What's In Blue

Posted Thu 15 Jun 2017

Briefing and Consultations on Mali ahead of Mandate Renewal

Tomorrow (16 June), the Council will receive a briefing from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Mahamat Saleh Annadif, followed by consultations. The briefing is expected to focus on the Secretary-General’s 6 June report (S/2017/478), particularly on its recommendations ahead of the renewal of MINUSMA’s mandate on 30 June.

Since June marks the end of the two-year interim period stipulated by the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, Council members expect an assessment of the overall implementation of the agreement and the commitments that have yet to be fulfilled, particularly regarding longer-term institutional reforms, including the revision of the constitution. Annadif is also expected to brief Council members on efforts to operationalise the interim authorities in northern regions (which are expected to be in place beyond the end of the interim period) and the plans to organise mixed patrols beyond Gao. Council members might be interested in how MINUSMA and other actors can ensure that the gains made towards peace and stability reach the stage where they are irreversible.

Annadif may further describe the instances of ceasefire violations contained in the report, as well as the proposal currently before the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord, the main follow-up mechanism to the agreement, to consider sanctions against violators. Even though the Council has in the past threatened to impose sanctions, Council members have so far failed to reach a common position to follow through on that threat.

Given the recent attacks against MINUSMA, which have resulted in the deaths of seven peacekeepers in May and June alone, Council members are expected to ask the Secretariat about progress made towards meeting outstanding capability gaps, particularly following the force generation conference that took place in New York on 22-23 May. According to the 6 June report, the mission is still short of 88 armoured personnel carriers and still requires two helicopter units, an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance company, two airfield support units and an explosive ordnance disposal company.

Council members are expected to discuss the Secretary-General’s recommendations regarding MINUSMA’s mandate. Ahead of the upcoming elections in 2017-2018, the report recommends that technical assistance and the extension of the good offices of the Special Representative to the electoral process be incorporated in the mandate. It also recommends that the Council authorise MINUSMA to support the establishment and operations of the International Commission of Inquiry, which was envisioned by the Ouagadougou Agreement in 2013.

The renewal of MINUSMA’s mandate comes at a time when the US has started a review of peacekeeping operations with the stated aim of modifying mission mandates to be more achievable while reducing their costs. At the 6 April briefing on MINUSMA, US Ambassador Nikki Haley announced her intention to take “a careful look at the force’s mandated tasks and the distribution of its personnel”. The report acknowledges the value of streamlining and sequencing the mandate in light of the evolving political and security realities on the ground. In this sense, the report recommends that the Council “prioritise and strengthen the political and security tasks of MINUSMA”, while proposing that transition planning commences in earnest with the view to handing over relevant tasks to the UN country team. The draft resolution on the mandate renewal is expected to be circulated by France early next week.

An issue that might come up during the consultations is the deployment of a regional force by the Group of Five Sahel (G5)—Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger—to combat terrorism and transnational crime. France circulated a draft authorising the force last week, but some Council members do not support the idea of committing UN assessed contributions to finance it. Other issues raised in the negotiations of the draft pertain to the clarity of the concept of operations, whether there is a need for Council authorisation since the force will be operating in the territory of its participants, and under what circumstances would the force be authorised to use all necessary measures to attain its objectives.