply to the chiefship of said community if custom gives him the right to do so’. In Mali, hereditary succession and closed appointments appear less common than in the other two countries, but these practices still account for less than half of traditional authority positions.

In recent years traditional authorities have been increasingly incorporated into the state. This is most apparent in Niger, where such entities constitute a formal layer of local governance with state benefits, territorial jurisdictions and a local mandate. In Mali, traditional chiefs are tasked with administering the lowest levels of local governance – basic service provision and mediation at village level, albeit under the auspices of higher-ranked state officials. The 2015 Peace Agreement also acknowledges the unique contribution of traditional authorities in reconciliation and justice, but falls short of outlining an official remit. In Libya, democratically elected local governance has been introduced far more recently than in Niger or Mali, and while there is no official state incorporation of traditional authorities into this system, such authorities now ostensibly have the opportunity to run for local office and achieve representation.

It is essential to note that while there may be official provisions for traditional authority mandates at local level in all three countries, in reality the situation is far more complex. Traditional chiefs in Mali speak of being undermined or unrecognised by the state despite recent legislation outlining their role, while in Niger the formal incorporation of traditional rulers into the state administration blurs the distinction between territorial and community or ethnicity-based jurisdiction and legitimacy. Finally, in all three countries a lack of state resources or presence often means that traditional authorities are the de facto local governors, regardless of the extent to which their positions have been officially incorporated or formalised.

6.1.2 Values

Traditional authorities across in three countries are recognised to an extent as valid and respected sources of authority, particularly in areas where there is minimal state presence and therefore little alternative. These findings resonate with previous research on customary leaders in Africa, in particular the legitimising qualities of traditional authorities’ accessibility, community representation, and role in conflict resolution.[389] Focus groups conducted by this study specifically examined community trust and regard for traditional authorities, identifying key areas that distinguish them from other governance structures.

In Libya, focus group data shows that traditional authorities are considered to be more trustworthy than state bodies, which have promised to invest in the Fezzan but largely neglected it in recent years. Tribal leaders are considered approachable and flexible in terms of meeting times and locations, quick to provide solutions, and possessing an acute understanding of local dynamics and customs. This understanding often extends across national border lines and hence such authorities also enjoy a high degree of legitimacy when liaising with borderland communities. In Niger, focus group respondents highlighted the trustworthy and compassionate nature of traditional authorities, praise their proximity to local people, and concur that all other institutions (whether modern or religious) require customary chiefs to provide a validating or mediating authority. In Mali, focus group respondents praised the accessible nature of traditional authorities as a key pillar of their legitimacy. Such authorities are considered to be well known to all their constituents, which makes them not only more trustworthy but also able to dispense tailored advice and solutions. The traditional judicial role of the Qadi is held in particularly high regard, drawing legitimacy not only from customary stature and community proximity but also from Islamic principles.

6.1.3 Functions

In recent years, traditional authorities have taken on greater roles and responsibilities owing to crises in the governance infrastructure of all three countries. In Libya, the role of tribal elders during the Gaddafi regime was restricted to tribal and community mediation, as well as to curbing potential rural dissent and administering rulings from the central government. However, since 2011 these authorities have replaced state governance actors that are in fact non-existent in the Fezzan. In this context traditional authorities now informally attempt to provide basic financial, health, education and security services in an under-resourced environment that suffers from heightened instability.

In Niger, traditional authorities have a formal role ascribed by the state in justice provision and conflict mediation as well as local administrative governance and social support. The ability of such authorities to effectively carry out this role depends on their respective training, experience, resources and social capital. In Mali, traditional authorities have formalised, low-level governance functions but in reality perform a wider array of service provision and mediation roles, particularly in the north of the country where state governance is ineffective.

All three contexts highlight the particularly effective role of traditional authorities in conflict resolution – whether mediating a ceasefire in Ubari, Libya, between Tuareg and Tebu fighters, instigating the 1996 peace initiative in northern Mali, or resolving land and resource disputes between Tuareg and Fulani herders in Niger. The importance of tribal influence in this particular function is acknowledged to varying degrees in the state legislation of Mali and Niger, and interviewees in this study emphasised conflict resolution as a key strength of traditional authorities in all three countries. A final theme consistent throughout this study is the function of the traditional authority as an intermediary, representing their community and conveying its needs to official bodies.

