News / Africa

UN Approves Peacekeeping Force for Mali

In this picture taken on January 28, 2013, Chadian soldiers patrol the streets of Gao, northern Mali.
In this picture taken on January 28, 2013, Chadian soldiers patrol the streets of Gao, northern Mali.
Margaret Besheer
The U.N. Security Council has given the green light to transform an African-led force in Mali into a U.N. peacekeeping force. The African soldiers will swap their current helmets for the blue ones of U.N. peacekeepers starting on July 1, but only if the Security Council decides 60 days from now that security conditions are conducive. If not, the council can delay their deployment.

The African force, known by its acronym AFISMA, now numbers about 6,200 troops from countries including Nigeria, Chad, Gabon and Burkina Faso.  As the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali - or MINUSMA - it will be authorized to expand to more than 12,000 troops and police.

After the Security Council unanimously authorized the mission Thursday, French Ambassador Gérard Araud told reporters that the U.N. force would not pursue terrorists in their strongholds, but would defend themselves if attacked.

“The peacekeeping operation is not going to conduct any anti-terrorist activity," Araud said. "It is stabilization, stabilization of the north of Mali.  You know it’s very simple, why do we need stabilization force?  It is because we need to rebuild a Malian army.  As soon as the Malian army is able, in a sense, to ensure the sovereignty of the Malian state, there won’t be any need of a peacekeeping operation.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had originally recommended that there be a parallel force operating alongside the stabilization mission to handle counter-terrorism duties - a task that is normally beyond the mandate of U.N. peacekeepers.
But instead of a separate force, the resolution authorizes France to intervene if there is an “imminent and serious threat” and upon the request of the U.N. chief.  France has led offensive operations against the rebels in the north since the Malian government appealed for its help in January.

France has said it has begun drawing down its 4,000 troops from Mali and by the end of the year expects to have only about 1,000 in the country.  But with military assets in nearby Chad and Senegal, it could quickly respond to a threat in Mali.
There has been some concern expressed by human rights groups and some member states that if the African forces transition to U.N. peacekeepers, they must meet certain standards, particularly in human rights training.  And in the case of Chad, there have been questions whether its troops would be allowed to continue as part of the U.N. force because the country has been criticized for its use of child soldiers.

U.N. Peacekeeping Chief Hervé Ladsous said troops for the new mission would have to meet U.N. standards.

“Human rights is one of the core elements of the mandate.  Definitely, we will do two things: we will do some vetting of the personnel and we will increase the training in human rights and international humanitarian law.  This, we want our people to be impeccable," said Ladsous. "That is very clear.”

The new force for Mali is tasked with protecting civilians, preventing the return of armed groups to population centers, and helping the Malian authorities re-establish state control throughout the country. The mission will also have a human rights monitoring component, as well as a political dimension focused on assisting with presidential and legislative elections scheduled for July, and the starting of a national reconciliation process.

A U.N. envoy for Mali is expected to be named soon to head the mission.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid