Policy & History

U.S.-Mali Relations

Bureau of African Affairs
Fact Sheet
October 15, 2015

The United States established diplomatic relations with Mali in 1960, following its independence from France. In 1992, Mali moved from a one-party state to multiparty democracy. In March 2012, Mali’s elected civilian government was removed in a military seizure of power, and an interim administration was subsequently put in place. Despite a peace agreement signed in June 2015 and the presence of UN peacekeeping and French forces, rebel groups are still active in northern Mali. The fragile resulting security environment has made implementation of the peace accord more challenging.

U.S.-Mali relations have been strong for decades and have been based on shared goals of strengthening democracy and reducing poverty through economic growth. Except for during the 2012 crisis, the country’s democratic government has significantly reduced poverty and improved the quality of life for many Malians. However, Mali remained near the bottom of the Human Development Index, notably in health and education. Mali continues to face security challenges.

Mali has made substantial progress in the last two years following the 2012 rebellion in the north, a coup d’etat, and the loss of the northern two-thirds of the country to violent extremist groups. French-led international military intervention in January 2013 followed by international presence through MUNISMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) helped to restore and maintain Mali’s territorial integrity. After successful Presidential and Legislative elections were held in July and August 2013, and a long and difficult negotiation process, full signature was reached on the Accord for Peace and Reconciliation on June 20, marking an important step in the inter-Malian peace process. Following the accord’s signature, the Malian government has engaged with coalitions of armed groups in northern Mali in an effort to advance implementation of the peace accord on multiple fronts. The accord calls for a series of confidence-building measures such as the deployment of joint security patrols throughout the country. Adding to the slow pace of the accord implementation process, Mali’s fragile peace is threatened by extremist groups who did not sign the accord and will continue to negatively affect peace. The United States will continue to support Mali in achieving its goals of peace and economic development, recognizing that progress will require a sustained effort on the part of the Malian government.

U.S. Assistance to Mali

U.S. foreign assistance to Mali totaled more than $135.4 million in FY 2014 with $130 million officially requested for FY 2015. First and foremost, U.S. assistance to Mali seeks to support the country’s fragile peace and implementation of the June 20 peace accord. Key U.S. interests in Mali include promoting a stable democracy and improved governance; promoting regional security by combatting terrorists and traffickers who seek to exploit ungoverned spaces in the Sahel; reducing chronic vulnerability by improving social development and increasing sustainable livelihoods; and encouraging economic growth, opportunity and development by supporting sustainable development and increased U.S. economic investment. From these interests our mission goals include: 1) promoting democratic institutions, responsive governance, and respect for human rights, 2) enhancing regional security by building institutions to counter transnational threats, 3) advancing social development (particularly health and education), 4) increasing economic growth and sustainable livelihoods, and 5) promoting the U.S as a key partner to Malian stakeholders, enhancing mutual understanding, and protecting the wellbeing of U.S. citizens.

US foreign assistance is administered through a whole of government approach that includes but is not limited to the recent return of Peace Corps, and the long-standing in-country presence of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the National Institute for Health (NIH), and the Department of Defense (DOD), Furthermore, Mali is a focus country for USG assistance priorities and initiatives, including but not limited to: Women, Peace and Security (WPS), the Trans-Sahel Counter Terrorism Partnership (TSTCP), the Security Governance Initiative (SGI), Global Climate Change (GCC), Feed the Future (FTF), Resilience, the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), the President’s Emergency Plan For Aids Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), and Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Death (EPCMD). On October 9, 2015, the U.S. Government, through USAID, signed a formal agreement with the Government of Mali to implement USAID/Mali’s new 5-year Country Development Cooperation Strategy (available here). USAID/Mali’s projected $690 million investment for FY 2016-2020 will seek the following goal: “Malians secure a democratic, resilient, and prosperous future” through four objectives: 1) Stabilization of conflict-affected areas reinforced (ie: support for humanitarian assistance and transition to development in Mali’s northern regions of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal); 2) Fostering improved public trust in government (ie: through improved public service delivery (especially health, education, and justice), administration of justice and respect for human rights, and citizen participation in Malian electoral processes); 3) Increased resilience and adaptive capacity of vulnerable communities and households (through mitigation of climate change, countering violent extremism, economic diversification and strengthening human capital); and 4) increased prosperity through advancing socio-economic well-being (particularly through improving health services and adopting healthy behaviors, reducing poverty and malnutrition through investment in agriculture, and promoting early grade reading for boys and girls). Underlying this goal is the understanding that a democratic, resilient, and prosperous future is unattainable if the country, as a whole, does not benefit from development assistance. U.S. programming will focus on achieving tangible peace dividends and continuing our commitment to working with all Malians.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Mali and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Mali is also one of 15 member countries of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) and one of 12 member countries of CILSS (Permanent Interstates Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel).

Mali’s Membership in International Organizations

Mali and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.