Expected Council Action
In June, the Council is due to renew the mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) before its 30 June expiry. The Council also expects to receive a briefing from Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of MINUSMA, followed by consultations.
The sanctions regime expires on 31 August, followed by the expiry of the mandate of the Panel of Experts on 30 September.
Key Recent Developments
June marks the four-year anniversary of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali. The renewal of MINUSMA’s mandate is expected to be a critical juncture as the Council considers options “for a potential significant adaptation” of MINUSMA.
As a result of the Council’s increased frustration with the limited implementation of the agreement, resolution 2423, adopted on 28 June 2018, identified several areas where the Council expected progress to be achieved. Following a proposal of the US, the Council expressed its intention to consider modifying the mission’s mandate significantly in the absence of significant progress. The areas of anticipated progress included the holding of presidential elections; the decentralisation of state administration; the operationalisation of the interim administrations in northern Mali; the cantonment and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration processes, as well as on an inclusive and consensual security sector reform; the establishment of mixed patrols by government forces and armed groups in Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu; the socio-economic development of northern Mali; and the equal and meaningful political participation of women.
The Secretary-General’s 5 March report acknowledged the limited progress in some of these key areas; however, it highlighted the critical role that MINUSMA plays in support of the implementation of the agreement. It further said that more progress has been achieved within the past six months than at any time since the signing of the agreement.
Council members discussed this assessment during a visiting mission to Mali in late March and adopted a presidential statement on 3 April encouraging the parties to undertake several critical measures. In it, the Council requested the Secretary-General to provide options for a potential significant adaptation of MINUSMA. This request, which is largely a result of negotiations between France and the US, was made with the stated aim of “enhancing [MINUSMA’s] effectiveness to support the implementation of the Agreement through a greater focus on priority tasks, without jeopardizing the stability of Mali and its region, MINUSMA’s central role in supporting the implementation of the Agreement, as well as MINUSMA’s capacity to interact with other security presences”.
To make progress on the implementation of the agreement, the presidential statement encouraged the Malian parties to adopt a revised roadmap with a clear, realistic and binding timeline focused on a limited number of priorities, including the completion of a constitutional reform following an inclusive and collaborative process, the adoption of a comprehensive plan for the effective redeployment of reconstituted and reformed Malian Defence and Security Forces (MDSF) to northern Mali, and the establishment of the Northern Development Zone.
The situation in the centre of Mali has deteriorated. On 23 March, while Council members were visiting Mali, more than 160 Fulani civilians, including women and children, were killed in Ogossagou, reportedly by Dogon armed elements (Dozos). This was the worst massacre to have occurred in central Mali, where long-standing intercommunal tensions between Fulani herders and Dogon hunters have been aggravated by the impact of jihadist groups and counter-terrorism operations by the MDSF and other groups. In a 27 March statement, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, raised concerns about the growing role of ethnic identity in the conflict in central Mali, in which entire communities are being stigmatised as terrorists or as affiliates of armed groups. He said that this dynamic was not sufficiently recognised either by national authorities or by the international community, “who are focusing mostly on the peace process in the north and on the threat posed by jihadist movements”. Furthermore, the limited presence of the Malian state is manifested in the conduct of military operations but not through the provision of basic services. While MINUSMA is scaling up its presence in the centre, the situation there lacks an overall political framework, such as that outlined by the agreement for northern Mali.
Following increased insecurity and social unrest, Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga and his cabinet resigned on 18 April, a day before the National Assembly was set to vote on a no-confidence motion. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta appointed former finance minister Boubou Cisse as prime minister on 22 April. On 2 May, the government and several political parties (including some of the political opposition) signed a political agreement that led to the formation on 5 May of an inclusive cabinet, comprising members of the opposition, civil society and technocrats.
The MDSF, French forces and MINUSMA continue to be targeted. A 20 April attack against a MINUSMA convoy between Douentza and Boni (Mopti) resulted in the death of an Egyptian peacekeeper, with four injured. On 19 May, a Nigerian peacekeeper was killed and another was injured in an attack by unidentified assailants in Timbuktu. That same day, three Chadian peacekeepers were wounded by an improvised explosive device in Tessalit (Kidal).
