January 2019 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 December 2018
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Expected Council Action

In January 2019, the Council expects to receive a briefing from a representative of the Department of Peace Keeping Operations on the situation in Mali, followed by consultations.

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

Key Recent Developments

Council members are growing increasingly frustrated with the limited implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali. Building on the recommendations from an independent strategic review of MINUSMA, the Secretary-General proposed the development of a pact for peace in Mali in June 2018. The pact was signed on 15 October at a session of the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord, the main follow-up mechanism of the agreement, by the government of Mali and the UN. Briefing the Council on 19 October 2018, the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Keeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix defined the pact as “an essential tool to spur the efforts of the Malian parties, supported by the international community, to implement the Agreement and give new impetus to the peace process by focusing on inclusiveness.”

In a press statement issued after the meeting, the Council commended the signing of the pact while stressing the absolute urgency for the parties to “take unprecedented steps to fully and expeditiously deliver on their remaining obligations in the agreement”. According to resolution 2423, the Secretary-General is expected to report in March 2019 on progress in the implementation of the agreement. The Council expressed its intent, in the absence of significant progress, to request the Secretary-General to provide options for a potentially significant adaptation of MINUSMA after its current mandate expires. In November-December 2018, efforts towards the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of combatants accelerated, with more than 1,600 individuals agreeing to lay down their weapons in cantonments in northern Mali.

The security situation in the north and centre of Mali continues to be critical. Inter-communal violence among ethnic groups—particularly Fulani, Bambara and Dogon—persists. A unilateral ceasefire announced in October 2018 by the Dogon Dan Nan Ambassagou militia did not hold, and clashes have continued. Terrorist groups often take advantage of these tensions to increase recruitment and enhance their own legitimacy in their communities. During a military operation in Mopti, in the centre of Mali, French forces reportedly killed Amadou Koufa, a Fulani leader of the terrorist Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM). On 27 October, two MINUSMA peacekeepers were killed in central Mali by an improvised explosive device in an attack that was claimed by JNIM. At least 106 peacekeepers have been killed as a result of malicious acts since the establishment of MINUSMA five-and-a-half years ago.

Opposition parties, including former presidential candidate Soumaïla Cissé, have questioned the legitimacy of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, who was sworn in on 22 September 2018. On 16 October, the Constitutional Court postponed the legislative elections, which were expected to take place that month, and extended the mandate of members of the parliament until June 2019.

Ambassador Olof Skoog of Sweden, who has chaired the 2374 Mali Sanctions Committee since its establishment, led a second committee visit to Mali on 3-5 December 2018 and briefed the Council on 17 December. Ahead of his mission the committee held informal consultations on 21 November to hear from Mali and other states in the region, which highlighted the importance of strengthening cooperation for the implementation of the sanctions regime and the peace agreement. On 20 December, the committee imposed a travel ban on three individuals associated with armed groups for their destabilising activities in Mali. The listings were proposed by France but were based on statements of case included in a confidential annex to the August 2018 report of the panel of experts.

On 15 November, the Council discussed the challenges in making the G5 Sahel Joint Force fully operational. At the meeting, Lacroix reiterated the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the Council establish a UN support office for the joint force, funded through assessed contributions and independent of MINUSMA. However, this proposal does not have unanimous support in the Council.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 12 October 2018, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted its concluding observations on Mali’s initial report to the Committee (E/C.12/MLI/CO/1). Areas of concern listed in the report include the negative impact of internal armed conflicts and confrontations in the northern and central areas of the country on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights; the situation of human rights defenders; the persistence of corruption;  widespread practices that are harmful to women and girls, such as polygamy, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation; the use and recruitment of children by armed groups in conflict areas in the northern and central parts of the country; and high poverty and unemployment rates.

Key Issues and Options

The Council has raised the tone of its frustration with the lack of implementation of the agreement. Council members could discuss how they can support the political process bilaterally and multilaterally ahead of the March 2019 deadline to assess 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. The Council could also carry out a visiting mission to Mali to convey its messages directly and encourage the engagement of the parties.

Despite the widespread concerns about the slow pace of implementing the 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 who are hindering its implementation, while preserving the parties’ engagement in the process.

While the focus of the agreement and its implementation remains the north of the country, Council members could prioritise discussing the conflict dynamics in the centre of the country and how they affect instability in Mali and the broader region.

Council and Wider Dynamics

Building on the recommendations of an independent strategic review of MINUSMA, the Secretary-General proposed the development of a pact for peace in June 2018. The strategic review of MINUSMA had proposed that such a pact, between the government of Mali, the Security Council, the UN and international partners, would associate international assistance with progress on clear benchmarks, including good governance and political reforms. The Council requested the Secretary-General to take appropriate steps to allow for the swift conclusion of the pact in resolution 2423 on 28 June 2018.  The pact for peace signed in October 2018 differed from what had been proposed to the Council a few months earlier, however, in making no reference to the role of the Council or international partners in its creation or implementation.  In the end, the pact for peace was agreed between the government of Mali and the UN, although armed groups that are signatory to the peace agreement expressed their commitment to the pact separately.

France is the penholder on Mali. In January 2019, the chairmanship of the 2374 Mali Sanctions Committee will be assumed by Ambassador Francisco Antonio Cortorreal (Dominican Republic).


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 Records
15 November 2018 S/PV.8402 This was a briefing on the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5-Sahel) joint force, or FC-G5S.
19 October 2018 S/PV.8376 This is a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix on a recent report of the Secretary-General on Mali and MINUSMA.
Security Council Press Statements
15 November 2018 SC/13584 This was a Council press statement on the G-5 Sahel.
27 October 2018 SC/13557 Council members issued a press statement condemning the attacks that same day against a convoy of MINUSMA near the town of Konna, which resulted in two peacekeepers from Burkina Faso killed and several from Burkina Faso and Togo injured.
19 October 2018 SC/13547 Council members issued a press statement commending the 15 October signing of a pact for peace between the government of Mali and the UN.