Expected Council Action
In January, the Council expects to receive a briefing from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Albert Gerard Koenders. The briefing will be followed by consultations.
MINUSMA’s mandate expires on 30 June 2014.
Key Recent Developments
The security situation in northern Mali has been unstable, with several violent clashes between armed groups, tensions in the Kidal region and some incidents of inter-communal violence. Four peacekeepers were killed in two suicide attacks in Tessalit (23 October) and Kidal (14 December) and on 2 November, two French journalists were kidnapped and killed near Kidal in an apparent Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) attack. On 16 December, at least two mortar shells exploded in the vicinity of a MINUSMA camp in Kidal without causing any damage.
Following a 12 December briefing on the implementation of the UN integrated Sahel strategy by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, the Council issued a presidential statement in which it reaffirmed its commitment to “address the complex security and political challenges in this region, which are interrelated with humanitarian and developmental issues as well as the adverse effects of climate and ecological changes” (S/PRST/2013/20). The statement highlighted the continuing threat of terrorist attacks and called on states from the region to “develop inclusive and effective strategies to combat in a comprehensive and integrated manner the activities of terrorist groups, to prevent the proliferation of all arms and to fight against transnational organised crime”.
Tensions continue between former rebel groups and the government. Ineffective cantonment, lack of progress in national peace talks and the absence of clarity regarding the conditions for such a dialogue have contributed to the increased instability. On 28 November, demonstrators gathered at Kidal airport to prevent Prime Minister Oumar Tatam Ly’s plane from landing, with the army shooting at the protesters, who were reportedly carrying stones and sticks, leaving at least one woman dead and several people injured.
The framework set up by the 18 June Ouagadougou Agreement (Preliminary Agreement to the Presidential Election and Inclusive Peace Talks in Mali)—which was decisive for the holding of presidential and legislative elections, as well as the return of state authority in Kidal—was weakened when rebel and government representatives consecutively withdrew from the two key follow-up mechanisms: the Follow-up and Evaluation Committee and the Joint Technical Security Commission, chaired by Koenders and the MINUSMA force commander respectively. Differences with the government over the release of Tuareg prisoners and the 28 November incident caused the rebel groups to withdraw, while the government suspended its participation because the pro-government Coordination des movements et des Forces Patriotiques de Résistance was not involved in the follow-up mechanisms and because the Mouvement National pour la Libération de l’Azawad had seized the Kidal radio station. In addition, even though the government has held two main dialogue conferences—the Assises du Nord and the États Généraux de la Décentralisation—international NGOs have raised questions about whether these were genuine and inclusive forums to reach national reconciliation in Mali.
On 8 November, Major-General Mahamane Touré, a former “red beret” loyal to deposed President Amadou Toumani Touré, was appointed Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces. On 27 November, General Amadou Sanogo, the 22 March 2012 coup leader, was arrested facing charges of complicity in kidnapping and murder. On 4 December a mass grave believed to include the remains of 21 “red beret” soldiers was discovered.
The first round of legislative elections took place on 24 November. Most results were inconclusive and a second round of voting took place on 15 December. Despite some protests in the north and a poor turnout, regional organisations such as the EU and ECOWAS praised the way the elections had been conducted.
MINUSMA has faced considerable challenges in achieving its full operational capability. On 10 December, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet updated Council members on the shortfalls in operational capacity, which is expected to be fully reached by the end of March, nine months after deployment. Although some air and intelligence assets are still missing, most of the force seems to have been generated, and MINUSMA will have a surge starting in January. Reaching full operational capacity is expected to significantly speed up the pace of deploying civilian staff (such as human rights and other protection staff) and facilitate implementation of the mission’s mandate in rural and remote areas of the north.
As of 27 November, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said there were 254,822 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 167,927 refugees in neighbouring countries (mainly Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso). Humanitarian access and funding have generally improved—50 percent of the $477 million pledged as a result of the Consolidated Appeal Process has been received. However, the spontaneous return of IDPs and refugees to northern Mali (around 90,000 people in three months) is putting people there at further risk due to insecurity, limited basic services, difficult access by humanitarian groups, unexploded ordnance and the destruction caused by military operations.
