Foreign military intervention in Mali moved a step closer on Tuesday night when France circulated a draft UN resolution urging backing for action by its west African neighbours.
The document in response to the Islamic takeover of the north of the country calls on the United Nations to place sanctions on any rebel groups that do not cut their ties with terrorist organisations.
And it calls on militant groups in the sub-Saharan region to end human rights abuses and violations of international law such as attacks against civilians, sexual violence and the use of child soldiers.
The resolution would commit the UN to "respond positively" to a request for international military force based on "actionable" recommendations.
It comes a month after the UN security council called for a "feasible" plan co-ordinated with other African nations and the EU.
Regional bloc Ecowas and the Malian government raised an appeal for armed action in September to combat al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb forces that currently rule the northern half of the country.
The Islamists initially grabbed control alongside Tuareg groups who had fled Libya in the wake of the Nato-backed overthrow of Muammar Gadaffi.
But since then the Islamist faction has gained the upper hand and imposed harsh sharia law on the region, which Western leaders fear will become a safe haven for terrorist training camps.