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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). The first draft was circulated by France, the penholder on Mali, early last week, and one round of negotiations was held among all Council members. Following bilateral discussions, the draft was put in blue today.

This is the first MINUSMA mandate renewal since an independent strategic review of the mission was conducted in March and April. Nevertheless, the draft does not significantly modify MINUSMA’s mandate. It largely maintains the existing division between the mission’s priority and other tasks. It reiterates that the strategic priority of MINUSMA remains to support the implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, in particular its political and security key provisions. The draft further requests MINUSMA to reprioritise its resources and efforts to focus on political tasks. Other priority tasks in the mandate are: support for restoration of state authority in the centre; good offices and reconciliation; protection of civilians and stabilisation, including against asymmetric threats; promotion and protection of human rights; and humanitarian assistance. Other tasks are: projects for stabilisation; weapons and ammunition management; and cooperation with sanctions committees.

The draft places particular emphasis on the situation in central Mali, which is characterised as a source of deep concern. In line with the recommendations of the strategic review and the report of the Secretary-General to protect civilians without relying solely on military means, the draft underlines the need for a “comprehensive approach” to the protection of civilians.

New language was incorporated in this year’s draft requesting the Secretary-General to take appropriate steps to allow for the swift conclusion of a “Pact for Peace” between the government of Mali and the UN after the upcoming presidential elections. This Pact is to be based on agreed benchmarks related to governance, the rule of law, and implementation of the key provisions of the 2015 Agreement. The Pact was proposed by the strategic review and welcomed by the Secretary-General in his 6 June report on Mali. Although the review recommended the inclusion of the Security Council and other international partners in this pact, this is not reflected in the draft resolution.

During the negotiations, the US supported streamlining the mandate. In this regard, the mandated task of support for cultural preservation was dropped from the draft in blue. The US had also pushed for a shorter mandate, in order to pressure the parties to achieve results. In the end, the draft maintains the standard one year mandate period. Nevertheless, the draft requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council six months after the presidential inauguration on progress in the implementation of key provisions of the Agreement and the benchmarks under the “Pact for Peace”. In this regard, the draft expresses the Council’s intent, in the absence of significant progress, to request the Secretary-General to provide options for significant adaptation of MINUSMA after its new mandate expires. The draft also expresses the Council’s intention to follow closely the timely implementation of the parties’ March roadmap to respond with measures under resolution 2374—that is, with sanctions—“should the parties not implement the agreed-upon commitments within the announced timeframe”.

The upcoming presidential elections also feature prominently in the draft, which stresses the need for the elections to be inclusive, free, fair, transparent, credible, and conducted in a peaceful environment. In this regard, the draft requests the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to use his good offices to support the preparation, conduct and conclusion of the upcoming electoral cycles.

The Secretary-General’s report and the strategic review recommended the reconfiguration of the mission’s footprint in the north. The consolidation of bases in the north would allow the mission to allocate more resources to its priorities and to reduce exposure to attacks. Nevertheless, the draft merely encourages the reconfiguration of MINUSMA’s posture to optimise and rebalance the uniformed and civilian presences in the central region, at the discretion of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, in close consultation with the Force Commander and without impeding its ability to pursue its strategic priority in the north.

The strategic review and the Secretary-General’s report called for clarifying the parameters of service provision by MINUSMA to non-UN entities. They raised the concern that the mission’s role in this regard could limit its political space by calling into question its impartiality. The draft requests MINUSMA to strengthen its strategic communication to enhance awareness and understanding about the nature, impact and specificities of its mandate and activities. Language was also included expressing serious concern about repeated allegations of human rights violations by the Malian Defence and Security Forces (MDSF) and requesting MINUSMA to ensure that support to the MDSF and the Joint Force of the G5 Sahel is provided in strict compliance with the UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy.

Reflecting broader trends in Council discussions, other issues negotiated bilaterally included how to refer to climate change and the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. For example, the draft notes the importance for the government and the UN to consider “as appropriate” the security implications of climate change in its activities. Similarly, the draft recalls the importance of assistance and cooperation with the ICC “in matters within its jurisdiction”.

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