By Seán Smith
The United Nations secretary-general is expected to deliver a report to the Security Council today that will make recommendations for or against the deployment of additional peacekeepers to the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The report, which should be made public within weeks, is the result of a compromise struck towards the end of last month’s contentious negotiations to renew MINUSMA’s mandate, during which Security Council members discussed – but did not endorse – France’s proposal to authorize the deployment of an additional 2,069 uniformed personnel (1,730 troops, 339 police) to the Mission.
France’s proposal is likely to continue to face skepticism from other Council members. It comes at a time when most U.N. peacekeeping operations are slimming down or preparing for transition and exit. There is no doubt that MINUSMA does need additional capabilities to more effectively protect civilians, especially in central Mali. However, even if the Council were to authorize the increase, there would be other obstacles to overcome before extra peacekeepers could be deployed. Above all, any additional troops would only be able to offer short-term gains unless the Malian authorities simultaneously develop and implement a coherent strategy to reduce violence against civilians. Last month, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights urged “the Malian authorities to break the cycle of impunity and establish prompt, thorough, impartial and effective investigations into all allegations of human rights violations and abuses, including those committed by the military.”