Amid Continuing Violence, Efforts to Implement Mali Peace Agreement Must Be Intensified, Assistant Secretary-General Tells Security Council

SC/13665
16 January 2019
8445th Meeting (AM)

Amid Continuing Violence, Efforts to Implement Mali Peace Agreement Must Be Intensified, Assistant Secretary-General Tells Security Council

While violence continues to exacerbate the crisis in and beyond Mali, greater efforts must be made to address resilience, governance and development deficits in the Sahel region, with all parties to the Bamako peace agreement making every effort to sustain a positive momentum and speed up its implementation to make meaningful progress without delay, the United Nations Assistant Secretary‑General for Africa told the Security Council today.

Encouraged by the constructive environment in relations between the parties, Bintou Keita provided details about her recent visit to assess the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, signed in Bamako in May 2015 and updated the Council on developments on the ground.  While results remain to be seen following the Security Council sanctions on three individuals hindering implementation of the Agreement, she said the parties are fully aware of its frustration and impatience with delays in implementing the accord.  Meanwhile, parties see the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) as playing an essential political role, working with all sides to accelerate its implementation.

Citing the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation in Mali and the work of MINUSMA (document S/2018/1174), she cited positive steps forward, including the launch in November 2018 of a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and a high-level workshop on security sector reform.  Recent signs of a more open political dialogue, as seen by consensus on the outcome of the elections, are also encouraging.  Yet, with the political landscape still polarized, constructive and inclusive dialogue that includes civil society, women and youth remains essential.

The security situation, however, remains a grave concern and major challenge to implementation of the Agreement, she said, pointing at asymmetric attacks targeting peacekeepers, national and international forces, and increasingly civilians.  Moreover, the humanitarian situation remains dire, with 2.3 million people targeted by the 2019 humanitarian response plan and more than 800 schools closed due to insecurity.  In a regional context, she reiterated the Secretary‑General’s call on national, regional and international actors to redouble their efforts to tackle the multiple threats facing Mali and the Sahel region.  She called on the Group of Five for the Sahel (G-5 Sahel) member States to take all necessary steps to resume the operations of the G-5 Sahel joint force, and on international partners to provide the support it needs.

Mali’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kamissa Camara, thanking the international community and the Council for its efforts, said real progress continues in implementing the peace process, including political, security and development gains.  Yet, the people of Mali need the Council and international community’s solidarity and support to tackle pressing security and development challenges with a view to fostering peace and achieving sustainable stability.

Council members expressed their support, underscoring the importance of taking further steps along the path to peace, with resolution 2423 (2018) defining specific measures and timelines, including the fast approaching deadline to implement some of its measures by 6 March.  South Africa’s representative called on all parties to the conflict to seize an opportunity to reinvigorate the peace process.  He also expressed support for the Secretary-General’s recommendation for the Council to establish a United Nations support office for the G-5 Sahel joint force.

In a similar vein, Kuwait’s representative commended the role played by national and regional armed forces, calling on the G-5 Sahel force to make full use of MINUSMA.  Peru’s representative recommended efforts to strengthen the capacity of Malian armed forces to enable it to successfully tackle the twin threats of terrorism and arms trafficking that continued to generate a constant spiral of violence.  In addition, enhancing the independent judicial system will produce an important tool to address human rights violations and end impunity.

Raising concerns about the violence and humanitarian situation in central Mali, some delegates called for enhanced targeted efforts to address the root causes.  The United Kingdom’s delegate suggested the Government of Mali develop a comprehensive political strategy.  Now is the time for further action on the rapid implementation of the peace agreement, he said, noting that the United Kingdom is increasing its presence and assistance in Mali and the Sahel region.

Agreeing on the urgency of winning further gains in implementing the peace plan, France’s delegate said, given that the Council’s expectations have not been achieved, members must both encourage parties to move forward and address non‑compliance with the Agreement.  For its part, France and partners have decided to suspend all contact with individuals until sanctions measures are lifted.

Also delivering statements today were representative of Germany, Russian Federation, China, Indonesia, Equatorial Guinea, Poland, Côte d’Ivoire, United States, Belgium and the Dominican Republic.

The meeting began at 9:44 a.m. and ended at 11:51 a.m.

