France’s penholder status in UNSC: The saga of France’s diminishing credibility and influence over Africa has been ongoing for some time now. France has had to withdraw from the strategically important Sahel region and faces an ever-growing anti-France sentiment across the continent.
Even as French President Macron sets out to launch his new “Africa strategy”, he faces resentment from African countries. However, possibly no other African country has taken a firmer anti-France stand like one of its former colonies, Mali, in recent times. Now, Mali has once again challenged France in the United Nations Security Council. This can be considered as the last nail in the coffin of France’s influence in the country.
Mali challenges France’s penholder status in UNSC
In a significant move, Mali is challenging France’s penholder status at the UNSC, indicating that it will no longer accept French interference in drafting resolutions and declarations regarding the Republic of Mali.
The penholder role refers to the member of the council that leads the negotiation and drafting of resolutions on a particular Council agenda item. This practice has been nicknamed the “penholder system“, and three permanent members France, UK, and the US, perform ongoing leadership roles on most country-specific and some thematic issues on the council agenda.
The UNSC developed the system of continuous leadership by its member states on specific issues around 2008-2009, with the “leaders” called “penholders”, according to a December 2018 UNSC report. However, Mali’s relations with its former colonial power have significantly deteriorated and it is now challenging France’s “leadership” on its internal affairs, even at the UNSC.
As per a report, on March 1, the Malian government wrote a letter to Pedro Comissario Alfonso, the president of the Security Council and Ambassador of Mozambique to the UN. In the letter, the Malian government made it clear that France no longer has the power to draft resolutions and declarations regarding the Republic of Mali within the UNSC.
Read More: The inevitable happens: France asked to leave Burkina Faso
With this move, the government of the Republic of Mali has officially challenged France’s penholder status on all questions examined by the Security Council concerning Mali. After the humiliating departure of the French troops from Mali and subsequently, from other Sahel countries, this is yet another setback for the former colonial power, which has been trying hard, of late, to repair its relations with African countries. Further, as a matter of fact, France has been responsible for producing all the drafts in the UN Security Council concerning Mali, since December 2012.
However, in August 2022, Mali complained to the Security Council about France’s aggression, subversion, destabilization, and violation of Malian airspace by the French armed forces. Mali also stated that these actions raised questions about France’s objectivity and impartiality.
Read More: France attempts to repair its Mali debacle
How Mali-France relationship deteriorated
Mali’s transitional Prime Minister, Choguel Kokalla Maiga, revealed that Mali expects to present evidence of France’s support for armed groups to the UN Security Council. The Malian foreign minister accused France of violating Malian airspace and delivering weapons to militants during a speech delivered at a UNSC briefing on Mali.
France has been accused of colluding with insurgents and furthering its neo-colonial agenda in its former colony. Mali warned that its military government would exercise its right to self-defense if France continues to undermine its territorial sovereignty and security. The Malian Prime Minister also confirmed that it would continue military cooperation with Russia and expressed complete satisfaction with Russian military equipment, which had helped caused fear among the insurgents.
Read More: After France, Mali throws UN out
Considering the scenario, Mali’s bold move is likely to send a ripple effect across the continent and may have far-reaching consequences for France, which is already facing opposition from other African countries like Gabon and DRC. Therefore, it won’t be wrong to say that France is already too late to launch a new “Africa strategy”.
Leave a Reply