Mali - EP 1

Duration: 05-Sep-2017 to 31-Aug-2023

In response to the lack of progress in implementing the 2015 Algiers Agreement, with different sides blaming the other), continued ceasefire violations, ongoing attacks on peacekeeping forces, expanding terrorist and criminal activities in central and southern Mali, and widespread human rights abuses in the country, the Security Council unanimously adopted UNSCR 2374 on 5 September 2017 authorizing a travel ban and an asset freeze on designated individuals and establishing a Sanctions Committee and Panel of Experts to monitor sanctions implementation. No designations were made at the time of the adoption of the resolution, but the criteria for designation were spelled out and included: individuals engaging in hostilities in violation of the terms of the Algiers Agreement, actions that obstructed, delayed or threatened the implementation of the Agreement, financing either of the two preceding activities, planning or facilitating attacks on peacekeepers, obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the country, violating international human rights law, and/or recruiting child soldiers.

Despite the continued delay in implementation of elements of the Algiers Agreement, continued attacks on UN peacekeepers, attacks on Malian forces, and what the UN Secretary-General described as “a deterioration of the security situation” in the country (due, among other things, to terrorist violence, violence associated with growing criminal activity, and inter-communal violence), there were no sanctions designations until December 2018, when a travel ban was imposed on three individuals.

During 2018, the conflict in Mali became more complex and multi-faceted. In particular, there was a fragmentation among the non-state parties to the Algiers Agreement, as Tuareg groups split up into clan-based factions, the presence of foreign fighters increased, as did attacks by ISIL and Al-Qaida affiliated groups, communal violence broke out in the center of the country, and there were reports of trafficking and criminal activity from regions of the country outside the control of the government.

Presidential elections were held a month later, on 29 July 2018. President Keita was re-elected for a second term with 67% of the votes cast. The opposition candidate, Soumaila Cissé, challenged the results, but AU and EU election observers accepted them, a conclusion which was upheld by the Constitutional Court in August of 2018. Keita was sworn in for a second term on 22 September 2018. In the interim, UN sanctions were extended for another year with the passage of UNSCR 2432 on 30 August 2018. The first sanctions designations were made at the end of the year, on 18 December 2018. Three individuals were listed for a travel ban (but no asset freeze). One was a senior Tuareg military commander, one the head of a non-signatory political organization, and one a businessman with links to criminal activities and groups engaged in the commitment of acts of terrorism.

Keita's re-election, however, did not translate into progress in the implementation of the Algiers Agreement. In January 2019, a Presidential statement of the Security Council expressed “a significant sense of impatience with parties over the persistent delays in the full implementation of key provisions of the Agreement.” Throughout 2019, attacks on peacekeeping forces continued, as the conflicts within the country took multiple forms: jihadist attacks, inter-communal violence, militias seeking greater autonomy from the central government, and organized criminal activity.

The Sanctions Committee added another five individuals to the sanctions list on 19 July 2019. The Panel of Experts had a mandate to recommend designations for Committee consideration (of “parties responsible for potential lack of implementation of priority measures”), and the Panel initially recommended that eight names and one corporate entity be added to the list. The new designees represented military, political, and business leaders, and were initially subject only to a travel ban. The Sanctions Committee added asset freezes to the five new individuals listed (but not the original three) on 19 December 2019. The eight designees on the list were all from the North and represented a combination of three political figures (including one National Assembly member), two military leaders, and three businessmen. Individuals associated with both CMA and Platforme were listed. UNSCR 2484 (29 August 2019) renewed the sanctions for another year, and while it stated criteria for removal from the list – a potential innovation for providing an incentive for behavioral change – the resolution stated that the Council had not seen evidence to merit such consideration for any of the designees.No more designations were made for the duration of the episode.

In response to criticisms of the slow pace of implementation of the Agreement and to the continued level of violence in the country, including attacks on peacekeeping forces, President Keita launched an Inclusive National Dialogue in September 2019 to address disagreements over the constitutional review process, and the dialogue concluded in December 2019. The dialogue was boycotted by most opposition groups and did not include jihadists. The Secretary-General’s Report of March 2020 argued that the dialogue had “contributed to decreasing tensions among signatory parties,“ but critics argued that it delayed progress on other parts of the Agreement. The first deployments of reconstituted army units began in the North in February 2020, though they were slow to become operational and address DDR goals. Key elements of the Agreement remained unimplemented, there was resistance to the deployment of the reconstituted army units in the North, and continued attacks from Al-Qaida and ISIL affiliated groups in both northern and central Mali.

