May 2013 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 May 2013
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Expected Council Action

Following the adoption of resolution 2100 on 25 April, which established the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to take over from the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), at press time Mali was not likely to be on the May programme of work of the Council. However, the situation in Mali might be addressed in the broader context of the Sahel in the upcoming briefing by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, and discussed in the consultations that will follow, as well as during the debate on the challenges of the fight against terrorism in Africa (both covered in a separate brief in this issue of the Monthly Forecast).

AFISMA’s authorisation expires on 20 December 2013.

Key Recent Developments

The 26 March Secretary-General’s report on Mali included two options for the establishment of a stabilisation mission (S/2013/189). The first one envisaged strengthening the current multidimensional presence in Bamako and transforming it into an integrated political presence with a better-resourced AFISMA. AFISMA would transition to a UN stabilisation mission once certain critical benchmarks were met. The second option proposed an integrated stabilisation mission with a military strength of 11,200 under Chapter VII alongside a parallel force to conduct counterterrorism operations beyond the scope of the UN’s mandate.

On 29 March, the interim Foreign Minister of Mali, Tiéman Coulibaly, noted a preference for the second option in a letter to the Secretary-General (S/2013/230). Along the same lines, Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo, President of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), had asked in a 26 March letter to the Secretary-General that AFISMA be transformed into a robust UN stabilisation mission working alongside a parallel force with the capacity to “dislodge any regrouped terrorists or insurgents” (S/2013/231).

The options were discussed by Council members in consultations on 3 April which included briefings by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, and the UnderSecretaryGeneral for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous. Council members agreed on pursuing the second option.

After three rounds of negotiations, the Council adopted resolution 2100 on 25 April, authorising the establishment of MINUSMA, for an initial period of 12 months, and the transfer of authority from AFISMA to MINUSMA on 1 July 2013. The Council also requested the Secretary-General to re-hat AFISMA’s military and police personnel appropriate to UN standards. Within 60 days of the adoption of the resolution, the Council will review the timeline for the deployment of MINUSMA depending on the security situation in Mali.

The resolution authorises a force structure of 11,200 military personnel and 1,440 police personnel to:

  • stabilise key population centres and support the reestablishment of state authority throughout Mali;
  • support the implementation of the transitional roadmap;
  • protect civilians and UN personnel;
  • promote and protect human rights; and
  • support humanitarian assistance, cultural preservation and national and international justice.

The resolution also authorises French troops, within the limits of their capacities and areas of deployment, to intervene in support of elements of MINUSMA when under imminent and serious threat and upon request of the Secretary-General. It also includes a request for France to report to the Council on the implementation of this mandate in Mali.

Even though Opération Serval, which France launched on 11 January, successfully rolled back the gains of the terrorist and insurgent groups that seized northern Mali shortly after the 22 March 2012 coup d’état, combat operations are still ongoing, particularly in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains, Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. Although governors have returned to Timbuktu and Gao, starting the restoration of state authority in northern Mali, it seems the authorities have not been able to establish a presence in Kidal yet.

Also, the transfer of control over the security situation from French forces to AFISMA in the north has been hindered by terrorist attacks and delays in the arrival of African troops. Following a suicide bombing, which resulted in at least three casualties in Kidal, President Idriss Déby of Chad announced on 14 April that Chadian troops would retreat, claiming that they are ill-equipped to engage in guerrilla warfare. Although not part of ECOWAS, Chad deployed the largest AFISMA contingent, amounting to almost 2,000 troops and having suffered more than 30 casualties.

In the context of the political roadmap approved by the National Assembly of Mali on 29 January, on 30 March the interim government appointed former Defence Minister Mohamed Salia Sokana to chair the Commission of Dialogue and Reconciliation. The interim authorities also appointed two vice chairs and 30 commissioners.

The Support and Follow-up Group on the situation in Mali held its fourth meeting in Bamako on 19 April, under the auspices of the UN, AU and ECOWAS. The conclusions of the meeting noted the steps that had been taken towards the consolidation of state authority and the security of liberated areas, as well as the implementation of the political roadmap. They also pointed out the main challenges Mali is facing, mainly regarding the reconciliation and political processes, the allegations of violations of human rights, the reform of the Malian Defence and Security Forces, the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 7 and 21 July 2013 and the lack of state control in the city of Kidal.

