Permanent Representative Highlights New Unity Mechanism, Priority on Response to Security, Humanitarian Needs
Despite insecurity and violent extremism spreading across Mali’s borders, the United Nations peacekeeping chief cited reasons for hope, including Mali’s successful presidential elections, the signing of the new Pact for Peace and a drop in peacekeeper deaths, as he briefed the Security Council today.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, updated the 15-member Council on recent developments, including the re-election of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, in a largely peaceful vote in August. “The smooth holding of the elections demonstrates the political maturity of the Malian people,” he said, urging the country’s political actors to take advantage of this success to further promote political inclusion. The implementation of the Pact for Peace — signed on 15 October by the Government, United Nations and other stakeholders — could lend a new momentum to Mali’s overall peace process.
Yet, he expressed concern about delays in implementing the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali and continued insecurity in the centre and north of the country — where hundreds of civilians have been killed in recent months. This situation aggravates Mali’s humanitarian challenges and risks spreading frustration throughout the population. “Insecurity is spreading fast” both inside and across Mali’s borders, he stressed, citing an intensification of violent extremism in neighbouring Burkina Faso. In that regard, he warned that “we are all running against the clock” and cautioned that rising violent extremism threatens not only the region but also international security as a whole.
As Council members took the floor, many welcomed the newly signed Pact for Peace while emphasizing that it must be seen as a complement to — not a replacement for — the 2015 Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. Some also hailed efforts by the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the joint force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G‑5 Sahel) to combat terrorism and organized crime, restore State authority across Mali and assist the Government in embarking on long-awaited institutional reforms.
Ethiopia’s representative said Mali is moving in the right direction, with the role of MINUSMA remaining crucial. Encouraged by progress made in implementing the peace agreement, he cited several examples, including the nomination of interim authorities at the district level and the adoption of a national security sector reform strategy. Adding that the new Pact for Peace will help accelerate the implementation of the Agreement, he agreed that MINUSMA’s support in restoring and extending State authority in the country’s north and central areas also remains critical.
Agreeing, France’s delegate said the international community must fully support the Government’s efforts to regain control of these areas, emphasizing that the MINUSMA mandate has included since June 2017 specific means through which it can support the Malian armed forces. Recalling that 23 French soldiers have died in Mali since 2013, he also noted that a positive new dynamic has emerged in recent weeks, such as the start of a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process.
Offering suggestions on the way forward, the representative of the Netherlands said that enacting long-awaited Government reforms in Mali is now crucial, as citizens deserve institutions they can trust. Among other things, the State authorities must prevent, publicly denounce, investigate and prosecute perpetrators of human rights violations. Emphasizing that Mali’s continued instability — as well the impact of its challenges related to human trafficking, the drug trade and organized crime — are now being felt across the Sahel region and in Europe, he warned that “Malians are seeing too few tangible results” of their national Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. Among other things, he also called on partner countries to utilize the relevant sanctions regime to punish any actors who obstruct the peace process in Mali.
Mali’s representative, thanking the United Nations for its support in assisting with the Government’s successful electoral process, acknowledged an existing impatience over the slow implementation of some elements of the peace agreement. However, these delays are not due to a lack of will among Malian parties. Progress has suffered from the slow establishment of real trust between actors. Spotlighting recent strides, he said the progressive redeployment of the Malian army is allowing for the much‑awaited return of national administration and basic services in localities previously under control of armed groups. Meanwhile, the Government created a mechanism for unity, proposed a development framework and is prioritizing a large-scale response to security and humanitarian needs in the north.
Also speaking were the representatives of Côte d’Ivoire, United States, Sweden, Kazakhstan, Poland, Russian Federation, Kuwait, China, Peru, Equatorial Guinea, United Kingdom and Bolivia.
The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 11:56 a.m.
JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, outlined the findings of the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation in Mali (document S/2018/866), noting that the last three months witnessed the holding of largely peaceful presidential elections and an inclusive dialogue aimed at easing tensions. “The smooth holding of the elections demonstrates the political maturity of the Malian people,” he added, noting that the voting went forward despite continued strife in the north of the country. Nevertheless, he voiced concern about continued delays in implementing the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, as well as stagnation in pushing forward certain areas of the country’s political process.
“These elections will be a new test for the cohesion of the political class in the country,” he said, urging these actors to take advantage of the elections’ success to further promote political inclusion. Meanwhile, the implementation of the Pact for Peace could lend a new momentum to Mali’s overall peace process. Expressing concern about insecurity that continues unabated in the centre of the country — where hundreds of civilians have been killed by mines and fighting in recent months — he said the situation aggravates Mali’s humanitarian challenges and risks, spreading frustration throughout the population. Civilians must be able to benefit from the peace achieved to date. Also citing an intensification of violent extremism in neighbouring Burkina Faso, he underlined the continued relevance of both the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the joint force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G‑5 Sahel).