6.2 Challenges to traditional authorities’ legitimacy

The first section of this chapter identified the ways in which traditional authorities come to power, how and why they maintain such positions in the eyes of their constituents, and what roles they perform after assuming such a platform. Central to all such questions is the concept of legitimacy, which is derived from a series of related factors such as state accreditation (or as a replacement for the state in areas where the central government is absent), community support, and effective or even unique performance in certain roles.[390] Yet this overview only accounts for positive sources of legitimacy for traditional authorities, and in order to evaluate their contemporary position effectively it is also necessary to outline the various challenges to their legitimacy.

6.2.1 Challenge 1 - Democratisation and decentralisation

Of the three countries included in this study, Niger is the one where the issue of politicization appeared most forcefully. The chieftaincy in Niger is normally secluded from politics by the fact that traditional authorities are legally appointed to an administrative role – therefore enjoying (in theory) the autonomy which administration normally has from the political class. Yet as Chapter 3 surmises, Nigerien elections – although not of the highest quality in terms of freedom and fairness – are still run well enough to pose the possibility of the incumbent losing power. Incumbents and opponents are therefore engaged in a continuous scramble for the resources needed to win elections. The traditional authority structures, which form a bridge to reach local constituencies, have become a political battleground. This has effects for traditional authorities’ nomination, as several cases were identified where a village chief was removed from his post for not supporting the governing party and, vice versa, chiefs imposed by the government because it is expected they will toe its line. A process of politicization of traditional authorities is thus taking place in Niger.

This politicization is further compounded by the democratisation of the rules for the appointment of traditional authorities, combined with – at local level – their lack of resources. The data shows that, whereas in the past chieftaincies were mainly hereditary functions, today more and more chiefs are appointed through some form of election or local consultation. This has resulted in the need for potential candidates to campaign for their position. Chapter 3 has shown that this democratisation of chieftaincies has increased the ability of wealthy individuals to become traditional leaders. At the same time, and given the lack of resources generally available to traditional authorities at local level, wealthier chiefs are generally perceived to be able to get more things done than chiefs who have no money or (political) connections. All of this has affected how people view traditional authorities, with complaints abounding that they have become too partial, political or corrupt – like other state authorities.[391]

Libya is illustrative of traditional authorities’ responses to the introduction of new, democratic institutions. As discussed in Chapter 5, local governance law 59 of 2012 created municipal councils elected through local elections. In the municipalities under study here, these councils did not constitute new inclusive spaces for the voices in society. Rather, the municipal councils simply reproduced existing traditional power structures – either because the council was formed ‘via consensus among tribal eminents’[392] or because people simply elected prominent relatives or tribesmen.[393] This does not mean, however, that there is strong popular support for the involvement of traditional authorities in local governance structures. Civil society activists and respondents from districts with less influential Tuareg families and a large young population (residing here due to lower living costs) were almost unanimous in their belief that traditional authorities should have a reduced remit in the future.

The co-existence of traditional governance structures and elected state institutions hence poses several challenges. Continuous attention will need to be paid to the question of how to balance traditional authorities’ growing involvement in local governance with their unique advantage as mediators and bridges between society and the state. A second dilemma that requires attention is the fact that traditional authority structures generally represent elite status quo groups. To the extent that they control local governance structures, they shut off pathways for the emancipation of less influential groups (lower castes, women and young people). Solid and neutral institutional structures should be able to provide a space where such conflicts can be fought out in a non-violent manner.[394] Where this avenue does not exist, conflicts over self-determination risk turning violent and institutions risk losing their legitimacy. Continuous attention will therefore need to be paid the quality of local institutions and elections. Chapter 3 proposed that, in the case of Niger, both challenges could be addressed through the organisation of an ‘Estates general convention.’[395]

Finally, the commonly held assertion among respondents in all three countries that traditional authorities are particularly effective as representatives of their community vis-à-a vis the state is not without controversy. Some traditional authorities believe this intermediary role reinforces their subordination to the state, while certain constituency members believe traditional authorities are not fully representative, favouring their own tribe or family network at the expense of wider community interests. Moreover, the act of conveying local needs to national policy makers and attempting to secure resources inevitably reproduces national-level conflicts and political allegiances within the locality.

