Almost 18 months since the signing of the Mali peace agreement, the United Nations peacekeeping chief this afternoon called the Security Council’s attention to the absence of concrete progress in implementing the accord and the degrading security environment in the country.
“This situation poses a real risk to the sustainability and relevance of the overall framework for peace and stability in Mali that the Malian parties have agreed on and Mali’s international partners are committed to support,” Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), told the 15-member body.
Expressing regret for the sombre tone of his briefing, Mr. Ladsous said MINUSMA would not be able to fully implement its mandate as long as the signatories to the peace agreement did not implement the accord. The Mission’s capacity to protect civilians and counter asymmetric attacks in active defence of its mandate was further hampered by the absence of the capabilities recommended by the Secretary-General. Instead of receiving reinforcements, MINUSMA would be confronted with the loss of key enablers. No Member State had so far committed to contribute any of the outstanding capabilities authorised by Council resolution 2295 (2016) and previous resolutions.
He said that, after four months respite, MINUSMA had once again been a target of coordinated attacks on 3 October. Persistent delays in implementing the peace agreement and violations of the ceasefire were incompatible with a stable situation. Prime Minister Keïta had announced an agreement of the parties on the terms of appointing interim administrations in northern Mali and the timeline for setting them up.
But, three months after adoption of Security Council resolution 2295 (2016), which urged the parties to expedite the peace agreement’s implementation, confrontations had resumed between armed groups, in the Kidal region, he said. Security arrangements such as joint patrols had not been put in place nor had there been progress in cantonment, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. He welcomed, however, the Prime Minister’s announcement that there would be a conference of national understanding before the end of the year, calling the move an important step towards national reconciliation.
He said that, in the three months since adoption of resolution 2295 (2016), MINUSMA had been proactively adjusting to its new mandate. Though the additional capabilities remained to be generated, the force had utilized its existing assets to project a more robust and proactive posture to protect civilians, who continued to suffer from the consequences of the armed groups’ and Government’s military operations. Ceasefire violations had further hampered access of humanitarian actors and serious human rights violations were being investigated.
Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, said that for MINUSMA to implement its mandate, the Mission must be given the necessary capacities required to operate safely and effectively in the current environment. Since its inception, he said, MINUSMA had experienced significant contingent-owned equipment capability gaps. Modern peacekeeping operations like MINUSMA demanded a range of new or stronger capabilities. He called on Member States to consider becoming contingent-owned contributing countries and noted that Norway, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal and Sweden had jointly agreed to provide a C-130 aviation unit.
Mr. Khare said the country’s size, its remote and landlocked areas, and poor and insecure road networks continued to pose significant challenges to MINUSMA. The Mission was now focused on ensuring secure and uninterrupted supply routes, upgrading and strengthening the defence and infrastructure of all existing camps, and improving its capabilities. MINUSMA also was reinforcing its facilities against blasts and installing protected command positions and bunkers. In high-risk areas, it had improved living conditions for civilian and uniformed personnel.
He said it was essential that the highest standards be upheld in order to serve and protect the local population. He had continued to prioritize efforts to address sexual exploitation and abuse and all issues related to the conduct of United Nations personnel. In conclusion, he said that neither the challenges nor the risks should be underestimated. “A failure to enhance the Mission’s capability will have a significant impact on our capacity to deliver on the mandate,” he said.
After the briefings, the representative of Mali said the Secretary-General’s report had recognized progress made in his country. He was, however, concerned by inter- and intracommunity tensions in the north, but noted that the Government was not linked to those rivalries. The persistent asymmetric attacks by terrorists were the main obstacles to implementation of the peace agreement. Although concerned at the human rights situation, he said accusations of excessive use of force the military were exaggerated. The situation was marked by the absence of State authority in parts of the country.
He said the Government had adopted an emergency reconstruction plan and a strategy for development of the northern region, and it would hold a national conference for reconciliation before the end of the year. Peace and reconciliation required that parties would have to break with all terrorist and organized crime movements. It also required cantonment and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. He called for targeted sanctions against all those impeding implementation of the peace agreement.
The representative of Uruguay expressed his concern at the situation in Mali, noting the terrorist acts, ceasefire violations and absence of State authority in large parts of the country. He said difficulties faced by Mali must be addressed in a long–term plan, paying attention to the root causes of the problem. He also underlined the importance of regional initiatives to fight terrorism.
The meeting began at 3:37 p.m. and ended at 4:18 p.m.