The Evolution of Peacekeeping Intelligence:

The UN’s Laboratory in Mali

Sebastiaan Rietjens and A. Walter Dorn


Originally published in Perspectives on Military Intelligence from the First World War to Mali
(Between Learning and Law)
, Floribert Baudet, Eleni Braat, Jeoffrey van Woensel, and Aad Wever (Eds), Asser Press and Springer, 2017. (pdf)



This chapter looks at how peacekeeping intelligence expanded in MINUSMA and how it worked in practice. Apart from reviewing the main innovations and structures, and the means for information gathering, processing, dissemination and direction, the chapter identifies many challenges and summarizes these by means of three dichotomies. First, the European countries brought in the innovative intelligence capabilities, heavily based on advanced NATO procedures, but the main force was mostly populated with African soldiers who had the greater cultural familiarity and knew more of the locally spoken languages. Marrying the Western and African capabilities turned out to be challenging due to incoherent procedures, systems, levels of experience as well as reporting mechanisms. In addition, information-sharing from classified NATO databases proved difficult. Second, whereas several innovative intelligence units produced comprehensive intelligence reports focusing on the longer term, MINUSMA’s military leadership valued current and security-related intelligence more, but that was insufficiently available within the organization. Third, the contributions of military and civilian actors were largely stovepiped and lacked sufficient sharing, coordination and integration. The reasons underlying this were organizational, political as well as technical in nature. Coordination boards were installed but these were not fully effective due to a lack of directive powers.


For full article, see pdf