January 2013 Monthly Forecast

Posted 21 December 2012
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Expected Council Action  

The Council is expected to receive a briefing and hold consultations on the Secretary-General’s options for voluntary and UN-funded logistics support packages for an Africanā€led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA).

AFISMA’s authorisation expires on 20 December 2013.

Key Recent Developments 

On 20 December, the Council adopted resolution 2085 under Chapter VII authorising the deployment of AFISMA for an initial period of one year. The resolution mandates the mission to take “all necessary measures as appropriate” to carry out the following tasks: help rebuild the national defence and security forces; support the national authorities in recapturing areas in the north of the country now under the control of terrorists and separatist forces; support the authorities in their primary responsibility to protect their citizens and create a secure environment for civilian-led delivery of humanitarian assistance; and help stabilise the country after the military operations. The resolution was the culmination of weeks of intense activity and negotiations among Council members on the issue.

On 5 December, Jeffrey Feltman, the head of the Department of Political Affairs, briefed (S/PV.6879) the Council on the Secretary-General’s 29 November report on the situation in Mali (S/2012/894). Feltman warned that the security situation in northern Mali continued to deteriorate, with foreign jihadists and terrorist elements arriving to join the armed groups. Feltman stressed that the priority had to be supporting the national authorities in their efforts to restore constitutional order and reach a political settlement to the ongoing crises. Foreign Minister Traoré Rokiatou Guikine also addressed the Council, pleading for its authorisation of AFISMA to “ease the suffering” of the north for the past nine months and to help save the subregion from “an even more serious disaster whose repercussions cannot be predicted.” Guikine noted that since Mali gained its independence from France in 1960, it had grappled with an inchoate separatist rebellion from its Tuareg minority but that this had always been dealt with by the authorities “in accordance with their resources and together with the neighbouring countries, in particular through dialogue.” He said the current incarnation of the rebellion, involving “terrorists, extremists and other organised criminals, who are most often foreigners” is a threat to international peace and security and requires an international response. He added that Mali was not asking for the international force to fight its rebellious ethnic minorities. Later that same day, France circulated a draft resolution to authorise AFISMA.  

On 10 December, as Council experts were deliberating the draft, soldiers loyal to the 22 March coup leader, Captain Amadou Sanogo, arrested interim Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra, forcing him to resign. The incident was a sharp reminder of how volatile the political situation in the country continues to be despite a negotiated arrangement by which the military junta that led the 22 March coup handed over power to a transitional civilian government and retreated to the barracks. The events of 10 December also showed that despite the semblance of a transition to civilian rule, Sanogo continued to be effectively in control. On 11 December the Council condemned the arrest of Diarra and urged the interim President to swiftly reappoint a national unity government (SC/10851).

Partly as a reaction to the political events in Bamako, the US—which by law cannot provide military assistance to a military-led or -controlled government—proposed significant changes to the draft resolution. It suggested a two-step authorisation of AFISMA, with an initial resolution authorising deployment only to train the army and security forces.

On 13 December, in a letter to the President of the Council (S/2012/926), the Secretary-General set out three options for UN logistical and funding support for AFISMA.

  • Drawing from the experience in Somalia, the first option would be a phased approach, by which logistics support for the combat operations would come from voluntary contributions from member states or bilateral sources. Once the military objectives had been achieved, the UN would provide logistics support for the stabilisation phase from assessed contributions.
  • The second option would provide logistics support to AFISMA to be deployed in southern Mali for the purpose of supporting the defense and security forces to help build their capacity to conduct the military operations themselves. Under this option, the UN would provide a comprehensive logistics support package but would not extend the support to troops in areas of active combat.
  • The third option would combine the two previous options: supporting the international forces in southern Mali and, once northern Mali had been reconquered, support the international forces in the stabilisation phase of the operations.

The Secretary-General in effect made clear that the UN itself was not in a position, for various technical and practical reasons, to provide a funding package that would bankroll the logistics and other needs for AFISMA in carrying out offensive combat operations in northern Mali. Such support, the Secretary-General suggested, should come voluntarily from bilateral sources.

On 19 December, a compromise was struck, and the draft resolution was placed in blue. While authorising AFISMA with the tasks outlined in the original draft, the resolution set in motion a 60-day cycle for the AU to report to the Council on the deployment and the activities of the mission, including before the commencement of military operations in the north. It set out several benchmarks against which this progress will be measured: a roadmap for the restoration of constitutional order; the effective training of military and police units of AFISMA and Mali; and the operational readiness of AFISMA’s forces. It also asked the Secretary-General to report to the Council on the implementation of the resolution every 90 days. Significantly, the resolution also requested the Secretary-General to “confirm in advance the Council’s satisfaction with the planned offensive operation”.

