Council members will meet tomorrow morning (6 February) to discuss developments in Mali. Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, is scheduled to brief on developments on the ground as well as on progress in setting up a UN office in Bamako. While Council members are aware that there is likely to be a need for further Council action with the changed circumstances on the ground since the adoption of resolution 2085 on 20 December 2012, at press time no outcome was planned following the meeting.
Of immediate interest to many Council members is an update on “Opération Serval”, which France launched on 11 January. Of particular interest to some Council members is what France has in mind as a transition from its forces to the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) which the Council authorised in resolution 2085. (During his visit to Timbuktu on 2 February, which was captured by French and Malian troops on 27 January, French President François Hollande declared that the military efforts were ongoing, as there were still areas in the north controlled by terrorist groups, but the objective is to pass the baton when the situation on the ground allows it.)
An issue that may be raised tomorrow is the idea of a future UN mission in Mali. France has come out publicly in support of this idea and may want to discuss it further tomorrow. While the rapidly evolving situation in northern Mali appears to have given rise to acceptance among some Council members that a UN mission might eventually be needed, there are many questions about the timing and type of mission that would be appropriate.
Council members are also likely to want to hear more about the establishment of the UN office in Bamako. An advance team from the UN Secretariat arrived in Mali on 19 January to begin the task of setting up the office, which will support the ongoing political process and assist in the planning, deployment and operations of AFISMA. Zerihoun will likely brief Council members on the work of the advance team as well as on the issue of funding and the provision of logistical support for AFISMA. An issue that may be brought up by some Council members is the need to put in place human rights observers given the increasing allegations of violations of human rights in the country.
On 20 January, a letter (S/2013/37) was submitted by the Secretary-General to the Council President detailing funding and logistical support options for AFISMA. The three options proposed by the Secretary-General included the provision of all logistics support through bilateral channels, through the UN assessed contributions in all phases of its operations or a combined option of channeling support through bilateral partners during the combat phase of the operations and through the UN during both the deployment and the stabilisation phases. It seems that Council members have yet to have a full discussion of the options. Some members are likely to have questions about the appropriateness of these funding options if a UN peacekeeping or political mission is also being considered.
It seems some Council members are interested in hearing about the recent political developments in the country, especially after the unanimous adoption by Mali’s parliament of a roadmap towards elections at the end of July. Council members are likely to be keen to get a better sense of the role the UN may be expected to play during the transition process.
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