As soldiers overthrew democratic institutions and armed groups occupied large parts of the country’s north, Mali turned from a perceived bulwark of progress in West Africa into a significant source of international concern in 2012. The proliferation of armed groups, widespread human rights violations, poor governance and severe humanitarian conditions undermined peace and security in the country and fueled fears of regional spillover. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced since the crisis started in January 2012.
The United Nations has been working with national authorities and regional partners from the outset to help steer Mali towards a full return to constitutional order and territorial integrity. UN support is provided within the framework of
, adopted unanimously by the Security Council in December 2012, amid growing international concern about the crisis in Mali and its potential repercussions for peace and stability across the region.
UNOM, a UN multidisciplinary office led by DPA and comprising experts in political affairs, security, human rights, gender and communications, has been deployed to the Malian capital Bamako to help address the situation along two tracks.
First, as part of the political process, the office is assisting Malians in their efforts to achieve a broad-based and consensual national dialogue leading up to national elections, and to negotiate with armed groups who cut off ties with terrorist organizations and respect Mali’s territorial integrity.
Second, under the security track, UNOM supported the African-led International Support Mission in Mali, AFISMA, which has a Security Council mandate to assist in recovering and stabilizing the northern territories and to train the Malian Defence and Security Forces, as well as to work towards a secure environment for delivering humanitarian aid.
The future form of the UN’s engagement in Mali is still being discussed, but it is clear that under either option the UN would maintain a strong focus on the political process.
In his report
to the Security Council, the Secretary-General has proposed two options for United Nations engagement in Mali:
Under the first option, a UN multidimensional integrated political presence would operate alongside AFISMA. Areas of focus would include good offices, support for mediation and dialogue; assistance to the electoral process; promotion of human rights. It would also encompass support for AFISMA, which would be responsible for security, together with bilateral military efforts, in support of the Malian defence and security forces. AFISMA would also have an offensive combat and stabilization mandate focusing on extremist armed groups.
The second option involves the establishment of a UN multidimensional integrated stabilization mission under a Chapter VII mandate, alongside a parallel force. In addition to a political mandate, the Mission would carry out security-related stabilization tasks, protect civilians and create the conditions for the provision of humanitarian assistance. The bulk of AFISMA would be re-hatted under this UN stabilization mission.
Listen to an April 2013 interview with the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman: