The UN Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in June 2020. While Malian stakeholders have recently taken steps to implement provisions of the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, the country’s fragile social contract and deteriorating security conditions place pressure on national and international actors alike. Following significant changes to MINUSMA’s 2019 mandate (UN Security Council Resolution 2480), including the addition of a second strategic priority, the upcoming mandate renewal negotiations offer council members the opportunity to take stock of progress on the UN’s stabilization efforts in Mali and refine its strategic engagement with the country.
In this context, the International Peace Institute (IPI), the Stimson Center, and Security Council Report organized a virtual workshop on May 20, 2020, to discuss MINUSMA’s mandate and political strategy. This workshop provided a forum for member states, UN stakeholders, and outside experts to share their assessments of the situation in Mali. The discussion was intended to help the Security Council make more informed decisions with respect to the strategic orientation, prioritization, and sequencing of the mission’s mandate and actions on the ground.
The workshop’s discussions focused on recent developments in Mali and on the mission’s current mandate. They highlighted opportunities and challenges for consolidating political reforms and implementing key provisions of the peace agreement. The discussions also underscored the centrality of MINUSMA’s support to the protection of civilians and the pursuit of a stronger, Malian-led approach to promoting human rights and accountability and strengthening state institutions. Participants reflected on MINUSMA’s stabilization role in a landscape filled with national and international actors and discussed how it may take additional time for the UN to see gains from the shifts in the mission’s 2019 mandate.
Participants largely agreed that MINUSMA’s current mandate remains relevant but pointed to various pressing issues that should be resolved over the next mandate cycle to maximize the mission’s effectiveness. The mandate could better refine MINUSMA’s role in supporting the G5 Sahel Joint Force. Additionally, MINUSMA requires the budget and resources necessary to become more agile, as recommended in the secretary-general’s force adaptation plan. Participants also proposed reinforcing existing provisions of the text to better contextualize the UN’s engagement in the country over the coming year, including by strengthening MINUSMA’s role as a political guarantor, reinforcing provisions on the protection of civilians, and focusing more on the mission’s support to human rights and accountability. While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced MINUSMA to adapt to new operational complexities, participants did not feel that the Security Council needed to adjust the mission’s strategic orientation in response.