For your information: United Nations Stabilization Mission in Mali

Protest in Cairo, Egypt, January 8, 2013, against French intervention in Mali.

The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was established by an April 2013 Security Council resolution following France’s intervention in January of that year. The official mandate of the mission as established by the UN Security Council was to support political processes in that country and carry out a number of security-related tasks. The Mission was tasked to “support the transitional authorities of Mali in the stabilization of the country and implementation of the transitional roadmap.” In 2014 the mandate was expanded to “focus on duties, such as ensuring security, stabilization and protection of civilians; supporting national political dialogue and reconciliation; and assisting the re-establishment of State authority, the rebuilding of the security sector, and the promotion and protection of human rights in that country.”

As of December 2017, MINUSMA’s mission was made up of 11,617 troops and 1,746 police. It is widely considered the UN’s most deadly peacekeeping mission with 162 MINUSMA personnel having been killed to date, many as a result of direct attacks on UN operations and bases.

The mission’s headquarters is in Bamako. In the UN Secretary-General’s December 2017 report to the Security Council it is stated that MINUSMA has established another force headquarters forward command post in Sévaré, which serves as a liaison to coordinate action between MINUSMA force units and non-UN missions in the region, with those named being the G5 Sahel force, France’s Operation Barkhane and the European Training Mission. The report indicates that “all international and Malian forces meet quarterly to determine common strategic objectives and coordination.”

Countries providing troops to the UN mission are: Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, China, Denmark, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Liberia, Mauritania, Nepal, the Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Togo, United Kingdom, United States of America, Yemen. The top ten troop-contributing countries in descending order are listed as Burkina Faso, Chad, Bangladesh, Senegal, Togo, Guinea, Niger, Germany, China and Egypt.

Timeline of MINUSMA Operations

April 6, 2012: the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), of which Mali is a member, brokers a framework agreement between the Malian government, which has been overthrown by a coup d’état from within its military, and the forces that have overthrown it. The coup forces agree to give up power in return for an amnesty and the lifting of the sanctions ECOWAS had imposed on them. The parties also agree to a timetable for a return to constitutional rule and elections.

November 11, 2012:  ECOWAS announces plans to deploy 3,300 troops for an African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA). The mission is endorsed by the UN Security Council.

December 20, 2012: the UN Security Council adopts resolution 2085 under Chapter VII authorizing the deployment of AFISMA for an initial period of one year.

January 11, 2013:  France launches a full-scale invasion of Mali named Operation Serval, which it claims has been requested by the interim government, aimed at stopping “Islamic militants from the north of Mali.” France’s military action gets military support from Belgium, Canada, Chad, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, the UK and the United States. Much of the support is in transporting French forces but also includes surveillance and “advisors” of various kinds who are to be based in Mali.

February 2013: France provides an update on Operation Serval to the UN Security Council, at which time there are “some initial discussions” about a future UN peacekeeping mission in Mali.

April 25, 2013: the UN Security Council establishes the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to take over from the AFISMA mission while France’s military intervention in its former colony carries on. The Security Council resolution authorizes a UN force structure of 11,200 military personnel and 1,440 police personnel.

October 2013:  the UN Security Council is briefed on serious challenges facing MINUSMA reaching its “full operational capacity,” alleging that “recent terrorist attacks” are “an important wake-up call.” From this point forward there are regular attacks against MINUSMA as well as French forces. Calling them terrorist attacks has been a means of hiding that the attacks are against a foreign military intervention.

July 2014: an inter-Malian negotiation process begins in Algiers.

August 2014: France launches Operation Barkhane, its follow-up to Operation Serval. With the new operation, France expands the military invasion from Mali to the entire Sahel region, claiming the goal is to fight terrorism.

October 2014: UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous reports that MINUSMA is “no longer operating in a peacekeeping environment,” citing the ongoing attacks on military forces.

March 2015: the government and a coalition of armed groups initial a peace agreement while a second coalition of armed groups involved in negotiations with the government of Mali request more time to consult with their constituency before signing.

April 2, 2015: a UN inquiry found that a UN police unit has used “unauthorized and excessive force on civilians,” killing three Malians and wounding four others who were protesting the UN mission.

June 2015: a peace agreement is signed by all parties and a ceasefire goes into effect.

August 2015:  the ceasefire is violated, leading to clashes. Ongoing clashes continue between armed groups as do attacks on MINUSMA personnel.

June 2016 and June 2017: the mandate of the MINUSMA mission is extended, each time for one year. The mandate contains a provision which authorizes French forces, that are not part of the UN mission, to intervene in support of “elements of MINUSMA” when under imminent and serious threat upon the request of the Secretary-General.

February 2017:  the G5 Sahel joint force is announced integrating the militaries of Mali with those of surrounding countries (Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and Chad) to operate alongside the French, UN and EU forces.

January 2018: the government of Mali and the coalitions of armed groups operating in the country say they will implement the remaining obligations under the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali by the end of March 2018.

February 2018: the UN Mali Sanctions Committee holds its first meeting in preparation for enforcing sanctions in Mali.

From TML Weekly, April 7, 2018. www.cpcml.ca.

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