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 Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, followed by consultations.
MINUSMA’s mandate ends on 30 June.
Key Recent Developments
June marks the three-year anniversary of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali. Despite the passage of time, important provisions related to institutional measures, security arrangements and development for the northern regions remain unaddressed. Although the parties have reiterated their commitment to its implementation—most recently by agreeing to a timetable in January and a more detailed roadmap in March—some have questioned whether there is sufficient political will to advance this process. Briefing the Council on 11 April, the Special Representative and head of MINUSMA, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, said, “It is time to move from pledges to action by respecting the deadlines that have been set”. In early May, the Mécanisme Opérationnel de Coordination—which provides for the deployment of mixed patrols with elements of the Malian Defence and Security Forces and the Platform and Coordination coalitions of armed groups—initiated its build-up in Kidal. Signatory armed groups have opposed the full participation of splinter groups in the structures established by the agreement. A coalition of such groups, the Coordination des Mouvements de l’Entente, was invited to participate as observers in an April meeting of the Commission Technique de Sécurité chaired by MINUSMA’s Force Commander.
As a way of increasing pressure on the parties to deliver on their commitments in the 2015 peace agreement, the Council established a sanctions regime through resolution 2374 on 5 September 2017. At the 11 April briefing, France, the Netherlands, the UK and the US expressed support for identifying those obstructing, delaying or threatening the implementation of the peace agreement, with a view to imposing sanctions. However, Russia said that “the direct use of sanctions should be a measure of last resort and that rushing to impose restrictions will hinder the entire settlement process”. At press time, no individuals or entities have been sanctioned under the 2374 Mali sanctions regime.
The first round of the presidential elections will be held on 29 July. In light of its mandate under resolution 2364, MINUSMA has been providing technical support and exercising good offices for the holding of peaceful, inclusive, fair and transparent elections. Although President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta has yet to announce his candidacy, it is expected that he will run for a second term. The head of the opposition in the National Assembly, Soumaïla Cissé, is one of several candidates put forward by opposition parties.
The security situation in the north and centre of Mali continues to be critical. In April, three terrorist attacks against MINUSMA camps in Aguelhok and Timbuktu and against a MINUSMA vehicle in Gao killed four peacekeepers and injured many more, including MINUSMA personnel, Malian civilians and French soldiers. The terrorist group Jama‘at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin claimed responsibility for Timbuktu attack, which was carried out by three suicide car bombs. On 18 April, at the request of France, Council members met in consultations to be briefed on the latest attacks against the mission. Lacroix described how enhanced safety and security measures against increasingly complex attacks had prevented the loss of even more lives. At press time, at least 104 peacekeepers have been killed as a result of malicious acts since the establishment of MINUSMA five years ago. Inter-communal violence among ethnic groups has persisted.
As part of the Secretariat’s initiative to review systematically long-standing missions, a strategic review of MINUSMA was concluded in April. The review—led by Ellen Margrethe Løj, a former Special Representative in Liberia and South Sudan—is expected to provide guidance to the Secretary-General on the future direction of MINUSMA prior to the mandate renewal. The review is also expected to contribute to a mission-wide plan, requested by the Council in resolution 2364, which will set out a strategic approach for a phased implementation of MINUSMA’s mandate and for the eventual transition and exit of the mission.
In addition to the challenges presented by the vast territory in which it is deployed and the presence of asymmetrical threats, the mission continues to lack adequate resources to implement its mandate properly. Critical missing equipment and capacities include utility and armed helicopters and additional escort-dedicated capacities, as well as medical capacities. In an 8 May report on the operationalisation of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, the Secretary-General expressed his deep concern at the lack of available funding for the mission to provide adequate support for the force and to deliver on the additional tasks mandated by resolution 2391.
Key Issues and Options
Council members could consider ways to increase pressure on the parties to advance in the implementation of the peace agreement and to support Mali in a critical electoral cycle. They could hold a frank and unscripted discussion to garner support around a common political strategy and consider how this should be reflected in the mission’s mandate. The Secretariat, the mission leadership and Algeria, which chairs the main follow-up mechanism to the agreement, could be invited to participate.
Council members could request the report of the strategic review in its entirety, or an abridged or summary version, and could engage directly with Løj and the Secretariat on the recommendations in an informal interactive dialogue, as it was done following the review of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq. As Council members negotiate MINUSMA’s mandate, they could consider the implications of the existing gap between the mandate and the mission’s insufficient capacities and resources.
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
During a 28 March open debate on peacekeeping, Secretary-General António Guterres warned about mandate inflation and the impossibility of implementing many mandated tasks, calling on the Council to sharpen and streamline mandates. This is in line with previous reports—including the Brahimi report in 2000 and the report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations—that advocated the prioritisation and sequencing of Council mandates to make peace operations more effective. The Secretary-General’s warning, in addition to the strategic review recently concluded, may provide an opportunity for assessing the criticality of mandated tasks.
All Council members have expressed concerns about the slow pace of implementing the peace agreement. Resolution 2374 was adopted unanimously with the idea of pressuring the parties without necessarily listing individuals or entities. The divergent statements about sanctions at the 11 April briefing show that if listings are proposed, divisions among Council members might result.
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 Records
|11 April 2018 S/PV.8229
|This was a briefing by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MINUSMA, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, on the Secretary-General’s latest report on Mali.
|Security Council Press Statements
|15 April 2018 SC/13298
|This was a press statement condemning the attack on a MINUSMA camp in Timbuktu, which caused the death of a Burkinabe peacekeeper and injured others, including Malian civilians, MINUSMA personnel, and members of the French forces.
|6 April 2018 SC/13283
|This was a press statement condemning an attack against a MINUSMA vehicle in Gao, which caused the death of a Nigerien peacekeeper.
|5 April 2018 SC/13281
|This was a press statement condemning the attack against a MINUSMA camp in Aguelhok, which caused the death of two Chadian peacekeepers and injured ten others.