Expected Council Action
Following the decision of the Council to go ahead with the transfer of authority from the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) on 1 July, at press time there was no Mali-related activity scheduled for the Security Council in July. However, it is highly probable that the Council will continue to follow the situation in Mali closely, as presidential elections are scheduled to be held on 28 July. Mali will also likely be discussed during the briefing on the work of the UN Office for West Africa. (Please see a separate brief on West Africa in this Forecast for more details.) A presidential statement welcoming the integrated Sahel strategy is likely to be adopted in July.
MINUSMA’s mandate expires on 30 June 2014.
Key Recent Developments
The security situation in the north of Mali is described by the Secretary-General in his latest report as “complex and volatile” (S/2013/359). Although major combat operations have ceased, there have been clashes between the Mouvement pour l’Unicité et le Jihad en Afrique de l’Ouest (MUJAO) and the Malian Defense and Security Forces (MDSF), AFISMA troops and the Mouvement National de Libération de l’Azawad (MNLA). According to the report, the ability of MUJAO and other extremist groups to launch large-scale operations has been degraded, but the Secretary-General also acknowledged that “the armed elements in Mali maintain the capacity to recover with auxiliary support networks and recruitment structures reportedly still in place”.
Since 3 June, indirect talks were held between the interim Malian government and Tuareg groups in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The negotiations were brokered under the aegis of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) by Foreign Minister Djibril Bassolé of Burkina Faso and involved Malian special envoy Tiébilé Dramé, as well as representatives from both the MNLA and the High Council for the Unity of Azawad. The main objective was to pave the way for direct talks and to solve some imminent issues, such as the status of the city of Kidal in the presidential elections. On 7 June, the parties were presented with a draft framework agreement. After further negotiations on ongoing judicial proceedings against members of armed groups and their disarmament, as well as on the conditions for the deployment of MDSF troops in Kidal, an agreement was signed on 18 June. The Preliminary Agreement to the Presidential Election and Inclusive Peace Talks in Mali includes the presidential elections set for July, commitments to a ceasefire, the deployment of the MDSF in Kidal along with French and MINUSMA troops and the establishment of a joint security commission, chaired by MINUSMA’s force commander, with all parties equally represented to elaborate on arrangements for the ceasefire and other security matters. A follow-up committee chaired by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Albert Gerard Koenders will supervise the implementation of the security arrangements. The Council welcomed this agreement in a 19 June press statement (SC/11040).
The political climate was tense during the negotiations. The local press reported in early June that there had been cases of inter-ethnic violence against dark-skinned citizens in Kidal. The MDSF responded by seizing the MNLA-controlled town of Anefis on 5 June and threatened to attack Kidal. As negotiations were taking place, different groups attempted to organise demonstrations against what they understood was a very weak position by the interim Malian authorities regarding Kidal. Most of these attempts were aborted by police forces and resulted in various detentions.
In June, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) worked on a status-of-forces agreement with the interim government, as well as two supplemental arrangements about providing support to AFISMA and MINUSMA’s handing over detainees to the transitional authorities. In addition to this, DPKO has been consulting with AFISMA’s troop-contributing countries (TCCs) on the conditions for the re-hatting and has focused its force generation efforts in countries that have not been TCCs to UN operations lately. Discussions were also under way with France on the practical arrangements for French troops to intervene in support of MINUSMA at the Secretary-General’s request if the mission is under imminent and serious threat. Koenders assumed his responsibilities as head of MINUSMA in Bamako on 4 June, and Major General Jean Bosco Kazura (Rwanda) was appointed MINUSMA’s force commander on 17 June.
On 14 June, the report on the situation in the Sahel region was released (S/2013/354). The report acknowledges how “the problems in Mali should not be seen in isolation. While the deployment of peacekeepers is a critical component of the international response to the current crisis, the countries of the region recognise that sustainable peace and security will require collective action in addressing the root causes of instability that extend well beyond Mali’s borders.” The Council was briefed by Romano Prodi, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Sahel, on 26 June, followed by consultations.
The Council was briefed on 25 June by Koenders as well as Hervé Ladsous and Ameerah Haq, respectively the heads of peacekeeping and field support. The briefing focused on ongoing major combat operations by international military forces in MINUSMA’s area of responsibility and vicinity, as well as the capacity of terrorist forces to pose a major threat to the civilian population and international personnel in Mali. After considering their assessments, Council members decided that the transfer of authority from AFISMA to MINUSMA will proceed on 1 July.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 12 June, Flavia Pansieri, the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, introduced the report of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Mali based on information provided by the Human Rights Division of MINUSMA as well as the findings of the High Commissioner’s for Human Rights monitoring mission deployed to Mali from 18 February to 22 March (A/HRC/23/57). The report documents violations committed by the MDSF and elements of armed groups during their occupation of northern Mali, including cases of extrajudicial killings, ethnically motivated violence, forced disappearances, torture, illegal arrest and detention and sexual violence. (On 7 June, Amnesty International released a report with similar findings.) The report stresses that the risks of reprisals against Tuareg and Arab communities remain significant. Pansieri concluded that some of the government’s commitments to ensure independent investigations to identify and prosecute those responsible for human rights violations and to provide effective remedies to victims have not been sufficiently translated into concrete actions. On 14 June, the Human Rights Council appointed Suliman Baldo as Independent Expert on Mali.
