October 2018 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 September 2018
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Expected Council Action

In October, the Council expects to receive a briefing from the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, on the situation in Mali, followed by consultations.

The mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) ends on 30 June 2019. The sanctions regime ends on 31 August 2019, and the mandate of the Panel of Experts expires on 30 September 2019.

Key Recent Developments

Mali held a presidential election on 29 July, with a runoff on 12 August between the incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé. Keïta was re-elected with 67 percent of the vote. The elections took place amidst considerable security challenges and with Cissé asserting that they were tainted by fraud. However, the EU and AU observation missions accepted the results, which were upheld by the Constitutional Court on 20 August. On 24 August, Council members issued a press statement welcoming the publication of the final results of the presidential elections and calling upon all Malians to unite and work together to promote sustainable peace and to tackle the security and development challenges facing the country. Keïta was sworn in on 22 September.

Council members are growing increasingly frustrated with the limited implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali. More than three years since its signing, 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 by agreeing to a timetable in January and a more detailed roadmap in March, some members have questioned whether there is sufficient political will to advance this process.

The Council renewed MINUSMA’s mandate for one year on 28 June. Resolution 2423, which was adopted unanimously, did not significantly modify the mission’s mandate, but it did exert pressure on the parties to implement the 2015 agreement. The resolution requested the Secretary-General to take appropriate steps to swiftly conclude a “Pact for Peace” between the government of Mali and the UN. This pact is to be based on agreed benchmarks related to governance, the rule of law, and implementation of the key provisions of the agreement. Participants at a high-level meeting on the margins of the general debate of the General Assembly invited the government of Mali and the UN to finalise the pact for peace at the next session of the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord, the main follow-up mechanism to the agreement, in October.

As a way of continuing to put pressure on the parties to deliver on their commitments on the agreement, the Council renewed the sanctions regime on Mali and the mandate of the Panel of Experts through the unanimous adoption of resolution 2432 on 30 August.  The final report of the panel included a confidential annex proposing the designation of three individuals belonging to non-state armed groups, but no action has been taken on this recommendation.

The security situation in the north and centre of Mali continues to be critical. On 9 August, the 1267/1989/2253 Al-Qaida/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Sanctions Committee added to its list Adnan Abou Walid al-Sahraoui, leader of Al-Mourabitoun, a Council-designated group active in Mali that pledged allegiance to ISIL. 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 persists, and terrorist groups often take advantage of these tensions to increase recruitment and legitimacy in their communities.

The G5 Sahel Joint Force has had limited impact so far in addressing instability in Mali and its border areas. On 29 June, its headquarters in Sévaré suffered a complex terrorist attack in which at least six people died. In early July, the military leadership of the mission was replaced as a result of the attack.

Human Rights-Related Developments 

The independent expert on human rights in Mali, Alioune Tine, undertook his first mission to the country from 24 to 29 June. In a 4 July statement, Tine expressed alarm over the continuing deterioration of the security, human rights and humanitarian situation in the centre of the country, as well as in the region of Ménaka. He called on authorities in Mali to carry out prompt, detailed and independent investigations into an “alarming” increase in human rights violations following accounts of several attacks by community militias, often with the participation of armed groups, resulting in deaths, injuries, the destruction or burning of property, and people being forced to leave their homes. Tine will submit a report to the Human Rights Council at its 40th session in March 2019. In a 17 July statement, a spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern about a surge in intercommunal violence in the Mopti region of central Mali, leading to widespread displacement of the civilian population that is already vulnerable because of a lack of protection and basic social services.

Key Issues and Options 

Council members have raised the tone of their frustration with the lack of implementation of the agreement, calling on the parties to take “unprecedented steps”. Resolution 2423 expressed the Council’s intention, in the absence of significant progress in implementing the agreement, to request the Secretary-General to provide options for significant changes to MINUSMA after June 2019. Council members, who have not held consultations on Mali since April, could discuss how they can support the political process bilaterally and multilaterally. They could hold a frank and unscripted discussion to garner support around a common political strategy and reach out to the parties to encourage progress. To do so, the Secretariat, the mission leadership and Algeria, which chairs the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord, could be invited to participate in an informal interactive dialogue.

Despite the widespread concerns about the slow pace of implementing the peace agreement, no individuals or entities have been sanctioned under the 2374 Mali sanctions regime. Council members could consider a set of listings that target, in a balanced way, all the parties to the agreement that are hindering its implementation, while preserving the parties’ engagement in the process.

Council and Wider Dynamics

Regarding sanctions, France, the Netherlands, the UK and the US have expressed support for identifying those obstructing, delaying or threatening the implementation of the peace agreement, with a view to imposing targeted sanctions. Russia stated in April 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. It is unclear whether there would be consensus to sanction any individual or entity.

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—was not shared directly with the Council, although some of its recommendations were conveyed in a Secretary-General’s report. In the review process, it became apparent that the Secretariat continues to experience pressure from member states regarding the outcome of these reviews. On 21 September, the Council adopted resolution 2436, requesting the Secretary-General to ensure that pertinent findings of future reviews be shared with the Council and with relevant member states, as appropriate, alongside the Secretary-General’s integrated analysis, strategic assessment and frank advice.

France is the penholder on Mali. The chair of the 2374 Mali Sanctions Committee is Sweden.

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Security Council Resolutions
30 August 2018 S/RES/2432 The Council renewed the targeted sanctions regime on Mali—travel ban and assets freeze—and the mandate of the 2374 Mali Sanctions Committee’s Panel of Experts.
28 June 2018 S/RES/2423 This was a resolution renewing MINUSMA’s mandate for one year.
8 December 2017 S/RES/2391 This was a resolution on MINUSMA support to the G5 Sahel joint force.
Security Council Meeting Record
14 June 2018 S/PV.8288 This was a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix on the situation in Mali.
Security Council Press Statement
24 August 2018 SC/13464 This was a press statement welcoming the publication of the final results of the presidential elections in Mali.
Sanctions Committee Document
29 August 2018 S/2018/581 This was the Panel of Experts final report on Mali.

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