Human Rights-Related Developments
In his latest report, the Secretary-General noted that the human rights situation remained fragile in Mali, with reports of violations allegedly committed by both defence and security forces and armed groups, but the number of allegations of grave violations had markedly decreased since the signing of the 18 June Ouagadougou Agreement (S/2013/582). The Secretary-General highlighted his concern about the detention conditions for individuals held as a result of the conflict in the north.
Suliman Baldo, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali for the Human Rights Council (HRC), visited the country from 21 October to 3 November. In a press statement on 5 November, Baldo called on the international community to provide financial and logistical support to Mali in its effort to combat impunity. The expert travelled to Kidal and Timbuktu and visited detention centres in Bamako. He will present a comprehensive report on his findings to the HRC in March.
A key issue for the Council in the next period will be to help ensure the effective implementation of the Ouagadougou Agreement without further deferring the beginning of peace talks with communities in the north. Ensuring that the government’s initiative to hold dialogue conferences is inclusive and has only the preconditions established in the Ouagadougou Agreement is a related issue.
Preventing MINUSMA’s mandate from being compromised until the mission reaches its full operational capacity is also a key issue for the Council. Generating the units that are still missing to reach the troop ceiling and guaranteeing the safety and security of MINUSMA staff are related issues.
Insisting that all MINUSMA troops, new and old, meet the UN’s human rights standards is a further related issue. Speeding up the completion of the national investigations underway into cases of alleged sexual abuse by peacekeepers is a key related issue.
The Council could receive the briefing and take no action, or it could issue a statement:
- taking note of the results of the legislative elections in Mali;
- recalling the need for inclusive and credible peace talks open to all communities in northern Mali in the time frame set out by the Ouagadougou Agreement;
- urging the government to give the recently announced Truth and Reconciliation Commission (which will substitute the Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission sworn in on 25 April) a clear mandate and sufficient human and financial resources;
- commending the government for the steps taken on security sector reform and encouraging the authorities to deepen their commitment to that reform;
- urging the parties to the Ouagadougou Agreement to resume their participation in the follow-up mechanisms and to engage in a constructive dialogue;
- urging the government to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate international crimes as per the Ouagadougou Agreement; and
- reaffirming the need for MINUSMA to reach its full operational capacity as quickly as possible and asking member states to contribute to the last force generation effort.
Despite the challenges that Mali still faces, Council members are satisfied overall with the return to constitutional order after the successful holding of presidential and legislative elections. However, some Council members have voiced concerns over the deadlock in the political process with the communities in the north.
Some Council members have shown concerns in the past over the sluggish deployment of MINUSMA. After the 10 December consultations, it seems some of these concerns have been mitigated as the Department of Peacekeeping Operations announced the upcoming surge to ensure MINUSMA is fully operational in three months.
France is the penholder on Mali.
UN DOCUMENTS ON MALI
|Security Council Resolution
|25 April 2013 S/RES/2100
|This resolution established the mandate for MINUSMA.
|Security Council Presidential Statement
|12 December 2013 S/PRST/2013/20
|This Presidential Statement focused on the situation in the Sahel.
|Security Council Press Statements
|14 December 2013 SC/11214
|This press statement condemned the attack against MINUSMA in Kidal.
|2 November 2013 SC/11169
|This press statement was on the two French journalists killed in Kidal.
|23 October 2013 SC/11157
|This press statement condemned the attack against MINUSMA in Tessalit.
|1 October 2013 S/2013/582
|This was the latest report by the Secretary-General on the situation in Mali.
|Security Council Meeting Records
|12 December 2013 S/PV.7081
|This meeting was a briefing on the Sahel strategy.
|16 October 2013 S/PV.7043
|The Council was briefed by Albert Gerard Koenders, the Special Representative and head of MINUSMA.
|Security Council Letter
|17 December 2013 S/2013/748
|This letter forwarded the conclusions of the first ministerial meeting for the establishment of a coordination platform to implement the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.