6.2.2 Challenge 2 – The advent of armed governance

In Mali and Libya, traditional governance structures function under a logic of armed governance. A key finding is that relationships between traditional authorities and non-state armed groups differs in line with local conflict dynamics. In Mali, we compared the situation of traditional authorities aligned to the separatist CMA coalition in Kidal and those aligned to the pro-state Platform coalition in Ménaka. In Kidal, where armed group formation and composition is very much defined by traditional elites’ attempts to maintain control over the status quo, the relationship between traditional authorities and armed leaderships is highly organised and intertwined. This has consequences for the way in which traditional authorities do their work. Traditional justice provision, for example, is formally organised and recognised within an institutional framework in which the non-state armed groups have taken on policing functions as well as control over the prisons and detention centres. This does not mean, however, that traditional elites see the current situation as ideal. They note that they feel severely circumscribed by armed groups in the execution of their tasks.

In the Ménaka region, the armed group dynamic is more disorganised. It is best explained as different armed leaders (and their tribal constituencies) trying to achieve representation in the peace process by countering the dominant hold over armed groups of those higher up the tribal hierarchies. As opposed to the situation in Kidal, the fusion of traditional authority figures and armed group leaders is therefore less clear-cut here, with the fragmentation of armed groups being more the result of those wielding arms seeking to stake a claim in the peace process than of traditional leaders trying to control armed group leaderships. Amidst a context marked by violent inter-communal conflict and the presence of radical groups, traditional authorities collaborate with military actors who can provide security to themselves and their communities. The more disorganised nature of the relationships between traditional authorities and armed groups is also visible in traditional justice provision, as authorities rely much more on personal connections with armed groups rather than operating within an institutionalised framework. As a consequence, those traditional authorities that do not possess such connections are quickly losing their relevance – and hence their legitimacy – with their constituencies.

In the case of Libya, (Tuareg) armed groups have similarly become the main security actors in Ghat and Ubari.[396] Formal exchange and coordination mechanisms exist between these groups and the SSTC, allowing both sides to coordinate on social and Fezzan-centred issues. Traditional authorities have no say, however, over larger strategic matters. The armed groups tend to follow the commands of whoever pays their salaries in either Tripoli (the internationally backed Government of National Accord – GNA) or Cyrenaica (Libyan National Army, LNA, controlled by Field Marshal Haftar). Both national camps seek to establish alliances with local armed groups to shift the balance of power in the Fezzan in their own favour – albeit in a haphazard manner. On the one hand, this increases local instability as local communities and authorities are increasingly divided along these national fault lines. On the other hand, armed groups and traditional authorities attempt to make strategic use of these alliances to gain access to the service provision and resources that the region is in dire need of.

From the above, it follows that the relationship between traditional authorities and non-state armed groups may range from fusion and a high degree of organisation (Kidal), to coordination (Ghat/Ubari), to pragmatic collaboration (Ménaka).[397] Nevertheless, in all three cases we find evidence of an eroding role for traditional authorities. With the monopoly of violence in the hands of armed groups, traditional authorities only have as much leeway for their work as armed groups allow them. In addition, their enforcement power similarly depends on their connections to these armed actors. They thereby run the risk of losing their constituents to armed groups – an erosion of their legitimacy – when the latter become seen as more effective governance actors.

6.2.3 Challenge 3 – insecurity

Next to the presence of non-state armed groups, all three countries under study here also suffer from inter-communal conflicts, such as those between herders and farmers, and from the presence of radical armed groups. In theory, one of the key roles of traditional authorities is to act as mediators and thereby contribute to stability at local level. Throughout the study, two significant examples came up where traditional authorities were able to successfully contribute to high-level peace efforts. In Mali, the 1996 peace initiative led by traditional leaders of Songhai communities and Tuareg tribal and religious leaders resulted in reconciliatory meetings between all ethnic groups of northern Mali and, eventually, the Bourem (Peace) Pact.[398] In Libya, the 2014 Ubari war between Tuareg and Tubu armed groups (supported by national and international sponsors) ended after prolonged negotiations between traditional mediators. This helped to strengthen community relations with, and trust in, traditional authorities.

