Blauhelme für Mali (2)

Vor einer Woche hatte ich hier schon mal laut gefragt, warum die nicht zuletzt von Frankreich vorangetriebenen Überlegungen für einen Blauhelmeinsatz in Mali in Deutschland noch nicht mal ignoriert wurden. Das ändert sich jetzt langsam auch in den deutschen Medien. Zum Verständnis der Entwicklung und zur Dokumentation Auszüge zum Thema Mali aus der Pressekonferenz von Hervé Ladsous, Chef der UN-Abteilung für Friedenseinsätze (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) am (gestrigen) 6. Februar in New York:

Ladsous: The first one I would mention is, of course, Mali. You will have seen that yesterday the follow-up committee in Brussels expressed what seems to be a well shared desire to see this operation, which is underway in Mali, transforming into a peacekeeping operation. Now, clearly of course, this will be a matter for the Security Council to consider. I understand they were having consultations this morning on this subject. It is clear that this will require, of course, an invitation by the government of Mali but already I note
that the African Union as well as the ECOWAS and a number of Member States of the United Nations have already expressed themselves in that direction. It is also clear that a peacekeeping operation in Mali cannot develop itself in any sort of circumstances to keep the peace, there has to be some peace, precisely. So, this will be evaluated including also in light of security considerations. But I think there is clearly a shared desire of the international community to do what needs to be done in Mali.  
In December the assumption was that first the stakeholders would deal with the restoration of the constitutional order in the country and probably at a later stage take up the restoration of the integrity of the country. Events in the course of January, all that you know, have in a way inverted that logic. But there will be certainly the need both to stabilize the country and also to restore the normal order of things, the rule of law, the security issues, so this again let me say will be considered by the Council but we are already working on different possible scenarios.

Question:  Regarding AFISMA, there seems to be disagreement over whether it is actually in operation or whether the African troops in Mali are there at the request of the Malian government. Could you explain whether AFISMA is actually in your estimation up and running, because there is expected to be a sort of a bridge between AFISMA and a peacekeeping operation however that might be created?

Ladsous: Thank you. First on AFISMA, the latest figures are that there are about 2,000 soldiers from AFISMA, who are deployed in Mali. Plus I think the larger part of the 2,000-and-some are the contingent from Chad, which is now under AFISMA. So, as they are moving into Bamako of course they are starting to move into the operational areas in the northern part of the country. It is clear that again, subject to a Security Council decision, the larger part of AFISMA will be considered as a matter of priority for re-hatting
under a peacekeeping operation if that is indeed the decision by the Security Council.
Now clearly these troops would not be in Mali without the consent of the Government of Mali. As you know for any peacekeeping operation we need the consent, the actual request of the host country. So this is all being worked upon. But I think the consensus that it will have to be a peacekeeping operation when conditions allow, and that could happen I think fairly quickly, then that is the way to go.

Question: Mr Ladsous forgive me I am a little bit confused on the evolution of the force in Mali. My colleagues might not be but I am. When I was last here, the AFISMA was going to be an African force that was supported financially by the UN, but now it seems to becoming a full fledged UN peacekeeping force. Can you sort of walk us through that decision? And we are hearing one of the reasons is because people feel like the hybrid forces in Somalia and Darfur did not work. Can you address that question of why, you think, they did not work? Finally, I understand that there is some resistance from the part of Mali on accepting a UN peacekeeping force. Can you talk about that please?

Ladsous: Thank you for asking that. I think one of the difficulties in Mali has been that the scene was evolving so quickly. Indeed as I said initially, that was two months ago in December, when the Resolution 2085 was voted. It was thought that the military intervention in the northern part of Mali could not happen until probably the beginning of the cooler, dry, season, say September or October, because the Malian army which was supposed to be the spearhead of the operation needed to be trained, and that by the way is starting right now with strong support from the European Union. But it was also because the AFISMA troops took time to deploy, to be equipped, to be trained together. And indeed at that time the issue was one of what sort of the support could the United Nations provide to AFISMA. And you may recall that in early January the Secretary-General sent a letter to the Security Council outlining options for support.
But then of course the events on the ground started moving very quickly. The French intervention, the acceleration of the deployment of AFISMA. And indeed we are now in a situation where, as I said, yesterday the follow-up group in Brussels was an opportunity for both ECOWAS and the African Union to express jointly the view that this should now become, when conditions allow, as soon as conditions allow, a UN peacekeeping operation.
Why not a hybrid operation? I think, the example in particular in Somalia has shown that one of the issues is one of sustainability, of support, of resources. A peacekeeping operation handled by the UN provides a set framework, provides set resources. And I think this makes it much more predictable for the actors on the ground, for the troop contributors. So we are of course discussing with the Malian authorities. Clearly their concurrence will be necessary but I think all indications show that this is the way it is heading and we are getting ready for that.

Question: I would like to follow up on Neil’s question regarding consent of the Malian government for a UN peacekeeping force there. Some government officials have publicly said that they are not keen to have a UN force there. What are the concerns or objections by the Malian government or military? What can the UN do to address those?

Ladsous: Look, it is not for me to speak for the Government of Mali. I think what has to be clear is whether there is a consensus, you know, to try and solve all these outstanding issues that have led to the present situation in Mali. They have to do with internal processes both in Bamako and presumably between the south and the north. They have to do with how to deal with those terrorist groups, with those criminal groups. How to restore security. How to give the country of Mali, which only until recently was exemplified as a good case, a showcase, of democracy. I think it is necessary for the country to move again with the support of the international community and see to it that it does not turn into a cycle of recurrent problems. We have to solve, help solve all these issues. The solution will come from the Malians themselves but clearly the active support of the international community is necessary as it is indeed for the whole of
the Sahel region. And this is why there is a global strategy for the Sahel to address all these problems which have accumulated over the recent years.

Nachtrag: Die Europäer müssten sich bei einer solchen UN-Truppe ebenfalls engagieren – eine Meinung vom European Council on Foreign Relations

(Foto: United Nations Photo/Marie Frechon)