Elliott School Shapiro Professor Selected to Lead UN Mission in Mali

El-Ghassim Wane, an expert in peace, security and governance, will lead UN efforts to oversee political processes in Mali and to stabilize the country.

Official launch of the MINUSMA Force Center in Mali aims to improve coordination between UN personnel and the Malian Armed forces for Defense and Security.
March 31, 2021

By Tatyana Hopkins

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed El-Ghassim Wane of the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs to serve as the head of the UN mission in Mali.

Mr. Wane, who joined the Elliott School last fall as a J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Visiting Professor, has been selected to serve as the special representative and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

“This is one of the largest UN peacekeeping missions in the world,” said Elliott School Dean Alyssa Ayres. “On behalf of the Elliott School, we congratulate Professor Wane on this important appointment, and we look forward to seeing his leadership in action as he embarks upon this next challenge.”

The Malian government has been seeking to restore stability and rebuild following a series of setbacks that occurred in 2012, including a failed coup, renewed fighting between government forces and Tuareg rebels and the seizure of its northern territory by radical extremists. These events have weakened the country’s central institutions and confidence in political actors. 

The UN’s mission in Mali, which currently has 16,443 personnel deployed, was established in 2013 by the UN Security Council to support the political process in Mali as well as to carry out a number of security-related tasks aimed at helping to stabilize the country.

Mr. Wane, a Mauritanian diplomat, will replace Mahamat Saleh Annadif Khatir of Chad and will bring more than 25 years of experience in conflict prevention, meditation and peacekeeping.

He has served in several senior positions at the African Union (AU), most recently as the chief of staff and chief adviser to the chair of the AU Commission. Prior to that, he served as the UN assistant secretary general for peacekeeping operations, where he contributed to the management of UN peacekeeping operations across the world and led the review of several peacekeeping missions.

Mr. Wane also held various positions between 1994 and 2009 at the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now the AU, including head of the Conflict Management divisions and.

In 2012, Mr. Wane was featured by the Africa Report as one of the 50 most influential Africans of the year.

Jennifer Cooke, director of GW’s Institute for African Studies, congratulated Mr. Wane on his most recent appointment.

“We have been so fortunate to have Professor Wane here at the Elliott School this past year,” she said. “He has been a tremendous source of wisdom and expertise on issues of global governance and security in Africa for GW students and faculty, for the Institute and for the broader community.”

While at GW, Ms. Wane taught courses on the UN and global security as well as the UN and security in Africa.

"Being part of the GW community was a huge honor, and a unique opportunity to share my experience, but also to learn from colleagues and students alike,” Mr. Wane said. “As I ready myself for the task ahead in Mali, I will forever treasure the time spent here, the friendships built, and the incredible support I received."

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