Expected Council Action
In April, the Council expects to receive a briefing on Mali from the Special Representative and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Mahamat Saleh Annadif, followed by consultations.
MINUSMA’s mandate ends on 30 June.
Key Recent Developments
Two and a half years since the signing of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, key provisions remain unimplemented. Briefing the Council on 23 January, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix reiterated the urgency of ensuring progress in the implementation of the agreement. The adoption by the parties (the government and coalitions of armed groups) of a timeline on 15-16 January to take on urgent tasks within the framework of the agreement by March was characterised as an important step that could bring much-needed progress on institutional measures, security arrangements and eventually development for northern regions. In a press statement adopted the next day, Council members welcomed the revised timetable and the renewed commitment of the parties to the implementation of all of their remaining obligations under the agreement. They also expressed a shared sense of impatience regarding the persistent delays in the full implementation of the agreement.
Since the adoption of the revised timetable, the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord, the main follow-up mechanism to the agreement, was not able to meet because of disagreements among the parties. However, in late March, the parties agreed to a roadmap elaborating and adapting the January revised timeline. On 23 March, Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga visited Kidal for the first such visit in four years.
The holding of local and regional elections, which had already been postponed from November 2017 to April, was postponed again. Presidential elections will be held in the summer. Even though the constitution needed to be revised to, among other things, establish an upper legislative chamber and lay out a framework for key reforms stipulated in the agreement, this has not happened.
The security situation in the north and centre of Mali continues to be critical. On 26 January, a terrorist attack on a bus transporting civilians, near Boni in the centre of Mali, resulted in the deaths of 26 people from Mali and Burkina Faso, including children. Terrorist groups continue to carry out attacks against MINUSMA and French and Malian forces. Since the mission was established in 2013, at least 99 UN peacekeepers have been killed as a result of hostile acts. Two attacks with improvised explosive devices on 27 and 28 February in Mopti killed six Malian soldiers and four Bangladeshi peacekeepers, respectively. Inter-communal violence among ethnic groups has persisted.
After the first operation in late October 2017, the G5 Sahel joint force conducted its second operation, “Pagnali”, in the border area between Mali and Burkina Faso in late January. A 23 February conference hosted in Brussels by the EU, the UN, the AU and the G5 Sahel increased pledges to a total of 414 million euros. A technical agreement between the EU, MINUSMA and the G5 Sahel to provide support to the latter through the UN, as per resolution 2391, was also reached.
In January, Secretary-General António Guterres announced the establishment of the International Commission of Inquiry, which will investigate serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed in Mali since January 2012. The commission, which was envisioned in the 2015 agreement but took two and a half years to be appointed, is expected to submit a report to the Secretary-General within one year.
At the initiative of the Secretariat to systematically review long-standing missions, a strategic review of MINUSMA is being carried out in March/April. The review—led by Ellen Margrethe Løj, a former Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Liberia and later, South Sudan—is expected to provide guidance on the future direction of MINUSMA prior to the renewal of its mandate in June. The review is also expected to contribute to defining a mission-wide plan, requested by the Council in resolution 2364, which sets out a strategic approach for a phased implementation of MINUSMA’s mandate and for the eventual transition and exit of the mission.
The mission continues to be missing key equipment and capacities, including utility and armed helicopters and additional escort-dedicated capacities and medical capacities. On 19 March, Canada announced its commitment to a one-year deployment of an aviation task force expected to replace German helicopters scheduled to depart Mali this summer.
After several months of negotiations, the 2374 Mali Sanctions Committee adopted its guidelines on 29 January. On 28 February, the coordinator of the Panel of Experts briefed the committee, providing its first interim update. The committee chair, Ambassador Olof Skoog (Sweden), conducted a visiting mission to Mali in late March to explain the terms of the sanctions regime to Malian stakeholders.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 1 February, MINUSMA and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published a report on the human rights situation in Mali. On 21 March, the Human Rights Council (HRC) held an interactive dialogue with the independent expert on human rights in Mali, Suliman Baldo, to discuss his latest report (A/HRC/37/78). The report, covering 1 April to 30 November 2017, concluded that the growing influence of extremist groups has contributed significantly to the rapid deterioration of the security situation in the country and that a multidimensional and coordinated response is needed to successfully prevent violent extremism and to de-radicalise young people.
On 23 March, the HRC extended the mandate of the independent expert for one year (A/HRC/37/39).
Key Issues and Options
Council members could consider ways to increase pressure to ensure progress in the implementation of the agreement and support Mali in a critical electoral cycle. They could hold a frank and unscripted discussion, inviting the Secretariat, the mission leadership and Algeria to participate, as a way to garner support around a common political strategy.
Once the strategic review is conducted, Council members could request the review’s final report in its entirety—rather than an abridged version or a summary of it—and engage directly with Løj on the recommendations in an informal interactive dialogue. The Council could continue to monitor the gap between MINUSMA’s current mandate and the mission’s insufficient capacities and resources in light of the upcoming mandate renewal in June.
In view of the unchartered territory opened by MINUSMA’s role in support of the G5 Sahel joint force, Council members could be briefed on the modalities of this support and how it works in practice. They could also be briefed on the legal and humanitarian implications of the operations conducted by the joint force with MINUSMA’s support.
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.
Council and Wider Dynamics
All Council members have expressed concerns about the slow pace of implementing the peace agreement. The Council established a targeted sanctions regime on Mali through resolution 2374, which was adopted unanimously on 5 September 2017. It was created with the idea of pressuring the parties without necessarily listing individuals or entities; if listings are proposed this might result in divisions among Council members.
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|
|23 January 2018 S/PV.8163||This was a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix on the Secretary-General’s latest report on Mali.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|28 February 2018 SC/13232||This was a press release condemning the attack against a MINUSMA convoy in the region of Mopti, which caused the death of four Bangladeshi peacekeepers and injured others.|
|26 January 2018 SC/13184||This was a press release condemning the terrorist attack against a bus transporting civilians, which took place near Boni, in the centre of Mali, and which resulted in the death of 26 people from Mali and Burkina Faso, including children.|
|24 January 2018 SC/13177||This was a press statement welcoming the renewed commitment of the government of Mali and the coalitions of armed groups to the expeditious implementation of all of their remaining obligations under the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali by the end of March 2018.|