Expected Council Action
In October, the Council expects a briefing from the Special Representative 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 2015.
Key Recent Developments
On 25 June, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2164 renewing MINUSMA’s mandate. The resolution emphasised MINUSMA’s mandate to provide support to the national political dialogue and reconciliation processes and directed the mission to expand its presence beyond key population centres, notably in areas where civilians are at risk.
The implementation of the 18 June 2013 Ouagadougou preliminary agreement and the advancement of the political process in Mali remain key challenges for the stability of the country. So far two rounds of the inter-Malian negotiation process in July and September have been convened by Algeria with the support of MINUSMA, the AU, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and regional governments.
As manifested by the clashes in July in Kidal and Gao, there are currently two rebel coalitions. The “Coordination” comprises the Mouvement National de Libération de l’Azawad (MNLA), the Haut Conseil pour l’Unité de l’Azawad and the Mouvement Arabe de l’Azawad (MAA). The “Platform”—which is perceived to be close to the government—comprises the Coordination des Mouvements et Fronts Patriotiques de Résistance, the Coalition du Peuple pour l’Azawad (CPA) and another MAA faction.
A roadmap and a declaration of cessation of hostilities were signed separately by the government with the two respective coalitions—which refuse to sit together at the negotiating table. However, at press time, there were difficulties during the September round of negotiations in reaching agreement in procedural issues, such as the format of the peace talks, and on substantive issues, such as the territorial structure of the state or the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms.
A 22 September Secretary-General’s report highlights how the reporting period was marred by ceasefire violations, which included “territorial gains made by the armed groups and clashes between armed groups, including self-defence militias reportedly ethnic-based and close to the Government” (S/2014/692). Following its 21 May failed offensive to retake Kidal from the MNLA, the Malian Defence and Security Forces (MDSF) withdrew from Kidal and other locations in the north. Despite the signing of a ceasefire by armed groups and the government on 23 May, armed groups have since occupied new municipalities (such as Ber and N’Tillit) in the north in addition to retaining control of Kidal and Ménaka. The Malian government denounced these moves in an 11 September letter to the Council (S/2014/660). The resumption of hostilities has led to new displacements and reversed a trend of steadily returning refugees and internally displaced persons.
The security situation has been affected by the withdrawal of the MDSF from Kidal and the end of Opération Serval. In July, French forces launched Opération Barkhane which has a regional scope, as opposed to Serval’s exclusive focus on Mali. Since 27 May, at least 28 attacks have targeted MINUSMA personnel, resulting in the death of at least 17 peacekeepers and more than 55 injured. Although mission facilities are subject to rocket attacks, most of the casualties are the result of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which are sometimes activated in suicide vehicle attacks.
As of 1 September, MINUSMA had reached 71 percent of its planned deployment, and it has enhanced its force projection throughout the north and in rural areas. In addition to security and weather conditions, operational challenges such as the absence of some force enablers or essential contingent-owned equipment continue to hinder the implementation of its mandate. The Secretary-General has also noted the current budgetary constraints to expand MINUSMA’s outreach beyond the main population centres.
A high-level meeting was held on 27 September on the margins of the General Assembly to galvanise international support for the political process led by Algeria.
An overarching issue is the slow progress of the political process and the implementation of the Ouagadougou preliminary agreement (with the division among armed groups and the two-track nature of the process as a central feature).
The marked increase in terrorist groups’ activities and the deliberate targeting of MINUSMA is an immediate issue for the Council. Given the deadly attacks in these last months, ensuring that the concerns of troop- and police-contributing countries are addressed on the ground in Mali and in the Council in New York are closely related issues.
Ensuring accountability for the crimes committed since 2012 while pursuing a political settlement is a key issue. Another issue is the timely establishment of an international commission of inquiry, as provided in resolution 2164, which is still pending.
The return of state authority to most of the north and the resumption of the cantonment of armed groups is a further issue.
The Council could adopt a statement:
- calling on all parties to respect the ceasefire and engage in the Algeria-led political process in good faith;
- threatening to impose sanctions on spoilers violating the ceasefire or undermining the political process;
- welcoming the holding of hearings on the negotiation process with civil society;
- reiterating the Council’s request to the Secretary-General to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate international crimes, including the 16-17 May violence in Kidal; and
- establishing 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 by the Secretary-General (S/2013/189).
Council members are increasingly worried about the lack of progress in the political process and the continuous attacks targeting MINUSMA in northern Mali. The challenges of transnational terrorism and the presence of jihadist groups in Algeria, Mali and Libya that have benefited from political instability in northern Mali continue to be of concern to Council members.
Overall, Mali is an issue on which there is a high degree of consensus in the Council. Ahead of the negotiations on resolution 2164, Mali again requested—as it had done with AU support ahead of the establishment of MINUSMA—a more robust mandate for the mission and for it to include the forceful disarmament of armed groups. These requests were not reflected in the resolution since Council members agreed that emphasis should be placed on the political dimension of the conflict. During the negotiations, African Council members, particularly Rwanda, echoed Mali’s concerns regarding the use of language equating the government and the armed groups and advocated for the inclusion of language echoing the call by ECOWAS for armed groups to withdraw from occupied areas and return to pre-17 May positions.
Since 29 August, ten Chadian peacekeepers have been killed and at least 33 injured in four attacks. On 19 September, Chad issued a statement complaining that “the Chadian contingent serve[s] as a shield for the other contingents positioned further back” and asked the mission to improve its operating conditions. As of 1 September, Chad had 1,205 military personnel deployed in MINUSMA.
France is the penholder on Mali.
|Security Council Resolution|
|25 June 2014 S/RES/2164||This resolution established benchmarks for MINUSMA, renewed the mission for a year, and granted the Special Representative greater political authority.|
|Security Council Presidential Statement|
|28 July 2014 S/PRST/2014/15||This presidential statement welcomed the commencement on 16 July of the inter-Malian negotiation process in Algiers.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|19 September 2014 SC/11568||This press statement condemned the attack in which five Chadian MINUSMA peacekeepers were killed and three were severely injured.|
|14 September 2014 SC/11558||This press statement condemned the attack in which one Chadian MINUSMA peacekeeper was killed and four were injured.|
|6 September 2014 SC/11551||This press statement welcomed the release of two Algerian diplomats who were taken hostage by the Mouvement pour l’Unicité et le Jihad en Afrique de l’Ouest, condemned the assassination of another Algerian diplomat and regretted the death of the Algerian consul while in captivity.|
|2 September 2014 SC/11547||This press statement condemned the attack in which four Chadian MINUSMA peacekeepers were killed.|
|18 August 2014 SC/11523||This press statement condemned a suicide attack in Ber (Mali) which killed two Burkinabe MINUSMA peacekeepers and injured seven.|
|1 July 2014 SC/11461||This press statement condemned a 30 June improvised explosive device explosion, which killed a MINUSMA peacekeeper and injured six other peacekeepers.|
|11 June 2014 SC/11438||This press statement condemned an attack on MINUSMA in which four Chadian peacekeepers were killed.|
|22 September 2014 S/2014/692||This was a MINUSMA report covering 27 May to 15 September 2014.|