Yet in the case of Ménaka, we find that traditional authorities’ ability to engage in conflict mediation is increasingly undermined by the dynamics of armed group fragmentation described above. Local fault lines play an important role in this process – resulting in the armed mobilisation of communities along ethnic lines and/or in line with local grievances over conflicting land use or trafficking routes. As a consequence, constituencies that respond to certain traditional authority structures have become more fragmented. In addition, traditional authorities run the risk of being (perceived to be) associated with one of the sides in the conflict. This undermines their security, their neutrality, and – by extension – their ability to engage in effective conflict resolution. In Tillabéri, we also find that certain ethnicities, such as the Fulani, have historically been underrepresented in (traditional) authority structures. This has stood in the way of effective conflict resolution, as Fulani constituencies systematically feel unheard and mistreated.

In addition, radical armed groups frequently exploit the inter-communal conflicts in the region to anchor themselves in local communities. The security situation prevented us from asking direct questions about the presence of radical armed actors and their relationships to traditional authorities. Yet evidence did emerge that these groups pose a severe threat to traditional authorities. This is the case in Ménaka, where radical armed groups threaten and attack traditional authorities, who they see as local allies or representatives of the pro-state Platform coalition. In northern Tillabéri, the worsening security situation has similarly resulted in chiefs fleeing their position, being killed or abducted, joining the militants, and/or staying put amidst both suspicions of the state (who view them as potential jihadist collaborators) and extremist threats.

An interesting finding from Mali is that there is a strong difference in the relationship between perceived state authorities and traditional authorities in urban and rural settings. Rural chiefs are viewed as being more suspicious and even hostile to the state due to the risk they would face if seen to be associated with the state. Given the absence of state-enforced security in many rural settings, traditional authorities in these regions have little alternative than to co-exist with the de facto holders of power, such as radical armed groups. All of this suggests that strengthening the position of traditional authorities in areas of limited statehood – as well as the state’s or international community’s ability to work with them in conflict mediation – is intrinsically linked to security provision. Chapter 4 proposed that, in Mali, institutionalised cooperation among the signatories of the peace agreement to extend their protection force towards all holders of traditional authority would constitute a first key step on the path of revaluation of customary actors.

In addition, an important lesson from Niger is that traditional authorities are uniquely placed to monitor ongoing radicalisation processes and conflict dynamics, and to take action if needed. In the case of Ayarou, for example, the arrival of ‘Izala’ Salafi preachers from the 1990s onwards sparked local tensions. Traditional authorities brokered some appeasement between Salafi groups and more moderate local community members by drawing lines of conduct that ought not be crossed. Together with state authorities, traditional authorities have kept a check on Salafi preaching. In the summer of 2019, the Nigerien government formalised this practice through a law formally allowing the territorial administration to oversee religious activity for the sake of public order. Although this step is debatable from the point of view of religious freedom, it goes to show that better use could be made of traditional authorities in at-risk regions to monitor and provide early warning on the potential spill-over of conflict and radical extremism.[399]

6.2.4 Challenge 4 – The rejection of the status quo

One point that became crystal clear across all three countries is that traditional authorities represent traditional elites who seek to maintain the status quo. Amidst changing contexts, this means they have to continuously adapt to the arrival of new competing authorities. Indeed, as Chapter 2 has shown, traditional authority structures are not static entities but rather configurations of power that wax and wane together with the rise and fall of different empires, colonial powers, post-independent state building processes, and, more recently, processes of democratisation, decentralisation, and armed governance.

In Libya, the hierarchical structure and levels of representation among traditional elites is a cause of confrontation and a threat to legitimacy. There is a strong desire among focus group respondents for their local leadership to be elected by the people and held to account, and an underlying assertion that traditional governance should only be a short-term fix to contemporary governance problems. Younger members of society also express a certain disillusion with tribal elites and feel excluded from the decision-making process, and when this sentiment is coupled with high rates of youth unemployment and poverty, it is inevitable that Libyan youth feel drawn towards other actors such as armed groups that offer them greater influence.

