Showing posts tagged as "International Crisis Group"

Showing posts tagged International Crisis Group

14 Jul
Civil Society and the South Sudan Crisis | Jerome Tubiana
Jerome Tubiana is the International Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Sudan.
The inclusion of civil society in efforts to defuse the South Sudan crisis has so far been fraught. The parties to the conflict (see our recent report South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name) all have their own ideas about what civil society is; and each party tends to believe the most legitimate civil-society representatives are those that think just as it does. Most recently, unresolved questions of what civil society is and what role it should play helped cause the suspension late last month of talks between the major warring parties.
The regional precedents are not encouraging. Darfur civil society came out from the Doha process (2009-2011) considerably weakened by both internal divisions and external manipulations. Lessons should be learned from both this and the earlier (2002-2005) Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) processes to avoid repeating similar mistakes.
How ‘civil’ is civil society?
In early June 2014, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) – East Africa’s peace and security organisation – invited notionally independent South Sudanese actors to a “multi-stakeholders symposium” meant to initiate an inclusive phase of IGAD-led peace talks in Addis Ababa. The symposium participants, including civil-society organisations, religious groups, political parties and formerly detained political leaders, nominated 28 members (seven for each group) to represent wider South Sudanese interests at the peace talks.
Those calling for civil-society inclusion in the talks hope unarmed South Sudanese can bridge divisions among armed parties and local communities now embroiled in a war that had a dangerous ethnic dimension from the start. IGAD’s inclusion of civil-society representatives is based on the widely held belief that they are broadly pro-peace and less ethnically divided and ‘political’ than others – but still able to influence armed actors. These were the same reasons civil society was afforded a large role in the Darfur peace process; however, Darfurian civil society proved to be politicised and ethnically divided. (See our recent report Sudan’s Spreading Conflict (III): The Limits of Darfur’s Peace Process.) South Sudanese civil society has shown similar tendencies and community-based leaders have strongly expressed their support for various armed actions.
Nevertheless, Darfur’s experience also proved these voices must be heard if the peace process is to be accepted on the ground. It showed, too, that inclusion should go beyond the usual civil-society organisations (CSOs) – often funded and even created by external donors – to include groups and individuals with more influence on the ground, such as community and religious leaders.
FULL ARTICLE (Crisis Group’s blog: In Pursuit of Peace)
Photo: Crisis Group/jerome tubiana

Civil Society and the South Sudan Crisis | Jerome Tubiana

Jerome Tubiana is the International Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Sudan.

The inclusion of civil society in efforts to defuse the South Sudan crisis has so far been fraught. The parties to the conflict (see our recent report South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name) all have their own ideas about what civil society is; and each party tends to believe the most legitimate civil-society representatives are those that think just as it does. Most recently, unresolved questions of what civil society is and what role it should play helped cause the suspension late last month of talks between the major warring parties.

The regional precedents are not encouraging. Darfur civil society came out from the Doha process (2009-2011) considerably weakened by both internal divisions and external manipulations. Lessons should be learned from both this and the earlier (2002-2005) Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) processes to avoid repeating similar mistakes.

How ‘civil’ is civil society?

In early June 2014, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) – East Africa’s peace and security organisation – invited notionally independent South Sudanese actors to a “multi-stakeholders symposium” meant to initiate an inclusive phase of IGAD-led peace talks in Addis Ababa. The symposium participants, including civil-society organisations, religious groups, political parties and formerly detained political leaders, nominated 28 members (seven for each group) to represent wider South Sudanese interests at the peace talks.

Those calling for civil-society inclusion in the talks hope unarmed South Sudanese can bridge divisions among armed parties and local communities now embroiled in a war that had a dangerous ethnic dimension from the start. IGAD’s inclusion of civil-society representatives is based on the widely held belief that they are broadly pro-peace and less ethnically divided and ‘political’ than others – but still able to influence armed actors. These were the same reasons civil society was afforded a large role in the Darfur peace process; however, Darfurian civil society proved to be politicised and ethnically divided. (See our recent report Sudan’s Spreading Conflict (III): The Limits of Darfur’s Peace Process.) South Sudanese civil society has shown similar tendencies and community-based leaders have strongly expressed their support for various armed actions.

