October 2016 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 September 2016
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AFRICA

Mali

Expected Council Action

In October, the Council expects to receive a briefing from Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous.  

The mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) expires on 30 June 2017.

Key Recent Developments

The security situation in northern Mali has deteriorated significantly, with continued violations of the ceasefire along ethnic lines. Members of the Ifoghas ethnic group, who are part of the coalition of armed groups known as the Coordination, have clashed with GATIA, a rebel group drawn mainly from the Imghad ethnic group, which is part of the coalition of armed groups known as the Platform. Tensions among these groups had subsided after bilateral talks held in Anéfis in October 2015. However, tensions resumed earlier this year, and clashes on 21 and 22 July in Kidal over the control of the city and of trafficking routes resulted in some 20 dead. Clashes have continued despite efforts to de-escalate tensions among armed groups which signed the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali through its main follow-up mechanism, the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord, as well as through the involvement of MINUSMA, the Malian government and Niger.

On 16 September Council members were briefed on the situation in northern Mali as part of a situational awareness briefing presented by the Executive Office of the Secretary-General with relevant departments. Two days earlier, Council members had been briefed by the head of MINUSMA, Special Representative Mahamat Saleh Annadif, at the initiative of Spain and the UK as co-chairs of the 2242 Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security.

In a 20 September press statement, MINUSMA expressed its concern at the deteriorating situation in Kidal, given the repeated violations of the ceasefire and the alleged human rights violations, which are currently being investigated. It also condemned the obstacles imposed on the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The volatility of the security situation has contributed to, and been affected by, the lack of progress in the implementation of the agreement. The parties continue to lag in implementing key measures of the agreement, including conducting joint patrols, the appointment and establishment of interim authorities, and progress on the cantonment of armed groups. The conclusions of a 23 September ministerial meeting, held in New York on the sidelines of the General Assembly, urged the parties to undertake concrete steps to swiftly deliver on their obligations as per the agreement.

Terrorist attacks targeting civilians and the Malian Defence and Security Forces (MDSF) are rising in central Mali. A 21 July attack against a MDSF camp in Nampala, in the Ségou region, killed 17 and injured 35 soldiers. The attack was jointly carried out and claimed by the Macina Liberation Front, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Alliance Nationale pour la Sauvegarde de l’Identité Peule et la Restauration de la Justice (ANSIPRJ), which was formed in June. For a few hours on 3 September, terrorist group Ansar Dine took over the town of Boni in the Mopti region after the MDSF had allegedly retreated earlier in the day. Also on that day, the minister of defence was dismissed. Of the groups mentioned, AQIM and Ansar Dine are listed as terrorist groups by the Al-Qaida/ISIL Sanctions Committee.

MINUSMA continues to be a target of asymmetric attacks: since it was established in 2013, 69 peacekeepers have been killed. On 8 August, Council members issued a press statement condemning the terrorist attacks that occurred between 5 and 7 August against MINUSMA in Kidal. To better operate in Mali’s non-permissive environment, resolution 2295 requested MINUSMA to adopt a more proactive and robust posture to carry out its mandate, and increased its force levels to a ceiling of 13,289 military personnel (up from 11,240) and 1,920 police personnel (up from 1,440). The resolution also highlighted the need to ensure MINUSMA’s force protection through the deployment of necessary capabilities and resources and included a reference to improving its intelligence capacities within the limits of its mandate. Three months after the adoption of this resolution, the additional personnel and capabilities for the mission had not been deployed.

On 22 August, Ansar Dine member Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi pleaded guilty at his trial at the ICC to the war crime of destroying historical and religious monuments in Timbuktu in 2012. On 27 September, the ICC Trial Chamber VIII declared him guilty and sentenced him to nine years of imprisonment.

Key Issues 

The deterioration of the security situation in Kidal and in northern and central Mali more broadly, as well as the spate of inter-ethnic violence, are urgent issues for the Council.

An overarching issue is the slow implementation of the agreement and the lack of progress in such areas as confidence-building measures, reconciliation and return of basic services to the north. Ensuring that cantonment and the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of combatants take place within a broader context of security sector reform and accountability for human rights violations is an important issue.

Addressing the grievances and frustrations of different communities that are not seeing the impact of the peace dividends in their daily lives, including youth at risk of being recruited by violent groups, is a related issue.

The limited mobility of MINUSMA and its insufficient capacities and resources to fulfil its mandate in the current context are also key issues.

The marked increase in terrorist attacks and their reach, the deliberate targeting of MINUSMA and the safety concerns of troop- and police-contributing countries are further key issues for the Council to address.

Options

The Council could adopt a statement:

  • expressing its readiness to impose sanctions on those violating the ceasefire and undermining the implementation of the agreement;
  • urging the parties to fulfil their commitments to implement the agreement and emphasising the importance of holding the inclusive Conférence d’entente nationale to advance national reconciliation;
  • calling on member states to supply key capacities and personnel that the mission is lacking; and
  • requesting the Monitoring Team of the Al-Qaida/ISIL Sanctions Committee to report on ways to curb the terrorist threat in Mali, including from non-listed groups such as the Macina Liberation Front and the ANSIPRJ.
Council and Wider Dynamics 

Council members remain united in support of accelerating the implementation of the agreement. One of the most contentious issues in the negotiations of resolution 2295 was language on the mission’s posture. Most Malian stakeholders who interacted with Council members during their March visit to Mali stressed the need for a more robust mandate for the mission. During negotiations there were some divisions over whether the changes proposed by France—such as requesting MINUSMA to move to a more proactive and robust posture to carry out its mandate, and including language regarding the anticipation of threats—could expand the mission’s posture in such a way that it could ultimately be used to engage pre-emptively in counter-terrorism activities. After Russia broke silence, language was added to ensure that direct operations are “only” carried out when threats to civilians are serious and credible. Council members might be interested in discussing the impact of this language, if any, on the mission’s capacity to respond to the deteriorating security situation and ceasefire violations. Council members continue to be worried about attacks targeting MINUSMA in northern Mali.  

France is the penholder on Mali.

UN DOCUMENTS ON MALI 
Security Council Resolution
29 June 2016 S/RES/2295 This resolution renewed MINUSMA’s mandate for a year.
Security Council Meeting Record
16 June 2016 S/PV.7719 This was a briefing from the Special Representative Mahamat Saleh Annadif.
Security Council Press Statement
8 August 2016 SC/12473 This was a press statement that condemned the terrorist attacks that occurred between 5 and 7 August against MINUSMA in the northern region of Kidal, killing one peacekeeper and injuring six others.