What's In Blue

Posted Tue 20 Jun 2017

Vote on a Resolution Welcoming the G5 Joint Force in the Sahel

Tomorrow (21 June), the Council is expected to vote on a draft resolution welcoming the deployment by the Group of Five (G5)—Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger—of a joint force throughout the territories of its contributing countries with a view to restoring peace and security in the Sahel. The text successfully passed through silence this afternoon and is now in blue.

The origins of the draft resolution go back at least two months, and have involved several layers of engagement at the regional, sub-regional and international levels. On 13 April, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) authorised the deployment of the G5 force for an initial period of 12 months. In its communiqué, the PSC urged the UN Security Council to approve the deployment of the force and to authorise the UN Secretary-General to “identify the modalities of sustainable and predictable financial and logistical support to be provided to the Force, including through MINUSMA”. The UN Secretary-General has repeatedly expressed support for the AU request, and on 15 May he circulated the PSC communiqué and a letter from the Chairperson of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat conveying the AU request to Council members. The request was then presented by the permanent representatives of the G5 countries and an AU representative to Council members during an informal discussion in late May.

The initial draft resolution on the G5 force was discussed in negotiations among all 15 members, soon after its circulation in early June by France, the penholder. It requested the Secretary-General to present a report within 60 days on options for UN support to the force. However, while all members agreed on the importance of sending a strong political signal in support of the force, some Council members that are major financial contributors expressed concerns about the prospect of committing UN assessed contributions to fund it. These issues were the focus of ensuing negotiations between mostly the US, which had said that it could not support the draft as proposed, and France. In the end, the draft in blue requests the Secretary-General to brief orally within two months of the adoption, and in writing within four months, on the force’s activities and its operationalisation as well as “on challenges encountered and possible measures for further consideration”. The draft encourages bilateral and multilateral partners to support the force and to expeditiously convene a planning conference to ensure coordination of donor assistance.

Even though the draft welcomes both the deployment of the force and the strategic concept of operations, it falls short of authorising the force, as was incorporated in the initial version. It seems that the US and the UK opposed Council authorisation, arguing that it is unnecessary since the force will be operating in the territory of its participants. Furthermore, they were sensitive to the potential financial implications of a Council authorisation down the line.

Some members maintained that initial language gave too broad a mandate with regard to the posture of the force. As a result, the reference to Chapter VII in the initial draft was deleted, as was language authorising the force to take all necessary measures to restore peace and security to the Sahel.

The draft includes language on provisions in the concept of operations related to humanitarian liaison, protection of civilians, gender, and conduct and discipline. It also requests the Secretary-General to report on ways to mitigate any adverse impact of its military operations on the civilian population, including on women and children.

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