FOCUS ON – The hopes and disillusions surrounding the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali

Posted by: on Jul 1, 2016 | No Comments

This month, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Peace and Reconciliation agreement in Mali reached through the “Algiers process”, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, reasserted the United Nations’ support for a process which has brought both hope and disillusion.

 


 

On 20 June 2015, the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) added its signature to the the agreement, following in the footsteps of other signatories – including the government of Mali – and putting an end to a conflict which had begun three years earlier. Since then, in view of the measures actually implemented and the deteriorating environment, a feeling of disappointment has set in and there is increasing doubt about its chances of success. On the eve of the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), neither the signatories nor the international mediation team are satisfied with the pace at which the Peace and Reconciliation agreement in Mali is being implemented.

There are a number of reasons for the delay in the implementation of this peace agreement. One such reason is concern about the representativeness of the various parties to the conflict on the International Monitoring Committee of the Peace and Reconciliation agreement. Although the Monitoring Committee is made up of the different signatories to the Agreement and placed under the aegis of an international mediation team, some consider there to be an imbalance in its constitution. For instance, according to the Ganda Izo group, the Fulani, Bella and Songhai people are underrepresented.[1] Moreover, differences of opinion have arisen within the International Monitoring Committee with regard to when the interim authorities should be put in place, with armed groups demanding their establishment before the cantonment. For these reasons, some armed groups have suspended their participation in the International Monitoring Committee’s sub-committees over the past six months, postponing the implementation of the Peace and Reconciliation agreement even further.

Furthermore, the question of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the combatants is still at a standstill. According to the International Crisis Group,

“A few demobilization sites have been created and lists of combatants in the armed forces who are eligible for reintegration have been submitted, but otherwise there has been little progress. Parties refuse to lay down their arms before knowing who is going to govern locally and what their own fate is likely to be, as well as what positions will be given to the coalition and to the CMA in the Malian security system of tomorrow.”[2]

Until the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process is launched, the redeployment of security forces in northern Mali will remain a major challenge, as evidenced by the regular attacks perpetrated against the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, now the most targeted UN mission.

 

Farmers benefiting from Handicap International's actions, region of Bambara, in south-western Mali.© Christophe Smets / Handicap International

Farmers benefiting from Handicap International’s actions, region of Bambara, in south-western Mali.© Christophe Smets / Handicap International

 

As a consequence, the United Nations Security Council has asked for more military personnel for MINUSMA[3], whose mandate is to be renewed for a year on 29, June 2016, despite Malian civil society’s questioning of its usefulness given the general deterioration in the situation in the north of the country.[4] Although analysts agree that MINUSMA’s next mandate will be “much more robust”, enabling the integrated United Nations Mission to adopt a more proactive attitude and strengthening the peacekeepers’ capabilities through more training, equipment and human resources (through the deployment of 2049 military personnel for instance[5]), it appears unlikely that the fight against terrorism will be explicitly mentioned, even though the specificities of its mandate would seem to display all its characteristics. Most importantly, MINUSMA’s new mandate should refocus on the concrete implementation of the Peace Agreement, and in particular on provisions for gradually restoring government authority in the north and centre of the country. In this extremely volatile context, it is essential for all parties to reaffirm their respect for humanitarian principles and for the roles and mandates of MINUSMA and humanitarian actors to be clearly distributed. The safety of aid workers depends on this, as does the preservation of a humanitarian space where aid can be provided impartially, irrespective of current military and political issues, and, in fine, access to aid for the most vulnerable.