In June 2020, tens of thousands protested in Bamako against the government. The protests were led by a coalition of opposition groups and civil society organizations who called themselves the “June 5 Movement – Rally of Patriotic Forces” (M5-RFP). They called for President Keita to resign and expressed concerns about the security situation in the country, the state of the economy, endemic corruption, and the Constitutional Court’s annulment of 5.2% of the votes cast in the legislative elections (affecting 31 constituencies), which resulted in an increase in President Keita’s party’s representation in the National Assembly by 10 seats. The government used live ammunition against demonstrators on 10-12 July 2020, and on 27 July, ECOWAS convened an extraordinary summit on the crisis calling upon the government to re-do the 31 contested elections and threatening sanctions on those who impeded the plan. In the midst of the political crisis, the Council renewed the mandate of MINUSMA for another year in UNSCR 2531 (29 June 2020). The Council acknowledged “some progress” with the implementation of the Algiers Agreement, noted that sanctions were a factor in securing that progress, and in the second operational paragraph of the peacekeeping resolution, threatened further sanctions, should parties to the Agreement take actions to obstruct its implementation.

The Panel of Experts' report of February 2020 noted that there was “little progress” on implementation of the Agreement, due in part to the distraction from the 2019 Inclusive Dialogue, challenges stemming from lack of clarity regarding the government’s chief interlocutor, and fragmentation among elements of both the CMA and the Platforme. The Panel recommended the extension of the financial asset freeze to the first three designees from December 2018 (as had been done to the five added in 2019) and that sanctioned individuals be prevented from participation in the mechanisms for the implementation of the Agreement in an explicit move to increase their stigmatization. The fact that two listed individuals had made formal delisting requests and that one had mobilized public protests against his designation demonstrate the stigmatizing effects of the individual designations made. The Panel’s report of 7 August 2020 reiterated some of these points, particularly with regard to discrepancies between the government’s public statements and its lack of implementation of the Algiers Agreement. The fact that Malian state actors continued to provide support to individuals designated by the Council for an asset freeze was also highlighted. While the Panel saw some progress on DDR, atrocities by ethnic-based militias continued “unabated” in central Mali and the deteriorating situation diverted attention from implementation of the Agreement in the North.

A military coup toppled the Keita government on 18 August 2020. President Keita was initially held under house arrest by the coup leaders, but subsequently fled the country. Mali was sanctioned by ECOWAS and the AU for the non-constitutional change of government. The military junta appointed Keita’s former defense minister Bah N’Daw as a transitional president on 25 September 2020, with the head of the junta as his vice president. Under sanctions and diplomatic pressure from ECOWAS, they promised to restore power to civilian authorities following an 18-month transitional period. ECOWAS sanctions were lifted on 6 October 2020, citing “significant progress” after a civilian Prime Minister was appointed. UNSCR 2541 (31 August 2020) expressed “deep concern” over the coup, reiterated “strong support” for ECOWAS mediation efforts, and extended the sanctions regime and the mandate of the Panel of Experts for another year.

Political instability in the country, the gradual withdrawal of external peacekeeping forces, the resumption of jihadist violence, and the potential collapse of the Algiers Agreement dominated the final three years of the episode.

Following increasing social discontent and strikes that paralyzed the country in May 2021, the military staged another coup, ousting the President and Prime Minister. Colonel Assimi Goïta, the transitional government’s Vice President declared himself the country’s new transitional leader on 27 May 2021, and the Constitutional Court formally declared him as President the following day. In September 2021, the new government declared that the 2022 elections could be delayed and, despite ECOWAS sanctions in response, went ahead and postponed the election date in November 2021. After the interim authorities announced a new five-year transition plan in January 2022, ECOWAS imposed new economic sanctions. President Goïta reneged and announced a two-year transition period before elections, rather than the five-year plan he initially proposed, and ECOWAS lifted its economic and financial sanctions in July 2022. In March 2023, the government postponed the constitutional referendum, missing the first deadline on its timetable to return to constitutional rule. Mali voters approved a new Constitution in a referendum in June 2023.