Furthermore, a preambular paragraph was included in the draft condemning the “continued interference” of the military in the work of the transitional government and stressing the “need to work expeditiously” toward the restoration of democratic governance and constitutional order in Mali.

The Council also expressed in the resolution its intention to consider providing a UN-funded logistics support package for AFISMA, including equipment and services for an initial period of one year. It took note of the Secretary-General’s funding options for AFISMA, and requested him, in coordination with the AU, ECOWAS and Mali, to “further develop and refine options within 30 days of the adoption of this resolution” for a voluntary and UN-funded logistics support packages, including detailed recommendations for “a swift, transparent and effective implementation” of the options. The draft resolution also established a trust fund to allow member states to provide financial support to AFISMA or to the training of the military and security forces of Mali.

The resolution furthermore requested UN member states and regional and international organisations to provide coordinated support to AFISMA, including military training, equipment, intelligence, logistical support and any necessary assistance in efforts to combat terrorist and affiliated extremist groups.

The resolution called on AFISMA to support national and international efforts, including those of the International Criminal Court (ICC), to bring to justice perpetrators of serious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in Mali. It further took note of the intention to strengthen, at the request of Mali, the UN presence in Bamako to enable the UN to provide broad and continued support to the ongoing political and security processes in Mali, including to the deployment and operations of AFISMA.

At the time of the adoption of the resolution on 20 December, Mali became a stand-alone Council agenda item, previously considered under the general rubric of “Peace and Security in Africa”.

Human Rights-Related Developments

In his 5 December briefing to the Council, Feltman stressed that gross human rights abuses continued to be perpetrated against the population in northern Mali, including cases of summary and extrajudicial execution, sexual and gender-based violence, the recruitment and use of child soldiers and torture.

Mali will be reviewed on 22 January under the Universal Periodic Review process of the Human Rights Council. 

Key Issue

The key issue for the Council following the authorisation of AFISMA is ensuring proper oversight of the process set in motion.

An immediate related issue is to help establish a funding mechanism that would see the mission through.

Its role in ending the constitutional limbo into which the 22 March coup threw the country and preserving the territorial integrity of Mali by helping it end the occupation of the north by terrorist and extremist groups are further key issues for the Council.

Addressing the massive humanitarian crisis in the north is a related issue.

Underlying Problems

The 10 December forced dismissal of the interim Prime Minister by Sanogo loyalists suggests that the 22 March coup leaders continue to wield strong political power. Sanogo has been known to oppose foreign intervention and has claimed that all that was needed to recapture the north was better weaponry and a bigger defence budget.

Council Dynamics

Considerable disagreement emerged after France circulated the initial draft resolution authorising AFISMA. Eventually, as negotiations progressed, the draft got the full support of all European and African Council members, as well as China (which tends to support the AU position on African issues). However, the US continued to insist on a two-phase approach, raising doubts about the timing and capacity of AFISMA to carry out combat operations in the vast desert terrain of northern Mali and concerns regarding the continued influence of the rebellious military over the transitional government. While the other 14 members of the Council were open to a single resolution setting up AFISMA, several were nevertheless of the view that before agreeing to any military action there should be a serious attempt made at creating a political process which will allow for negotiations with groups that are willing to cut off ties with terrorist organisations. A number of members were also concerned about the signal that would be sent to the AU and ECOWAS if the Council was unable to support their request for a military stabilisation force in Mali.


Security Council Resolutions  
20 December 2012 S/RES/2085 This resolution authorised the deployment of AFISMA for an initial period of one year.
12 October 2012 S/RES/2071 This resolution expressed the Council’s readiness to respond positively to a request from Mali regarding an intervention force to assist the Malian armed forces to reclaim the northern half of the country pending a report from the Secretary-General.
5 July 2012 S/RES/2056 This resolution expressed the Council’s full support for the joint efforts of ECOWAS, the AU and the transitional authorities in Mali trying to re-establish constitutionality and territorial integrity.
Security Council Presidential Statements  
4 April 2012 S/PRST/2012/9 This presidential statement was adopted in response to a spreading Tuareg rebellion in the north and called for the immediate restoration of constitutional rule and demanded an end to all hostilities in the north. It also condemned the seizure of territory by rebels in the north, particularly expressing alarm over the presence of Al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists in the north of the country and in the wider Sahel region.
Security Council Press Statements  
11 December 2012 SC/10851 This press statement condemned the arrest of the interim prime minister and the dismissal of the government of Mali and urged the interim president to swiftly reappoint a national unity government.
Security Council Meeting Records  
5 December 2012 S/PV.6879 This was a briefing by Feltman on the Secretary-General’s report on Mali.
Security Council Letters  
13 December 2012 S/2012/926 This letter from the Secretary-General set out funding options for AFISMA.
Secretary-General’s Reports  
29 November 2012 S/2012/894 This Secretary-General’s report on Mali, detailed the concept of operations, strength and financial basis for an African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA).