UN Mission in Mali: Updating Mandate to Reflect Changes on the Ground
This afternoon (25 June), the Security Council is set to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) for one year. A first draft was circulated by France, the penholder on Mali, on 16 June and the first round of negotiations was held that morning. A second round of negotiations took place following the consultations on Mali on 18 June. The draft resolution was then put under silence on Monday but silence was broken, leading to bilateral discussions to try to resolve the issue. It was finally put in blue on Tuesday evening (24 June).
The draft resolution largely updates resolution 2100, which established MINUSMA on 25 April 2013, acknowledging progress such as the presidential and legislative elections held in 2013 as well as the signing of the Ouagadougou Preliminary Agreement on 18 June 2013. It also addresses in some detail the 16-17 May clashes in Kidal and elsewhere in the north of Mali. The draft text preserves the core of MINUSMA’s mandate but introduces some refinements to bring it in line with the current situation on the ground.
Overall the resolution provides Special Representative and head of MINUSMA Albert Gerard Koenders greater authority in providing support to the national political dialogue and reconciliation process, allowing him to exercise good offices, confidence-building and facilitation at the national and local levels to help prevent and resolve conflict. The draft resolution also encourages MINUSMA to further enhance its interaction with the civilian population. While some members questioned whether this would be seen as micromanagement from the Council, it seems that there was a sense from others that it was appropriate to emphasise this, given that the relationship between MINUSMA and the government of Mali has been strained since the recent violence in Kidal.
A new element in the draft text is the request to the Secretary-General to facilitate the swift establishment of the commission of inquiry envisaged by the ceasefire agreement of 23 May. MINUSMA is also given a role in providing support to the activities of this international commission of inquiry. With regard to reporting from the Secretary-General,, there is a new request for benchmarks. The draft resolution asks the Secretary-General to report within three months on the implementation of the Ouagadougou Preliminary Agreement, the expansion of MINUSMA’s presence in northern Mali and development of benchmarks to assess progress on the implementation of the priority tasks of MINUSMA’s mandate. While keeping to the current three month reporting cycle, it asks particularly for reporting on the progress achieved in the benchmarks.
While the draft text addresses the need for the MINUSMA force to expand its activities in the north, it also continues to make clear that MINUSMA’s role is to protect civilians rather than act as a counterterrorism force. In terms of support for local elections, MINUSMA’s mandate includes a support role that is limited within its resources and areas of deployment. The draft text emphasises that this support should be within the context of an inclusive, decentralisation process led and owned by Mali. MINUSMA’s mandate also continues to give priority to protection of civilians and to the monitoring and prevention of violations of human rights or international humanitarian law, particularly in relation to women and children.
Overall, Mali is an issue where there is a high degree of consensus in the Council. There was therefore little difficulty in getting agreement on most of the draft text. However, there was one issue that led to silence being broken on Monday (23 June). It seems that the African Council members wanted to add language demanding that armed groups return to their pre-17 May positions. This closely reflects the position taken by ECOWAS in its communiqué adopted at the extraordinary ECOWAS summit on 30 May in Accra. Council members were aware that the African members, particularly Rwanda, had concerns over according armed groups the same legitimacy as the government through use of language equating both parties, but this was only raised as a significant issue yesterday. It appears that most of the other Council members felt that the draft text as it was sent a clear enough message to the armed groups and that it might not be wise to create preconditions for negotiations given the fragility of the peace talks and the realities on the ground. As a compromise, however, the ECOWAS call for armed groups to withdraw from public buildings and occupied areas and return to pre-17 May positions was noted in a preambular paragraph, allowing for the inclusion of language the African Council members wanted without it being a direct call from the Council.