French Ambassador to the United Nations, Nicolas de Rivière, 8 October 2020
In 2012, a deep crisis settles in Mali following the takeover of the North by pro-independence and then Islamist groups and a coup d’état against President Amadou Toumani Touré.
At the request of the Malian President, France intervened militarily in January 2013 with Operation Serval, in order to stop the advance of jihadist forces and allow the country to regain its territorial integrity. Presidential and legislative elections are held in 2013, bringing Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta to the presidency of the Republic. In 2015, the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali is signed between the non-terrorist rebel groups and the government in Algiers, with the support of the United Nations. France supports Mali in the implementation of this agreement.
The resolution of the crisis in Mali calls for an integrated response covering both political aspects and military action, as well as massive support for development and humanitarian aid.
At the United Nations, France played a key role for the adoption of several resolutions, including resolution 2100 (25 April 2013) creating the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). At France’s initiative, this Mission’s mandate has been renewed every year since (resolution 2531, June 2020). Today its priority tasks are support for the implementation of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, support for the Government to stabilize the situation in the centre of the country, and the protection of civilians. It has more than 15,000 soldiers, police and civilian staff.
The Secretary-General reports every three months on the situation in Mali and the implementation of the mandate of MINUSMA. These reports are then discussed in the Security Council. The Security Council also conducts regular on-site visits to assess the situation.
Despite a terrorist threat environment that makes its mission challenging, MINUSMA is achieving results in the implementation of its mandate. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNAMISMA, El-Ghassim Wane of Mauritania, is using his good offices to ensure that the Government and the armed groups that signed the agreement make the concessions necessary to move forward with the implementation of the peace agreement. The Malian army has begun to integrate former combatants from the signatory groups and these new units have been deployed in the northern cities, with the support of MINUSMA. In central Mali, MINUSMA is supporting the government’s inter-community reconciliation efforts. An adaptation plan is being implemented to enhance the mission’s mobility and effectiveness.
MINUSMA works closely with other security presences, including the G5 Sahel joint force. The G5 Sahel Joint Force has a counter-terrorism mandate, which makes it complementary to MINUSMA. For its operations, it can benefit from logistical support in the form of water, fuel and food provided by MINUSMA, with funding from the European Union.
The European Union (EU) and its Member States are also very committed to supporting Mali. In addition to its diplomatic action, the EU is Mali’s leading development aid partner (€615 million over the period 2014-2020).Two common security and defence policy missions are deployed: EUTM Mali, for training the army, and EUCAP Sahel Mali, for the police, gendarmerie and national guard.
In order to advance the implementation of the peace agreement, the Security Council also decided to put in place sanctions, at the request of the Government of Mali. A regime was established on 5 September 2017 with resolution 2374. Eight individuals are now under sanctions.
Operation Barkhane replaced operation Serval on 1 August 2014 to provide support of the French forces to Mali but also to the other G5 Sahel states (Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and Chad) in their fight against terrorism. Barkhane is made up, among others, of 5,100 soldiers, drones, fighter planes and helicopters. With this operation, France provides operational support to the joint G5 Sahel force and to MINUSMA when threatened by serious and imminent danger. The fundamental objective of the operation is to enable the armies of the Sahel, in the long term, to ensure their security on their own.
Because resolving the crisis in Mali requires an integrated response that takes into account political, security and development imperatives, France maintains a close political dialogue with Mali, and is one of its main development partners with 55 ongoing projects and €357 million committed by the French development agency, Agence française de développement.
At the Pau Summit on 13 January 2020, France and the G5 Sahel countries, including Mali, decided to set up a "Coalition for the Sahel", which aims at bringing together the various aspects of international action in a coherent manner. It is organised into four complementary pillars: (1) combating armed terrorist groups, (2) strengthening the capacities of the armed forces, (3) supporting the return of the State through support for the internal security forces and strengthening the penal chain, (4) coordinating development actors. The N’Djamena Summit held on February 16, 2021 agreed tp pursue these objectives, with particular emphasis on civil actions and the return of the state to remote areas.