Mali: Briefing and Consultations
On 8 October, the Security Council expects to receive a briefing via video-teleconference from Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). It also expects a briefing by Ambassador José Singer (Dominican Republic) as chair of the Mali 2374 Sanctions Committee. Consultations, which have been held infrequently on Mali, have been requested by France in order to have greater interaction with Annadif. Some members may still deliver public statements. Council members are expected to issue a press statement on developments.
This will be the Council’s first meeting on Mali since it renewed the mandate of MINUSMA on 28 June in resolution 2480. While the mission’s primary strategic priority remains to support the implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, the resolution created a second strategic priority focused on the situation in the centre of Mali, which has experienced worsening inter-communal violence fuelled by terrorist groups. In particular, MINUSMA is “to facilitate the implementation of a comprehensive politically-led Malian strategy to protect civilians, reduce intercommunal violence and re-establish State authority, State presence and basic social services in Central Mali.” Frustrated by the limited implementation of the 2015 peace and reconciliation agreement, the resolution specified that the Council expects progress in the next year in the areas of: constitutional reform; decentralisation; security sector reform; development of the north; and the full, effective and meaningful participation of women.
Annadif may call on the parties to accelerate implementation of the peace agreement, reiterating this call by the Secretary-General in his latest report on Mali. According to the report, implementation “continued to advance at a slow pace”. The report highlights the importance of rapidly conducting the recently launched national dialogue process to avoid further delays in implementing the peace agreement, and prioritising constitutional reforms, which are indispensable to other reform processes. It also notes the importance of reaching an agreement to redeploy the over 1000 former combatants recently trained for integration into the Malian armed forces. Armed groups expect these troops to deploy to the north, while the government has asserted that they can be deployed anywhere.
Council members similarly are expected to emphasise the importance of the peace accord’s full implementation, while expressing frustration over lack of progress. Some are likely to welcome steps towards starting the dialogue and carrying forward the “accelerated” disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process. Consultations could provide an opportunity to explore with Annadif challenges in implementation, such as continuing conflict between and within signatory movements, and tensions between armed groups in Kidal and Niger that led to the government postponing a meeting of the Agreement Monitoring Committee last month. Annadif may mention recent comments by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta on the anniversary of Mali’s independence, alluding to the possibility of reviewing provisions of the peace agreement.
Some members may raise the possibility of sanctioning additional individuals, in the absence of greater progress in the agreement’s implementation. As Singer is likely to report, the Committee imposed a travel ban on five individuals on 10 July, including members of the Coordination and Platform coalitions of armed groups and a member of Parliament from the ruling political party. On 29 August, the Council renewed the sanctions measures, which also include an asset freeze, and the mandate of the Mali Panel of Experts, for a further year in resolution 2484. Singer is likely to speak about an upcoming visit of the 2374 Committee to Mali later this month. While some members are more inclined to impose sanctions for non-implementation of the peace agreement, which they note can always be lifted following substantial progress in implementation, others express concerns about alienating parties in the peace process and of the sanctions being too one-sided against the armed groups.
Regarding central Mali, the deployment of additional security forces, and multiple visits since July by the new Prime Minister Boubou Cissé, contributed to a “small reduction in violence”, according to the Secretary-General. On 3 August, Cissé presided over a cessation of hostilities agreement among ethnic Fulani and Dogon self-defense militias. Since the end of the rainy season, there has been an uptick in violence, however. Members are likely to express concerns over the simultaneous attacks, on 30 September and 1 October, against a Malian battalion of the regional force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) in Boulkessi and a Malian army base in Mondoro. The attacks, carried out by extremist groups, killed twenty-five soldiers and left around sixty missing, representing one of the deadliest strikes against Malian forces since 2012. Yesterday, a Chadian peacekeeper from MINUSMA was killed and three other peacekeepers seriously wounded by an improvised explosive device in Aguelhok, Kidal, in the north, and a Togolese peacekeeper was seriously wounded by unidentified assailants in the Mopti region in the centre, according to a UN statement.
Members may be interested in discussing steps taken and challenges for MINUSMA to support the government to stem violence and protect civilians. When the Council added the situation in central Mali as a second strategic priority, it did not provide MINSUMA additional troops or resources––requesting the Secretary-General “to align budgetary resources according to the prioritization of mandate tasks”. Moreover, the Secretary-General’s report notes the need for Malian authorities to urgently finalise and implement the revised comprehensive politically-led strategy to address the situation in the centre.
A high-level event was convened on Mali and the Sahel in New York on 25 September during General Assembly high-level week. At tomorrow’s session, members may raise some of the broader regional initiatives to address the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel. These include the new Group of Seven (G7) & Africa Partnership and the Sahel Partnership Action Plan adopted during the G7 heads of state summit on 25 August in Biarritz. At a 14 September heads of state summit on terrorism in Ouagadougou, the Economic Community of West African States decided to strengthen cooperation to address the growing terrorism threat, indicating the limitations that states may perceive with the G5 Sahel joint force.
Regarding the joint force, resolution 2480 expanded MINUSMA’s provision of “life- support consumables” to benefit all joint force contingents rather than just those on Malian territory. Since then, the Secretary-General’s report notes that “few calls were made on MINUSMA to provide life-support consumables”.