Expected Council Action
In June, the Council is due to renew the mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The Council also expects to receive a briefing from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MINUSMA, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, followed by consultations.
MINUSMA’s mandate expires on 30 June.
Key Recent Developments
June marks the end of the two-year interim period stipulated by the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali and many of the commitments that were expected to be carried out during this time have yet to be fulfilled. Briefing the Council on 6 April, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix underscored the significant delays and the fragility of the gains that have been made in implementing the agreement.
Interim authorities were established in the five northern regions after the parties agreed to the appointment of the interim presidencies of Taoudeni and Timbuktu on 20 April, but these have yet to become operational. Despite efforts to organise mixed patrols in other regions, so far these have only been deployed in Gao. In addition to the slow pace of some of the government reforms, 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. At a 2 May meeting of the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord (CSA)—the main follow-up mechanism to the agreement, chaired by Algeria—the parties and the mediators agreed to accelerate the process to appoint an independent observer to assess implementation as provided for by the agreement.
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, 27 in 2016 alone. Terrorist groups, now part of the coalition Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin, have carried out attacks against MINUSMA as well as against French and Malian forces, including in the centre and south as well as the north of Mali. In May, three peacekeepers were killed as a result of attacks by this group. Given that the mission devotes a substantial part of its resources to protecting itself and that most of the additional personnel and capabilities for the mission authorised by resolution 2295 have not been deployed, in his 30 December 2016 report 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. A force generation conference took place in New York on 22-23 May and resulted in commitments from some troop- and police- contributing countries (TCC/PCCs) to address current gaps.
The Group of Five Sahel (G5)—Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger—continued its effort to create a regional force to combat terrorism and transnational crime. On 13 April, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) authorised the deployment of the G5 force for an initial period of 12 months. The PSC urged the UN Security Council to approve the deployment of the force and to authorise the Secretary-General to “identify the modalities of sustainable and predictable financial and logistical support to be provided to the Force, including through MINUSMA”. Council members received this request together with the force’s concept of operations, and are currently discussing the political, operational and financial implications of such a deployment.
Since the renewal of MINUSMA’s mandate coincides with the end of the interim period, identifying key priorities for the mission at this new stage is an important issue for the Council. The gap between MINUSMA’s current mandate and the insufficient capacities and resources of the mission 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, the prevalence of organised crime, and the spate of inter-ethnic violence are urgent issues.
Addressing the grievances and frustrations of various constituencies 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 TCCs/PCCs are further issues for the Council to consider.
The Council could:
- hold a frank and unscripted discussion among Council members ahead of the negotiation of any draft resolution to discuss the objectives that the mission can realistically achieve in the current circumstances, as well as to obtain an understanding of members’ positions on any possible changes to the mandate;
- further prioritise MINUSMA’s mandate based on the objectives it aims to achieve rather than focusing on personnel numbers alone;
- make full use of the meeting with MINUSMA TCC/PCCs to ensure that their views are heard and engage directly to ensure that the resources needed to implement the mandate are available;
- discuss the challenges of implementing the agreement and the need for a common political strategy in an informal interactive dialogue with the participation of Special Representative Annadif and Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra of Algeria, the CSA chair;
- establish a group of experts to investigate the identity and activities of those involved in organised crime in Mali and the Sahel with a view to report its conclusions to the Council; and
- add Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin to the list of the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee and request the Monitoring Team to report on ways to curb the terrorist threat in Mali.
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 to follow through on that threat.
The renewal of MINUSMA’s mandate comes at a time when the US has started a review of peacekeeping operations with the stated aim of modifying mission mandates to be more achievable while reducing their costs. At the 6 April briefing on MINUSMA, US Ambassador Nikki Haley announced her intention to take “a careful look at the force’s mandated tasks and the distribution of its personnel”. It has been difficult for Council members (including even the penholder) to anticipate the US position on recent mandate renewals since its proposals have not been based on the recommendations of the Secretary-General. Among Council members, Senegal is the seventh largest troop contributor to MINUSMA with 871 personnel deployed as of April, China has 399 personnel deployed, and Sweden 186.
France is the penholder on Mali.
UN DOCUMENTS ON MALI
|Security Council Resolutions|
|29 June 2016 S/RES/2295||This resolution renewed MINUSMA’s mandate for a year.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|6 April 2017 S/PV.7917||This was a briefing on the situation in Mali by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|23 May 2017 SC/12837||This condemned the terrorist attack near Aguelhoc, which caused the death of two Chadian peacekeepers and injured another.|
|4 May 2017 SC/12810||This condemned the attack against a MINUSMA camp in Timbuktu, which caused the death of a Liberian peacekeeper and injured others.|