Suicide Bombing Will Not Distract Us, Permanent Representative Vows, as Members Hear from Delegates of Uruguay, Algeria
A car bomb that killed more than 50 people at a military base in Gao this morning was a stark reminder of the multiple obstacles hobbling Mali’s ongoing peace process, the head of United Nations peacekeeping told the Security Council today.
Urging swift action to advance nationwide reconciliation efforts, Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the suicide attack was aimed directly at derailing progress in stabilizing Mali’s security situation and restoring peace. Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation in Mali (document S/2016/1137), he said the bombing also reflected the nature of terrorist operations in that country and in the wider region. While the number of attacks had decreased over the last three months, their sophistication was rising, he emphasized, warning that, if the situation deteriorated further, there would be no peace to keep in Mali.
Condemning the bombing and calling for the perpetrators to face justice, he invited the Council to consider imposing targeted measures on those hampering the peace process. The only way forward was to speed up implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali. Noting that the process was at a crossroads 18 months after the signing of the Agreement, he said progress had stagnated due to a lack of trust among the signatories and persistent rivalry among armed groups. Pointing out that only five months remain before the end of interim arrangements for the United Nations Multinational Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), he said that, although efforts had been made to coordinate with Government armed forces, progress towards ensuring mixed patrols had languished in several areas.
He went on to point out that 2017 was an important electoral year, stressing that all parties must make every effort to find common ground, with the Government ensuring that elections were held peacefully. A Government-supported conference to be held in March must involve all Malian society on the path towards recovery, he said, while asking international partners monitoring the peace process to redouble their efforts. Highlighting a range of concerns, he said that successful civilian protection required the redeployment of Mali’s armed forces throughout the country, among other things. As for MINUSMA, shortcomings in equipment supplies must be addressed for the Mission to discharge its mandate fully, as detailed in Security Council resolution 2295 (2016).
Turning to the Government’s responsibilities, he said they included re-establishing trust in communities across Mali, noting that the Government had not done a great deal to address reports of grave human rights violations committed by armed groups, as well as State actors. Citizens also lacked basic services. To address the people’s needs, armed groups must remove all obstacles to humanitarian efforts, he said, urging the Government to establish a plan to create the conditions for prosperity and sustainable growth.
Abdoulaye Diop, Minister for Foreign Affairs African Integration and International Cooperation of Mali, said the Government had distributed food to those in need and opened schools, in addition to having constructed and rehabilitated health centres across several regions. The Secretary-General’s report noted a drop in human rights violations and abuses, which was an improvement from previous reporting periods, he said, adding that those cases largely involved armed terrorist groups. Government authorities had investigated all documented cases or brought them to court.
While the report recognized the progress made, the situation in central and northern Mali was a concern, as was the Kidal region, where terrorist groups were trying to create a safe haven, he said. As such, the Government was taking steps to stamp out terrorism and focus on the needs and concerns of young people, while doing its utmost to implement the Agreement. Despite concerns over delays in implementing parts of the Peace Agreement, the Government had played its part. A reviewed Constitution had been drafted, a referendum had been scheduled for 2017 and peaceful local elections had been held in November 2016, with increased voter participation in many areas. Furthermore, the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission had opened offices around the country except in Kidal.
To assess the progress made in implementing the Agreement, he said, the Government had created a national strategy to reform the security sector, among other steps. The peace process was complex, characterized by many obstacles, including attacks like the one in Gao today. “The bombing was an attack on peace,” he said. “But, it should not distract us. The Government of Mali is determined to follow the peace process.” President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita had designated 2017 as the turning point for implementing the Peace Agreement and called upon all partners to make peace a reality and for the Council to support MINUSMA. Unfortunately, Mali alone could not confront the pending challenges, he said, underlining the importance of strengthening coordination efforts on the ground in order to better respond to threats.
Elbio Rosselli (Uruguay) deplored the deteriorating situation in Mali and condemned today’s suicide attack. Underscoring the importance of implementing the Agreement, he said national authorities must undertake political primacy, adding that the United Nations could only facilitate support for peace; in no case could the Organization carry out the responsibilities of sovereign States. The parties concerned must comply with their political commitments, demonstrating the will to respect the accord’s provisions and meet its timelines. Without implementation, it would be impossible to achieve progress in other areas, he cautioned. He praised Mali on holding its first local elections since 2009, stressing that MINUSMA and the international community must provide support.
He went on to say that security would improve as the State’s presence spread throughout the national territory. Indeed, terrorism flourished where State presence was scant, and as long as commitments were not met, terrorists would find a propitious space in which to expand. Recalling that resolution 2295 (2016) expressed the Council’s will to investigate selective sanctions against those endangering the Agreement’s implementation, attacking MINUSMA or supporting such attacks, he said that, in considering such measures, it must also consider their impact in the field and what they could contribute to the Agreement’s implementation.
Sabri Boukadoum (Algeria) reported that the Government of Mali and all other signatories to the Algiers Agreement had met regularly, despite trying times, to outline their commitment to implementing the accord. It was vital that all stakeholders in the mediation process, including the Council and the Secretariat, continue their support, particularly for the Agreement’s follow-up mechanism. “We must remain together,” he said. “Our very raison d’etre is peace and reconciliation — and the means is mediation,” he asserted, while urging speed, as well as caution in fulfilling common goals, and pressing the Council to reaffirm its support for the Agreement and its follow-up mechanism. As the leader of the joint mechanism, Algeria must convey to the Council any actions required.
He commended the authorities in Mali for having designated the President’s High Representative to chair an ad hoc committee created to smooth over difficulties raised by one signatory, saying Algeria expected that initiative to clear the way for other steps — disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, joint patrols and interim administration among them — noting that the difficulties raised related to modalities for implementation rather than substance.
The mediation process — founded on inclusiveness, international support, the commitment of neighbouring countries and the support of both the African Union and the United Nations — was a unique example, he said, adding that it could be a model for other crisis situations. “Mali has to be a success story” in a region where terrorism and transnational crime went hand in-hand. The restoration of State authority over the entire national territory, enforced by Mali’s security forces, was of utmost importance, he stressed.
The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 11:07 a.m.