An issue that is expected to be addressed in the resolution renewing MINUSMA’s mandate is the mission’s support for the joint force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (FC-G5S). Under resolution 2391 of 8 December 2017, MINUSMA can support only those FC-G5S forces that operate on Malian territory (two of the force’s seven battalions). In line with a similar request by the Group of Five for the Sahel, the Secretary-General recommended in a 6 May report that the Council authorise MINUSMA to provide life-support consumables, such as rations and fuel, not only to FC-G5S units operating in Malian territory but to all FC-G5S battalions, on the condition that the joint force or other partners deliver this support and that units receiving such assistance are in strict compliance with the UN human rights due diligence policy. The 16 May press statement on the FC-G5S said that Council members considered MINUSMA’s mandate renewal as an opportunity “to explore this request”.
Human Rights-Related Developments
During its 40th session, on 22 March, the Human Rights Council adopted (without a vote) a resolution on technical assistance and capacity-building for Mali, extending the mandate of the independent expert on human rights in Mali for one year (A/HRC/40/26). Among other things, the resolution strongly condemns violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law as well as the escalation of intercommunal violence in the past year. It calls on the government, with the support of MINUSMA and the international community, “to continue its efforts towards national reconciliation and to prevent violence in identified hotspots of tension”.
Key Issues and Options
In renewing MINUSMA’s mandate, Council members could consider ways to increase pressure on the parties to advance the implementation of the agreement without undermining the work of a mission that operates in an extremely challenging environment. The Council could specify the objectives that it expects will be achieved by the next renewal while mindful that these developments depend as much or more on the engagement and good faith of the parties as on the mission itself.
Despite the restrictive financial environment for peace operations, the Council could insist on coherence between the mission’s mandated tasks and the financial resources allocated to implement them, particularly in light of emerging challenges such as the situation in central Mali.
Council members could follow through on the recent report of the Panel of Experts of the 2374 Mali Sanctions Committee, which included a confidential annex with a list of eight individuals and an entity that could be sanctioned for their destabilising activities in Mali.
Dynamics in the Council have been marked by the different positions regarding MINUSMA, in particular between the US and France. While all Council members have expressed frustration at the pace of implementing the agreement, the US advocates significant changes to the mandate whereas France has pushed for staying the course in light of progress in the last few months and the role that MINUSMA plays in supporting other security presences deployed in Mali and the region.
France is the penholder on Mali and Ambassador José Singer Weisinger (Dominican Republic) chairs the 2374 Mali Sanctions Committee.
UN DOCUMENTS ON MALI
|Security Council Resolutions|
|30 August 2018S/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 2018S/RES/2423||This was a resolution renewing MINUSMA’s mandate for one year.|
|8 December 2017S/RES/2391||This was a resolution on MINUSMA support to the G5 Sahel joint force.|
|Security Council Presidential Statement|
|3 April 2019S/PRST/2019/2||This encouraged the Malian parties to adopt a revised roadmap.|
|6 May 2019S/2019/371||This is a report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel.|
|26 March 2019S/2019/262||This was on the situation in Mali.|
|5 March 2019S/2019/207||This was the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of paragraph 4 of resolution 2423 (2018).|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|29 March 2019S/PV.8497||This was a high-level meeting on Mali with the participation of Secretary-General António Guterres and Prime Minister Maïga.|
|27 March 2019S/PV.8492||This was on the Council’s visiting mission to Mali and Burkina Faso.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|19 May 2019SC/13813||This condemned the attacks against MINUSMA vehicles in Timbuktu and Tessalit, in which a peacekeeper from Nigeria was killed and several others were injured.|
|16 May 2019SC/13811||Council members issued a press statement following the meeting, welcoming the recent steps taken by the G5 Sahel states towards the full and effective operationalisation of the force and encouraging its continued scale-up to demonstrate tangible operational results.|
|22 April 2019SC/13789||Council members condemned the attack perpetrated on 20 April against a convoy of MINUSMA between Douentza and Boni (region of Mopti), which resulted in one peacekeeper from Egypt killed and four others injured.|