“Insecurity is spreading fast” both inside and across borders, he said, pointing at consequences ranging from the forced displacement of local communities to the erosion of State authority and the delivery of basic social services. “We are all running against the clock,” he said, noting that rising violent extremism threatens not only the region, but also international security as a whole. Against that backdrop, he called on international partners to provide sustained support to the G‑5 Sahel joint force. He also cited a major positive development, drawing attention to the consistent and marked decline in the number of peacekeepers killed or injured over the past few months. While partners must remain cautious, he welcomed that encouraging trend and invited all stakeholders to continue their efforts to change mindsets and improve both troop training and equipment.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), noting that 23 French soldiers have died in Mali since 2013, said the election that renewed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta’s mandate was an important moment in the democratic life of Mali. Going forward, political actors must acknowledge the results and work towards stabilization. Implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali must remain the top priority, he said, emphasizing that significant progress still needs to be achieved. Recent weeks have seen the start of a positive dynamic, including the start of a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process. However, the security situation in the centre of the country remained a concern, with recent attacks demonstrating the gravity of the threat, particularly in the Liptako-Gourma region. The international community must fully support the Government’s efforts to regain control, he said, emphasizing that the MINUSMA mandate has included since June 2017 the means through which it can support the Malian armed forces. For France, stability in Mali and the region can only come about through complementary and coordinated action between the different security forces on the ground, who all share the same objective. As Council members collectively asserted through resolution 2423 (2018), the peace agreement must be implemented urgently, he said, adding that France will propose that the Council issue a press statement in that regard at the end of today’s meeting.
GBOLIÉ DESIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire), welcoming the peaceful elections, encouraged the holding of remaining polls as soon as possible. In order to keep up the positive momentum, he urged all actors to do more to implement the accord to bring about lasting peace and reconciliation. Welcoming the recent agreement for that purpose, he encouraged all partners to continue their assistance in the effort. Calling for the finalization of plans for security sector reform, he underlined a need for adopting an effective response to intercommunal violence in the centre of the country, which must be addressed with multisectoral interventions. In addition, the operational capacity of MINUSMA must be reinforced to protect itself and provide more security assistance to the Malian armed forces. Welcoming the unity of the Council, he thanked all bilateral and multilateral forces and affirmed a need for development assistance, particularly in the Sahelian north of Mali.
JONATHAN A. COHEN (United States), recognizing the extreme difficulties MINUSMA faces, commended its leadership and staff, but expressed concern that equipment commitments had not been fulfilled by some contingents. He called for them to quickly do so in order to be able to complete their mandates. The Government, in addition, must use the momentum created by successful elections to make swift progress in implementing the peace accord. Violence in the centre of the country required immediate attention to quell instability. He also implored all parties to respect all provisions of the road map, particularly the timelines that would allow MINUSMA to complete its responsibilities as planned.
CARL ORRENIUS SKAU (Sweden) said efforts to carry out key reforms should be redoubled, with a view to fully implementing the Pact for Peace signed earlier this week. Emphasizing the importance of inclusivity for long-term stability, he urged all parties to ensure the full and equal participation of women in the peace process and in upcoming elections. Highlighting the deteriorating security situation, he expressed concern at increasing civilian casualties, as well as the spillover of insecurity to Burkina Faso and the wider region, further compounded by allegations of human rights violations, sexual violence and abuses against children. He called on the Government of Mali to increase efforts to prevent and investigate such crimes, including those committed by the Malian armed forces. Reaffirming Sweden’s support to Mali and the entire Sahel region, he outlined his Government’s efforts to enhance security and build sustainable peace.
KANAT TUMYSH (Kazakhstan) commended the Government of Mali and MINUSMA for their work in successfully holding presidential elections. Now, all efforts should be focused on the accelerated implementation of the remaining provisions of Mali’s peace agreement. Welcoming the signing of the Pact for Peace between the Government and the United Nations, he voiced concern over the growing cycle of violence and serious deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the country’s north and centre regions. Calling on all parties to comply with international law and upon international partners to fund Mali’s 2018 humanitarian response plan, he said “violent extremism and terrorism remain […] the main source of instability”. An approach to these challenges that links security and development efforts is crucial. In that regard, he expressed regret that most United Nations peace operation mandates still lack references to the environmental dimension of peace and security, adding that remaining gaps in the Mission’s capability should be addressed by better equipping it and ensuring the predeployment training of its contingents.
