The current conflict in Mali has displaced and harmed civilians for almost a decade. In 2012, the Malian army was defeated in the north of the country and a subsequent coup d’état in Bamako destabilized the country. In late April 2013, the UN authorized the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation, known by its acronym MINUSMA, with a mandate to protect civilians. However, MINUSMA has struggled to implement this mandate. MINUSMA is targeted by armed non-state actors and an estimated 80% of its military capacity is used for protection of its personnel, camps and convoys, leaving little to implement other mandates activities. Due to security concerns and strains on its capabilities, MINUSMA’s ability to deploy civilian personnel to undertake protection activities, including engagement with communities, is also limited. MINUSMA is taking steps to strengthen its strategies to protect civilians and CIVIC is undertaking independent research and analysis to support these efforts.
From 2013-2015 CIVIC captured civilian perspectives of threats to their security, including in the report, “Fending for Ourselves: The Civilian Impact of Mali’s Three-Year Conflict,” and advocated for MINUSMA to establish capabilities to mitigate harm to civilians that could result from its presence and operations. In 2017, CIVIC’s peacekeeping program re-established a project in Mali to undertake research and advocacy on MINUSMA’s current efforts to protect civilians in the country.
At present, CIVIC’s work in Mali is focused on three issues:
- How MINUSMA’s planning and decision-making is linked to threat-based analysis;
- How the UN Secretariat, Member States, and MINUSMA are improving the peacekeeping operation’s performance and accountability; and
- How MINUSMA is implementing efforts to mitigate harm to civilians that could result from its presence and activities.