Restoring Legal Identities and Rights in Mali

Speeches Shim

Monday, May 17, 2021
Yassine proudly holding his birth certificate
Norwegian Refugee Council

Yassine Ag Magad is a pastoralist from the village of Youmatana, near Anderamboukane town in Mali’s Menaka region. When armed conflict broke out there in 2012, he and his family were forced to flee, abandoning their house, livestock, and property. They sheltered across the border in Niger’s Mangayzé camp for four years before returning home at the end of 2016.

Yassine and his children never had any documents establishing their legal identities, and the family struggled to cross the border to Niger and gain entry into the Mangayzé camp. “From then, I understood how important it is to have a legal identity and when the Alliance for Community Resilience started its counseling and legal assistance, I didn’t miss the opportunity,” explains Yassine.

In Mali, civil documents like birth certificates and national identity cards formalize the status of individuals and allow them to access basic social services, property, and protection. The government has a legal obligation to ensure the registration of all births in Mali, even when the parents do not have Malian citizenship. Birth registration is a fundamental right protected by several international legal instruments to which Mali is a signatory, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Mali faces many challenges for individuals and government to meet their mutual obligations and responsibilities. Procedural, financial, logistical, and cultural barriers often make accessing services to obtain civil status documents very difficult. These barriers have become more significant in the central and northern parts of the country since 2012 as armed conflict has spread.

Yassine received counselling and legal assistance on procedures to get civil status documents and on issues related to housing, land, and property rights.  He was also supported by the Alliance for Community Resilience with cash transfers and assistance to restart income generating activities such as animal husbandry. Thanks to the help he received, Yassine and his two children now have birth certificates, their legal identities have been restored, and their prospects have improved.

Information, counselling, and legal assistance is part of the Alliance for Community Resilience co-funded in Mali by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and a consortium of international NGOs led by Humanity & Inclusion. This three-year, $23 million activity improves household food and nutrition security, and has reached 76,924 Malians with cash and food vouchers. Income generating activities such as animal fattening, market gardening and cash for work have reached over 14,000 individuals in Menaka region. More than 4,000 people like Yassine have been assisted to date with legal identification documents and civil documentation giving them new hope for the future.

Last updated: June 15, 2021

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