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland), commending the Malian people for the successful conduct of peaceful elections despite some anomalies, welcomed the President’s renewed commitment to the swift and full implementation of the remaining key provisions of the peace accord. The recently signed Pact for Peace constitutes a new momentum for the important reforms, such as decentralization, security sector reform and the rule of law, as well as socioeconomic development based on greater inclusiveness and cooperation with international partners. The human rights situation remains alarming, however, she said, calling on the Government to prevent abuses, including by the armed forces. Full and timely investigation and prosecution are crucial in such cases, as well as in the cases of crimes against civilians, humanitarian workers, MINUSMA and security forces. In that context, she welcomed the Mission’s efforts to improve the security of peacekeepers, as well as the operationalization of the G-5 Sahel joint force.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), welcoming the successful holding of elections and thanking MINUSMA for its support, expressed hope that the outcome will contribute to peace and reconciliation and help Mali to combat the terrorist threat in the north. In that context, he highlighted the importance of decentralization and development. Strengthening confidence-building measures and engagement with factions must also be pursued. In relation to the recently signed Pact for Peace, he looked for its utilization in further progress in the accord. Unfortunately, there has been a spike in terrorist attacks and intercommunity violence in several areas. MINUSMA had some success in reconciling warring parties, but the trend remains worrying, as did gaps in humanitarian aid. He called on donors to boost their contributions to meet the needs. In pacifying the northern region, it was clear that the Libyan factor was still playing a role, and in that light, he commended the G-5 Sahel for deploying its joint force.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), hailing Mali’s credible and inclusive electoral process, recalled that its President outlined priorities for the coming months in his speech before the General Assembly’s high-level debate in September. These include the full implementation of Mali’s peace agreement, as well as the development of a national strategy for security sector reform, he said, also welcoming the recent signing of the country’s Pact for Peace. Calling on all parties to respect the voting results and prepare for upcoming parliamentary elections, which were postponed in 2017, he also expressed hope that all parties will fully participate in them. Noting that the continued threat posed by terrorist groups regrettably remains relevant, he said they are now moving beyond targeting military personnel and are also now attacking civilians, with 278 deaths occurring in the reporting period. The Government needs both time and resources to ensure the rule of law across the country following the recent election. “We need to focus more on the implementation of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement,” he said, pledging to work with partners to achieve this goal and enhance sustainable development across the region.
KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands) said enacting long-awaited Government reforms in Mali is now crucial, as citizens deserve institutions they can trust. Among other things, the State authorities must prevent, publicly denounce, investigate and prosecute perpetrators of human rights violations. Mali’s continued instability — as well the impact of its challenges related to human trafficking, the drug trade and organized crime — are now being felt across the Sahel region and in Europe. Calling for a new impetus in pushing forward the country’s peace process, whose comprehensive implementation is still far from complete, he said: “Malians are seeing too few tangible results.” Similarly, the implementation of the new Pact for Peace must also be as inclusive as possible, finding room for the voices of women, youth and civil society members. It should focus, among other things, on ensuring effective State services, reforming the security sector and accelerating Mali’s disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process. In addition, he called on partners to rely on the sanctions regime to punish any actors who obstruct Mali’s peace process.
TAYE ATSKE SELASSIE (Ethiopia) said Mali is moving in the right direction and the role of MINUSMA remains crucial. Encouraged by the progress made in implementing the peace agreement, he cited several examples, including the nomination of interim authorities at the district level, the creation of municipalities for the Ménaka and Taoudenni regions and the adoption of the national security sector reform strategy. The Pact for Peace will help to accelerate the implementation of the agreement. Also critical is MINUSMA support in the restoration and extension of State authority in the north and central part of the country, among others, through the construction of a Malian defence and security forces base in the Mopti region. The contribution of the G-5 Sahel joint force in returning peace and stability to Mali and the region remains absolutely important.
ZHANG DIANBIN (China), highlighting the new momentum in the peace process, expressed concern however over the violence in the centre of Mali. The international community must therefore continue to support the Government’s efforts to provide security, as well as to advance the political process, which the Malian parties must continue to implement. A regional approach must deal with complex security threats, and for that reason, he welcomed the deployment of the G‑5 Sahel joint force, hoping that MINUSMA will soon be able to coordinate with it. Security of Mission personnel is still a concern and must be a priority of the United Nations. He pledged China’s continuing commitment to support peace and development in Mali and the region.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), welcoming the recent elections and expressing hope that it will help to accelerate the achievement of all provisions of the accord, underlined the importance of recent progress on the ground, as well as the signing of the Pact for Peace. Expressing concern over violence in the centre of the country, he said national forces must urgently be deployed throughout the country, while ensuring they have undertaken reforms and did not commit abuses. Development progress is necessary, as well, and in that context, he welcomed the drafting of a national framework. He also commended MINUSMA on its work in an extremely difficult environment.