In any case, MINUSMA will not be able to address the country’s security challenges on its own and in this respect the strengthening of the Malian security forces and restoration of government authority are essential. Today, most of the localities in the north of the country remain outside the government’s control and are the theatre of regular clashes between armed groups. In this respect, the creation of two new regions (Ménaka and Taoudéni) at the beginning of the year presents a further challenge to restoring government authority, in a zone where the role of the MINUSMA is yet to be defined. Last month, the people of the Kidal region expressed their discontent with the absence of social services and asked for the implementation of the Peace agreement to be accelerated. Insecurity and a lack of basic services do nothing to facilitate the return of refugees. On the other hand, they help foster inter-group conflicts and the creation of new armed groups, such as the National Alliance for Safeguarding the Fulani Identity and the Restoration of Justice (Ansiprj). MINUSMA is well aware of all this and warns the international community of the dangers of delaying the implementation of the peace process,

The further behind we get with implementing the agreement and dealing with these challenges, the greater the danger of undermining the peace process.[6]

Furthermore, delays in implementing the transitional justice mechanisms are providing fertile ground for the acts of violence and abuses that continue to be committed by the different parties to the conflict in northern Mali. Created over a year ago and put in place last October, the Mali Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission has not really started working yet and the victims of the conflict are becoming impatient. According to the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), the fact that victims of violence are unable to exercise their right to the truth and justice and the continuing climate and sense of impunity are conducive to the proliferation of human rights abuses, crimes against humanity and war crimes.[7]

However, recent progress gives reason to hope that the peace process may effectively resume. During the ninth session of the International Monitoring Committee of the Peace and Reconciliation agreement on 13 and 14 June, an understanding was reached between the different parties concerning the setting up of the interim authorities, which were supposed to have become operational three months after the signing of the agreement. These interim authorities, now due to be put in place between 15 July and 25 August 2016,  will be responsible for getting basic social services up and running again, and will also programme and coordinate the implementation of development measures and measures for economic, social and cultural recovery. [8] The hope is that this will trigger a concrete and much-needed resumption of the peace process and provide the civilian populations, including the most vulnerable, with a glimmer of hope for the future of their country and for their own living conditions.

 


 

[1] Maliweb, « Comité de suivi de l’accord : la représentativité et le budget font toujours débat », 10 mars 2016 : http://www.maliweb.net/la-situation-politique-et-securitaire-au-nord/comite-de-suivi-de-laccord-la-representativite-et-le-budget-font-toujours-debat-1463132.html

[2] Le Monde, «La désillusion un an après l’accord de paix au Mali», 20 juin 2016: http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2016/06/20/la-desillusion-un-an-apres-l-accord-de-paix-au-mali_4954151_3212.html

[3] Nations Unies, « Mali : le Conseil de sécurité invité à renforcer le mandat de la MINUSMA  ainsi que ses capacités opérationnelles », 16 juin 2016 : http://www.un.org/press/fr/2016/cs12406.doc.htm

[4] MaliActu.net, « Mali : le mandat de la MINUSMA pose problème », 9 juin 2016 : http://maliactu.net/mali-le-mandat-de-la-minusma-pose-probleme/

[5] What’s in Blue, « Renewal of the UN Mission in Mali’s mandate”, 28 juin 2016 : http://www.whatsinblue.org/2016/06/renewal-of-minusmas-mandate.php#

[6] Le Monde, « La désillusion un an après l’accord de paix au Mali », 20 juin 2016 : http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2016/06/20/la-desillusion-un-an-apres-l-accord-de-paix-au-mali_4954151_3212.html

[7] FIDH, « Mali : la paix à l’épreuve de l’insécurité, de l’impunité et de la lutte contre le terrorisme », 18 février 2016 : https://www.fidh.org/fr/regions/afrique/mali/mali-la-paix-a-l-epreuve-de-l-insecurite-de-l-impunite-et-de-la-lutte

[8] MaliActun.net « Mali : Comité de suivi de l’Accord : les parties accordent leurs violons sur les modalités de mise en œuvre des autorités intérimaires », 16 juin 2016 : http://maliactu.net/mali-comite-de-suivi-de-laccord-les-parties-accordent-leurs-violons-sur-les-modalites-de-mise-en-oeuvre-des-autorites-interimaires/