Protection of Civilians by the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali

Issue Brief

The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, was authorized in 2013 to support peace and stability in Mali. The core of MINUSMA’s mandate is to support the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali that resulted from the Algiers negotiations. This agreement was signed in May 2015 by the Malian government and two armed group coalitions: the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) and the Platform of Armed Groups (Platform).

The Security Council has also identified the protection of civilians (POC) as a “priority task” for the mission. UN Security Council Resolution 2295 provides MINUSMA with a strong POC mandate, authorizing the mission to “anticipate, deter and counterthreats… and to take robust and active steps to protect civilians.”1 However, violence against civilians in Mali currently occurs at a very low rate compared to other areas hosting similar peacekeeping missions with POC mandates, such as the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan.

Given the low level of deliberate violence against civilians in Mali, many MINUSMA personnel have been unclear about how the mission should implement its POC mandate. Recent efforts, including a revised POC strategy, aim to develop a shared vision among all MINUSMA components as well as UN agencies about how to enhance POC. This briefing note offers some recommendations on how the mission can improve its protection efforts. It outlines the major threats to civilians and MINUSMA’s current capacity to respond; the main potential threats to civilians in the near future; and how MINUSMA can incorporate POC more effectively into its political strategy.