As described above, collaboration with armed governance is one strategy that traditional authorities – and contenders to the status quo – have at their disposal. In Mali, for example, the HCUA is a prime example of an armed group formed to protect the traditional status quo. Conversely, some of the other armed actors represent previously marginalised groups that have taken up arms to fight for social change (the MNLA in its early days) and/or to be represented in the peace process and reap the accompanying spoils. Tensions between status quo and previously marginalised groups also play out within formal institutions in more democratic settings. In Tchintabaraden (Niger), black Tuareg (slave descendants) used formal regulations to apply for the creation of breakaway settlements that would be headed by their own chief. They did so because they felt excluded from consultation, decision making and benefits by the light-skinned noble Tuareg settlement leadership who had been in power for centuries. The latter did not look kindly upon this development and mounted a legal challenge against the decision.

Each country context has thereby demonstrated that traditional authorities cannot be considered apolitical actors. Pragmatism dictates that these authorities must develop relations and alliances with those who can provide access to resources and security in the region, whether state administrators, armed groups, or rival national governments. This need to align with the de facto holders of power is ongoing and allegiances can shift quickly in accordance with developments on the ground. The result of this is that traditional authorities actively marginalise or fracture sections of the communities they are supposed to represent, in order to secure optimal, albeit short-term, access to resources. With particular regard to traditional authorities’ allegiances with armed actors, such cooperation also contributes to the ongoing militarisation of society and proliferation of violence – phenomena that are clearly apparent in all three countries.

This research shows that future interventions must incorporate a greater array of key stakeholders in their efforts and should accommodate as many perspectives as possible. Although there are cross-border commonalities and themes, each country displays particular local aspects – for example, the different dynamics between armed groups and traditional authorities in Mali, the varying regional perceptions of future local governance in Libya, and the complex inter-community relationships of multiple tribes and ethnicities in Niger. The existence of such different aspects points to a common recommendation that effective future interventions in this region depend on rigorous actor mapping and stakeholder consultation beforehand. Due to the volatile environment in each case, such actor mapping must be carried out at regular intervals, ideally within an institutionalised framework, to share knowledge and resources among international organisations.

6.3 Key takeaways and recommendations

The abovementioned challenges have important long-term consequences for traditional authorities, and the stability of the regions in which they are active:

First, the enduring practices of hereditary rule and elitist appointments within traditional structures perpetuate the status quo and damage the legitimacy of such structures in the eyes of marginalised communities. Younger and underrepresented members of tribes and communities will seek alternative structures that provide greater opportunities for empowerment.

Second, the increased roles and responsibilities undertaken by traditional authorities in areas of minimal state presence are empowering in the short term, as reflected by high levels of community trust in such cases. However, chronic resource shortages in these areas will inevitably leave traditional authorities exposed and overburdened, and levels of community trust will begin to reflect this reality. When legitimacy is tied to effective governance, traditional authorities in these regions are in an unenviable position.

Finally, traditional authorities are valued and respected among their constituents, particularly in the fields of conflict resolution and mediation, but this reputation is being undermined by the need to make short-term allegiances for security at the expense of long-term stability. By siding with political or armed actors, traditional authorities risk eroding their neutrality and close community ties, upon which much of their legitimacy is derived.

Based on these findings, a number of general recommendations for policy makers can be concluded:

Efforts should be made to address the exclusive tendencies of traditional authority structures and key dynamics that contribute to this, such as their politicization. From our discussions with high-level political elites in Niger, there emerged a call to organise a national forum to discuss the negative effects that the introduction of democratic governance has had on traditional authorities’ perceived neutrality and legitimacy. Given that we find politicization has similarly affected traditional authorities in Mali, we argue that the time has also come for a broader regional debate on the role of traditional authorities in contemporary governance structures. The dialogues, which should include underrepresented groups, could inform processes such as the current constitutional reform in Mali, which seeks to provide traditional authorities with designated seats in a new second chamber, or the further development of local governance interventions in Libya.

