What's In Blue

Posted Mon 22 Jun 2015

Briefing and Consultations on Mali ahead of the Renewal of MINUSMA

Tomorrow (23 June), the Security Council will be briefed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Mongi Hamdi, on the situation in Mali, followed by consultations. Council members are likely to take the opportunity to discuss the Secretary-General’s 11 June report on Mali (S/2015/426) and to hear about the 20 June signing of the peace agreement in Bamako by the Coordination of armed groups. Hamdi might take this occasion to highlight the three priority areas outlined by the Secretary-General to refocus MINUSMA’s mandate: good offices to facilitate and support dialogue, security and stabilisation and the progressive and consensual implementation of the peace agreement. The mandate of MINUSMA is expected to be renewed before the end of the month.

Prior to 20 June, the Coordination, a coalition of armed groups seeking autonomy for the north, had refused to sign the agreement brokered during a nine-month mediation process led by Algeria. (The government and the Platform, a coalition of armed groups aligned with the government, signed the agreement on 15 May.) The Council had repeatedly urged the Coordination to sign the agreement, considered “balanced and comprehensive”. Initially, the Coordination claimed that the document “did not take into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Azawad”, believing that it provided insufficient legal and political recognition for the northern territory, referred to as Azawad and expressing concern over security arrangements for the north, among other issues. The mediation team proposed addressing these concerns during the implementation of the agreement, once the agreement had been signed by all parties.

In tomorrow’s meeting, Council members might be eager to find out about the process that led the Coordination to sign the agreement on 20 June after the long delay. Some Council members might be curious to know how the implementation mechanisms of the agreement are expected to work, including MINUSMA’s role within the mediation team as well as its responsibilities as the Secretariat of the main follow-up mechanism, led by Algeria (the Comité pour la Suivi de l’Accord), as per the peace agreement.

Ceasefire violations in recent weeks have challenged political progress. On 1 May, the Council condemned the 27 April occupation of the northern town of Ménaka, as well as other attacks by the Coordination, stressing that these incidents violated the ceasefire. On 5 June, the Coordination and the government signed a roadmap for the Platform to withdraw from Ménaka and for MINUSMA to take control of the town. Even though the Platform initially refused to sign this document, it announced its withdrawal from Ménaka on 18 June. Council members might be interested in Hamdi’s assessment of current tensions between armed groups in the north, the potential for renewed violations of the ceasefire, and how the signing of the agreement by the leadership of the different armed groups has been received by their supporters on the ground.

Some Council members might be interested in hearing from Hamdi about the usefulness of imposing sanctions on those violating the ceasefire. The Secretary-General’s report stated that “the Council may wish to consider the introduction of sanctions against perpetrators of the ceasefire violations” and recommended the deployment of 40 military observers to monitor and supervise the ceasefire.

It seems that the draft resolution renewing MINUSMA’s mandate, which was circulated by France, (the penholder) late last week, authorises this additional deployment, but falls short of establishing a sanctions regime. Some Council members might be interested in asking Hamdi of the potential impact of establishing a sanctions regime, as well as the role that the requested military observers can play in monitoring the ceasefire. (On 6 February, the Council adopted a presidential statement that included a reference to the Council’s readiness to consider appropriate measures, including targeted sanctions, against those who resume hostilities and violate the ceasefire.)

The measures taken by the mission to address the deteriorating security situation, including through the reconfiguration of MINUSMA’s military and police assets, and the targeting of MINUSMA by terrorist groups, are expected to feature prominently in the discussions.

Broader questions about MINUSMA’s capabilities might also be raised, given that the mission has not reached its full operational capacity more than two years after its establishment. Members might inquire about measures that are being taken to address the limited operational capacity of the mission and how this is affecting the safety and security of peacekeepers and their ability to fulfill their mandated tasks. The Secretary-General’s report includes a reference to the review and replacement of “non-performing units” in the long term, and Council members might be interested in learning about the measures taken to address this issue.

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