Mauritania: Strengthening conflict prevention capacities and the rule of law in Mauritania
An explosion of ethnic tensions in 1989 precipitated a mass expulsion of tens of thousands of Mauritanians and produced a climate of tension, uncertainty and animosity. Declining living conditions, rising unemployment and poverty, and the uneven distribution of resources exacerbated traditional sources of conflict -- access to land and water -- and social prejudices and discrimination became rampant.
The goal of this programme was to prevent conflicts and inter-community tensions through the following approaches:
- Strengthening social cohesion through the promotion of national unity and citizenship, developing policies allowing an equal distribution of resources, boosting incomes and establishing mechanisms for conflict resolution and dialogue.
- Strengthening the rule of law by building capacity for conflict prevention and management.
The programme used a national approach to develop strategies and implement communications campaigns and a decentralized approach targeted on the project areas.
Overall, the programme helped establish conflict resolution structures, fostered dialogue and social mediation and combined traditional practices with the use of formal judicial mechanisms and decision-making bodies.
Specific achievements included:
- Significant progress was made with regard to increasing knowledge and changing attitudes on: 1) the rights of women and children; 2) the causes of conflict and skills to deal with them within communities; and 3) better understanding and better communication between previously hostile communities; 4) freedom, especially for women, to discuss issues such as human rights, citizenship, conflict prevention and resolution, rights of former slaves, equality of races and tribes, equality before the law, injustices towards returnees, and land issues, among others; 5) the right to advocate and make claims from government.
- 280 opinion leaders were trained in conflict prevention.
- More than 10,000 people (including 60 influential personalities) were sensitized on the participation of women in the management of community affairs and the issue of conflict prevention.
- 500 women were trained in advocacy, women's leadership and conflict prevention.
- 141 commnuity liaisons were identified and trained in human rights and conflict prevention.
- A mapping exercise was carried out to identify factors contirbuting to conflict which analyzed strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. The process of formulating the National Strategy for Social Cohesion was inclusive and participatory.
- More than 40,000 people are using community infrastructures which provide spaces for interaction (15 markets, kindergartens, classrooms and four soccer fields).
Click for more detailed results of the Joint Programmes in Mauritania (in French).