What's In Blue

Posted Wed 24 Apr 2013

Resolution Establishing a UN Mission in Mali

Tomorrow morning (25 April), the Security Council is set to adopt a resolution establishing the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). This mission will take over from the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) and the current UN multidimensional presence in Mali (UNOM). The interim Foreign Minister of Mali, Tiéman Coulibaly is likely to be present at the adoption.

The draft resolution was discussed among the P5 before being circulated to the wider Council. Three intensive rounds of negotiations among all 15 members, starting on 12 April, were then held. The draft resolution was put into blue this morning (24 April) following bilateral negotiations between France, the penholder on Mali and Russia which had broken silence yesterday (23 April). It seems that Russia asked for a change in language regarding MINUSMA’s interaction with the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its role in supporting Malian authorities to bring to justice those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Over a three week period the Council has moved from discussing the options proposed by the Secretary-General for the establishment of a stabilisation mission in Mali to being ready to adopt a new resolution that authorises the establishment of MINUSMA and the transfer of authority from AFISMA to MINUSMA on 1 July 2013. The draft resolution gives the mission an initial 12 month mandate. It also requests the Secretary-General to include in MINUSMA former AFISMA military and police personnel appropriate to UN standards. It seems the Council might review the timeline for MINUSMA’s deployment depending on the security situation.

The draft resolution, which authorises a force structure of 11,200 military personnel and 1,440 police personnel, also authorises MINUSMA to use all necessary means to carry out some aspects of its mandate. The key components of MINUSMA’s mandate are:

  • stabilising key population centres and supporting the reestablishment of state authority throughout the country;
  • supporting the implementation of the transitional roadmap;
  • protecting civilians and UN personnel;
  • promoting and protecting human rights and;
  • supporting humanitarian assistance, cultural preservation and national and international justice.

The draft resolution also authorises French troops to use all necessary means to intervene within the limits of their capacities and areas of deployment, in support of elements of MINUSMA when under imminent and serious threat and upon request of the Secretary-General. (It seems the French troops, rather than a parallel force as suggested by the Secretary-General, will carry out combat and counter-terrorism activities.) It also includes a request for France to report to the Council in 45 days and then every three months from 1 July on the implementation of this mandate in Mali.

Even though Council members have generally been in agreement during the negotiation process, some issues have been tricky. Regarding timing, France and other members wanted to speed up the transition towards a stabilisation operation establishing a clear timeline and a date, while Russia and others preferred to receive a clearer assessment of the situation on the ground and to prioritise a benchmark-driven process before deploying MINUSMA. The agreed date of 1 July for the deployment of the mission, assuming there are acceptable security conditions in MINUSMA’s envisaged area of responsibility, was the agreed compromise.

During the negotiations, views also differed on the type of actions MINUSMA was tasked to undertake, how proactive it should be and the limits of its robust mandate. Argentina, Guatemala, and Pakistan, along with Russia, introduced language that was accepted and which more clearly defined tasks MINUSMA was mandated to undertake. They also successfully pushed for a clear mention in the preamble reaffirming the basic principles of peacekeeping, including consent of the parties, impartiality, and non-use of force, except in self-defence and defence of the mandate, with the intention of more clearly distinguishing between traditional peacekeeping and peace enforcement. Such language is not surprising in light of the recently approved “intervention brigade” to be included in the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) by resolution 2098, which was agreed to on the understanding that it was “on an exceptional basis and without creating a precedent or any prejudice to the agreed principles of peacekeeping.”

At the earlier stages of the negotiations, it seems that some P5 members had concerns as to how to define the relationship of the French forces and MINUSMA as well as the role of the Council with regards to their mandate. Consequently, the draft resolution mentions the role of French forces supporting MINUSMA when under imminent and serious threat and upon request of the Secretary-General and establishes a reporting requirement to the Council.

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