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Back from the Brink: How the UN is Stabilizing, Securing and Strengthening Mali


The landlocked country of Mali, once a French colony and a cultural hub of West Africa, was overrun in January 2012 by a coalition of Tuareg and terrorist groups moving south towards the capital of Bamako.

Achieving MINUSMA’s stabilization and development objectives has policy and security implications is critical to U.S. national interests. Among its achievements, the UN has helped Mali broker a peace deal between the armed groups that kickstarted the crisis, successfully organized two free and fair presidential elections, and steadily expanded state authority, paving the way for the country to govern itself once again.

But much is left to do–and it cannot be done strictly by MINUSMA alone. That is to say, the limitations that the UN has encountered in Mali–its inability to fully protect civilians, foster a sense of national cohesion, and fully stabilize the rapidly deteriorating center, are not a result of flaws in MINUSMA itself or its leadership, there are inherent structural limitations in UN peacekeeping as a whole. These are limitations that the Secretary-General is hard at work addressing through the newly released Action for Peacekeeping Initiative. While those reforms are pursued, we can unabashedly say that failure in Mali would mean a return to rampant instability in a country straddling a critical geographic nexus and compromise