Nevertheless, Darfur’s experience also proved these voices must be heard if the peace process is to be accepted on the ground. It showed, too, that inclusion should go beyond the usual civil-society organisations (CSOs) – often funded and even created by external donors – to include groups and individuals with more influence on the ground, such as community and religious leaders.

FULL ARTICLE (Crisis Group’s blog: In Pursuit of Peace)

Photo: Crisis Group/jerome tubiana

7 Jul
Brussels, 7 July 2014: Crisis Group is pleased to announce Jean-Marie Guéhenno will be the organisation’s next President & Chief Executive Officer.
Mr. Guéhenno served as the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations from 2000-2008, and in 2012, as Deputy Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States on Syria. He left his post as Deputy Joint Special Envoy to chair the commission that prepared the white paper on French defence and national security in 2013. He is currently a professor and Director of the Center for International Conflict Resolution at Columbia University.
“This is an exciting moment for the organisation. I have worked with Jean-Marie for many years both when he was head of peacekeeping at the UN and as a fellow Trustee of the Crisis Group. All of us at the organisation are thrilled that after an extensive global search Jean-Marie has emerged as our new leader. With tragic new conflicts in Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa, the insights and conflict prevention strategies of Crisis Group are needed more than ever. I can think of no better champion and leader for our work and our people”, said Board Co-Chair Lord Mark Malloch-Brown.
Mr. Guéhenno will assume his new post on 1 September. Crisis Group’s long-time Board member, Ghassan Salamé, will take up the role of Acting President during the interregnum.
Effective 1 July, Crisis Group also reconstituted and added six new members to its Board of Trustees – Hushang Ansary, Wolfgang Ischinger, Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele, Olympia Snowe, Jonas Gahr Støre and Margot Wallström – and Mr. Salamé succeeded Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering as Board Co-Chair, alongside Mark Malloch-Brown.  Crisis Group would like to warmly thank Ambassador Pickering for his leadership as a Board chairman over the past 8 years.
“I am honoured to take on the role of Co-Chair for this important organisation, and I very much look forward to working with Jean-Marie in his new capacity. He will bring years of distinguished leadership experience to the post and under his direction I am confident that Crisis Group will enter its 20th year stronger than ever”, said Mr. Salamé.

Brussels, 7 July 2014: Crisis Group is pleased to announce Jean-Marie Guéhenno will be the organisation’s next President & Chief Executive Officer.

Mr. Guéhenno served as the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations from 2000-2008, and in 2012, as Deputy Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States on Syria. He left his post as Deputy Joint Special Envoy to chair the commission that prepared the white paper on French defence and national security in 2013. He is currently a professor and Director of the Center for International Conflict Resolution at Columbia University.

“This is an exciting moment for the organisation. I have worked with Jean-Marie for many years both when he was head of peacekeeping at the UN and as a fellow Trustee of the Crisis Group. All of us at the organisation are thrilled that after an extensive global search Jean-Marie has emerged as our new leader. With tragic new conflicts in Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa, the insights and conflict prevention strategies of Crisis Group are needed more than ever. I can think of no better champion and leader for our work and our people”, said Board Co-Chair Lord Mark Malloch-Brown.

Mr. Guéhenno will assume his new post on 1 September. Crisis Group’s long-time Board member, Ghassan Salamé, will take up the role of Acting President during the interregnum.

Effective 1 July, Crisis Group also reconstituted and added six new members to its Board of Trustees – Hushang Ansary, Wolfgang Ischinger, Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele, Olympia Snowe, Jonas Gahr Støre and Margot Wallström – and Mr. Salamé succeeded Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering as Board Co-Chair, alongside Mark Malloch-Brown.  Crisis Group would like to warmly thank Ambassador Pickering for his leadership as a Board chairman over the past 8 years.

“I am honoured to take on the role of Co-Chair for this important organisation, and I very much look forward to working with Jean-Marie in his new capacity. He will bring years of distinguished leadership experience to the post and under his direction I am confident that Crisis Group will enter its 20th year stronger than ever”, said Mr. Salamé.

30 Jun
Crisis Group thanks outgoing President & CEO Louise Arbour
Brussels  |   30 Jun 2014
The International Crisis Group wishes to thank Louise Arbour for her five years of service as President & CEO. A long-time supporter of Crisis Group, Louise served on the Board of Trustees before taking up her post at the helm of the organisation in 2009. As she concludes her tenure today, the Board of Trustees and the staff send to her all best wishes upon returning to life in her native Canada.
In recognition of Louise’s remarkable career and, in particular, her impact on the field of conflict prevention and resolution, Crisis Group recently launched The Louise Arbour Fund for Emerging Conflicts. This fund will serve to ensure the organisation is equipped to respond swiftly to new and deadly conflicts and will stand in tribute to Louise’s legacy.  
Former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, recently said of Louise that her “energy, dedication, and intellectual and moral integrity are inspiring for all of us”. Crisis Group would like to echo that sentiment and end by saying thank you to Louise for her tireless work on behalf of the organisation these past five years.
Crisis Group will soon be making an announcement regarding the appointment of the next president.

Crisis Group thanks outgoing President & CEO Louise Arbour

Brussels  |   30 Jun 2014

The International Crisis Group wishes to thank Louise Arbour for her five years of service as President & CEO. A long-time supporter of Crisis Group, Louise served on the Board of Trustees before taking up her post at the helm of the organisation in 2009. As she concludes her tenure today, the Board of Trustees and the staff send to her all best wishes upon returning to life in her native Canada.

In recognition of Louise’s remarkable career and, in particular, her impact on the field of conflict prevention and resolution, Crisis Group recently launched The Louise Arbour Fund for Emerging Conflicts. This fund will serve to ensure the organisation is equipped to respond swiftly to new and deadly conflicts and will stand in tribute to Louise’s legacy.  

Former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, recently said of Louise that her “energy, dedication, and intellectual and moral integrity are inspiring for all of us”. Crisis Group would like to echo that sentiment and end by saying thank you to Louise for her tireless work on behalf of the organisation these past five years.

Crisis Group will soon be making an announcement regarding the appointment of the next president.

24 Jun
The International Crisis Group is pleased to announce the launch of the new Crisis Group Blog, In Pursuit of Peace.
This new blog brings together our 7 previous Crisis Group blogs into one convenient site. 
Check it out here.

The International Crisis Group is pleased to announce the launch of the new Crisis Group Blog, In Pursuit of Peace.

This new blog brings together our 7 previous Crisis Group blogs into one convenient site. 

Check it out here.

11 Jun
Shinkai Karokhail, MP National Assembly of Afghanistan, speaks at the International Crisis Group’s In Pursuit of Peace Award Dinner, which was held in New York City on May 7th, 2014.

See more pictures here.

Shinkai Karokhail, MP National Assembly of Afghanistan, speaks at the International Crisis Group’s In Pursuit of Peace Award Dinner, which was held in New York City on May 7th, 2014.

See more pictures here.

Sarah McLachlan performs at the International Crisis Group’s In Pursuit of Peace Award Dinner, which was held at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on May 7th, 2014.
See more pictures here.

Sarah McLachlan performs at the International Crisis Group’s In Pursuit of Peace Award Dinner, which was held at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on May 7th, 2014.

See more pictures here.

The Hon. Hillary Rodham Clinton speaking at the International Crisis Group’s annual In Pursuit of Peace Award Dinner, held at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on May 7th, 2014. 
See more pictures from the event here.

The Hon. Hillary Rodham Clinton speaking at the International Crisis Group’s annual In Pursuit of Peace Award Dinner, held at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on May 7th, 2014. 

See more pictures from the event here.

5 Jun
The Tunisian Exception : Limits and Success of Consensus
Tunis/Brussels  |   5 Jun 2014
In its latest briefing, The Tunisian Exception: Limits and Success of Consensus, the International Crisis Group examines Tunisia’s way out of the political crisis that paralysed it for much of 2013 and outlines measures to preserve a still fragile consensus. In January, after months of heightened tension, political forces agreed on a technocratic caretaker government and a new constitution. But these gains could be squandered unless all parties ensure that any new government – most immediately, that resulting from legislative and presidential elections later this year – operate on the basis of national consensus and cross-partisan support. This is particularly the case as the regional environment, characterised by continuing polarisation and violence in Egypt and Libya, makes Tunisia’s transition all the more difficult.
The briefing’s major findings and recommendations are:
Tunisia escaped last year’s crisis thanks to a variety of factors including strong civil society engagement, international involvement and widespread fear that the country could sink into the extreme polarisation seen in Egypt. But electoral competition and unresolved disagreements, most notably over the neutrality of the civil service, threaten to reignite the crisis.
The current political consensus builds on a power-sharing arrangement between the two largest political parties, the Islamist An-Nahda and its secular opponent Nida Tounes. But the coming elections could produce a majority sufficient for one to exclude the other, possibly tempting the loser to question the elections. All parties should therefore agree in advance on minimum guarantees against a “winner-takes-all” approach and set certain objectives for the next government, notably with regard to economic and security policy.
The electoral commission (ISIE2 – Instance supérieure indépendante pour les élections) has a key role in enhancing the polls’ credibility and raising voter turnout. The caretaker government, with the help of its international partners, should make sure ISIE2 has all the logistical and financial help it needs to organise voter outreach campaigns and elections, and that citizens acknowledge it as neutral.
“A balanced coalition of Islamist and secularist forces is far from certain” says Michaël Ayari, Tunisia Senior Analyst. “All parties should consider unexpected scenarios. They should agree on basic rules of governance, define limitations to the power of the electoral winners and provide assurances for the losers”.
“Tunisia’s major political forces should preserve the spirit of compromise that helped resolve the last crisis”, says Issandr El Amrani, North Africa Project Director. “Such a compromise must go beyond power-sharing deals between the main political camps. All parties must show they are committed to the common good, even in the midst of political competition. 
The full briefing is available in French

The Tunisian Exception : Limits and Success of Consensus

Tunis/Brussels  |   5 Jun 2014

In its latest briefing, The Tunisian Exception: Limits and Success of Consensus, the International Crisis Group examines Tunisia’s way out of the political crisis that paralysed it for much of 2013 and outlines measures to preserve a still fragile consensus. In January, after months of heightened tension, political forces agreed on a technocratic caretaker government and a new constitution. But these gains could be squandered unless all parties ensure that any new government – most immediately, that resulting from legislative and presidential elections later this year – operate on the basis of national consensus and cross-partisan support. This is particularly the case as the regional environment, characterised by continuing polarisation and violence in Egypt and Libya, makes Tunisia’s transition all the more difficult.

The briefing’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • Tunisia escaped last year’s crisis thanks to a variety of factors including strong civil society engagement, international involvement and widespread fear that the country could sink into the extreme polarisation seen in Egypt. But electoral competition and unresolved disagreements, most notably over the neutrality of the civil service, threaten to reignite the crisis.
  • The current political consensus builds on a power-sharing arrangement between the two largest political parties, the Islamist An-Nahda and its secular opponent Nida Tounes. But the coming elections could produce a majority sufficient for one to exclude the other, possibly tempting the loser to question the elections. All parties should therefore agree in advance on minimum guarantees against a “winner-takes-all” approach and set certain objectives for the next government, notably with regard to economic and security policy.
  • The electoral commission (ISIE2 – Instance supérieure indépendante pour les élections) has a key role in enhancing the polls’ credibility and raising voter turnout. The caretaker government, with the help of its international partners, should make sure ISIE2 has all the logistical and financial help it needs to organise voter outreach campaigns and elections, and that citizens acknowledge it as neutral.

“A balanced coalition of Islamist and secularist forces is far from certain” says Michaël Ayari, Tunisia Senior Analyst. “All parties should consider unexpected scenarios. They should agree on basic rules of governance, define limitations to the power of the electoral winners and provide assurances for the losers”.

“Tunisia’s major political forces should preserve the spirit of compromise that helped resolve the last crisis”, says Issandr El Amrani, North Africa Project Director. “Such a compromise must go beyond power-sharing deals between the main political camps. All parties must show they are committed to the common good, even in the midst of political competition. 

The full briefing is available in French

4 Jun
Open letter to the UN Security Council on Mali
Brussels  |   3 Jun 2014
Excellencies,
The recent clashes between the army and rebels in the Kidal region show that Mali’s crisis is unresolved. The violence is directly linked to the lack of progress in talks between northern groups and the government that have stalled mostly because the main actors have been reluctant to engage in meaningful dialogue, despite their pledge in last June’s Ouagadougou agreement. Multiple and confusing diplomatic initiatives have not helped. The UN mission (MINUSMA) has struggled to reconcile its mandate to facilitate talks with that of helping to restore state authority; some perceive it as pro-government and compromised. I urge the Security Council, with the support of its main partners in Mali, to establish a UN-led international mediation mechanism.
The negotiations that started a year ago with signing of the Ouagadougou agreement are in jeopardy. Crisis Group’s January report, Mali: Reform or Relapse, warned that deadlock would have major security consequences. The provisional ceasefire reached in May under auspices of the African Union’s president, with the aid of the UN Secretary-General’s special representative, is fragile. Unless talks are revived promptly, new clashes will occur, undermining the substantial international efforts since MINUSMA’s deployment last July.
The Malian authorities and the northern-based movements have mostly used the dialogue to voice grievances, not resolve differences. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta’s government considers the “northern question” a matter of national pride and has stalled to avoid serious concessions. The three main rebel groups – MNLA, HCUA and the Mouvement arabe de l’Azawad – are fragmented, unable to offer realistic or coherent claims.
Regional and other international actors share responsibility. They have been unable to reconcile diverse, often competing interests to promote a common vision of a solution. Initiatives have often been uncoordinated. Mediation needs new impetus to re-launch talks.
For months, MINUSMA has played a vital role in calming tensions between the army and the northern movements, but without political progress, this can only delay new violence. The mission has struggled to facilitate implementation of the Ouagadougou agreement, in part due to perceptions about its neutrality. Resolution 2100 (25 April 2013) calls for it to both “restore the authority and the sovereignty of the Malian State throughout its national territory” and “to facilitate progress towards an inclusive national dialogue”, which by its nature involves bringing in the very armed groups that challenge the state’s authority in the north.
Building the capacity of Malian institutions is of course important. But the mandate’s tension raises competing expectations from the parties. Some members of the northern movements believe the mission backs the government, citing inter alia its provision of armoured vehicles to the defence ministry and that talks have been held almost solely in Bamako. They requested MINUSMA support for talks to be more balanced. The government believes the mission should focus primarily on helping the state recover its full sovereignty, as requested by the prime minister in his 29 April speech to the National Assembly.
The 30 May, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) summit asked the Burkina Faso and Nigeria presidents to renew mediation efforts, but these have been dormant for months and are unlikely to revive the talks. Mali accuses Burkina Faso of harbouring the MNLA’s political wing; ECOWAS is a key regional institution but does not include countries with influence in the north, such as Mauritania and Algeria. It is thus crucial to establish an international mediation mechanism that is coherent, backed by the region and other major powers and empowered to broker compromises. This new initiative should be UN-led.
The Security Council could consider two options. Neither will be easy, given politics in the region and beyond, but existing arrangements are proving insufficient.
The first would be to strengthen MINUSMA’s political mandate and have it mediate, not just facilitate. The Secretary-General’s special representative would become a full-time mediator. This would allow the UN to use its good offices and, together with Mali’s partners, press parties to resolve deadlocks. To achieve this, the Council must resolve the tension in the mandate by shifting it away from state building. An emphasis on state building might be necessary again in the future – and the gap would need to be filled by others now — but for the moment talks must be the priority.
The second would be to appoint an envoy of the Secretary-General, with African Union and ECOWAS agreement, independent of MINUSMA. The parties could express preferences from a list of names with high-level West Africa experience. The envoy would be an official mediator to whose team MINUSMA would give logistical help while continuing its state building role. This would require greater effort to build consensus, internally and regionally, but might be more likely to break the deadlock.
Whatever the preferred option, the mediator will need the support of Mali’s main partners. They should form a contact group whose membership should be relatively restricted, to ease coordination. It must include France and Algeria, who, working together, have enough influence to bring all the parties to the negotiating table. Algeria’s pivotal role in the region should be recognised, but it must exercise its influence within a multilateral framework.
The mediator, consulting with the main parties and the contact group, should quickly revive the Ouagadougou agreement’s negotiation framework. The current stalemate is not the result of flaws in that agreement but of parties’ refusal to implement it and insufficient pressure on them from Mali’s regional and other partners. The monitoring and evaluation committee established by the agreement has not met since October. It should be resuscitated and, chaired by the mediator, convene monthly to allow international actors to coordinate their efforts. The parties should urgently agree on and commit to a detailed schedule of such sessions.
As the Council prepares to renew MINUSMA’s mandate, it should draw the right conclusions from the challenges the mission faces. In appointing a new UN-led mediation mechanism, whether within the mission or external to it, it has another opportunity to help Malians reach a sustainable solution; it should not assume such an opportunity will come again soon.
Sincerely,
Louise Arbour 
President and CEO, International Crisis Group

