What's In Blue

Posted Fri 27 Aug 2021

Mali: Vote on Resolution Renewing the Sanctions Regime*

On Monday (30 August), the Security Council is expected to vote on a draft resolution that renews the Mali sanctions measures—an asset freeze and travel ban—until 31 August 2022, and the mandate of the Mali Panel of Experts until 30 September 2022. France, the penholder on Mali, circulated the draft resolution last week to Council members, and held one round of negotiations on 19 August. It placed the draft resolution under silence on 25 August. At the request of one delegation, the penholder extended the silence until 9 pm yesterday (26 August), which it passed. The draft resolution was then put in blue.

The Security Council established the Mali sanctions regime in 2017 to increase pressure on the signatory parties—the government and armed groups from northern Mali—to implement the 2015 Mali Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. Since then, the 2374 Mali Sanctions Committee has imposed sanctions on eight individuals, in December 2018 and July 2019, for obstructing the agreement’s implementation, as well as other violations of the sanctions designation criteria such as attacking Malian armed forces and impeding the delivery of humanitarian assistance. In renewing the sanctions measures, the Security Council expresses in the draft resolution impatience with the parties over the persistent delays in the peace agreement’s implementation and stresses the need for increased ownership and prioritisation of the agreement, as well as the importance of women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in all of the agreement’s implementation mechanisms.

The draft resolution further addresses Mali’s political turmoil brought on by the 18 August 2020 coup d’état that ousted president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, and the second coup d’état against the country’s transitional authorities on 24 May. It repeats the Council’s calls for Malian authorities to fulfil the country’s political transition within the established 18-month timeline, including the organisation of the presidential election scheduled for 27 February 2022, and reiterates that the head of the transition, the vice-president and the prime minister of the transition should not under any circumstance be candidates in the election.

Negotiations on the draft resolution appear to have gone smoothly. The main issue was over the penholder’s introduction of language, stressing that the sanctions measures should not adversely affect the humanitarian situation. Similar language has been included this year in the sanctions renewal resolutions on the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The UK and the US, in particular, apparently felt that such a reference was unnecessary in the case of Mali. While there have not been obvious significant challenges to the humanitarian space in Mali as a result of the Council sanctions, several members felt that adding such language to the sanctions resolution was important from a prevention standpoint and could help avoid such issues from arising. Mexico proposed adding a sentence requesting the Panel of Experts assisting the 2374 Mali Sanctions Committee to include information on the potential, concrete and unintended humanitarian impact of sanctions in its reporting, which the penholder initially incorporated.

In the final agreed text, the draft resolution stresses that the sanctions are not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences on the civilian population—the same formulation used in the latest CAR and DRC sanctions resolutions—while excluding Mexico’s proposed language on the Panel of Experts’ reporting on the issue.

The Panel of Experts’ final report, dated 6 August, details widespread sexual and gender-based violence (particularly in the Gao region), noting that from 2017 to 2020, 1,913 incidents were recorded in the Gender-based Violence Information Management System, which is a partnership between the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to collect and analyse data related to gender-based violence in humanitarian settings. In condemning all abuses and violations of human rights and violations of international law in Mali, new language added to the draft resolution highlights that this includes abuses and violations “involving sexual violence in conflict and the recruitment and use of children”, apparently suggested by Ireland and Norway.

The draft resolution retains the Panel of Experts’ reporting cycle, requesting it to provide to the Council, after discussion with the 2374 Mali Sanctions Committee, a midterm report no later than 28 February 2022, a final report no later than 15 August 2022, and periodic updates in between, as appropriate. It also contains a new request that the Secretary-General includes in his December 2021 report on the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) an update on the measures taken to ensure that sanctioned individuals do not benefit from any support from UN entities deployed in Mali.

*Post-script: On 30 August, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2590, renewing the Mali sanctions regime until 31 August 2022 and the mandate of the Mali Panel of Experts until 30 September 2022.