Hollande Calls for Action in Syria and Mali in First U.N. Appearance

Opening of 67th General Debate of General Assembly
Photo: United Nations

Making his first appearance at the United Nations General Assembly this week, French President François Hollande urged the international community to intervene in rapidly deteriorating situations in both Syria and northern Mali. Mr. Hollande, who was elected in May, reaffirmed his previous promise to recognize an interim government of Syrian opposition leaders as soon as one can be formed. He further called for a U.N. Security Council mandate to end the occupation of northern Mali by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

In his September 25 address to the General Assembly, Mr. Hollande called for a reform of the United Nations and proposed expanding membership of the U.N. Security Council. The French leader, whose own mission to the United Nations enjoys one of five permanent Security Council memberships, criticized the “paralysis” of the group in its inaction in Syria. “How many more deaths do we need before we take actions?” Mr. Hollande asked, adding, “I am certain of one thing: the Syrian regime will never regain its place within the community of nations.”

Threatening greater sanctions against Iran and pledging to work for a solution in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Mr. Hollande then turned to Mali. Calling the situation “intolerable, inadmissible, and unacceptable,” the President saluted The African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for their willingness to act.

The northern region of Mali (sometimes referred to in the press as the “Sahel”) has been under Islamist militant control following a military coup d’état in the western African nation in March 2012. Members of the extremist Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb have warned against French intervention, threatening the lives of four French hostages who were kidnapped in Uganda in 2010.

The United Nations estimates that an ongoing famine in the Malian Sahel region is affecting 1.63 million people. More than 250,000 Malians have fled the country since its spring coup.

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