Briefing and Consultations on Mali
Tomorrow (18 January), the Security Council will be briefed by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous on the situation in Mali and by Ambassador Sabri Boukadoum (Algeria) on the Algerian-led international mediation efforts. The Foreign Minister of Mali, Abdoulaye Diop, is also expected to address the Council. Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) Mahamat Saleh Annadif will brief Council members in consultations. Tomorrow’s discussion, held six months before the end of the two-year interim period established by the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, may be helpful in identifying outstanding issues and key priorities ahead of the renewal of MINUSMA’s mandate in June 2017.
Council members are likely to be interested in discussing some of the observations included in the Secretary-General’s 30 December 2016 report (S/2016/1137). They are expected to express their concern regarding the slow implementation of the agreement. On 19 December, following three days of internal consultations, the Coordination, a coalition of armed groups, suspended its participation in the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord, the main follow-up mechanism to the agreement, and called for a high-level meeting of the parties with the mediation team. Several outstanding issues remain. One is the fact that the cantonment of armed groups has yet to begin, even though all members of the commissions on integration and the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of armed combatants have been appointed by the parties. Another concern is that a national reconciliation conference has been postponed until March 2017. Furthermore, although candidates to fill positions in the interim administrations for the northern regions have been appointed, divisions among the parties and within armed groups have prevented the interim administrations from being established. Finally, the deployment of joint patrols between armed groups and the Malian defence and security forces has been delayed since November 2015. There were expectations that the first joint patrols would begin in December 2016 in Gao but at press time they had not taken place yet.
Council members might be interested in asking Annadif how MINUSMA is supporting the efforts to bridge divisions within the armed groups and between the parties, as well as how to adjust the agreement to address new splinter groups and to modify a timeline that has so far not been respected. In this context, Council members might inquire about whether the benchmarks agreed to by MINUSMA and the government included in the 30 December 2016 report can realistically be met.
The Secretary-General’s report calls for renewed efforts towards ensuring the commitment of signatory parties and achieving immediate results, and calls on the Council to consider the imposition of targeted sanctions against those who obstruct the implementation of the Agreement. It seems that France has been working on a draft resolution establishing a targeted sanctions regime (travel ban and assets freeze) that may be discussed at tomorrow’s meeting. Council members might be interested in hearing Annadif’s views about the timing and potential impact of such a decision by the Council. Resolution 2295 of 29 June 2016 expressed the Council’s readiness to consider targeted sanctions against those undermining the implementation of the agreement, those violating the ceasefire, and those who attack MINUSMA and other international presences. However, Council members have in the past had divergent views over how to articulate the threat to impose sanctions.
Council members are also expected to discuss the security situation in Mali and the operational constraints it imposes on MINUSMA. Since the mission was established in 2013, at least 71 peacekeepers have been killed as a result of malicious acts. Terrorist groups have extended their reach to the centre and south of the country, and attacks have recently been carried out in Niger and Burkina Faso close to the Malian border. Against this backdrop, a key element of tomorrow’s discussion is expected to be the insufficient capacity of the mission, and its impact on the safety and security of peacekeepers and on MINUSMA’s ability to deliver on its mandate, given that the mission applies a substantial part of its resources to protect itself. Even though resolution 2295 requested MINUSMA to take a more proactive and robust posture and increased its force levels to a ceiling of 13,289 military and 1,920 police personnel, the additional personnel and capabilities for the mission have not been deployed. In fact, as of today, the personnel deployed would not even reach MINUSMA’s military and police personnel ceiling when it was established in 2013 (see graph below). Germany has recently announced its commitment to send additional troops and eight helicopters to Mali to bridge a much-needed gap. However, there remains a lack of some key enablers, including 99 armoured personal carriers. In his last report, the Secretary-General urged the Council to actively engage with member states on ensuring that the mission has the equipment, personnel and resources that it needs.
Although Algeria has played the leading role in the mediation process between the government of Mali and armed groups, both in negotiating the 2015 agreement and in its implementation, this is the first time that an Algerian official will brief the Council, formally or informally, on efforts to reach and implement the political settlement. He is expected to focus particularly on the work of the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord and its subcommittees and the difficulties encountered in trying to ensure progress in the implementation of the agreement.