Briefing

BINTOU KEITA, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, opened her presentation with a summary of her visit to Mali a month ago, accompanied by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, to assess progress made in the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, signed in Bamako in May 2015.  During that visit, she met with the President, Prime Minister, members of the Government, signatories to the Agreement, opposition figures, representatives of civil society, the diplomatic community and the United Nations country team.  Both she and the Under-Secretary-General were particularly encouraged by the constructive environment that appears to be prevailing in relations between the parties, together with a greater emphasis, since the 2018 presidential election, on implementing the Agreement.  The determination of the signatory parties is demonstrated by, among other things, the creation of a Government ministry tasked with implementation as well as more regular meetings of the Agreement Monitoring Committee, she said.  On the sanctions imposed by the Council in December on three individuals hindering implementation of the Agreement, she said it is too early to assess their impact.  It is fair to say, however, that the parties are fully aware of the Council’s frustration and its impatience with the delays in implementing the Agreement.  MINUSMA is seen by the parties as playing an essential political role, working with all sides to speed up implementation, she said, adding that more details will be included in the Secretary-General’s next report in March.

She then turned to the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation in Mali and the work of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) (document S/2018/1174), which focuses on institutional reforms envisaged in the Agreement.  She said the launch in November of a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process is a concrete step towards the reconstitution and reform of Mali’s defence forces.  A high-level workshop on security sector reform, held in December, made it possible to move forward on key issues.  On decentralization, she welcomed the organization of consultations in November as a first step towards achieving consensus on territorial reform and urged the Government and political class to strive for greater inclusivity in those discussions.  Emphasizing the importance of national reconciliation, she said the fight against impunity must remain a top priority, with no compromises that might undermine the progress being made.  With the political landscape still polarized, constructive and inclusive dialogue that includes civil society, women and youth remains essential.  Recent signs of a more open dialogue, as seen by consensus on the outcome of the elections, are encouraging, she said, appealing to the political class to work hand in hand to build the foundations of a united and reconciled nation with an inclusive system of representation.

On the security situation, she said it remains a grave concern and major challenge to implementation of the Agreement, with asymmetric attacks targeting peacekeepers, national and international forces, and increasingly civilians.  Last year also saw a significant increase in incidents involving improvised explosive devices, particularly in the centre of Mali.  Going forward, she voiced concern about a further deterioration of the security situation in the centre amid an intensification of intercommunal violence.  MINUSMA has responded by stepping up its mobility and presence in the centre of Mali to help the Government protect civilians, she said, adding that that the situation has seen a 75 per cent increase in displaced persons in December 2018 compared with June 2018.  Overall, she added, the humanitarian situation remains dire, with 2.3 million people targeted by the 2019 humanitarian response plan and more than 800 schools closed due to insecurity.

Putting the situation in Mali in the broader regional context, she reiterated the Secretary-General’s call on national, regional and international actors to redouble their efforts to tackle the multiple threats facing Mali and the Sahel region.  She called on the G-5 Sahel member States to take all necessary steps to resume the operations of the G-5 Sahel joint force, and on international partners to provide the support it needs.  Greater efforts must be made as well to address resilience, governance and development deficits in the region through the implementation of the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel.  It is important to keep impressing on all parties to the Agreement the need to sustain a positive momentum and speed up the implementation of priority measures in the accord and to make meaningful progress without delay, she said.

Statements

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said implementing the peace agreement is a top priority, with resolution 2423 (2018) defining specific measures and timelines.  He welcomed initial progress, including establishing an accelerated disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme and an anti-terrorist team.  However, given that the Council’s expectations have not been achieved, it must encourage parties to move forward and must address non-compliance.  For its part, France and partners have decided to suspend all contact with individuals until sanctions measures are lifted.  Raising concerns about the deterioration of stability in the centre of the country, he said the redeployment of armed forces remains essential.  The international community must provide the Government with necessary support.  The stabilization of Mali and the region depend on a coordinated effort by security forces on the ground, he said, underlining the urgency of implementing the peace plan with a view that the six-month deadline to implement some of its measures by 6 March is fast approaching.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), welcoming steps in implementing the agreement, including the holding of a second high-level meeting on defence, encouraged all parties to continue to adhere to the road map approved in 2018.  Anticipating the Secretary-General’s report on new developments, he emphasized several ways to foster progress, including building trust among parties.  Concerned about the security situation in central Mali, he said addressing that required a coordinated response to stabilize the area and eradicating the root causes of the violence.  Commending the role played by national and regional armed forces, he supported such initiatives, calling upon the G-5 force to make full use of MINUSMA.  Indeed, sustainable funding for the G-5 force must be ensured so it can fully play its crucial role.  On humanitarian concerns, he said aid workers faced alarming conditions.  Development efforts must continue, he said, expressing support for renewing the MINUSMA mandate.

JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom), welcoming recent progress, said such efforts as establishing a working group to involve women in the peace process and an accelerated disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme represented the Government of Mali’s commitment to peace.  However, timelines in the 2018 road map have passed unfulfilled.  Highlighting the Council’s recent decision to place on its sanctions list three individuals who were impeding the peace process, he encouraged all parties to take all steps towards peace.  Raising alarm over the security situation in central Mali, he commended all steps taken to date, but remained concerned about terrorist groups’ targeted attacks on civilians.  To ensure that the root causes of this instability are addressed, he encouraged the Government to develop a comprehensive political strategy.  Turning to reports of human rights violations among defence forces, he said accountability must be ensured.  Now is the time for further action on the rapid implementation of the peace agreement, he said, noting that the United Kingdom is increasing its presence and assistance in Mali and the Sahel region.

CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany) said his nation has been involved in supporting the peace process in Mali since the crisis erupted in 2012, noting that MINUSMA is the biggest deployment of German soldiers in United Nations troops and a key actor in stabilizing the African nation, alongside the European Union Training Mission, which his country commands.  MINUSMA cannot substitute for national political solutions.  Citing the accelerated disarmament process as a sign of progress, he said more efforts must be made on decentralization, constitutional reform and security sector reform.  State capacities must also be strengthened, and in the centre, while much had been accomplished by the Government in that regard, the security situation remains grave.  “We need a leap forward to regain the trust of the population and State organs,” he said, expressing support for implementing the “Cruz report”, formally titled “Improving Security of United Nations Peacekeepers”.  MINUSMA is a security umbrella for human and security efforts, especially in the north.  Its renewed mandate must be realistic, allow for securing gains made in the north and connect the Mission to civilian peacebuilding.  Any peace effort in Mali and the Sahel must look at all risk factors, he said, stressing that the security-related effects of climate change are “obvious” amid clashes among herders and farmers.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said the situation in Mali is stable, welcoming efforts by Bamako and the signatories to implement the peace agreement.  With the planned stock-taking, they will be taking steps towards disarmament, reintegration of former combatants and territorial reforms, which would allow parliamentary elections to be held in more favourable conditions.  Bamako’s establishment of 10 interim territorial administrations is an important step forward and the Mission’s support to the work of such transitional structures would be “far from extraneous”.  MINUSMA should also reach out to the population to explain the importance and meaning of the peace accord.  The pact, signed in October 2018 by Bamako and the Special Representative, has played a positive role.  That others have joined it offered further impetus to implement both it and the road map.  New sanctions, however, will hardly foster consolidation among the parties for the agreement, he said, expressing concern over increasing terrorist actions and calling human rights violations “ubiquitous” amid simmering conflicts, particularly in the centre.  Expressing concern over the worsening humanitarian situation, he cited a 50 per cent increase in the number of people requiring assistance and urged donors to increase financing of the humanitarian appeal.  Welcoming Government efforts to move towards political normalization and economic stabilization, he said the situation in Mali is important to Africa’s security.  “The Libyan factor” exerts a negative impact, he said, expressing support for efforts by the G-5 Sahel to combat terrorism and organized crime.

JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa) called on all partiers to the conflict in Mali to seize an opportunity to reinvigorate the peace process by fully implementing the 2015 agreement and the recently signed pact for peace.  His delegation recognizes the important work that MINUSMA is carrying out to support the peace process and help the country gradually restore State authority and services.  Mali’s security forces must be strengthened to address the challenges the country faces.  Regional cooperation is critical, he said, highlighting the contributions of the neighboring countries to regional peace and stability through the G-5 joint force.  He expressed his country’s support for the Secretary-General’s recommendation for the Security Council to establish a United Nations Support Office for the G-5 joint force.  Economic development is also vital to sustain peace, and the international community should make economic and infrastructure investments.

