Foreign Minister Presses Members for Authority to Deploy Counter-Terrorism Force from among Neighbouring G5 Sahel Countries
Despite progress towards peace in Mali, terrorist attacks remained a major obstacle, the head of the United Nations peacekeeping operation in that country told the Security Council today, as the State’s Foreign Minister called for the Council’s authority to deploy a regional counter-terrorism force so as to keep the nation on the road to reconciliation.
Mahamat Saleh Annadif, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), reported significant progress on implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation over the past months, but agreed that terrorists and extremists were gaining ground as existing tensions threatened to derail achievements. Meanwhile, Abdoulaye Diop, Mali’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, emphasized that only the Council’s authority was required to deploy a new joint counter-terrorism force involving the G5 Sahel States — Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso.
Mr. Annadif described Mali’s central region as a continuing source of concern, encouraging the Council to focus on such pressing security challenges, and to send a strong message that civilian killings must end, when considering the renewal of MINUSMA’s mandate. Since Council resolution 2295 (2016) gave the Mission a robust mandate, he noted, financial support must continue to ensure its ability to maintain its full functions, including the ability to assist Mali’s armed forces. While scaling up support for the Agreement, the Mission would also continue to assist international mediation efforts and strengthen national capacity. He noted that although neighbouring countries had committed recently to deploying uniformed personnel and equipment, the lack of escort and convoy battalions was a major roadblock to continued progress.
Indeed, security issues within and beyond borders must be rapidly and effectively addressed, Foreign Minister Diop stressed. “The peace process in Mali was on a positive path. However, these achievements must not make us lose sight of the challenges.” Pointing out that the Mission was yet to implement the major innovative elements set out in resolution 2295 (2016), he said that, in considering the renewal of MINUSMA’s mandate, the Council should focus on strengthening its capacity and on intensifying its patrols. The indispensable coordination between MINUSMA and the national armed forces must also be strengthened, he emphasized said.
Concerning transboundary terrorist threats, he stressed that authorizing deployment of the G5 joint counter-terrorism force would demonstrate unanimous support for efforts by States in the Sahel region to tackle a situation threatening international peace and security. Failing to address that threat would risk reversing the progress made in Mali, he cautioned, citing the relaunch of local economies, where security conditions allowed, and the establishment of interim authorities and transitional electoral colleges in five northern regions, with the exception of Kidal, where technical difficulties persisted.
He went on to note that a draft charter for unity had been finalized and the National Assembly had adopted a bill covering major Agreement-related initiatives on 2 June. A constitutional referendum would be held on 9 July, and local and regional elections were also planned. On human rights, he said Mali’s armed forces had a unit for investigating violations and bringing perpetrators to justice. Moving forward, several “pillars” should guide future activities in Mali, including efforts to strengthen MINUSMA, bolstering cooperation with the national armed forces, and deploying the G5 force so it could take over the regional dimension of current terrorism challenges.
Council members shared their views, with Cristina Carrión (Uruguay) expressing concern over ceasefire violations. Parties to the conflict must demonstrate “real will” to implement the Peace Agreement, and they must also observe and respect human rights. Describing Mali’s humanitarian situation as “serious”, she said school closures exposed children to social conditions that encouraged recruitment by terrorist groups. As for threats against MINUSMA personnel, she said their security should be the focus of the Council’s attention.
Kanat Tumysh (Kazakhstan) called for accelerated implementation of the Peace Agreement, noting that the emergence of new armed groups undermined the peace process. Elections and constitutional referenda must be given full attention, cooperation with regional actors intensified and gaps in MINUSMA’s operational capacities bridged in order for the Mission to fulfil its mandate effectively.
Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz (Bolivia), Council President for June, spoke in his national capacity, noting that MINUSMA had been doing its utmost to fulfil its mandate in a complex environment characterized by increasingly sophisticated asymmetrical attacks and a deteriorating humanitarian situation. Bolivia welcomed Government efforts to stabilize Mali, as well as those of regional actors, particularly the African Union Peace and Security Council.