posted on Tue 3 Jul 2012 6:06 PM
Draft Resolution on Mali

Council members appear to be close to agreement on the first draft resolution on Mali since the military seized power in the country on 22 March. The draft text was introduced by France late last week, and there have been two meetings at expert level so far. At one point it looked like the draft could have been put under silence procedure for adoption today (3 July) but at press time, it seemed more likely that the resolution would be adopted later in the week. It seems the draft resolution focuses on three key areas: the restoration of constitutional order, the territorial integrity of Mali and the fight against terrorism.

There are several remaining issues which are being dealt with bilaterally. Key amongst them is whether the resolution should be under Chapter VII. Some members believe that as the draft resolution does not authorise military intervention in Mali as had been requested by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), it should not be under Chapter VII.

It seems the draft reiterates the Council’s press statement of 18 June (SC/10676). In that statement, Council members declared their readiness to consider backing a military intervention in Mali as proposed by ECOWAS “once additional information has been provided regarding the objectives, means and modalities of the envisaged deployment and other possible measures”. The draft resolution also encourages the key players to work together to prepare the options with the support of the Secretary-General.

As a practical step towards dealing with the escalating problems in the wider Sahel, Council members appear to have agreed that a more cohesive UN strategy is needed. It seems the draft resolution requests the Secretary-General to develop such an integrated strategy. The point of disagreement appears to be over the involvement of the UN Mission in West Africa (UNOWA) in such a strategy. Some members are open to widening the mandate of UNOWA and its head, Said Djinnit, to cover the Sahel region as a whole.

Other members, however, are wary of such an extension, since this may stretch the limited capacity of UNOWA. These Council members suggest instead the appointment of a new Special Envoy for the Sahel, and the possible establishment of a field mission in the region. With financial considerations being uppermost in some Council members’ minds, this step appears unlikely to be taken in the short run.

Since the 22 March coup, Mali has been the focus of intense diplomatic activity involving ECOWAS, the AU and the UN. On 6 April, a framework agreement brokered by ECOWAS resulted in the military junta in Mali agreeing to give up power in return for an amnesty and the lifting of sanctions imposed by the West African regional body. The junta also agreed to a timetable for a return to constitutional rule and elections. The Speaker of Parliament, Dioncounda Traoré, was designated interim President, ruling with a transitional government (which includes the junta) until elections are held within a year.

It appears that the draft resolution supports the 6 April agreement, fully backs the interim authority of Traoré, and stresses that the military should not be involved in political matters or the work of the transitional government.

It seems the draft also focuses on the situation in northern Mali and is apparently critical of the Tuareg rebels who, following the coup, captured three northern regions (Gao, Kidal, Timbuktu) and declared the independent state of Azawad. It also strongly conveys the Council’s position on the increased terrorist threat in northern Mali due to the presence of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). A question that has arisen in discussing these issues is whether domestic groups (like the Tuareg) should be seen as causing a threat to territorial integrity.

At press time it was not clear if the draft resolution would be put under silence today but there appears to be goodwill on the part of all members to move towards adoption in the coming days. There is general consensus that a political message needs to be sent in the format of a Council resolution.
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