No peace for peacekeepers to keep in Mali, says retired UN commander
by Marguerite Marlin (feat. Denis Thompson)
April 25, 2018
The current deployment of UN troops in Mali is much more a counter-insurgency campaign than a traditional UN peacekeeping mission, retired Major General Lewis MacKenzie, former commander of UN missions in Central America and Sarajevo said this week.
Speaking to the Commons Defence Committee Tuesday, MacKenzie said the word “peacekeeping” is a misnomer for modern missions like Mali, as “there is no peace to keep.”
He added it is disingenuous to say that the aim of the Mali mission is to support the peace process – because there is no peace process in Mali that is working, and there is an ISIS franchise in Northern Mali that is operating outside of the process.
MacKenzie’s testimony was designed to give committee members new insights into the UN-led missions, especially Mali, where Canadian troops are currently being assigned.
A lack of trust for the UN was a key theme at the hearing, with witnesses outlining a certain level of incompetence with UN command and control stemming from their experiences in the field. This led to Conservative MP David Yurdiga wondering if the UN is not up to the job of leading peace operations, and if someone other than the UN should be taking the lead in Mali. MacKenzie replied that in fact the French should be taking the lead in Mali, not the UN – because the other three forces that are in the country are not prepared to accept UN leadership.
Major General (Ret’d) Denis Thompson added that there has also been some discussion in the international community about splitting into different teams in Mali.