AMPARO MELE COLIFA (Equatorial Guinea) said Mali’s peace agreement remains the most critical and consensual framework to restoring peace across the country. Urging all parties to redouble their commitment to its full implementation, she listed various imperative elements agreed to by the parties in the 2016 operational coordination mechanism and voiced concern about a lack of will on the part of some. Equatorial Guinea will support attempts to strengthen Mali’s ownership over the peace process, she said, welcoming the new Pact. While it not a substitute for the national Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, it should be used as a catalyst to bolster the latter’s inclusivity and effectiveness within the framework of a clear timeline. The stabilization of the situation in the centre of Mali, which continues to suffer from terrorist attacks, requires a comprehensive solution that goes beyond a military focus and also includes humanitarian and development elements. The signatory parties to the peace agreement bear a responsibility not only to the people of Mali, but also to those of the region and beyond.
JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom) urged President Keïta to redouble his efforts to proceed down the path of peace, welcoming the recent signing of the Pact. Its signatories must now take action, he said, adding that “their credibility is on the line”. Recalling that nearly 300 civilians were killed during the reporting period — the highest since the start of the crisis — and that some 5.2 million people now require humanitarian assistance, he said the Government must act to protect its people and work to combat terrorism and violent extremism. Rapid progress is needed by politicians on the peace agreement’s implementation, he said, noting that is the best and only way to bring peace and prosperity to the people of Mali.
VERÓNICA CORDOVA SORIA (Bolivia), Council President for October, spoke in her national capacity, agreeing that the Pact for Peace cannot be seen as a replacement for Mali’s 2015 Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, but only as a complement to it. Commending the Government’s efforts to end hostilities — as well as fundamental measures taken to improve the country’s peace and stability — she also praised its successful holding of presidential elections and the deployment of interim authorities in the north of the country. Mali’s efforts to achieve peace and stability still require international and regional support, as its fragile situation has spread across the region and has been compounded by the presence of terrorist groups and criminal networks along with the lingering impacts of the 2011 foreign intervention in Libya. Expressing concern about the presence of mercenaries, drug traffickers and human smugglers, she said MINSUMA should work with the Government to address these issues. Meanwhile, State authorities must move forward with reforms of the security sector and other critical institutions.
ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali), reiterating the deep appreciation of his Government and people for the continuing efforts of the United Nations to restore peace and security in his region, welcomed the latest report’s recognition of progress in implementing the peace accord. Primary, in that regard, is the acknowledgement of the successful election process, which was made possible by the coordinated efforts of all actors in Mali and the assistance of partners, including MINUSMA and international forces. Understanding the continued impatience over delays in some areas of the accord, he said they were not because of a lack of will among Malian parties to honour their commitments. This was shown by the signing on 15 October of the Pact for Peace, in which they reaffirmed their firm commitment to accelerate the implementation of the accord in compliance with resolution 2423 (2018).
While progress has suffered from the slow establishment of real trust between the various protagonists, he said, this is being addressed and the results are positive. The instalment of interim authorities, operationalization of mixed patrols and the progressive redeployment of the Malian army is allowing the much‑awaited return of the national administration and basic social services in multiple localities previously under the control of terrorists and armed groups. There has also been an absence of belligerence between the Malian army and the signatories, whose groups assisted with election security. In the same vein, 63 territorial local administrations have been created in the new regions of Menaka and Taoudeni, an acceleration agreement is in place in the demobilization and reintegration process and security sector reform is making progress in terms of inclusion of all concerned protagonists. As the Government does its part, however, he highlighted that implementing some provisions of the accord is beyond the financial capacity of Mali. In that light, he appealed to partners for the mobilization of funds already pledged.
Emphasizing that fully implementing the accord is the highest priority of his Government, he described new related departmental mechanisms, which have also increased the representation of young people and women. A mechanism for unity has been created and a development framework has been submitted. At the same time, given the magnitude of security and humanitarian needs in the north, he underscored the urgency of meeting the humanitarian appeal. In the area of human rights, he added, the Government is aware of its responsibilities and all alleged abuses are being investigated and prosecuted. Training and other efforts are being carried out in regard to the security sector, but most violations are committed by armed groups, terrorists and criminal organizations. The G‑5 Sahel joint force is critical for countering these threats, many of which have resulted from events in Libya, he added, calling for international support to the force. Finally, he paid tribute to all contingents performing their difficult tasks, particularly those who have sacrificed their lives in the quest for peace.