What's In Blue

Posted Thu 20 Dec 2012

Adoption of a Resolution on Mali

A draft resolution on Mali, the first version of which France circulated on 5 December, is now in blue and scheduled for adoption this afternoon. It went under silence procedure yesterday evening (19 December) following intense bilateral discussions between the US and France. The resolution is expected to authorise the deployment of an African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) for one year.

According to the draft resolution, AFISMA will be authorised to take “all necessary measures” to carry out the following tasks: rebuilding Mali’s defence and security forces; supporting the Malian authorities in recapturing areas in the north of the country now under the control of terrorists and separatist forces; transitioning to stabilisation activities; supporting the Malian authorities in protecting civilians and allowing for the delivery of humanitarian aid and return of internally displaced persons and refugees and in protecting its personnel and mission.

Although the resolution authorises a UN mission with the tasks outlined above, it sets in place a 60-day reporting cycle for the AU to report to the Council on the progress made in preparations for deploying AFISMA. Significantly, it also requests the Secretary-General to “confirm in advance the Council’s satisfaction” before the start of an offensive operation.

It seems that these requirements stem largely from concerns expressed by the US which wanted a two-step authorisation of AFISMA, with an initial resolution only authorising deployment to train the Malian army and security forces. A second resolution would only be adopted following a report of the Secretary-General on the readiness of AFISMA for offensive operations. It seems besides wanting to ensure AFISMA was ready for taking on the groups in the north militarily, the US also stressed a need for credible elections before a full-scale military intervention because it would have difficulties getting approval from Congress to provide military assistance to a government in which the 22 March coup leaders are still in control. The recent forced resignation of interim Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra and dismissal of the transitional government on 11 December may have reinforced to the US the precariousness of engaging in a situation where there is as yet no viable political settlement.

It seems that while the other 14 members of the Council were open to a single resolution setting up AFISMA, several were of the view that before rushing into 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.

It seems that Council members were not ready to make a decision on UN funding at this stage and the draft resolution simply expresses the intention to consider a voluntary and UN-funded logistics support package to AFSIMA for one year. In his 13 December letter to the Council (S/2012/926), the Secretary-General provided information on the financial costs of such a package but it appears that some members wanted more information. As a result the draft resolution asks for the Secretary-General, in coordination with the key actors, to refine options, including how the resolution can be quickly and effectively implemented, within 30 days of its adoption. The draft resolution also establishes a trust fund which will allow member states to provide financial support to AFISMA or to the training of the Malian Defence and Security Forces.

The draft resolution also includes language that allows member states and regional organisations to provide a range of support to AFISMA including military training, provision of equipment, intelligence and logistical support needed to reduce the terrorist threat in northern Mali.

With the adoption of this resolution it is clear that Mali — which will now be considered under the agenda item “Situation in Mali” rather than “Peace and Security in Africa” — will be a regular feature of the Council’s work programme as it sets up a 90-day reporting cycle from the Secretary-General on the implementation of the resolution. In the next three months the Council can expect a report from the Secretary-General on a possible UN-funded logistics support package in late January, a report from the AU in late February on the progress made in deploying AFISMA as well as the 90-day report of the Secretary-General in late March.

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