The Security Council pressed for speedier implementation of Mali’s peace agreement, encouraged Burkina Faso to continue democratic reforms and learned of the challenges faced by the joint force of the Group of 5 for the Sahel States (G‑5 Sahel) during a visiting mission to the region on 23 to 24 March, the co‑leads of the mission said today.
François Delattre (France), Council President for March, said the Council travelled to Mali to underscore its support for implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation and to take stock of the situation on the ground — including the operationalization of the G-5 Sahel — before the Council meets later this month to consider the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
The visit featured talks with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, the Prime Minister, members of the Government and representatives of civil society, among others, he said, adding that all interlocuters emphasized the central role being played by MINUSMA. For their part, Council members insisted on the need to accelerate and prioritize implementation of the peace agreement, as well as the need to break the cycle of violence in central Mali. They also encouraged MINUSMA to pursue its protection-of-civilians mission and to support Government security efforts.
Christoph Heusgen (Germany) discussed the Burkina Faso leg of the mission. Noting that the country has gone through a difficult time, and that the security situation remains fragile, he said Council members delivered a message of support, friendship and solidarity. “We had a very busy and crazy agenda, but an interesting one,” he said, including a long meeting with President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré and key Government ministers, as well as representatives of the G-5 Sahel group of countries. Remarking that the United Nations has a strong country team in place, he said the Council witnessed the important role that the Peacebuilding Fund is having on the ground.
Many interlocuters brought up the impact of climate change on the security situation, he continued. Council members encouraged the Government to continue with democratic reforms launched three years ago, to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to corruption and to work to reduce intercommunal and ethnic tensions. He also noted good will on the part of the Government in human rights, with interlocuters sometimes raising the topic before Council members did.
Kacou Houadja Léon Adom (Côte d’Ivoire) recapped the Council’s discussions with officials of the G-5 Sahel joint force on its operationalization and its level of cooperation with other entities, including France’s “Operation Barkhane” and MINUSMA. Points raised included territorial constraints that limit MINUSMA’s ability to support the joint force. He said that, in responding to the concerns of several Council members, the force commander stated that a human rights framework is being drawn up, with help from international partners, aimed at fostering cooperation with civilians in those areas where the force operates.
In Burkina Faso, which dedicates 22 per cent of the national budget to defense and security, members of the Government shared their plans for economic and social development in vulnerable areas, he said. They also expressed their willingness to investigate human rights violations by the security forces and to intensify security cooperation with the coastal States of West Africa. Council members also learned about the challenges faced by the G-5 Sahel joint force, including a lack of equipment, limited infrastructure and insufficient training. Speaking in his capacity as head of the Group of Five for the Sahel, President Kaboré emphasized the need to review ways to improve MINUSMA’s technical assistance to the joint force.
The Chair of the European Union Political and Security Committee, Sofie From-Emmesberger, participated in the visiting mission, Mr. Delattre said.
The meeting began at 9:45 a.m. and ended at 10:13 a.m.