What's In Blue

Posted Mon 21 Jan 2013

Mali Briefing and Consultations on Funding Options and Developments

Tomorrow afternoon (22 January), Council members will likely be updated by Jeffrey Feltman, head of the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), on developments in Mali, including on funding options for the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA). It is likely that representatives from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and some African countries that have committed troops to Mali will make statements. The public briefing will be followed by closed consultations.

Council members are likely to be interested in hearing from France regarding “Opération Serval,” which France launched on 11 January following a request from Mali for help in stopping the advances of Islamist militants and rebels operating in northern Mali. “Opération Serval” appears to have moved forward the timeline for military involvement in Mali, as France planning to eventually deploy at least 2,500 troops to Mali and ECOWAS has pledged 5,000 boots on the ground. The first deployment of troops from ECOWAS to Mali—mainly from Nigeria and Togo—arrived in Bamako on 17 January. Chad, which is not a member of ECOWAS, has reportedly also pledged 2,000 troops to join the operation. (The original concept envisaged AFISMA comprising 3,300 personnel, including 2,990 troops, 30 individual police officers and two formed police units of 280 personnel in total.)

The accelerated military activity has also led to a speeding up of efforts to establish a UN presence in Bamako to, inter alia, assist in the deployment of AFISMA, for which the troops from ECOWAS will form the core. An advance team from DPA and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) will head to Mali over the next two weeks to establish a UN office in Bamako. (Resolution 2085 adopted on 20 December 2012 requested the Secretary-General to establish, in consultation with the national authorities and for an initial period of one year, a “multidisciplinary United Nations presence in Mali” to provide coordinated and coherent support to the ongoing political and security processes in the country.)

Feltman will likely brief Council members on these developments, as well as on the important issue of funding for AFISMA. Resolution 2085 requested the Secretary-General, in coordination with the AU, ECOWAS and the Malian authorities, to “further develop and refine” options for a voluntary and UN-funded logistics support packages for AFISMA.

On 19 January, the Secretary-General submitted a letter to the Council president detailing funding options similar to those he set out in a 13 December letter to the Council (S/2012/926), but this time with an annex containing the Terms of Reference for a UN Trust Fund for AFISMA. The Trust Fund will be managed by the soon-to-be-set-up UN office in Mali, which will coordinate all aspects of the UN’s work in the country.

A number of Council members appear to want more time to study the details of the Secretary-General’s letter before making any decisions on the possible funding options.

It is likely however that they may provide initial reactions to the Secretary-General’s letter during the consultations tomorrow.

Some Council members may be interested in getting more information on the hostage situation in the natural gas facility at In Amenas, Algeria, which began on 16 January. Though the hostage-takers claimed that they were acting in reaction to recent events in Mali, so far Council members have not drawn a clear connection between the military action in Mali and the hostage situation. Council members agreed on a press statement on 18 January (SC/10887), which condemned “in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks” and reiterated Council members’ determination to “combat all forms of terrorism, in accordance with their responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations.”

It seems that there was interest among some Council members to have Michelle Bachelet, the Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, brief Council members tomorrow on her recent visit to Mali. While in Mali, Bachelet called for an end to the escalating violence and human rights violations in northern Mali, including sexual violence against women, and for the unrestricted delivery of humanitarian assistance. However at press time it seemed unlikely that she would be participate in tomorrow’s briefing.

Council members will have another opportunity to discuss Mali during the briefing and consultations on the UN Office in West Africa (UNOWA) on 25 January. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, who is expected to brief Council members, was in Bamako last week and met with the interim President of Mali, Dioncounda Traoré.

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