U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the Security Council could authorize a military mission to help Mali's interim government retake control of the country's north, but that dialogue should be a priority.
In a report Wednesday to the Council, Mr. Ban said “fundamental questions” remain about sustaining, training, equipping and financing a 3,300-troop force. He also warned that a poorly executed mission could worsen the humanitarian situation and lead to “severe human rights abuses.”
The African Union and the Economic Community of West African states have already signed off on a plan to send troops to Mali. Diplomats say the Security Council could adopt a resolution giving its approval by the end of the year.
Mr. Ban stressed that before any military intervention there should be a focus on inclusive political talks. He also urged the Security Council to ensure that benchmarks are met demonstrating the readiness of forces and their training on humanitarian and human rights obligations.
U.N. diplomats have estimated the cost of the mission could reach $500 million. Mr. Ban recommended against the United Nations funding the effort.
The proposed mission would be called the African-led International Support Mission for Mali, or AFISMA.
Islamists and Tuareg rebels seized control of northern Mali after a March coup toppled the government. Last week, Islamist militants seized the last significant stronghold of rival Tuareg separatists.
The Islamist groups, which also include Ansar Dine and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, have imposed Sharia law on the population. Rights groups and the United Nations accuse the groups of various human rights abuses. The groups have carried out public executions, amputations, and floggings of alleged criminals.