Advising to Overcome Resistance and Build Trust in Mali


In November, the Royal Institute for International Relations – Egmont organised a 4-day training to benefit 19 European Union Capacity Building Mission in Mali (EUCAP Sahel Mali) members on elements of mentoring and advising in civilian crisis management.

This training was organised at the request of EUCAP Sahel Mali and tailor-made for the members of the operations staff and the department of the Chief of Staff. The overall objective of the Advising and Mentoring in Civilian Crisis Management course was to enhance the skills and knowledge of experts working as advisors and to encourage in-house coordination to facilitate the internal establishment of a broader understanding of the goals and objectives for the mission. The specificity and complexity of the Malian political context were used transversally throughout the training to illustrate theoretical aspects of the training in coherence with the framework of the Mission’s mandate.

Key Aspects of Advising and Mentoring Training in Mali

A critical aspect of the training related to improving existing relations with Malian partners and the efficiency of advisors of EUCAP Sahel Mali. The first key aspect was to identify and list the challenges and obstacles faced by the staff and try to solve them through group work and shared thinking. Understanding the different phases of advising and mentoring and developing a relationship based on trust, internal or external, was a fundamental element of this training.

Given the current context in Mali, the ability to overcome local resistance to advice from the Mission’s counterparts was at the heart of the training. For this, the Egmont Institute mobilised two international experts and one Malian expert. The use of a national trainer from the Ecole du Maintien de la Paix Alioune Blondin Beye Bamako added value not only for the preparation of context-related exercises but also for facilitating mutual understanding and modules on local resistance and appropriation.

Considering the complexity and specificity of certain roles and positions of EUCAP Sahel Mali’s staff and the framework of the mission’s mandate, the methodology was based on the participants’ expertise and the facilitating of internal dialogues (i.e. balance theory and practice, active recalls, used of local knowledge, simulations, interactive tools to facilitate discussion, etc.). The effective combination of national and international experts proved an added value in both content and form.

Advisers’ Feedback and Way Ahead

Participants demonstrated rapid adaptability and growing communication skills while listing and structuring their potential approaches to current challenges they are facing. Despite the difference in experience among the participants, the interactive nature of the training allowed every participant to express themselves on equal footing with others in a transparent and constructive environment.

The European Union Capacity Building Mission in Mali is certainly strategic and complex, but also in need of support. From the Egmont Institute’s perspective, this training on Advising and Mentoring in civilian crisis management was a success but also proof of the growing need for training in such EU CSDP missions.

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