What's In Blue

Posted Fri 6 Feb 2015

Presidential Statement on Mali and Threat to Impose Sanctions

Today the Security Council is planning to adopt a presidential statement ahead of the start of the fifth round of the inter-Malian negotiation process in Algiers scheduled for 8 February. In part, it seems that the presidential statement responds to the appeal made to Council members by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous in his 6 January Council briefing to exert pressure on the parties to engage in the peace talks in a substantive way. France circulated an initial draft on 4 February and, following the incorporation of some amendments, the draft passed successfully through silence procedure yesterday evening.

The draft statement expresses the pressing need to reach a comprehensive and inclusive peace agreement that addresses the root causes of the crisis in Mali. It appears that the draft statement underlines the need for the government of Mali and the signatory and adherent armed groups to the June 2013 Ouagadougou Preliminary Agreement to engage with sustained political will, a spirit of compromise and in good faith through senior and fully empowered representatives in the inter-Malian negotiation process in Algiers. In this regard, the draft further calls on the Malian parties to make the necessary concessions, while respecting the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the Malian state. This language appears to be designed to urge the parties to break the current impasse in the talks. As the latest report of the Secretary-General noted, “at the end of the fourth round of negotiations in late November 2014, the parties’ positions on key issues remained unchanged” (S/2014/943).

Given the increased tension in the north and against the backdrop of violations of the 23 May 2014 ceasefire agreement and the 24 July 2014 cessation of hostilities agreement, the Council demands in the draft that all parties, including non-signatories of the Ouagadougou Preliminary Agreement, cease immediately all hostilities and reject violence. The draft also condemns all attacks against peacekeepers and reiterates its full support to the peacekeeping mission, apparently a response to those in Mali who have criticised the role of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). It further recalls MINUSMA’s mandate to use all necessary means to take active steps to prevent the return of armed elements, to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence and to respond to attacks against the mission’s personnel, installations and equipment. The draft also welcomes the Secretary-General’s decision to launch an inquiry to determine the facts surrounding the deaths of three people allegedly killed by MINUSMA forces during a demonstration against the mission in Gao on 27 January. (This demonstration followed a 20 January incident in which a MINUSMA helicopter gunship destroyed a Mouvement National pour la Libération de l’Azawad vehicle, after the mission’s forces came under fire in the northern town of Tabankort.)

The draft apparently also expresses the Council’s readiness to consider appropriate measures, including targeted sanctions, against those who resume hostilities and violate the ceasefire. Up until now, the only Mali-related entities or individuals subject to sanctions are those Al-Qaida affiliates operating in the Sahel. This is the first time that the Council spells out the threat to consider establishing targeted sanctions against spoilers of the inter-Malian political process in a formal outcome.

The negotiations on the draft were relatively straightforward, as the Council has been unified in recent months in its concerns about the slow progress on the political track and the continuous attacks against MINUSMA in northern Mali. Nonetheless, there were some differences of perspective in the negotiations that impacted the phrasing of the draft statement. For example, language regarding possible designation criteria for the potential imposition of sanctions was changed at the request of a permanent member (i.e. those who “violate the ceasefire” was preferred to a more broad reference to those who “undermine the ongoing inter-Malian negotiation process”). The text was also modified to accommodate the concerns of two permanent members who believed that the draft was too prescriptive in establishing which monitoring mechanisms should be established to ensure implementation of a future peace agreement. Finally, at the request of other Council members, language was added emphasising that provisions related to women’s participation, sexual violence and child protection should be taken into account during the negotiations and in any possible outcome, as well as commending the continued commitment and sacrifices of MINUSMA’s troop contributing countries.

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