January 2017 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 December 2016
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AFRICA

Mali

Expected Council Action 

In January, the Council expects to receive a briefing on Mali from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Mahamat Saleh Annadif. 

The mandate of MINUSMA expires on 30 June 2017.

Key Recent Developments 

The implementation of the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali continues to be marked by obstacles and delays. In a 3 November presidential statement, the Council urged the parties to take urgent and concrete action to fully deliver on their obligations under the peace agreement without further delay. A communiqué issued after a 28-29 November meeting of the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord—the main follow-up mechanism to the agreement—expressed concern at the lack of progress and established a working group to focus particularly on the deployment of joint patrols, which should have started in November 2015, and on the establishment of the Operational Coordination Mechanism in Gao and Kidal.

Among the outstanding issues is the fact that the cantonment of armed groups has yet to begin even though all members of the commissions on integration and the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of armed combatants have been appointed by the parties. In addition, a national reconciliation conference has been postponed until early 2017. And although candidates to fill positions in the interim administrations have been appointed, divisions among the parties and within armed groups have prevented the interim administrations from being established. On 20 November, local elections were held, despite criticism by the Coordination, a coalition of armed groups, which argued that these elections could only be organised once the interim administrations were in place. Among the northern regions, some polling took place in Timbuktu and Gao, but no elections were held in Kidal, Taoudeni and Ménaka. On 19 December, following three days of internal consultations, the Coordination suspended its participation in the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord and called for a high-level meeting of the parties with the mediation in light of the slow implementation of the agreement.

Tension among armed groups continues in the north, resulting in occasional violence and violations of the ceasefire. Members of the Ifoghas ethnic group, who are part of 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. In addition to these clashes, over the last months several armed groups have formed within the Coordination, challenging the Ifoghas’ prominent role within the coalition.  Despite the tension, the minister of water and energy, Malick Alhousseini, successfully carried out a visit to Kidal on 2 December, the first visit by a cabinet member since 2014.

Briefing the Council on 10 November on policing issues, MINUSMA’s Police Commissioner Issoufou Yacouba highlighted the magnitude and geographical expansion of terrorist attacks to the centre and south of the country. Since MINUSMA was established in 2013, at least 71 peacekeepers have been killed as a result of malicious acts. On 7 November, Council members condemned a 6 November attack near Douentza, in central Mali, during which two Malian civilians and one Togolese peacekeeper were killed. The regional reach of terrorist groups was also demonstrated by recent complex attacks in Niger and Burkina Faso close to the Malian border.

Despite the adoption in June 2016 of resolution 2295—which requested MINUSMA to take a more proactive and robust posture and increased its force levels to a ceiling of 13,289 military and 1,920 police personnel—the additional personnel and capabilities for the mission have not been deployed. In a briefing on 6 October, Council members  were told that instead of receiving reinforcements, MINUSMA would soon be facing the loss of key enablers, particularly three helicopter units in early 2017. MINUSMA has also not been able to fill its long-standing deficit of armoured personnel carriers. On 7 November, the Council held an open debate at the initiative of Senegal that focused on the peace operations facing asymmetrical threats, in which challenges to the implementation of MINUSMA’s mandate were widely discussed.

On 30 November, General Amadou Sanogo and 17 other affiliates were brought to trial in an effort to ensure accountability for crimes committed during the March 2012 coup d’état.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 16 November, the independent expert on human rights in Mali, Suliman Baldo, said in a statement after a visit to the country that he was deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation caused by insecurity in the north and centre of the country. The statement called on the signatories of the peace agreement to redouble efforts to start cantonment measures and disarmament of combatants and to accelerate the agreement’s implementation. Baldo will present a report to the Human Rights Council in March 2017.

Key Issues

The disconnect between the mandate that the Council adopted in June and how it is being carried out on the ground given the insufficient capacities and resources of MINUSMA is a key issue 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.

The deterioration of the security situation in northern and central Mali and the spate of inter-ethnic violence are urgent issues for the Council.

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

The frequent 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.

Options

The Council could:

  • collectively identify ways to support the implementation of MINUSMA’s mandate including through urging member states to supply key capacities and personnel that the mission is lacking;
  • discuss the challenges to the implementation of the agreement in an informal interactive dialogue with the participation of Algeria’s foreign minister, Ramtane Lamamra, and Annadif in order to develop a common political strategy;
  • establish a sanctions regime targeting those violating the ceasefire and undermining the implementation of the agreement; and
  • request the Monitoring Team of the 1267/1989/2253 Al-Qaida/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant Sanctions Committee to report on ways to curb the terrorist threat in Mali, including from non-listed terrorist groups.
Council and Wider Dynamics

Overall, Council members remain united in support of accelerating the implementation of the agreement. Resolution 2295 of 29 June 2016 expressed the Council’s readiness to consider targeted sanctions against those undermining the implementation of the agreement, those violating the ceasefire and those who attack MINUSMA and other international presences. However, diverging views over how to articulate the threat to impose sanctions effectively blocked a press statement from being issued in October (the language was incorporated in the November presidential statement). Despite evidence of the role that organised crime plays in the financing of some terrorist and armed groups in Mali, the Council has not delved into this issue. A recommendation of the Secretary-General in a March 2013 report that the Council consider establishing a group of experts to investigate the identity and activities of those involved in organised crime in Mali and the subregion with the possibility of imposing targeted sanctions went unheeded.

France is the penholder on Mali. 

UN Documents  

Security Council Resolution
29 June 2016 S/RES/2295 This resolution renewed MINUSMA’s mandate for a year.
Security Council Presidential Statement
3 November 2016 S/PRST/2016/16 This was a presidential statement that strongly condemned repeated ceasefire violations in Mali over the last few months and urged the parties to expeditiously carry out all their commitments under the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation.
Security Council Meeting Record
6 October 2016 S/PV.7784 This was a briefing on Mali and the absence of concrete progress in implementing the Agreement.
Security Council Press Statements
7 November 2016 SC/12579 This was a press statement condemning an attack on a complex near Douentza, in the centre of Mali, during which two Malian civilians and one Togolese MINUSMA peacekeeper were killed.
4 October 2016 SC/12542 This was a press statement condemning the multiple terrorist attacks that occurred earlier that day against MINUSMA, during which two peacekeepers from Chad were killed and others injured.