UNITED NATIONS (AP) — France and the United States said Tuesday they reached agreement on a U.N. resolution that welcomes the deployment of a 5,000-strong force from five countries in Africa's vast Sahel region to fight the growing threat from extremists.
The final draft, obtained by The Associated Press, eliminates several provisions that the United States opposed: It now can't be militarily enforced; it doesn't authorize the deployment; and it doesn't ask the U.N. secretary-general to come up with options for financing the force.
The Security Council scheduled a vote on Wednesday morning, and with the U.S. on board it is expected to be adopted unanimously.
France's U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre called the resolution "a very important step forward since it will be the first resolution ever on this force."
A spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said: "We're pleased to have reached agreement with our French friends, and the outcome is a resolution that welcomes the deployment of troops from the five countries to combat terrorism that has caused so much suffering in the region."
France drafted the resolution in response to a request from the African Union and the five Sahel countries — Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and Chad — which had already agreed to the deployment.
Delattre said he wasn't disappointed that the resolution is now weaker because it's not under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter which can be militarily enforced.
"On the contrary, the text is stronger in terms of the support that we have in the council, and therefore in terms of the support that we bring to the G5 Sahel Joint Force and in relation to the expectations of the African Union," he said.
"This resolution will send a very strong signal that the Security Council is united and firm against terrorism in the Sahel and in its support of the force that is more than ever needed in this region," Delattre said. "It's very important for those African states that are ready to pay the price of blood to fight against a threat that doesn't concern them only but all of us."
The final draft "welcomes the deployment" of the five-nation force "with a view to restoring peace and security in the Sahel region," and urges the countries to continue efforts toward its "sustainable, viable and effective operationalization."
The original text called for U.N. authorization of the force and opened the door to possible U.N. financing at a time that the Trump administration is trying to cut $1 billion from the budget funding the U.N.'s far-flung peacekeeping operations for the year starting July 1.
Those references are eliminated in the draft to be voted on which states that the five countries have the responsibility for providing the force "with adequate resources."
It welcomes the European Union's contribution of 50 million euros and "encourages further support from bilateral and multilateral partners." It also encourages the partners "to expeditiously convene a planning conference to ensure coordination of donor assistance" to the force.
The final draft asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to present an oral report on the activities of the Sahel force in two months — "including on its operationalization, on challenges encountered and possible measures for further consideration" — and a written report within four months.