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Non-state actors in governance systems: friend or foe?

Time (GMT +00) 17:00 18:30


Aoife McCullough @aoifemccullough - Research Fellow, ODI


Moctar Kane @MoctarKAN - Programme Manager, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Mali

Mariz Tadros @IDS_UK - Power and Popular Politics Cluster co-leader, Institute of Development Studies 

Mohamed Mubarak - Director, Marqaati 

Erik Bryld - Managing Director, Tana


In standard accountability programmes, the focus is often on restraining the power of the state. However, in places with limited state presence, the state may not be the main source of power. Non state actors often work to influence governance in positive and negative ways. These actors can include business and religious leaders, elders, NGOs and militia groups.

Presenting new ODI research in collaboration with Mott MacDonald, and drawing on perspectives from Somalia and Mali, this event explores the opportunities and challenges of improving accountability through working with non-state actors.

The discussion will be shaped around the idea of ‘safe-to-fail’ where failures as well as successes will be used to gain insights into what works in areas of limited statehood. In doing so this discussion offers valuable insights for practitioners, donors and service providers currently grappling with the question of how development actors can engage appropriately with non-state actors.



Aoife McCullough is a Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute specialising in political and social analysis in conflict-affected environments. She has led or contributed to conflict and governance analyses in Mali, South Sudan, Pakistan and Zambia for both donors and NGOs. She is the lead author of a new report in collaboration with Mott Macdonald on accountability and non-state actors, which draws on the experiences of the Implementation and Analysis in Action of Accountability Programme (IAAAP) - a DFID funded programme that made grants available to organisations who sought to trial evidence based activities designed to increase accountability in Somalia. She holds an MSc in Anthropology and Development from the London School of Economics and a BA in Psychology from Trinity College Dublin.

Moctar Kane is Programme Manager for the UK Sahel Conflict, Security, and Stability Fund. He is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Sahel’s programmes, including procurement, M+E, and the financial control of projects. Passionate about governance, democracy, politics, conflict, and stability issues, Moctar produces monthly context analyses about the Sahel and he has previously researched issues of citizenship within Mali’s democratic experience at the University of Oxford’s Department of International Development. He is an experienced project manager, researcher, and advisor holding degrees from the University of Oxford, Rhodes University, and the University of Bamako.

Mariz Tadros is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies specialising in the politics and human development of the Middle East. She has authored numerous publications, and her books include: Resistance, Revolt, and Gender Justice in Egypt, The Muslim Brotherhood in Contemporary Egypt: Democracy redefined or confined? and Copts at the Crossroads: The challenges of building an inclusive democracy in contemporary Egypt. Mariz is the Co-leader of the IDS Power and Popular Politics Cluster and is currently Co-Director of the DFID-supported RPC on Social and Political Action for Empowerment and Accountability. This international research programme explores how social and political action can contribute to empowerment and accountability in fragile, conflict, and violent settings, with a particular focus on Egypt, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Mohamed Mubarak is the Director of Marqaati, an anti-corruption local non-governmental organisation based in Mogadishu that advocates for government transparency in Somalia’s federal and local governments. Established in June 2013, marqaati – which means “witness” in Somali — now has more than a dozen volunteers and full-time workers engaged in documentation and investigation of government corruption. Marqaati seeks to promote transparency, integrity and accountability at all levels of power in Somalia.

Erik Bryld is managing director and partner at Tana Copenhagen, a Danish consultancy firm specialising in governance, peace and stabilisation in fragile and conflict-affected states. Erik has more than a decade of experience working with governance, aid effectiveness and conflict mitigation and prevention in Africa and Asia and has worked in Somalia since 2006. Through Tana Erik leads the DFID-funded project ‘Making Gatekeepers Accountable’. This project aims to improve the accountability between internally displaced people (IDPs) in Somalia and the self-established managers - the so-called ‘gatekeepers’ - of the informal settlements in Mogadishu where some 500,000 Somali IDPs reside.

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