WU HAITAO (China), commending positive progress, underscored his concerns about violence in central Mali, which threatens recent achievements.  The international community must support Mali to build its capacity in development and governance.  Assistance in security capacity-building is also needed, he said, noting that the global community should continue to help Mali ensure nationwide security while respecting the country’s sovereignty.  Further, a comprehensive approach is needed to tackle terrorist threats within and around Mali.  Commending the United Nations and MINUSMA for supporting the G-5 force, he said the Mission must have the required funding so it can fulfil its mandate.  Noting that China has contributed personnel to the Mission, he said Beijing will continue to support ongoing efforts.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said that despite progress, additional strides are needed to strengthen the political process, stabilize the central region of Mali and promote sustainable development.  In line with provisions of resolution 2423 (2018) and the peace agreement, efforts must focus on political reform and strengthening governmental institutions.  Urgent attention must also advance constitutional reform, decentralization and respect for human rights.  Highlighting the instability and grave humanitarian situation in central Mali, he said efforts must strengthen the capacity of Malian armed forces to enable it to successfully tackle the threat of terrorism and arms trafficking that generated a constant spiral of violence.  Enhancing the independent judicial system will produce an important tool in addressing human rights violations and ensuring accountability.  Looking forward, he said it is essential to support efforts that foster sustainable development using a comprehensive approach that addresses, among other things, security, political dialogue and the empowerment of women.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) said that despite the progress achieved in implementing the peace agreement, its pace should be accelerated if the March deadline is to be met.  Focus should be given to the Agreement’s key provisions, including effective functioning of interim authorities, territorial and administrative restructuring, operationalization of the Operational Coordination Mechanism, and development of the Northern Development Zone.  Noting that legislative elections have been postponed to 2019, he expressed hope that the polls are conducted peacefully, inclusively, transparently and credibly.  Regarding the security situation, his delegation felt it important to strengthen the capacities of United Nations personnel, address their equipment shortfalls, and ensure their safety.  Further, lasting peace and stability can be achieved only through strengthened cooperation among all countries in the region.

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) said the undermining of State authority in the centre and north of Mali has impacted security.  Despite the significant international mobilization for implementing the peace agreement, he expressed great concern over the situation in the north and centre, where intercommunal violence among the Fulani, Bambara and Dogon groups persists.  The unilateral ceasefire meanwhile remains unfulfilled, with groups using tensions to strengthen their illegitimate position in various communities.  He condemned attacks against the Blue Helmets, United Nations staff, Malian armed forces and civilians alike, stressing the need for upgrading farming infrastructure in the Gao region.  He called on the Government, the Platform coalition of armed groups and Coordination des mouvements de l'Azawad to more quickly carry out key provisions of the peace accord, welcoming the accelerated disarmament demobilization and reintegration process, which should allow for an army better prepared to strengthen security in the centre and north, where jihadists operate.  All political actors and signatory parties must understand:  “This is not the time to backtrack”, he said.  He highlighted the importance of including all political and social stakeholders who are part of signatory armed movements, stressing that the links among security, governance and development must be enhanced.  A holistic approach is needed, combining security and development aspects to combat the terrorist threat and allowing for women’s empowerment.

JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) commended the steps taken by the Government and armed groups to fulfil their remaining obligations under the Algiers Peace Agreement, including the creation of a Ministry for National Cohesion, Peace and Reconciliation.  Further, lasting peace and stability cannot be achieved without inclusive and sustainable development.  All stakeholders should join the Government in its efforts to advance political and institutional reforms that are necessary to improve governance and sustain peace.  The security situation in central Mali is concerning.  The Government must step up its efforts to address the root causes of conflict and security challenges in affected areas.  Noting human rights violations reported in Segou, Mopti, Timbuktu, Gao and Menaka regions, she said that all national and international military forces in Mali must ensure that their operations must comply with international human rights law and humanitarian law.

GBOLIÉ DÉSIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire) welcomed the establishment of the Ministry for Social Cohesion, Peace and National Reconciliation.  The 15 October peace pact demands a more inclusive process, with signatory armed groups adhering to an accelerated disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes.  He encouraged the Government to organize legislative elections to further shore up democracy, expressing concern over the situation in the north and centre, where attacks by extremist groups and intercommunal violence undermine social harmony, and the emergence of self-defence groups has hampered Government efforts to build peace.  Such conditions require the Council to redeploy police and judicial institutions, which would allow the Government to fulfil its functions.  Further, MINUSMA must bolster the capacity of armed forces so that their redeployment can protect civilians in affected areas.  He welcomed the 6 November launch to accelerate the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process to incorporate combatants from signatory groups.  More broadly, a multifaceted response to the humanitarian situation must be part of efforts to promote economic development, he said, welcoming G-5 Sahel efforts to raise €2.4 billion on 6 December to finance infrastructure projects.  The Council must support MINUSMA, as its efforts — which complement those of the Malian armed forces, the European Union mission and Operation Barkhane — offer a major advantage in combating terrorism, he said, voicing support for France’s proposed press statement.