There was a gradual reduction of peacekeeping forces at the request of the Malian government during the last three years of the episode, with the exception of Russian mercenaries associated with the Wagner Group deployed across the country in 2022. In February 2022, amidst heightened tensions with the government, France and its European partners announced a troop withdrawal from the EU Mission. Later that year, in November 2022, key troop contributors – the UK, Côte d’Ivoire and Germany – announced their withdrawal from the UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA, leaving the future of the mission uncertain, according to the ICG. In June 2023, the UN Security Council ended the UN mission at Bamako’s request.

Violence continued unabated in the center and north of the country and infighting between rival jihadist groups persisted in north. In June 2022, widespread jihadist violence and counter-insurgency operations left hundreds killed, mostly in central regions of the country. In April 2023, tensions between the transitional government and the coalition of northern armed groups signatory to 2015 Algiers peace accord increased, and Islamic State gained further ground in Ménaka region.

UN Security Council resolutions in 2021 and 2022 – UNSCR 2590 (August 2021) and UNSCR 2649 (August 2022) – consistently expressed “significant impatience with parties over the persistent delays in the implementation of the overall (Algiers) Agreement, which contribute to a political and security vacuum jeopardizing the stability and development of Mali.” By December 2022, some of the Northern armed groups that had signed the Algiers Agreement suspended their participation in the peace process to protest junta’s lack of political will to implement 2015 Algiers Agreement. Tensions continued to mount between transitional government and coalition of northern armed groups signatory to 2015 Algiers Agreement in April 2023.

In August 2023, amidst the UN mission’s withdrawal, significant clashes erupted in the north of the country between government forces and former rebels for first time since the 2015 peace agreement. The ICG reported in August 2023 that following the handover to the Malian army of UN mission (MINUSMA) camps in areas controlled by signatory armed groups, “major clashes erupted between alliance of former rebel groups Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) and military for first time since peace deal implementation” began. The CMA also claimed that the Russian paramilitary Wagner Group had attacked a CMA-controlled border post in Foyta locality (Timbuktu region).

Following disagreement on the Security Council over whether the renewal of the sanctions regime should continue the operations of the Panel of Experts, Russia vetoed the resolution drafted by the US and France and the sanctions regime was terminated on 31 August 2023. This was the first time a UN Security Council sanctions regime ended by way of a veto by a Permanent Member.


Coerce parties to the 2015 Algiers Agreement to abide by the terms of the agreement (maintain the ceasefire and implement its power sharing arrangements) and abstain from threatening the political process of stabilization and reconciliation.


Constrain the signatories from violating the terms of the Agreement.


Signal support for mediation and peacekeeping operations (UN, AU, ECOWAS, G5-Sahel, EU, and France) in support of the Agreement.


Travel ban against individuals and asset freeze against individuals or entities engaging in hostilities in violation of the terms of the 2015 Algiers agreement, actions that obstruct, delay or threaten its implementation, financing either of the two preceding activities, planning or facilitating attacks on peacekeepers, obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the country, violating international human rights law, and/or recruiting child soldiers.

Current and maximum number of designees during the episode: 8 individual designees (three with travel ban restrictions in December 2018 and five with travel ban restrictions in July 2019, supplemented with asset freezes in December 2019).

Current list of sanctions designees:

Potential scope of impact


UN sanctions should have little impact on the general population since they are focused exclusively on specific individuals and entities.

Sanctions were imposed for a limited time period (1 year) and renewed periodically. Sanctions Committee and Panel of Experts were created. Designation criteria were specified and targets designated. PKO had enforcement role.

Panel of Experts:



Policy outcome

Important elements of the 2015 Algiers Agreement were implemented early in the episode (such as deployment of reconstituted army units to the North), but delays on constitutional reform and decentralization continued throughout the episode (ceasefire agreements were signed, but often violated). With the withdrawal of MINUSCA in the summer of 2023, significant clashes erupted in the north in August 2023 between government forces and former rebels for first time since 2015 peace agreement.

Sanctions contribution

Designations were made and were credited by the Security Council in UNSCR 2531 with securing progress in implementation of the Agreement; regional diplomatic negotiations, ECOWAS sanctions, and the presence of military forces on the ground (MINUSMA, G5, EU, and French forces) until 2023 withdrawal of MINUSMA were most significant to the outcome.



Policy outcome

Jihadist attacks have expanded from the north to include central portions of the country; attacks on PKOs continued from multiple sources (jihadist groups, non-signatories, and communal groups).

