posted on Thu 27 Jun 2019 5:52 PM
Mali: Renewal of MINUSMA’s Mandate

Tomorrow (28 June), the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) for a year. The first draft was circulated by France, the penholder on Mali, early last week. There were two meetings among all Council members, a read-through and a round of negotiations. Following bilateral discussions, the draft was put in blue this afternoon.

Although the draft resolution does not significantly modify the mandate of the mission, it creates a second strategic priority for MINUSMA that focuses on the situation in the centre of Mali. In particular, MINUSMA is to be tasked “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”. (The primary strategic priority remains to support the implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali).

Council members have grown increasingly concerned with the deterioration of the situation beyond the north, which was the initial geographic focus of the mission. In late March, the Council’s visiting mission to Mali coincided with the massacre in the village of Ogossagou of 160 Fulani civilians, including women and children, reportedly by Dogon armed elements (Dozos). Since then there has been a spate of intercommunal attacks, some retaliatory in nature.

The draft affirms that support to the implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation should be given priority in decisions about the use of available capacity and resources. However, it also says that the senior leadership of the mission should be given sufficient flexibility to deploy MINUSMA contingents between sectors and ensure that sufficient mission resources are allocated to the implementation of the second strategic priority. It seems that there were some discussions among Council members on whether to distinguish between “primary” and “second” strategic priorities—or have two strategic priorities of equal significance—but in the end this distinction remained in the draft in blue.

Despite the addition of a new strategic priority, there are no changes to the troop ceiling. Although the US suggested lowering the troop ceiling by 800 troops, there was no support for this proposal. The draft requests the Secretary-General to conduct in six months “a thorough assessment of the situation in Northern and Central Mali and of the Mission’s configuration in regards to the implementation of its primary and second strategic priorities”.

The draft in blue specifies the progress that the Council is expecting to see in the next year in the implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation. The identified areas are: constitutional reform, decentralisation, security sector reform, development of the north and the full, effective and meaningful participation of women. The draft expresses the Council’s intent to respond with sanctions should these priority measures not be implemented by the end of MINUSMA’s mandate in June 2020. This follows a similar approach developed in last year’s resolution 2423, aimed at sending a strong political message to the parties, and to the mission, on the need to prioritise a particular set of measures within the overall objective of accelerating the implementation of the Agreement.

A controversial issue has been how to refer to the kind of support that MINUSMA can provide to the joint force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (FC-G5S). According to resolution 2391 of 8 December 2017, MINUSMA can support only those FC-G5S forces that operate on Malian territory (two of the force’s seven battalions).  However, there have been calls for MINUSMA to support FC-G5S forces outside Mali as well. A request in this regard was made by the G5-Sahel during the Council’s visiting mission to Mali in March. In his 6 May report to the Council, the Secretary-General similarly recommended that the Council authorise MINUSMA to provide life-support consumables, such as rations and fuel, not only to FC-G5S units operating on Malian territory but to all FC-G5S battalions, on the condition that the joint force or other partners deliver this support outside Mali and that units receiving such assistance are in strict compliance with the UN human rights due diligence policy. Although early versions of the draft “clarified” that life-support consumables could be used by all FC-G5S contingents, this reference was opposed by the UK and the US. In the end, the draft expresses the Council’s support for this use on the condition that life-support consumables are delivered by the joint force or other partners compliant with the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy; the Council will assess the implementation of these provisions in a year.

Another issue in the negotiations of the draft was France’s proposal to include an annex to the draft resolution with new designations to the 2374 sanctions list. Several Council members maintain that designations should be addressed through procedures in the sanctions committee, and expressed a preference that designations not be tied to the adoption of the MINUSMA mandate. France accepted this request and may propose designations at the committee level once the resolution is adopted.

In addition to the regular quarterly reports, the draft in blue requests the Secretary-General to submit every six months to the Council a letter exclusively and thoroughly focusing on:

  • information on security challenges in Mali, progress in mission operations, troop performance and rotations, as well as an update on discussions in the Instance de Coordination au Mali—which includes all the security presences—on the coordination of security responsibilities; and
  • the implementation of the UN integrated strategic framework developed in early 2018 including a transition plan with a view to handing over relevant tasks to the UN Country Team.

The draft also requests MINUSMA, in coordination with the Instance de Coordination au Mali “to develop a long-term conditions-based transition approach to ensure a phased, coordinated and deliberate transition of security responsibilities”.

Reflecting broader trends in Council discussions, other issues negotiated bilaterally include how to refer to climate change and the Rome Statute. The US proposed to delete previously agreed language expressing concern at the adverse effects of climate change on the stability of Mali as well as references to the Rome Statute. Although an operative paragraph on climate change was eliminated, a reference in a preambular paragraph is retained. The references to the Rome Statute remained in the draft in blue.