Expected Council Action
In January 2018, the Council expects to receive a briefing on Mali from Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, followed by consultations.
The mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) ends on 30 June 2018.
Key Recent Developments
The Council has repeatedly emphasised the need to prevent the gains achieved in Mali from being reversed. Council members visited Mali in late October 2017 and held a meeting with the parties in the framework of the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord, the main follow-up mechanism to the 2015 Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. At the meeting, Council members expressed their deep concern over the persistent delays in the full implementation of key provisions of the agreement and urged the parties to adopt without delay an agreed-upon chronogram (timeline) for its implementation.
Despite the Council’s engagement and the facilitation role played by Algeria and MINUSMA, little has happened in this regard. The Comité de Suivi de l’Accord appointed the Carter Center as the independent observer responsible for overseeing the implementation of the peace agreement. In resolution 2391 of 8 December 2017, the Council renewed its urgent call for the parties to take immediate and concrete action to deliver on the operationalisation of the interim administrations in northern Mali, establish the Operational Coordination Mechanism (i.e. mixed patrols) in Kidal and Timbuktu, make progress in the cantonment, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration processes, advance decentralisation, and ensure the participation of women.
The constitution needs to be revised to, among other things, establish an upper legislative chamber and lay out a framework for institutional, security and justice reforms as stipulated in the agreement, but no meaningful actions have been taken in this regard. Given the security situation, regional elections were postponed from December 2017 to April 2018. Hence, Mali is expected to hold district, regional, legislative and presidential elections, as well as municipal by-elections, in 2018.
Terrorist groups continue to carry out attacks against MINUSMA and French and Malian forces in the centre, south and north of Mali. Since the mission was established in 2013, at least 95 peacekeepers have been killed as a result of hostile acts. When the Council renewed MINUSMA’s mandate through resolution 2364 on 29 June 2017, it requested the Secretary-General to report to the Council on the implementation of measures to improve MINUSMA’s effectiveness in carrying out its mandate, including steps to enhance the safety and security of its personnel. In addition to the regular reporting, the Council requested the Secretary-General to submit for a January discussion a mission-wide strategic plan that articulates a concrete, phased approach to implementation of MINUSMA’s mandate and presents a transition plan for handing over relevant tasks to the UN country team with a view to a possible long-term exit strategy. Furthermore, the Secretariat is expected to conduct an overall strategic review of MINUSMA in 2018.
One of the objectives of the Council’s visiting mission to the Sahel in late October 2017 was to assess the G5 Sahel joint force (FC-G5S), which is composed of personnel from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. The force conducted its first operation, “Hawbi”, in early November 2017. While initially Council members were divided over the kind of support that the force could receive from the UN, they were able to make a decision following the visiting mission, led by Ethiopia, France and Italy.
On 8 December 2017, the Council adopted resolution 2391, clarifying the ways in which the international community, including MINUSMA, is expected to provide support to the FC-G5S. In particular, the resolution requests the Secretary-General to conclude a technical agreement among the UN, the EU and the G5 Sahel states for the provision of operational and logistical support through MINUSMA to the joint force, including medical and casualty evacuation capabilities, access to life support consumables, and engineering support. The resolution also describes how the UN will be reimbursed for its assistance to the force, which is expected to be a temporary measure applying to G5 Sahel troops deployed on Malian territory. On 13 December, President Emmanuel Macron of France organised a summit in Paris with the G5 heads of state aimed at accelerating the operationalisation of the force. The heads of government of Germany, Italy and Belgium also participated, in addition to other government representatives. Recent pledges from Saudi Arabia ($100 million) and the United Arab Emirates ($30 million) have increased the amount pledged beyond 50 percent of the budget for the first year. The force is expected to be fully operational by March 2018.
Human Rights-Related Developments
Assistant Secretary-General Andrew Gilmour visited Mali from 2 to 5 November 2017 to reinforce the key role of human rights and justice in the peace process and to discuss the establishment of a human rights compliance framework for the FC-G5S. In a 7 November statement following his trip, Gilmour said that respect for human rights is the cornerstone of the fight against terrorism and that “violations committed during anti-terrorist operations and the stigmatization of certain communities greatly contribute to radicalization and the exacerbation of violent extremism”.
The Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Mali, Suliman Baldo visited the country from 27 November to 1 December 2017. In a 24 November statement, he noted that “serious human rights violations are continuing despite the signing of the peace and reconciliation agreement”. According to the statement, his visit was intended to focus on the situation of victims, including women who have suffered sexual violence, and the issue of impunity for the perpetrators of human rights abuses. The findings from the visit will form part of Baldo’s report to the Human Rights Council in March 2018.
Key Issues and Options
The Council could hold a frank and unscripted discussion, inviting the Secretariat, the mission leadership and Algeria to participate, to garner support around a common political strategy that would pressure the parties to ensure progress and would support Mali in a critical electoral cycle.
The gap between MINUSMA’s current mandate and the mission’s insufficient capacities and resources continues and could increase, given its new tasks to support the G5-Sahel. The Council could continue its engagement on strategic force generation in Mali.
To tackle the terrorist threat, the Council could add terrorist groups operating in Mali, such as Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin, to the list of the 1267/1989/2253 Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee.
Four of the five experts in the panel of the 2374 Mali Sanctions Committee were appointed by the Secretary-General on 12 December 2017. Even though committee members have yet to agree on its guidelines, they could prioritise increasing outreach through meetings in New York and a field visit by the chair, in order to explain to the parties the working methods of the committee and the designation criteria.
Council and Wider Dynamics
All Council members have expressed concerns about the slow pace of implementing the agreement. The Council established a targeted sanctions regime on Mali through resolution 2374, which was adopted unanimously on 5 September 2017. Differences, however, have arisen in the context of the Sanctions Committee. Russia has opposed the appointment of the fifth expert of the panel and particular issues in the guidelines have been negotiated now for three months between Russia and the chair.
Before agreeing on resolution 2391, discussions about whether the UN was able to support the FC-G5S divided the Council. The Secretary-General laid out several options to provide additional support through the UN (including mandating support packages or adjusting MINUSMA’s mandate), but the US and others preferred assisting the force bilaterally and warned against increasing the responsibilities of an already over-stretched mission.
France is the penholder on Mali. The chair of the 2374 Mali Sanctions Committee is Sweden.
UN DOCUMENTS ON MALI
|Security Council Resolutions|
|8 December 2017 S/RES/2391||This was a resolution on MINUSMA support to the G5 Sahel joint force.|
|5 September 2017 S/RES/2374||This established a targeted sanctions regime on Mali.|
|29 June 2017 S/RES/2364||This was a resolution renewing MINUSMA’s mandate for an additional year.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|8 December 2017 S/PV.8129||This was the meeting at which resolution 2391 was adopted.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|24 November 2017 SC/13090||This statement condemned the attack against a MINUSMA convoy in the region of Mopti, which caused the death of at least one Burkinabé peacekeeper and injured others.|
|24 November 2017 SC/13087||This statement condemned the attack against a MINUSMA detachment in the region of Ménaka, which caused the death of at least three Nigerien peacekeepers, at least one Malian soldier, and injured other peacekeepers.|
|26 October 2017 SC/13044||This statement condemned the attack against a MINUSMA convoy on the road between Tessalit and Aguelhok, which caused the death of three Chadian peacekeepers and injured two others.|
|6 October 2017 SC/13019||Council members expressed their deep concern over the persistent delays in the full implementation of key provisions of the 2015 Peace and Reconciliation Agreement and urged the parties to adopt without delay an agreed-upon chronogram for its implementation.|