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The Malian Crisis: a security sector perspective

This is a three-part blog contribution providing a security sector perspective on the ongoing crisis in Mali and focusing on stabilization and security sector reform challenges that need to be addressed in this context.


In late 2011, Mali was plunged into a severe political and security crisis when the situation in the country, already seriously unstable, was rendered that much more so by the impact of the Arab Spring, and in particular the events in Libya. Five years later, notwithstanding a multi-faceted intervention by regional states as well as the EU and the UN, Mali is still struggling to put itself back together again.

This three-part blog addresses several issues associated with the crisis. It puts a particular focus on the security sector inadequacies that prevailed in the country when the original crisis broke, and that continue to plague it a half-decade later.

The first post – A Crisis in the Making – reviews the background to the crisis, and the state of the Malian security sector in its lead-up and as it took hold.

The second post – The Stumbling Stabilization Effort – examines the measures taken by domestic and foreign forces to stem the violence and to put in place structures and policies aiming at putting Mali back on track.

The third post offers some ideas on what the Malian crisis says, or seems to be saying, about the security sector reform agenda and the role of the international community when it is called upon to respond – as it almost inevitably is when a country’s security sector fails to protect its borders, and more importantly its people. This last part is entitled Thinking More Broadly about the Security Sector Agenda.

This contribution complements previous articles on the Centre for Security Governance which explored the security sector reform (SSR) dimension of Canada’s planned re-engagement with peacekeeping and peace operations in Africa in a four-part blog series and the follow-up contribution by David Law on integrating security sector reform into Canada’s peace and stabilization strategy.

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