Expected Council Action
In June, the Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The Council also expects to receive a briefing followed by consultations from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MINUSMA, Albert Gerard Koenders.
MINUSMA’s mandate expires on 30 June.
Key Recent Developments
The security situation has significantly deteriorated in the north. At press time, Kidal and Ménaka were under control of the armed groups. On 16 May demonstrations against the newly appointed prime minister, Moussa Mara, on his first visit to Kidal since taking office, erupted into violent clashes. Seven civilians were reportedly injured, and two UN peacekeepers and 21 UN police officers deployed to control the situation were wounded as well. On 17 May, the Mouvement National de Libération de l’Azawad (MNLA) seized and burned the governor’s office in Kidal; at least eight civilians were killed, including six government officials, with no clear estimate as to the number of Mali Defence and Security Forces (MDSF) and MNLA casualties at press time. Moreover, some 32 detained officials were released on 19 May, according to MINUSMA. In a televised speech that evening, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta said he considered the attack on Kidal a “declaration of war”.
After being briefed by Koenders, on 20 May Council members released a press statement condemning the violent clashes in Kidal and called on all parties to act with restraint and refrain from any further violence that could threaten civilians. A 21 May offensive by the MDSF to retake Kidal resulted in some 50 dead according to the government. The UN Children’s Fund reported on 22 May that some 3,000 people had been displaced from Kidal following the clashes. On 23 May a ceasefire was signed between representatives of the armed groups and the government under the auspices of the African Union and MINUSMA, accepting to start negotiations as soon as possible and providing for the facilitation of humanitarian access, the liberation of prisoners and the establishment of an international commission of inquiry. At press time, Council members were scheduled to be briefed by Koenders in consultations on 28 May on the ceasefire agreement and its implementation.
The developments came at a moment when the security situation was already volatile in northern Mali. MINUSMA has observed an increasing use of improvised explosive devices by terrorist groups, and its camps have been targeted by increasingly precise rockets. Incidents of inter-communal violence between Tuaregs and Peuls continue in the Gao region. Four staff members of the ICRC who had been kidnapped by the Mouvement pour l’Unicité et le Jihad en Afrique de l’Ouest (MUJAO) were rescued by Opération Serval and MDSF on 17 April. On 23 April, the government confirmed the death of a French hostage kidnapped by MUJAO in November 2012. Following the most recent violence in Kidal, France announced a delay in its plan to redeploy 3,000 soldiers to fight terrorism across the Sahel; instead, they will focus on the situation in Mali in the coming weeks.
Prime Minister Oumar Tatam Ly resigned on 5 April and his successor, Mara, appointed a new cabinet on 11 April. The former foreign minister, Zahabi Ould Sidi Mohamed, was named minister for national reconciliation and development of the north. On 23 April, Keïta announced the appointment of Modibo Keïta, a former prime minister, as high representative for the inclusive inter-Malian dialogue. Also on 23 April, Council members released a press statement expressing their concern over the lack of progress in peace talks and calling upon all parties to urgently agree on a road map for an inclusive and credible negotiation process (SC/11361). In late April, MNLA conveyed a three-day congress in Kidal, with the Haut Conseil pour l’Unité de l’Azawad (HCUA) holding its own congress on 12 May. The MNLA and HCUA have recently called for a unification of armed groups.
In early May, a mission led by Assistant Secretary-General for peacekeeping operations Edmond Mulet conducted a strategic review of MINUSMA. The recommendations resulting from this mission are expected to feed into the Secretary-General’s report to be considered in June and to inform the discussions on the renewal of MINUSMA’s mandate.
As of 8 May, there were still more than 137,000 internally displaced persons in Mali and more than 141,000 refugees in neighbouring countries. 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. OCHA’s strategic response plan was only funded at 19 percent.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 26 March, the Independent Expert of the Human Rights Council (HRC) on the situation of human rights in Mali, Suliman Baldo, briefed the HRC on his report (A/HRC/25/72). Baldo said that despite significant progress, the country remained fragile, with human rights violations committed in the north by armed jihadists, the MNLA, and the MDSF. Refugees and displaced persons were still facing obstacles to their return. According to Baldo, fighting impunity is one of the most important tasks.
On 28 March, the HRC adopted resolution 25/36, extending the mandate of the Independent Expert for another year. The resolution called on the government to promote national reconciliation, including through strengthening the judiciary, developing transitional justice mechanisms and reintroducing state services throughout the country. In a 20 May statement, Baldo condemned the attack in Kidal and called for an inquiry.
An overarching issue is preventing the escalation of the conflict in Mali and the reversal of the gains achieved since the establishment of MINUSMA.
A key issue for the Council in the next period will be to ensure that all parties respect the ceasefire and participate in an inclusive peace process without additional preconditions and despite the recent violence.
Ensuring accountability for the crimes in Kidal while pursuing a political settlement is a related issue. The effective implementation of the general principles for the cantonment process that were agreed to by the government and the armed groups in February is a further related issue.
As MINUSMA redeploys to more rural areas and shifts its centre of gravity towards the north, the impact of its robustness on the humanitarian and political tasks of its mandate is a key issue.
A key issue is the impact that the 16-17 May violence in Kidal might have on the public image of the mission and on its ability to implement its mandate.
The resolution renewing MINUSMA’s mandate could:
- call on all parties to act with restraint and refrain from any further violence;
- recall the need for inclusive peace talks as soon as possible;
- prioritise MINUSMA’s good offices mandate and its role in confidence-building and conflict prevention;
- welcome the decision by the Secretary-General to reconsider MINUSMA’s force layout to enhance its projection throughout the north and in rural areas;
- lay out benchmarks for MINUSMA to adequately assess progress, define an exit strategy and enhance the public understanding of its mandate;
- request the Secretary-General to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate international crimes, including the 16-17 May violence in Kidal;
- request the Secretary-General to speed up MINUSMA’s deployment; and
- establish an expert group to identify those involved in transnational organised crime in Mali and the Sahel, with the possibility of imposing targeted sanctions, as recommended in the Secretary-General’s report (S/2013/189).
Council members are increasingly worried about the lack of progress in the political process and the risk for further escalation of the conflict, especially due to the expectations impressed on the Council visiting mission to Mali on 1-3 February.
Following the recent violence in Kidal, the strained relationship between the government and MINUSMA has become more apparent. In the 20 May briefing, Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop requested a more robust mandate for MINUSMA and for it to include the disarmament of armed groups. (During the negotiations of resolution 2100, the AU and Mali requested a peace-enforcement mandate for MINUSMA.) It seems highly unlikely that Council members will respond to this request as they seem to agree that even though security challenges are an important dimension of the crisis, emphasis has to be placed on inclusive political dialogue in order to reach a sustainable solution.
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.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|20 May 2014 SC/11406||This press statement condemned the violence in Kidal.|
|14 April 2014 S/2014/267||This Secretary-General’s report was on children and armed conflict in Mali.|
|28 March 2014 S/2014/229||This was a report of the Secretary-General on Mali.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|20 May 2014 S/PV.7179||This meeting was a briefing by Koenders on the violence in Kidal.|
|23 April 2014 S/PV.7158||
This was a briefing by the head of MINUSMA, Special Representative Albert Gerard Koenders.
OTHER RELEVANT FACTS
Special Representative of the Secretary-GeneralAlbert Gerard Koenders (Netherlands)
25 April 2013 to present