Rarely have so many disparate nations agreed so wholeheartedly about the need for military action.
It was an historic moment at the United Nations Security Council on 12 October, 2012, when all the veto-wielding permanent members voted to back Mali's calls for an intervention to assist its army to reconquer northern provinces occupied by jihadist militias.
The Council offered security experts to help Mali, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) to draw up a plan.
Planning for the reconquest of northern Mali works on four levels: Mali's internal politics, Mali's relationship with ECOWAS, ECOWAS's ties to the AU and the AU's negotiations with foreign powers.
Mali's army, effectively led by the putsch leader Captain Amadou Sanogo, and ECOWAS were at the centre of the plan after abandoning their mutual suspicions.
Member states approved the ECOWAS plan to provide 3,300 troops on 11 November, and it was endorsed by the AU Peace and Security Council on 13 November.
The trickiest relationship was between the AU and Western countries.
Conscious of the acrimony related to the interventions in Côte d'Ivoire and Libya in 2011, the US and the European Union have stepped more cautiously in Mali.
In 2011, African countries were split – Nigeria, Senegal and other ECOWAS countries backed the UN's operation to oust Laurent Gbagbo, while South Africa and Angola opposed it.
Now it is former South African foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who chairs the AU Commission and presides over a near-continental consensus on Mali.
Bolstered by ECOWAS troops, French and Malian forces have registered a number of successes, recapturing key towns.
However, the greatest test of this international machinery is yet to come, as jihadist militias move further into the hinterland.
Will it work on the ground and will Mali return quickly to accountable and constitutional rule? ●