posted on Sun 28 Jun 2015 7:00 PM
Renewal of UN Mission in Mali’s Mandate

Tomorrow (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. A first draft was circulated by France, the penholder on Mali, late last week and two rounds of negotiations were held among all Council members. After bilateral discussions, the draft resolution was put under silence procedure on Thursday but silence was broken by Russia on Friday. The draft was finally put in blue yesterday.

The renewal of MINUSMA’s mandate follows the 20 June signing of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali by the Coordination of armed groups, which is welcomed in the draft resolution as a historic opportunity to achieve lasting peace in Mali. The draft gives MINUSMA the mandate to support the implementation of the Agreement as well as to support, monitor and supervise the implementation of the ceasefire arrangements and confidence-building measures, and to report to the Council on any violations of the ceasefire. The task of supporting the return of state authority throughout the country, which has been part of MINUSMA’s mandate since 2013 in spite of concerns that in the absence of a peace agreement it was in conflict with MINUSMA’s good offices role, is now part of the mandate to support the implementation of the Agreement. In addition to that, the mandate of the mission includes good offices and reconciliation; protection of civilians and stabilisation; promotion and protection of human rights; humanitarian assistance; protection of UN personnel; and support for cultural preservation.

Following the recommendation of the Secretary-General, the draft text increases the authorised troop ceiling by 40 military personnel to 11,240, including, for the first time, at least 40 military observers in order to adequately monitor and supervise the ceasefire. The military observers are expected to be deployed in MINUSMA’s three sectors and to provide advice to the mission on how to report and monitor ceasefire violations. The issue of increasing the troop ceiling featured prominently in the negotiations. At least two Council members were reluctant to increase the troop ceiling given that since its establishment in 2013, MINUSMA has not been able to reach its full operational capacity. Finally, the increase was accepted, and Council members were given reassurances that the additional troops would not require more resources. (The draft also expresses the Council’s concern at MINUSMA’s slow deployment, which has seriously hindered its ability to fully implement its mandate.)

One of the most contentious issues in the negotiations was over language on sanctions. The 11 June Secretary-General’s report stated that “the Council may wish to consider the introduction of sanctions against perpetrators of the ceasefire violations” (S/2015/426). Although no Council member pushed for the establishment of a sanctions regime, the original draft included a reference to the Council’s readiness “to consider targeted sanctions against those who undermine the peace process, notably by resuming hostilities, violating the ceasefire, or taking actions to obstruct or threaten the implementation of the Agreement” or obstructing the activities of international peacekeeping, diplomatic, or humanitarian missions in Mali. Previous language on sanctions on Mali (such as the 6 February presidential statement) threatened to impose sanctions only on those violating the ceasefire. Some Council members, including Russia, which broke silence mainly over this issue, did not want to include language regarding the threat to impose sanctions arguing that this was not the right timing, given the recent signing of the Agreement by all parties. In the end, the threat in the draft in blue narrows the scope and targets specifically “those who take actions to obstruct or threaten the implementation of the Agreement, those who resume hostilities and violate the ceasefire, as well as those who attack and take actions to threaten MINUSMA”. It appears that removing the more general reference to those who undermine the peace process was necessary to obtain Russia’s agreement.

Another controversial issue was including a reference to the impact of the stabilising effect of MINUSMA and the international presence in Mali on the smuggling of migrants. Even though MINUSMA’s mandate does not include tackling organised crime, it seems some Council members were supportive of connecting a more stable environment created by MINUSMA to a reduction in the smuggling of migrants. Other Council members were opposed to making such a linkage and in the end these references were deleted from the draft in blue.

During the two rounds of negotiations, at the request of Spain, language was added related to women’s full and active participation in the implementation of the Agreement. Malaysia suggested additional language on child protection, including language urging all parties to implement the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict’s conclusions on the Secretary-General’s report on Children and Armed Conflict in Mali adopted on 7 July 2014. Despite the desire of some Council members to maintain the focus of the text on Mali, language was also added regarding different regional initiatives, including the establishment of a Group of Five for the Sahel, following a proposal by Chad.