Once a French colony and a cultural hub of West Africa, the landlocked country of Mali was overrun in January 2012, by a coalition of Tuareg and terrorist groups moving south towards the capital of Bamako. After unsuccessful joint efforts by the African Union and France to resolve the conflict, the UN Security Council authorized the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in July 2013, with a mandate to help stabilize Mali and assist the country’s return to constitutional order.

The mission monitors the implementation of ceasefire agreements, facilitates political reconciliation, assists in the integration of displaced persons, deliver humanitarian assistance, and works alongside Malian authorities to foster and protect human rights.

MINUSMA is operating in a challenging situation after three coups in two years. The mission is supporting the parties to adhere to the terms of the agreed upon transitional government. In addition, the mission is facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance and ensuring stability in a volatile region.

How MINUSMA Supports U.S. Interests

Since the multiple coups in Mali and the departure of the French force, MINUSMA serves a critical role in creating stability and preventing terrorists to take hold in northern Mali. This is a significant concern especially during the current political turmoil. Insecurity and instability in Mali is detrimental to the rest of the Sahel region. MINUSMA is preventing an escalation of the conflict in the region. 


  • Prevents the Spread of Terrorism

    Extremists like ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Boko Haram have a significant presence in the Sahel region. Without the efforts of the UN and the international community, these groups could cause further chaos, supporting smuggling operations and using the area as a base to conduct additional attacks in the region or further afield. While Mali remains unstable, MINUSMA plays an important role in minimizing the potential threats without putting Americans in harm’s way.

  • Promotes Free and Fair Elections

    During Mali’s elections, MINUSMA’s security presence has limited the spread of violence. MINUSMA provided technical and logistical support to the government, including the transportation of election materials and 1,840 electoral personnel–including some candidates–to the center and northern regions of Mali. The UN also trained poll workers, worked on voter outreach and public education campaigns, and facilitated town halls with a focus on increasing women’s participation in the electoral process.

  • Reduces Risks to Americans Serving Overseas

    The U.S. does not typically contribute many service members to UN peacekeeping missions –  there are only some 50 U.S. troops currently deployed across 13 different missions – but approximately half of those 50 are attached to MINUSMA in some way. The presence of that many U.S. service members delivers a strong message about strategic interests the U.S. places on stabilizing Mali and preventing a return to the widespread chaos that necessitated the establishment of the mission.

Learn more

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PDF: How the UN is Stabilizing and Strengthening Mali



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