Human Rights-Related Developments

The Human Rights Council (HRC) in resolution 22/18 of 21 March established a mandate for an independent expert on the situation of human rights in Mali. The expert will be appointed during the 23rd session of the HRC (27 May-14 June).

On 4 April, the first ten of 50 human rights observers to be deployed to Mali by the AU Peace and Security Council and ECOWAS arrived in Bamako. The observers—from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone—completed a three-day training program before their deployment to Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal to monitor the human rights situation there.

Key Issues

A key overarching issue is to stabilise the security situation in northern Mali in order to minimise the threats to the UN stabilisation operation. A related issue will be to ensure that the operations of both the French forces and MINUSMA remain independent.

Ensuring that AFISMA has adequate financial and logistical support to fulfil its mandate until 1 July is another key issue.

Ensuring that all AFISMA troops operate within the UN human rights due diligence policy is a related issue.

The provision of electoral support in a timely manner will be an important issue, taking into account that MINUSMA will be deployed at the earliest on 1 July and that presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled as early as 7 July .

Addressing the potentially destabilising spillover effects from Mali on an already fragile region will be an ongoing issue.


After the establishment of a UN stabilisation operation, immediate options for the Council include:

  • requesting the Secretary-General to provide basic financial and logistical support to AFISMA to ensure its ability to operate until the transfer to MINUSMA starts;
  • establishing a Group of Experts to investigate the identity and activities of those involved in transnational and organised crime in Mali and the Sahel, with the possibility of imposing targeted sanctions, as recommended in the latest Secretary-General’s report; and
  • making full use of the 1566 Working Group, which is mandated to examine practical measures that could be  imposed upon individuals, groups or entities involved in or associated with terrorist activities, other than those designated by the 1267/1989 Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee.
Council Dynamics

Council members have been rather unified in the process leading to the adoption of resolution 2100. From the beginning they appeared in agreement that an integrated UN stabilisation operation, working alongside a parallel force, responded better to the needs in Mali than AFISMA under its current configuration.

However, there have been issues that have divided Council members. Although France and other members wanted to accelerate the transition towards a stabilisation operation by establishing a clear timeline and deadline, Russia and others preferred to receive a clearer assessment of the situation on the ground and prioritise a benchmark-driven process before deploying MINUSMA.

During the negotiations, views also differed on the kind of actions MINUSMA was tasked to undertake, how proactive it should be and the limits of its robust mandate. Some Council members introduced language that tightened the mandate, namely regarding the circumstances of the use of force and the definition of ‘stabilisation’. They also successfully pushed for a clear mention in the preamble reaffirming the basic principles of peacekeeping, including consent of the parties, impartiality, and clearly defined circumstances for the use of force, with the intention of being more precise in distinguishing between traditional peacekeeping and peace enforcement.

At the earlier stages of the negotiations, it seems that some Council members had concerns as to how to define the relationship between the French forces and MINUSMA as well as the role of the Council with regards to their mandate. Consequently, the resolution mentions the role of French forces supporting MINUSMA when under imminent and serious threat and upon request of the Secretary-General and establishes a reporting requirement for the French forces to the Council.

France is the penholder on Mali.

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Security Council Resolutions
25 April 2013 S/RES/2100 This resolution established the mandate for MINUSMA.
20 December 2012 S/RES/2085 This resolution authorised the deployment of AFISMA for an initial period of one year.
Security Council Letters
16 April 2013 S/2013/231 This included a letter from the President of ECOWAS asking for the re-hatting of AFISMA into a UN stabilisation mission and the establishment of a parallel force.
16 April 2013 S/2013/230 This included a letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mali endorsing the second option of the Secretary-General’s report.
Secretary-General’s Reports
26 March 2013 S/2013/189 This report contained the Secretary-General’s recommendations for a UN mission in Mali.

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