April 2014 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 March 2014
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AFRICA

Mali

Expected Council Action

In April, 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.

Key Recent Developments

The security situation remains volatile in northern Mali with a spate of deadly incidents of inter-communal violence in February between Tuaregs and Peuls in the Gao region. MINUSMA camps continue to be targeted by terrorist groups, and its contingents suffered several attacks with improvised explosive devices. On 8 February the Mouvement pour l’Unicité et le Jihad en Afrique de l’Ouest (MUJAO) kidnapped four staff members of the ICRC. The Gao and Timbuktu airports have been hit repeatedly by rockets.

Between 1-3 February, Council members undertook a visit to Mali to reiterate the urgency of inclusive and credible negotiations open to all communities in northern Mali, assess progress in the implementation of resolution 2100 and express full support for Koenders in his efforts for a comprehensive political agreement. At the end of the visit, the government presented to Council members a document with elements for a political roadmap, providing for the holding of a number of workshops organised by the government, with the participation of armed groups and under the auspices of MINUSMA.

On 13-14 February, two workshops were held to provide an opportunity for exploratory negotiations with a focus on the cantonment and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration processes, as well as on lessons learned from previous negotiation processes. Participants reached an agreement on 15 February, but a faction of the Mouvement Arabe de l’Azawad (MAA) decided to abandon the negotiations. This agreement focuses on the general principles for the cantonment of various armed groups and includes a timetable for identifying cantonment sites and making them operational. However, it remains vague on the role of MINUSMA, the final number of camps and combatants to be cantoned and how the security and logistics of the sites will be guaranteed.

On 13-14 March, two other workshops were held on development plans for northern Mali and an evaluation of the implementation of the 18 June 2013 Ouagadougou Preliminary Agreement. The Mouvement National de Libération de l’Azawad (MNLA) and a faction of the MAA decided not to participate in the workshops. As a result of the discussions, four working groups were established that will work on confidence-building measures, establishment of a political roadmap, cantonment and return of administration and social services to the north.

The two follow-up mechanisms to the Ouagadougou Agreement, the Follow-up and Evaluation Committee and the Joint Technical Security Commission, have not met since November. The government has repeatedly stated that disarmament is a precondition for the dialogue, which has further impeded the process, and divisions among and within armed groups threaten the possibility of an inclusive dialogue. Furthermore, different parties have taken advantage of the involvement of different actors as possible mediators to pursue their specific interests. (Three armed groups and the government support Algeria as a facilitator in the political process. In late January the Secretary-General of MNLA, Bilal Ag Sherif, requested the involvement of King Mohammed VI of Morocco and in March a series of meetings among armed groups took place in Rome under the auspices of the Comunità di Sant’Egidio.)

On 20 March, a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission was established by the National Assembly. Judicial investigations have been opened to address the disappearances of “red beret” soldiers loyal to deposed President Amadou Toumani Touré after the 22 March 2012 coup led by General Amadou Sanogo, as well as the deadly 30 September 2013 mutiny in Kati by soldiers involved in the coup. Sanogo, who was arrested on 27 November, faces charges of complicity in kidnapping and murder.

MINUSMA has faced considerable challenges in achieving its full operational capacity, which is now expected to be reached after the summer. Most of the force seems to have been generated but only 60 percent of the total personnel (military and civilian) had been deployed by 28 February. (French forces of Opération Serval were down to 1,600 by the end of February.)

As of 27 February, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said there were still almost 200,000 internally displaced persons in Mali and 170,000 refugees in neighbouring countries (mainly Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso). As a result of the crisis in the north and reduced agricultural production, more than 800,000 people are in need of urgent food assistance. The 2014 Consolidated Appeal remains largely underfunded.

