Situation in Mali cause for serious concern, say ministers
By Lénaïc Vaudin d’Imécourt | Monday 23 July 2012
The EU is seriously concerned over the recent developments in Mali and their negative impact on regional and international peace and stability, the member states’ foreign ministers said after their meeting in Brussels, on 23 July.
During their discussions, which had a special focus on Africa (Mali, the Sahel, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo), the ministers urged the European Commission and High Representative Catherine Ashton to table concrete proposals on the implementation of the bloc’s Sahel strategy to Mali. The proposals should allow the EU to resume its development cooperation within the region, including electoral assistance. It should also anticipate the possible deployment of a stabilisation force to the country, as requested by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), once the UN Security Council (UNSC) accedes to the demand, and plan its support to the mission.
Ministers also demanded that the Commission lay out plans aimed at supporting ECOWAS’ mediation mission and review its policies and actions for the Sahel strategy to Mali in the areas of governance, security, development and conflict resolution. Ministers did not, however, give the Commission a deadline for said proposals.
Reiterating their grave concerns over the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Mali, the Council participants called on the country’s armed groups to guarantee the security of all humanitarian actors on the ground, as instability in North Mali has serious repercussions on neighbouring countries that already suffer from the ongoing food crisis.
Against the 2 August deadline for the implementation of a road map for Sudan and South Sudan, the Council warned both sides that non-compliance would have “negative consequences, including possible appropriate measures under Article 41 [Chapter VII] of the UN Charter”.
Article 41 allows members of the UN to apply a range of non-military measures to be employed in order to give effect to their decisions. These measures include “complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations”. On the other hand, should Sudan and South Sudan agree to implement the road map in due time, it would allow the EU “to consider further support” to the region, the Council conclusions read.
According to the 27 foreign ministers, the road map for Sudan and South Sudan has already led to a number of positive results, including a significant reduction in hostilities along the border and the withdrawal of Sudanese and South Sudanese forces from Abyei.
Sudan and South Sudan have been fighting over the region of Abyei, a disputed oil-rich border region, since the South seceded from the North in July 2011. While both sides’ forces have withdrawn from the area, the Sudanese oil police remains.