The Council appears set to adopt—possibly on Friday (12 October)—a resolution on Mali expressing its readiness to support an international military force that would assist the Malian army in reasserting sovereignty over the northern half of the country, which is under the control of terrorist groups. France circulated the draft resolution shortly after Council members held consultations on 4 October to consider preliminary plans to authorise military intervention in Mali. (It seems that the main elements of the draft were discussed in a meeting of the P5 on 2 October, before being shared with all 15 Council members several days later.)
Although there is general agreement that action needs to be taken on Mali, differences among Council members have emerged during the negotiations. It appears that during the P5 negotiations the US expressed particular concern with key language in the draft text on the Council’s readiness to respond positively to Mali’s request for military support. It appears the US was not comfortable with the Council making a broad commitment on military support without greater specificity about what this request would involve.
In a letter dated 28 September (S/2012/727), the interim President and Prime Minister of Mali requested the adoption of a resolution by the Council authorising the deployment of an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) stabilisation force to Mali under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. It appears that other Council members expressed similar concerns about positively responding to the request without more specific details when the draft was discussed at expert level on 8 October.
Another related source of unease for some Council members appears to be the acceptance of a request submitted by transitional authorities whose legitimacy is not universally accepted, both within Mali and beyond. Recent media reports also point to the alleged appointment of Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, the leader of the 22 March coup that ousted former President Amadou Toumani Touré, as head of the newly established military reform committee on 8 October.
Another important issue appears to have been about language in the draft resolution requesting the Secretary-General to submit a report no later than 30 days after the adoption of the resolution. (This report would detail actionable recommendations for such an international military force, including means and modalities of the envisaged deployment.) It appears that the draft requests that the report be prepared in close consultation with ECOWAS—which has initiated plans for a stabilisation force for Mali—and the AU (which is closely backing ECOWAS), as well as neighbouring countries and other interested bilateral partners and international organisations. In this respect an agreement appears to have been reached on 8 October to include language requesting the Secretary-General to provide military planners to assist ECOWAS and the AU in more detailed planning for the force. It is likely that the main elements of the report will be put together after a meeting of ECOWAS, the AU, UN, EU and neighbouring states on 19 October in Bamako.
Since the contents of the draft resolution appear to be less substantive than resolution 2056 of 5 July, it seems some Council members questioned the need for the resolution to be under Chapter VII. (Resolution 2056 had expressed the Council’s full support for the joint efforts of ECOWAS, the AU and the transitional authorities in Mali in trying to re-establish constitutionality and territorial integrity.) Most members however agreed that it was important to have this new resolution under Chapter VII to give momentum to the process of mapping out an operational plan, particularly with a view towards the 19 October meeting. It seems some EU members are also keen to adopt a Council resolution on Mali ahead of the meeting of EU Defence Ministers scheduled for Monday, 15 October in Luxembourg to discuss options to support international efforts to assist Mali.
As part of the overall planning to tackle the growing terrorist threat in northern Mali and the larger humanitarian and security problems in the vast Sahel region, the Secretary-General appointed former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi as his Special Envoy for the Sahel region on 9 October. It appears that the draft resolution welcomes the appointment of the Special Envoy, and calls on him to engage actively in defining the parameters of a comprehensive solution to the Malian crisis. (Prodi will reportedly be based in Italy.)
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