Open letter to the UN Security Council on Mali

Brussels  |   3 Jun 2014

Excellencies,

The recent clashes between the army and rebels in the Kidal region show that Mali’s crisis is unresolved. The violence is directly linked to the lack of progress in talks between northern groups and the government that have stalled mostly because the main actors have been reluctant to engage in meaningful dialogue, despite their pledge in last June’s Ouagadougou agreement. Multiple and confusing diplomatic initiatives have not helped. The UN mission (MINUSMA) has struggled to reconcile its mandate to facilitate talks with that of helping to restore state authority; some perceive it as pro-government and compromised. I urge the Security Council, with the support of its main partners in Mali, to establish a UN-led international mediation mechanism.

The negotiations that started a year ago with signing of the Ouagadougou agreement are in jeopardy. Crisis Group’s January report, Mali: Reform or Relapse, warned that deadlock would have major security consequences. The provisional ceasefire reached in May under auspices of the African Union’s president, with the aid of the UN Secretary-General’s special representative, is fragile. Unless talks are revived promptly, new clashes will occur, undermining the substantial international efforts since MINUSMA’s deployment last July.

The Malian authorities and the northern-based movements have mostly used the dialogue to voice grievances, not resolve differences. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta’s government considers the “northern question” a matter of national pride and has stalled to avoid serious concessions. The three main rebel groups – MNLA, HCUA and the Mouvement arabe de l’Azawad – are fragmented, unable to offer realistic or coherent claims.

Regional and other international actors share responsibility. They have been unable to reconcile diverse, often competing interests to promote a common vision of a solution. Initiatives have often been uncoordinated. Mediation needs new impetus to re-launch talks.

