Working on Innovation in Mali

“The people of Mali need to know that innovation is possible!” said H.E. Sanogo Aminata Malle, Minister of Justice of Mali, during her visit to HiiL Innovating Justice.

We were sitting in a circle joined by experts of the Mali working group of the Knowledge Platform on Security and Rule of Law. We were having an informal conversation about how to unleash more of the innovation capacity in Mali. She asked questions, the members of the group responded. Her manner was open, concentrated, and deliberate. Understandably so: the recently appointed minister is in charge of a tremendously challenging justice reform agenda. Deeper insight into the justice problems of Mali emerged from the nationwide Justice Needs and Satisfaction (JNS) survey that HiiL and its strategic partner in Mali, Deme So, conducted last year.

This study – to which Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, referred to in a speech to the Security Council, and which was also the topic of an Op-Ed in the Guardian – highlights the rocky journeys to justice that the citizens of Mali face.

H.E. Sanogo Aminata Malle recognised many of the justice problems highlighted in the JNS survey. As a judge she had to deal with many of the issues highlighted in the dashboard demo.

Some issues include family issues and problems related to obtaining birth certificates for children. Also, many Malians do not actively resolve their justice problems, and many do not know where to obtain information and advice. Improving the effectiveness of the implementation of court decisions is also an area where innovation is needed. Such justice problems can be tackled with innovations.

During the Minister’s visit Wilfried De Wever, HiiL’s Head of the Innovating Justice Accelerator, presented a strategy that has worked in other contexts. For instance, executing Innovating Justice Challenges around the most pressing issues, and accelerating top innovations through active support. This can bring a coalition together and unlock local solutions for local problems.

« We want to avoid pushing foreign solutions. It is important to build capacity for justice entrepreneurship and to build lasting change. »

Participants of the meeting agreed that the Ministry’s call for justice innovations would have a likelihood of success.

We concluded our meeting with an agreement to deepen our cooperation on data collection, and to work together to bring innovation into the core of the ministry of justice of Mali.