A second recommendation, specifically proposed by the Nigerien Minister of Justice, is to codify traditional authorities’ customs in the form of jurisprudence and to standardise their justice provision. This could improve the transparency and objectivity of local justice provision and allow for a comparison between the traditional (sharia) law implemented in these countries and international human rights norms.[400] In areas presently under the control of armed groups, such as northern Mali, efforts to engage with Qadis (traditional religious figures in reconciliation and justice, administering verdicts on the basis of Islamic law) in this manner would allow for the establishment of a channel of communication between the central state and justice providers that currently operate under armed governance. A related recommendation is to train and equip all types of traditional authorities – especially those with limited access to resources – to ensure the effectiveness and neutrality of their governance.

A third main recommendation is to support mediation efforts at local level to build a foundation of stability that could subsequently be scaled up. Although this will not solve all conflict in the region, it could prevent the further spread and escalation of local conflicts before they take on an ethnic dimension or become co-opted by radical armed groups. Due to their historical role as conflict mediators and representatives of their communities, traditional authorities are pivotal partners in such inter-communal dialogues. Moreover, the recent experience of the Clingendael Academy training negotiation skills for communities subject to herder-farmer conflicts in Nigeria showed that traditional authorities are also key partners because the outcomes of these dialogues will need to be communicated back to the full community to build acceptance and support.

There are already a number of organisations present in the border area between Mali and Niger that arrange meetings between representatives of different communities to encourage trust and dialogue. These efforts should be further supported. Investing in capacity building for traditional authorities, such as negotiation skills and their understanding of important rules and regulations – such as the pastoral code – is likely to improve the success rate of such reconciliation efforts. Facilitating dialogue and the exchange of experiences at regional and national levels could subsequently scale these efforts up. This would also allow for the establishment of a communication channel between local communities and the (inter)national community.

The findings from our country studies also act as a warning signal for the Sahel and West Africa region more generally. Traditional authorities are often the only authority structures present in regions threatened by (radical) armed groups, which have shown the ability to capitalise on local fault lines that are often linked to conflicts over access to natural resources. Many of the recommendations presented here should therefore be applied to at-risk regions as well, to strengthen local resilience against armed governance. Such a proactive approach would entail supporting traditional authorities’ ability to engage in effective and transparent governance efforts, including justice provision, combined with support for preventive inter- and intra-community conflict resolution. Although such measures will not defeat (radical) armed groups, they could make it much more difficult for them to anchor themselves in new localities.

Logan, C. 2013. ‘The roots of resilience. Exploring popular support for African traditional authorities’, African Affairs, 112(448), 353-376. Molenaar, F. et al. 2017. A Line in the Sand: Roadmap for sustainable migration management in Agadez. CRU report, The Hague: Clingendael Institute.
Beetham, D. 2016. ‘Max Weber and the legitimacy of the modern state’, Analyse & Kritik, 13(1), 34–45.
Previous research has found a similar dynamic to be at work in Mali. See Ursu, A.-E. 2018. op. cit.
Respondent #39, Tribe member, Awainat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
This finding does not stand alone. Although not touched upon expressly in this study, the advent of democracy and decentralisation in Mali similarly resulted in the reproduction of status quo relationships and power struggles in local institutions. Lecocq, B. 2010. op. cit.
Lehoucq, F. 2002. ‘Can Parties Police themselves? Electoral Governance and Democratization’, International Political Science Review, 23:1, 29-46.
Estates general conventions (from the historical French process of the états généraux, of revolutionary fame) are conventions where delegates from all branches of an activity sector across a national territory are convened to debate problems and recommend solutions. Such conventions typically start and end with plenary sessions, and they organise committees to discuss each major issue area identified as a source of problems. Estates general are meant to propose solutions and build consensus around them.
In the case of Ubari in particular, respondents noted that armed groups control the municipality and that formal and informal authorities must therefore engage with them.
We did not come across any cases where non-state armed groups rejected or chased away the traditional authorities in the areas under their control. This practice seems to be more prevalent with radical extremist groups, who see traditional authorities as agents of the state and/or as obstacles to their religious or ideological convictions.
Lecocq, B. and Klute, G. op. cit. 34.
Although it should also be recognised that this could put traditional authorities further at risk of radical attacks.
Ursu (2018) shows that there is not necessarily a tension between the two. Ursu, A.-E. 2018. Between ideals and needs: Is Malian customary justice incompatible with international human rights standards?, CRU Policy Brief, The Hague, Clingendael.