For months, MINUSMA has played a vital role in calming tensions between the army and the northern movements, but without political progress, this can only delay new violence. The mission has struggled to facilitate implementation of the Ouagadougou agreement, in part due to perceptions about its neutrality. Resolution 2100 (25 April 2013) calls for it to both “restore the authority and the sovereignty of the Malian State throughout its national territory” and “to facilitate progress towards an inclusive national dialogue”, which by its nature involves bringing in the very armed groups that challenge the state’s authority in the north.

Building the capacity of Malian institutions is of course important. But the mandate’s tension raises competing expectations from the parties. Some members of the northern movements believe the mission backs the government, citing inter alia its provision of armoured vehicles to the defence ministry and that talks have been held almost solely in Bamako. They requested MINUSMA support for talks to be more balanced. The government believes the mission should focus primarily on helping the state recover its full sovereignty, as requested by the prime minister in his 29 April speech to the National Assembly.

The 30 May, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) summit asked the Burkina Faso and Nigeria presidents to renew mediation efforts, but these have been dormant for months and are unlikely to revive the talks. Mali accuses Burkina Faso of harbouring the MNLA’s political wing; ECOWAS is a key regional institution but does not include countries with influence in the north, such as Mauritania and Algeria. It is thus crucial to establish an international mediation mechanism that is coherent, backed by the region and other major powers and empowered to broker compromises. This new initiative should be UN-led.

The Security Council could consider two options. Neither will be easy, given politics in the region and beyond, but existing arrangements are proving insufficient.

The first would be to strengthen MINUSMA’s political mandate and have it mediate, not just facilitate. The Secretary-General’s special representative would become a full-time mediator. This would allow the UN to use its good offices and, together with Mali’s partners, press parties to resolve deadlocks. To achieve this, the Council must resolve the tension in the mandate by shifting it away from state building. An emphasis on state building might be necessary again in the future – and the gap would need to be filled by others now — but for the moment talks must be the priority.

The second would be to appoint an envoy of the Secretary-General, with African Union and ECOWAS agreement, independent of MINUSMA. The parties could express preferences from a list of names with high-level West Africa experience. The envoy would be an official mediator to whose team MINUSMA would give logistical help while continuing its state building role. This would require greater effort to build consensus, internally and regionally, but might be more likely to break the deadlock.

Whatever the preferred option, the mediator will need the support of Mali’s main partners. They should form a contact group whose membership should be relatively restricted, to ease coordination. It must include France and Algeria, who, working together, have enough influence to bring all the parties to the negotiating table. Algeria’s pivotal role in the region should be recognised, but it must exercise its influence within a multilateral framework.

The mediator, consulting with the main parties and the contact group, should quickly revive the Ouagadougou agreement’s negotiation framework. The current stalemate is not the result of flaws in that agreement but of parties’ refusal to implement it and insufficient pressure on them from Mali’s regional and other partners. The monitoring and evaluation committee established by the agreement has not met since October. It should be resuscitated and, chaired by the mediator, convene monthly to allow international actors to coordinate their efforts. The parties should urgently agree on and commit to a detailed schedule of such sessions.

As the Council prepares to renew MINUSMA’s mandate, it should draw the right conclusions from the challenges the mission faces. In appointing a new UN-led mediation mechanism, whether within the mission or external to it, it has another opportunity to help Malians reach a sustainable solution; it should not assume such an opportunity will come again soon.

Sincerely,

Louise Arbour 

President and CEO, International Crisis Group

Click above to listen to Crisis Group President & CEO Louise Arbour speak to UN Dispatch’s Mark Leon Goldberg about the mass atrocities committed in the waning days of Sri Lanka’s civil war (7:42), how her early experiences in Quebec shaped her work (17:28), and her experience as Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda (29:45). Toward the end, Ms. Arbour discusses the challenge of bridging criminal law and human rights (43:03).