RODNEY M. HUNTER (United States), citing attacks against security forces in Mali’s centre, strongly condemned terrorist groups and so-called self-defence groups for the violence there.  He called on MINUSMA and the Government to speed efforts to end intercommunal conflict and bring to justice those responsible for the violence.  Recognizing that progress has been made since the summer, he commended the establishment of 10 interim administration regions and the accelerated disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process of the Operational Coordination Mechanism in Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu.  Yet, he expressed disappointment that more is not being done to implement the provisions of paragraph 24 of resolution 2423 (2018), which demands signatories to make changes.  “There is more to be done,” he stressed.

MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium), noting that the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali is the cornerstone for ending the crisis in the country, expressed concern over delays in its implementation.  In line with the March 2018 road map, he called on the three Malian parties to redouble their efforts — and show courage — to ensure its provisions become a reality.  Welcoming progress in the accelerated disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and redeployment of territorial administration to the north, he likewise welcomed the creation of a working group for women to participate in the peace process.  He supported sanctions against those hindering peace and said Belgium will not oppose any new such measures should they be necessary.  Outlining the conditions for a return to peace — respect for human rights and the fight against impunity — he said that violence in Mopti and Ségou shows no sign of diminishing, amid increased intercommunal tensions.  He encouraged the Government to ensure security of people in strictest respect of human rights, noting that it admitted on 18 June 2018 to the existence of common graves and announced the opening of a judicial inquiry.  He called on authorities to continue and conclude that investigation.  MINUSMA must support authorities and protect civilians from violence, he said, noting that no ethnic groups can be stigmatized.  He welcomed the elaboration of an integrated strategy framework for MINUSMA and the country team which should be finalized as soon as possible.

JOSÉ SINGER WEISINGER (Dominican Republic), Council President for January, spoke in his national capacity to stress that while there have been challenges to implementing the Agreement, renewed commitment by the parties had allowed for the adoption of an accelerated disarmament demobilization and reintegration process and creation of the Ministry of Social Cohesion, Peace and National Reconciliation.  Such measures sought to speed up a more inclusive peace process that aligns with the peace agreement.  He expressed concern over an uptick in extremist group attacks against MINUSMA, Malian security forces and other international forces in the central and northern regions.  Kidnappings, the selective killing of civilians and intercommunal violence are ongoing.  He strongly condemned attacks against civilians and rejected breaches of international human rights standards, and international humanitarian and human rights law.  He advocated financial support for the G-5 Sahel force and expressed concern that 7.2 million people are affected by conflict and flooding, 3.2 million of whom will require humanitarian assistance.  He voiced concern over the impacts of climate change, especially land deterioration and food insecurity, which led to a struggle for resources.  Climate change has become a main challenge for Mali and it is essential to tackle its adverse effects, he said, stressing that the country must rely on the appropriate mitigation and risk assessment strategies.

KAMISSA CAMARA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mali, shared examples of progress made, challenges encountered and future possibilities.  The Government and signatories are determined to bring peace to the country, making strides in a range of areas, including revising the Constitution, adapting institutions to current situations and holding a referendum on constitutional revisions in early 2019.  An accelerated disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme has already reached more than 1,000 combatants and other security sector reform initiatives included border protection.  Regarding economic and social development, Government funding targeted efforts such as providing clean drinking water and addressing other needs.

However, instability in central Mali continues, she said, pointing out examples of terrorist group attacks and inter-community clashes.  To address these concerns, efforts centred on redeploying troops and involving youth in initiatives aimed at reducing inter-community violence.  Gains are also being made in bringing to justice those responsible for attacks.

Given that security measures are not enough when terrorist groups are tearing the fabric of communities, she said the Government is leading efforts to help political, traditional and religious leaders find shared solutions.  Regarding human rights, she said administrative and disciplinary measures are addressing cases of violations attributed to the armed forces.  A sustainable solution to the crisis went beyond security, she said, emphasizing a need to support local economies and elections.

On the crisis and its regional consequences, she underlined the Government's support for the work of the G-5 force, noting the Nouakchott pledging conference in December raised €2.4 billion, €500 million more than expected.  Reiterating that real progress continues in implementing the peace agreement, she thanked all actors, including MINUSMA, for their efforts to address the crisis in Mali.  She called for a robust Chapter VII mandate for MINUSMA and for predictable funding for the G-5 force.  The people of Mali need the international community and the Council’s solidarity and support to foster peace and achieve sustainable stability in the north and central regions.

For information media. Not an official record.