The Security Council will renew the mandate of the 8-year-old United Nations Multi-dimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in June 2021 at a time of multiple transitions: on the Malian side with the Transition government due to end in February 2022, and on the mission side with a new SRSG. It also comes at a time of great uncertainties over the future of the peace process and political transition, but also over the future of the French regional military operations Barkhane and the Joint Force G5 Sahel. The overall security situation has deteriorated in Mali and beyond in the Sahel since 2013. Yet, Northern Mali enjoys a semblance of stability as the two rival coalitions of signatory armed groups found a modus vivendi. But progress in the implementation of the peace agreement is slow, state presence minimal, and attacks on a more resilient MINUSMA continue. Although violence has decreased in Central Mali since September 2020 largely due to the brokering of local agreements of different sorts, insecurity continues to spread further to the South of Mali.
There seems to be a general consensus that the two strategic priorities of the MINUSMA mandate should remain to support the implementation of the Algiers Agreement by the Malian parties and to facilitate the implementation of a comprehensive politically led Malian strategy to protect civilians and re-establish State authority in Central Mali. The main issues for discussion will be how to carry out these priorities more effectively and how to best add to the mandate elements pertaining to supporting the Malian Transition without diverting limited resources away from the first two strategic priorities. Beyond the strategic priorities, issues of human rights and accountability, people-centered approaches, strategic communication, women’s participation, and climate-related security risks are also discussed in this report. Many of the challenges the mission is facing will however not be resolved by an adjusted mandate alone; but a clearer strategic direction from MINUSMA’s leadership strongly backed by a unified Security Council can certainly help.