Throughout most of 2012 Mali was in a state of deep crisis. Following a military coup and a secessionist movement in the North, nearly 600,000 Malians had fled their homes by August 2012, with many facing acute hunger and violence.
Some of the most active responses to this state of affairs came from Mali’s neighbours, in the form of diplomatic interventions by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and eventually an African Union (AU)-led push for a UN-authorised military intervention.
This Working Paper explores the role played by ECOWAS and the AU in addressing the crises in Mali. The analysis covers three phases: the origins and underlying causes of the crisis; the outbreak of conflict, political instability and the French-led intervention; and the handover from the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) to the UN. The paper concludes with a brief analysis of current humanitarian needs and protection concerns, and the role of AU and ECOWAS humanitarian mechanisms in addressing them.This paper is part of a research project entitled 'Zones of Engagement: Regional Organisations and Humanitarian Action'. The project is designed to explore the role of regional organisations in humanitarian action, the rationale for their involvement and the degree to which their approaches may or may not differ from the approach of the UN.