Tomorrow (16 January), the Security Council will be briefed on the situation in Mali by Assistant Secretary-General for Africa Bintou Keita. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali, Kamissa Camara, is also expected to participate in the meeting. Although consultations are currently scheduled to be held after the briefing, they may be cancelled as France has encouraged all delegations to make statements in the open session. A press statement may be adopted following the meeting.
The meeting is expected to assess progress in the implementation of the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, as well as the security and humanitarian situation in the north and centre of the country. Keita is expected to brief the Council on the 28 December report of the Secretary-General (S/2018/1174), as well as on her visit to Mali in December 2018 along with Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support. Camara is likely to highlight developments in the political process and the measures taken to speed up implementation of the agreement.
Council members are expected to welcome recent progress on security and political issues in Mali, including the launch of an accelerated disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and integration process, and the establishment of 10 district-level interim administrations in the north. However, Council members are also likely to emphasise the need for the parties to implement the outstanding requirements under the agreement. These include making progress on security sector reform, agreeing on administrative and territorial restructuring of public administration and holding a long-postponed constitutional referendum. A 26 October 2018 report by the Carter Center, as the “Independent Observer” appointed by the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord, the main follow-up mechanism of the agreement, noted modest but real progress in the implementation of the agreement but highlighted outstanding structural and chronic obstacles.
Council members are growing increasingly frustrated with the limited implementation of the agreement. In a 19 October 2018 press statement, they stressed the urgency for the parties to “take unprecedented steps to fully and expeditiously deliver on their remaining obligations in the Agreement”. According to resolution 2423, adopted in June 2018, the Secretary-General is expected to report in March 2019 on progress in the implementation of key provisions of the agreement referenced in the 22 March 2018 “Roadmap” agreed by the government of Mali and armed groups. At the request of the US, the Council expressed its intent, in the absence of significant progress, to request the Secretary-General to provide options for a potentially significant adaptation of MINUSMA after its current mandate expires.
Council members are also expected to express their growing concern at the situation in the centre of the country, where inter-communal violence among ethnic groups—particularly Fulani, Bambara and Dogon—persists. Terrorist groups often take advantage of these tensions to increase recruitment and enhance their own legitimacy in their communities. While MINUSMA is scaling up its presence in the centre, the situation is missing an overall political framework, such as that outlined by the agreement for northern Mali. Council members will most likely discuss how to address the root causes of conflict and security challenges in the centre. In this sense, some members may be interested in having a meeting to focus specifically on the situation in central Mali, and hearing from civil society.
The role of sanctions in supporting the implementation of the agreement is also likely to be mentioned by several Council members. On 20 December 2018, the 2374 Mali Sanctions Committee imposed a travel ban on three individuals associated with armed groups for their destabilising activities in Mali. The listings were proposed by France, based on information included in a confidential annex to the August 2018 report of the panel of experts.