Human Rights-Related Developments

At press time, the Independent Expert of the Human Rights Council (HRC) on the situation of human rights in Mali, Suliman Baldo, was expected to brief the HRC on 26 March on his latest report (A/HRC/25/72) and his 17-26 February visit to the country. On 28 February, Baldo explained that Mali faced enormous difficulties in prosecuting alleged perpetrators of serious crimes committed during the occupation of the north. These difficulties included the distance between the courts, based in Bamako, and the victims and the places where the crimes were committed. The expert called on MINUSMA and the international community to assist the government in strengthening the judicial system.

Underlying problems

The attractiveness of jihadist groups for unemployed youth in conflict-torn northern Mali poses threats to the political processes in Mali. A related problem is the lack of financial resources and political will for countering illicit trafficking throughout the Sahel (which has significant linkages with terrorist transnational networks).

Key Issues

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 dialogue initiatives to push forward the political process are sufficiently inclusive and without additional preconditions is a related issue. The divisions among rebel groups and the absence of a common platform to express their demands is a further related issue.

The perception that MINUSMA is a party to the armed conflict given its robust mandate and its collocation with the Malian Security and Defence Forces in some camps in the north and the impact of that perception on the good-offices role of its head are key issues. The effect of such a perception on the safety and security of personnel is a related issue.

Preventing MINUSMA’s mandate from being compromised before the mission reaches its full operational capacity is also a key issue for the Council. Insisting that all MINUSMA troops meet UN human rights standards is a related issue. Speeding up the completion of the national investigations underway into cases of alleged sexual abuse by peacekeepers is a further related issue.

Options

The Council could receive the briefing and take no action, or it could issue a statement:

  • welcoming the recent holding of four workshops between the government and armed groups;
  • recalling the need for inclusive and credible peace talks open to all communities in northern Mali as soon as possible;
  • urging the parties to the Ouagadougou Agreement to resume their participation in the follow-up mechanisms and calling on those groups which did not participate in the workshops 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;
  • requesting the Secretary-General to speed up the process to reach MINUSMA’s full operational capacity as quickly as possible; and
  • asking the Secretary-General to report on the lessons learned in Mali for future peacekeeping operations focusing on the re-hatting of regional operations, the implications of robust mandates for the civilian component of multidimensional missions and the logistical challenges to force deployment.
Council Dynamics

In Mali, Council members stressed the need to overcome the current deadlock in the political process and to push for an inclusive dialogue. In a 3 February press conference by the co-leads of the visiting mission—Ambassador Gérard Araud (France) and Banté Mangaral (Chad)—Council members took into account proposals from some of the stakeholders they met in Bamako and Mopti and stated their support for the holding of national talks in Mali, highlighting the urgency for such talks to take place before more disillusioned youth join jihadist groups, supporting the inclusion of civil society in the negotiations and the role of regional actors in the mediation.

Given the clear signs of the strained relationship between the government of Mali and the leadership of MINUSMA before the Council mission to Mali, some Council members were surprised to perceive a more constructive atmosphere during their visit.

Some Council members have shown concerns in the past over the sluggish deployment of MINUSMA in light of a possible new peacekeeping operation in the Central African Republic.

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
23 January 2014 S/PRST/2014/2 The Council called on all the signatories of the 18 June Ouagadougou Preliminary Agreement to fully implement its provisions.
Secretary-General’s Report
2 January 2014 S/2014/1 This report covered developments in MINUSMA and Mali for the period 30 September to 21 December 2013.
Security Council Meeting Records
26 February 2014 S/PV.7120 This was a briefing by the co-leads of the visiting mission to Mali.
16 January 2014 S/PV.7095 This was a briefing by Special Representative Albert Koenders on MINUSMA and developments in Mali.
Security Council Letters
11 March 2014 S/2014/173 This letter conveyed the report of the Security Council mission to Mali.
9 January 2014 S/2014/12 This was the second report on the actions taken by the French forces in support of MINUSMA.

OTHER RELEVANT FACTS

Special Representative of the Secretary-General
Albert Gerard Koenders (Netherlands)

MINUSMA Duration
25 April 2013 to present