Highlights of My Mali Research

Over the past two weeks, I have focused on researching the history of Mali’s Constitution. I submitted two drafts and have begun working on the revisions. This has led me to deep dive into Mali’s convoluted history. One fact I learned is that Mali is governed by a semi-presidential system thus I have been asked to read “President’s and Assemblies” by Matthew Shugart and John Carey to familiarize myself with the presidential structure that Mali has created for itself. I have also been asked to pay close attention when reading the Constitution Building Primers on Federalism and Electing President and Semi-Presidential Democracies as they especially apply to Mali. It has been eye-opening reading these books and articles that address the formations of various countries’ constitutions to then compare to Mali’s Constitution. I have begun to understand the possibilities for a country’s constitution based on its history and current political situation. What I have learned makes me appreciate even more the work and end result for which the Constitution Building Program at International IDEA strives, by focusing on the context of each country. Mali currently has a constitutional review scheduled for 31 October 2021. I will be keeping an eye out when this process gets underway.

One aspect of my research I want to highlight is the formation of Mali from 1895 when it was colonized by France as French Sudan to 1959 when it became the Sudanese Republic a part of the Federation of Mali to 1960 when it became an independent state as the Republic of Mali. Throughout that time period, the State, known as Mali today, has had several name changes and three Constitutions—soon to be a fourth. I have been enjoying digging into the past, finding laws France enacted to change the name of Mali as it continued to reorganize its colonies, and hunting for the Constitutions that Mali ratified. The Federation ratified its Constitution on 17 January 1959 then the Sudanese Republic ratified its Constitution three days later on 23 January 1959. These Constitutions went through several amendments before Mali became independent and adopted its Constitution of 28 September 1960. Comparing and contrasting these Constitutions to then compare to the current 1992 Constitution highlighted for me the importance of creating a constitution based on the context of the country—as, throughout this time period, Mali has had two military coups, in 1968 and 1991. Mali requires a constitution that acknowledges that past, addressing what led to those coups—such as dictators who do not want to leave their position but unable to maintain a strong quality of life for its citizens. I look forward to further analyzing Mali, exploring the current situation and the possibilities that could come from its upcoming constitutional review.


Bilateral Meetings with My Colleagues

Despite the obstacles and challenges we are currently facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I have had the opportunity to attend virtual one-to-one meetings with several of my colleagues to learn about what they are doing and how they found International IDEA.

The first colleague I spoke to has been working with me for both projects I am currently tasked with. She manages ConstitutionNet, posting the various Constitutional events occurring. She also manages and organizes Voices in the Field pieces; a scholar who is an expert on a topic of a specific country is asked to write a detailed paper on that topic—usually the topic has been briefly addressed on ConstitutionNet. Along with learning about her job, I had the opportunity to speak with her about what she did before joining International IDEA and for any advice she had for me, especially since she has taken a similar path to the one on which I am currently. I gained valuable insight and cannot wait to continue to learn more.

The other colleagues I spoke with work on constitution building in countries such as Myanmar, South Sudan, and Belarus. I learned about their various projects, what they are working on, and what International IDEA is doing and planning on doing to facilitate constitution building that is best for the context of those countries. It has helped to further understand the formation of Mali’s Constitutions.

Throughout these weeks and into the next few weeks I will continue to read and read and read about constitution building and Mali. The more I have been reading, the more I understand the tasks my colleagues are working on and better understand the formation of Mali’s Constitution. I look forward to further discovering important aspects of constitution building.