What's In Blue

Posted Thu 29 Jun 2017

Renewal of UN Mission in Mali’s Mandate*

This afternoon (29 June), the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) for one year. The first draft was circulated by France, the penholder on Mali, late last week and one round of negotiations was held among all Council members. Following bilateral discussions the draft was put in blue yesterday.

June marks the end of the two-year interim period stipulated by the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali. While the draft recognises recent progress in its implementation, it expresses the Council’s deep concern over the persistent delays, and highlights the pressing need to deliver tangible and visible peace dividends to the population in the north and other parts of Mali. The draft urges the government of Mali and the Platform and Coordination armed groups to take urgent and concrete action to deliver on their obligations including those not implemented during the interim period, such as the operationalisation of the interim authorities, the reform of the security sector, the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process, the revision of the constitution, and the fight against impunity as well as a genuine reconciliation process.

The draft does not substantively change the mandate of the mission, its posture, or the troop ceiling that was last increased in resolution 2295 a year ago. It does however incorporate some of the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s last report on Mali (S/2017/478). One of the more controversial issues raised in the negotiations and discussed bilaterally was the Secretary-General’s recommendation that MINUSMA enhance its support to the Malian Defence and Security Forces (MDSF) in order to accelerate their operational effectiveness and redeployment throughout the country. It seems that some Council members initially opposed adding this new task to the mandate. They expressed concerns over the financial requirement and highlighted the need to first deliver on existing tasks. Others were worried about the implications that increased MDSF support would have for MINUSMA when the MDSF are involved in enforcement operations. In the final draft, this task has been retained but with the caveat that it would be carried out “within existing resources, when feasible, and without prejudice to the basic principles of peacekeeping”. This morning, the US requested a briefing under “any other business” by the departments of peacekeeping operations and field support to learn more about how this task could be carried out and its implications for the mission.

Other tasks that were added to the mandate as a result of recommendations from the Secretary-General related to extending the good offices mandate of the Special Representative to support holding the upcoming elections and the constitutional referendum, as well as support for the establishment and operations of the international commission of inquiry, which was envisioned by the Ouagadougou Agreement in 2013 but has yet to be created.

It seems that while the US sought to delete some of the tasks of the mandate, including on national reconciliation and transitional justice as well as projects for stabilisation, strong reactions from several Council members prevented this from happening. The draft requests the Secretary-General to develop within 180 days a mission-wide strategic plan that articulates a phased approach to implement MINUSMA’s mandate, and presents a transition plan with a view to handing over relevant tasks to the UN country team, and a possible long-term exit strategy of the mission on the basis of improved security and political conditions as well as the progress in the implementation of the agreement. It seems China and Russia proposed the deletion of some references related to women, peace and security issues throughout the text. This was opposed by several Council members, and it appears that most of these references were retained.

A proposal from the African members of the Council to include language requesting the Secretary-General to enhance cooperation between MINUSMA and the Group of Five (G5) Sahel countries through operational and logistical support as appropriate was not accepted following the opposition of some Council members.

* Postscript: In order to address US concerns with regards to the financial implications of support to the redeployment of the MDSF if this was a new task, a change was made to the draft in blue that maintained the mandated task in the same terms as last year (resolution 2295) and incorporated a new operative paragraph outlining the precise nature of the task recommended in the Secretary-General’s report.

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