A key overarching issue is to stabilise the security situation in northern Mali.
The upcoming 28 July presidential elections and the fulfilment of MINUSMA’s electoral-assistance mandate is a key immediate issue. Ensuring that internally displaced people and refugees and citizens living in Kidal can vote is a closely related issue.
As the Secretary-General pointed out in his recent report, “current timelines for the deployment of military force enablers indicate that most will arrive and be operational in Mali towards the end of 2013”. In this context, ensuring that MINUSMA’s initial operational capability does not compromise its mandate is a key issue.
Another key issue will be to clearly set out the interaction modalities between French forces and MINUSMA, particularly with a view to prepare for a further drawdown of French forces after the summer.
An important issue will be to ensure the coordination of those with a role in facilitating political processes (i.e., MINUSMA, ECOWAS and the Commission of Dialogue and Reconciliation) to avoid the possibility of undermining each other’s work. A related issue will be the role of MINUSMA in the cantonment and disarmament of armed groups as agreed in the preliminary agreement.
Ensuring that all AFISMA troops, which will be re-hatted, operate within the UN human rights due-diligence policy is a further related issue.
Addressing the destabilising spillover effects from Mali on an already fragile region is an ongoing issue.
After authorising the transfer of authority from AFISMA to MINUSMA by 1 July, as envisaged in resolution 2100, immediate options for the Council include:
- issuing a presidential statement praising the parties for the signature of the preliminary peace deal, asking them to resolve their differences peacefully during the critical run-up to the elections and encouraging them to resume direct talks once elections have taken place and there is a legitimate government in Mali;
- following the release of the report of the Secretary-General on transnational organised crime and illicit drug trafficking in West Africa and the Sahel (S/2013/359), establishing an expert group to identify those involved in transnational organised crime in the region, with the possibility of imposing targeted sanctions, as recommended in the Secretary-General’s report (S/2013/189); 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 and Wider Dynamics
Although all Council members agreed on the transfer of authority as of 1 July, some members highlight how the security situation is still fragile in Mali, as the recent asymmetrical attacks show. These were the countries that advocated for a tighter definition of MINUSMA’s stabilisation mandate during the negotiations of resolution 2100. By contrast, other Council members prefer to showcase the positive developments that have taken place in the country, both in terms of security and political transition.
The UN Secretariat is aware that MINUSMA will not be able to provide the level of electoral support they could have provided during the later stages of deployment. For some UN and civil society stakeholders, the 28 July elections seem too rushed. The pressure from some Council members, international donors, and now the interim government has prevented any discussion about the feasibility of holding presidential elections at a later date.
The process that led to the adoption of resolution 2100 increased tensions between the Council, the AU and ECOWAS over demands made by African stakeholders—such as authorising a peace enforcement mandate for MINUSMA, providing a logistical and financial support package to AFISMA or ensuring the continuity of AFISMA’s leadership in MINUSMA—that were not addressed by the UN Secretariat and Council members. At a time when indirect peace talks brokered by ECOWAS mediation seem to have yielded results, the political mandate of MINUSMA might not be fully in sync with existing mediation processes.
France is the penholder on Mali.
UN DOCUMENTS ON MALI
|Security Council Resolutions|
|25 April 2013 S/RES/2100||This resolution established the mandate for MINUSMA.|
|5 July 2012 S/RES/2056||This resolution expressed the Council’s full support for the joint efforts of ECOWAS, the AU and the transitional authorities in Mali trying to re-establish constitutionality and territorial integrity.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|19 June 2013 SC/11040||This welcomed the signing of the Preliminary Agreement to the Presidential Election and Inclusive Peace Talks in Mali.|
|18 June 2013 S/2013/359||This Secretary-General’s report was on transnational organised crime and illicit drug trafficking in West Africa and the Sahel.|
|14 June 2013 S/2013/354||This report on the Sahel contained the UN integrated strategy for the Sahel.|
|10 June 2013 S/2013/338||This contained an assessment of the security situation in Mali.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|25 June 2013 S/PV.6985||This meeting was on the situation in Mali and was the first briefing by the new head of MINUSMA.|
OTHER RELEVANT FACTS
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MINUSMA
Albert Gerard Koenders (Netherlands)