The U.N. Security Council Friday adopted a resolution urging the African regional groups and the U.N. to present within 45 days a plan for military intervention in Mali to help the transitional government troops retake control of the north from Islamist militants.
The U.N. has been refusing to endorse requests for military intervention without the details of a plan.
In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member body called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to provide military and security planners to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and other partners to respond to the request from Mali’s transitional authorities for military help to overthrow the Islamists.
Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter allows the UNSC to use force in the face of a threat to peace or aggression, taking “such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security,” including blockades and other operations by the forces of the member states.
Fighting between the Malian government forces and the Tuareg rebels broke out in the country’s north in January, and the country descended into chaos in March when soldiers toppled the president in a coup d’état. The security vacuum that followed led to the rebels seizing control of two-thirds of the country. The political instability and fighting have driven 500,000 Malians from their homes, 270,000 of them to neighboring countries.
The Islamists have imposed strict Sharia law, including amputation of limps as punishment.
The UNSC called on the rebel groups to sever all ties with terrorist organizations, notably Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and urged the transitional authorities and rebels to engage in negotiations to seek a political solution to end the crisis.
The resolution, drafted by France, reiterated “grave concern at the continuing deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in the north of Mali, the increasing entrenchment of terrorist elements including AQIM, affiliated groups and other extremist groups, and its consequences for the countries of the Sahel and beyond,” a statement published on the U.N. website said.
The UNSC strongly condemned the human rights abuses committed “by armed rebels, terrorist and other extremist groups, including violence against its civilians, notably women and children, killings, hostage-taking, pillaging, theft, destruction of cultural and religious sites and recruitment of child soldiers,” and stressed that some of these acts might amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
A second resolution by the UNSC is required to authorize any military action in Mali.