April 2017 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 March 2017
Download Complete Forecast: PDF
AFRICA

Mali

Expected Council Action 

In April, the Council expects to receive a briefing on Mali from the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix.

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

Key Recent Developments

Despite some recent signs of progress, the implementation of the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali continues to be marked by obstacles and delays. Briefing the Council on 18 January, then Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, conveyed to the Council a sense of urgency about the worrying state of the peace process in Mali. Tensions among the coalitions of armed groups (the Coordination and the Platform) and within them (particularly the fragmentation of the Coordination) have significantly impeded progress. In December 2016, the Coordination suspended its participation in the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord (CSA)—the main follow-up mechanism to the agreement, chaired by Algeria—and some of its members did not attend a meeting of the CSA on 30 January. The Coordination officially resumed its participation following a 10 February high-level meeting of the parties. However, key issues, such as the participation and status of splinter groups in the implementation of the agreement, remain unresolved.

As the end of the two-year interim period stipulated by the agreement approaches in June, key measures for this period remain unimplemented. In early March, the interim authorities responsible for regional administration were installed in three of the five northern regions. However, some armed groups have opposed the installation of the authorities and the appointment of interim presidencies in Taoudeni and Timbuktu. Efforts to deploy joint patrols persisted despite the 18 January terrorist attack that killed more than 50 participants in the Operational Coordination Mechanism in Gao; the first such patrol was deployed in Gao on 23 February.

Among the outstanding issues are the cantonment as well as the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of armed combatants. A national reconciliation conference, which was provided for in the agreement but has been repeatedly postponed, started on 27 March. On 19 March, however, the two coalitions of armed groups criticised the government for choosing the dates of the conference unilaterally and for insufficient cooperation regarding the preparations, including the conference’s terms of reference. Even though the Coordination did not attend the inaugural session, it joined the conference the next day.

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. In his 30 December 2016 report, the Secretary-General called on the Council to consider imposing targeted sanctions on those who obstruct the implementation of the agreement. Although the issue was brought up in consultations on 18 January, some Council members questioned the appropriateness and timeliness of establishing a sanctions regime, which at the time was also opposed by the Malian government.

Security threats continue to undermine the political process and impose operational constraints on MINUSMA. Since the mission was established in 2013, at least 72 peacekeepers have been killed as a result of hostile acts. Terrorist groups have carried out attacks against MINUSMA and French and Malian forces, including in the centre and south of Mali. Given that the mission uses a substantial part of its resources to protect itself and that most of the additional personnel and capabilities for the mission authorised by resolution 2295 have not been deployed, the Secretary-General urged the Council to actively engage with member states to ensure that the mission has the equipment, personnel and resources that it needs. In early January, Germany announced the deployment of 350 additional troops to MINUSMA, as well as combat and transport helicopters. At the initiative of the Council’s president for the month, Sweden, an extraordinary meeting with current and prospective troop- and police-contributing countries was held on 27 January. However, the operational capabilities of MINUSMA remain unchanged. Beyond the north, inter-ethnic violence persisted in central Mali. On 22 March, at least 10 people were killed as a result of clashes between Fulani and Bambara communities in Ségou.

In February, the Group of Five Sahel (G5)—Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger—announced in Bamako the creation of a regional force to combat terrorism and transnational crime. Given that G5 countries make up for more than 30 percent of MINUSMA’s military and police personnel, it is unclear whether the deployment of a new operation would imply the reassignment of some MINUSMA contingents and a negative impact on an already under-resourced mission.

Human Rights-Related Developments 

On 21 March, the Human Rights Council (HRC) held an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, Suliman Baldo—who visited the country from 26 February to 8 March—to discuss his latest report (A/HRC/34/72). The report, which covers the period from 1 April to 30 November 2016, concluded that the fragile security situation in central and northern Mali has led to the deterioration of the human rights situation in the country, and that the absence of Malian security forces outside Bamako and the main towns remains a concern. The report stressed the need to end impunity for both past and current human rights violations in order to ensure a lasting peace. On 24 March the HRC extended the Independent Expert’s mandate for one year.

Key Issues 

Three months before the end of the interim period and the renewal of MINUSMA’s mandate, identifying key priorities for the mission is an important issue for the Council. The gap between MINUSMA’s current mandate and its implementation, given the insufficient capacities and resources of MINUSMA, is a related issue.

An overarching issue is the slow implementation of the agreement and the potential for a relapse into conflict. Bridging divisions within the armed groups and between the parties, including by bringing on board new splinter groups and realistically adapting the timeline, are related issues.

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 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 issues for the Council.

Options 

The Council could:

  • discuss the challenges of implementing the agreement in an informal interactive dialogue with the participation of the foreign minister of Algeria, Ramtane Lamamra, given his country’s chairmanship of the CSA, and Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MINUSMA, in order to enhance a common political strategy;
  • establish a sanctions regime targeting those violating the ceasefire and undermining the implementation of the agreement;
  • request that the Military Adviser for Peacekeeping Operations brief Council members on force generation efforts to supply key capacities and personnel that the mission is lacking; and
  • request the Monitoring Team of the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida 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 have expressed concerns about the slow pace of implementing the agreement. Despite threatening to impose sanctions in resolution 2295, Council members have so far failed to reach a common position on following up on that threat. France, as the penholder, continues in its efforts to obtain support for sanctions from the government of Mali and other Council members.

Announcing the establishment of a new regional force, G5 member states implied that Council authorisation would be requested. Although a request has officially not been made, Council members are likely to have differences over the political, operational and financial implications of such a deployment. 

The participation of Ambassador Sabri Boukadoum (Algeria) in the 18 January meeting was the first time that an Algerian official briefed the Council, formally or informally, on efforts to implement the agreement. However, the public format of the meeting did not allow for a more interactive and frank discussion of the issues faced by 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 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.
Secretary-General’s Report
30 March 2016 S/2017/271 This was the Secretary-General’s report on MINUSMA.
Security Council Meeting Record
18 January 2017 S/PV.7864 Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous briefed the Council on the situation in Mali.
Security Council Press Statements
24 January 2017 SC/12692 This was a statement condemning the attack against a MINUSMA camp in Aguelhoc that caused the death of a Chadian peacekeeper.
18 January 2017 SC/12687 This statement condemned the attack—claimed by the terrorist group Al-Mourabitoun—against the camp of the Operational Coordination Mechanism in Gao which caused the deaths of dozens of persons.