Sanctions contribution

Designations indicate a focus on sources of conflict financing, but the withdrawal of PKOs, insufficient extension of government authority, and political instability appear most significant to the outcome.



Policy outcome

UNSC and SG statements signaled support for regional mediation efforts and reinforced support for transitional and peace agreements.

Sanctions contribution

Panel of Expert reports suggest that formal delisting requests by two individuals and public protests against the listing of another indicate stigmatization of some targets, even though two of them receive support from segments of the Malian state; UN peacekeeping mission and regional negotiation efforts were also significant to the outcome.



Significant organized criminal activity along the borders to circumvent sanctions restrictions; concerns about balance and fairness of UNSC designations, since all eight designees hail from the same region of the country (the North).



  • Imposes travel ban (1 year) and specifies humanitarian, religious, judiciary, peace and national reconciliation in Mali, and stability in the region exemptions
  • Imposes financial asset freeze (1 year) and specifies exemptions for necessary basic expenses, extraordinary expenses, and expenses subject of a judicial, administrative or arbitral lien or judgment, or other approved purpose (upon prior approval)
  • Decides that the financial asset freeze provisions do not prevent the designated individual or entity from making payment due under a contract entered into prior to listing if not received by a designee (upon prior notification)
  • Delineates criteria for designations


  • Establishes Sanctions Committee and specifies its mandate
  • Establishes Panel of Experts (13 months) and specifies its mandate
  • Requests MINUSMA assistance to Sanctions Committee and Panel of Experts (within its mandate and capabilities)
  • Calls for MS reporting



  • Renews UNSCR 2374 travel ban and asset freeze (until 31.08.2019)


  • Extends Panel of Experts mandate (until 30.09.2019) and requests its re-establishment
  • Calls for MS reporting



  • Renews UNSCR 2374 travel ban and asset freeze (until 31.08.2020)


  • Extends Panel of Experts mandate (until 30.09.2020) and requests its re-establishment
  • Calls for MS reporting



  • Renews UNSCR 2374 travel ban and asset freeze (until 31.08.2021)


  • Extends Panel of Experts mandate (until 30.09.2021) and requests its re-establishment
  • Calls for MS reporting



  • Renews UNSCR 2374 travel ban and asset freeze (until 31.08.2022)


  • Extends Panel of Experts mandate (until 30.09.2022) and requests its re-establishment
  • Calls for MS reporting



  • Renews UNSCR 2374 travel ban and asset freeze (until 31.08.2023)


  • Welcomes the designation of a focal point for travel ban by the Malian authorities
  • Extends Panel of Experts mandate (until 30.09.2023) and requests its re-establishment
  • Calls for MS reporting



  • Decides that the provision, processing or payment of funds, other financial assets, or economic resources, or the provision of goods and services necessary to ensure the timely delivery of humanitarian assistance or to support other activities that support basic human needs is permitted and not in violation of asset freeze imposed by the UNSC or its Sanctions Committees
  • The exception applies to the United Nations, including its Programmes, Funds and Other Entities and Bodies, as well as its Specialized Agencies and Related Organizations, international organizations, humanitarian organizations having observer status with the United Nations General Assembly and members of those humanitarian organizations, or bilaterally or multilaterally funded non-governmental organizations participating in the United Nations Humanitarian Response Plans, Refugee Response Plans, other United Nations appeals, or OCHA-coordinated humanitarian “clusters,” or their employees, grantees, subsidiaries, or implementing partners while and to the extent that they are acting in those capacities, or by appropriate others as added by any individual Committees established by the UNSC within and with respect to their respective mandates
  • Requests providers relying on the above exception to use reasonable efforts to minimize the accrual of any benefits prohibited by sanctions, including by strengthening risk management and due diligence strategies and processes
  • Decides that the above exception will apply to all future asset freezes imposed or renewed by the UNSC in the absence of an explicit decision to the contrary


  • Clarifies that the above exception supersedes previous resolutions in case of conflict
  • Requests annual briefing by the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator for each relevant Sanctions Committee, including on the provision of funds or resources to designated individuals or entities
  • Directs Sanctions Committees to issue context-specific Implementation Assistance Notices and monitor the implementation of the exception
  • Requests the Secretary-General to issue a written report on the unintended adverse humanitarian consequences of UNSC sanctions measures (within 9 months)