Africa, New in Lobbying, Regional conflicts

Nonprofit advocacy firm signs new deal with former Tuareg rebels

Advocating for the under-represented is important. So is getting paid for that work.

New York nonprofit advisory group Independent Diplomat signed a new contract with Mali’s former Tuareg rebels for 5,000 ($5,600) per month in March, according to a newly disclosed lobbying filing. The firm’s previous contract with the Coordination of Movements of the Azawad (CMA), signed in 2017, merely required the CMA to “fully cooperate” in “seeking adequate funding for the provision of [Independent Diplomat’s] services.”

Since then Independent Diplomat has not disclosed any payments from the group, a review of its lobbying filings shows. “I can confirm that this contract is the first in which Independent Diplomat is receiving a fee payment from the CMA,” Nick Scott, Independent Diplomat’s managing director, told Foreign Lobby Report.

The CMA signed the Mali Peace Agreement with the government in Bamako in 2015 to end its insurgency in northern Mali in exchange for more autonomy. Scott signed the new agreement alongside CMA leader Bilal Ag Acherif.

“This is a continuation of our work to help the CMA achieve implementation of the Mali Peace Agreement,” Scott said.

“The negotiations around implementation of the Mali Peace Agreement are international involving a wide range of state actors as well as multilateral organs like the UN Security Council and the European Union,” he added. “All of those actors plus the government of Mali have large diplomatic services that help them engage effectively. The CMA has no foreign service, yet are expected to engage regularly in this big diplomatic process. We hope that our support gives the CMA some of that capacity and in some small way contributes to a lasting peace in Mali.”

Independent Diplomat’s new contract with the group details in greater specificity the work that it agrees to carry out. This includes providing advice once a month on how to address constitutional reforms “needed for the full implementation of decentralization” promised under the 2015 agreement; monthly reporting on the views of policy-makers at diplomatic forums including the UN Security Council, European Union and Human Rights Council; and help organizing up to four diplomatic visits to foreign capitals per year.

The firm’s executive director, Reza Afshar, is currently the only foreign agent registered on the account. Independent Diplomat’s founder, former British diplomat Carne Ross, left the firm in May.