Permanent Representative Calls for Resources, Greater Peacekeeping Presence in Country’s Central Region
Extending the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), which expires on 30 June, will enable it to consolidate political and security gains amid efforts to implement the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation, the Organization’s top official in the Sahel nation told the Security Council today.
Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report, which recommends no major changes to MINUSMA’s mandate or its overall strength, Mahamat Khatir Saleh Annadif, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MINUSMA, said that while the peace process is at a critical stage, there is an opportunity to make progress over the next 6 to 12 months due to the determination of the signatories to the peace agreement.
Despite glimmers of hope — including the formation of a new Government and legislation favouring economic development in northern Mali — there can be no lasting peace without improvements in the security situation, he warned. That is especially the case in central Mali, where a 9 June attack on the village of Sobanou-Kou in Mopti region — in which at least 95 people were killed — is a reminder of the gravity of the situation.
At least 70 per cent of MINUSMA’s uniformed personnel now are in the field, protecting civilians and escorting convoys, he said, adding that a special unit is tasked to support the G5 Sahel joint force. He drew attention to several options set out by the Secretary-General aimed at adjusting the composition of the Mission’s civilian and uniformed components and making it more mobile.
The representative of France, which is militarily present in Mali with the Operation Barkhane counter-terrorism force, was among several Council members calling for renewal of MINUSMA’s mandate. Insufficient progress has been made along the road to peace and stability, he said, urging the Malian authorities to adopt an updated road map for implementing the peace agreement.
Declaring that “the status quo is not acceptable”, the representative of the United States said a fresh MINUSMA mandate must achieve pressure, balance, transition and performance. It should also aim to increase the Mission’s effectiveness, notably through the repatriation of poor-performing troops.
“It is disturbing that incidents of intercommunal violence are increasing, which have ravaged communities, displaced people and worsened the humanitarian situation,” said South Africa’s delegate. Any recalibration of MINUSMA must be based on a review of the security conditions and avoid a potential vacuum that risks exacerbating instability.
His counterpart from Equatorial Guinea concurred, describing security conditions in the Sahel as “nothing short of a tragedy” and the risk of inter-ethnic conflagration proof that a “tinderbox” situation is slipping out of hand. He called for strengthening MINUSMA’s mandate to defend itself while keeping up the pressure on terrorists and jihadists.
Agreeing that MINUSMA should continue to enjoy Council support, the representative of Côte d’Ivoire — underscoring the number of displaced persons and those at risk of food insecurity — expressed hope that responses to the humanitarian situation will be strengthened. Such action should aim at combating poverty and unemployment, both root causes of instability throughout Africa, he said.
The representatives of China and Germany, whose nations are among the leading troop contributors to MINUSMA, also expressed support for mandate renewal, with the latter favouring maintaining the current troop ceiling alongside increased cooperation with other security institutions.
Mali’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation told Council members that signatories to the peace agreement will next week discuss a new road map with revised timelines for implementation. On the recent attacks in Mopti region, he said more than 70 people have been detained for preliminary investigations and that the Government rejects impunity. He requested the Council to provide necessary resources to MINUSMA, calling for an increased presence of the Mission in central Mali to protect civilians and help end violence without creating a security vacuum in the north.
Also speaking today were representatives of the Russian Federation, Poland, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Belgium, Peru, Dominican Republic and Kuwait.
The meeting began at 3:01 p.m. and ended at 5:24 p.m.
MAHAMAT KHATIR SALEH ANNADIF, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), presented the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Mali (document S/2019/454). Emphasizing that the peace process is at a critical stage, he said the determination of the signatory parties to the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali creates an opportunity to make progress over the next 6 to 12 months. In that context, good offices efforts to encourage Malian ownership of the peace process and build mutual trust should continue. While expressing regret over the lack of women’s participation in the process, he welcomed a bigger seat at the table for civil society. He explained that the peace process entered a new stage with the naming of Boubou Cissé as Prime Minister on 22 April, the signing of a political accord between key political stakeholders on 2 May and the formation of a new Government on 5 May. He welcomed legislation to establish a northern economic development zone, stating that the restoration of State services in northern Mali will enable people there to reap the benefits from the peace agreement.
Despite such glimmers of hope, there can be no lasting peace without improvements in the security situation, particularly in central Mali, he said. The 9 June attack on the village of Sobanou-Kou in the Mopti region is a reminder of the gravity of the situation, coming on the heels of two other massacres since the start of 2019: in Koulougon on 1 January and in Ogossagou on 23 March. Following the latter event, MINUSMA deployed Operation Oryx tasked with protecting civilians through, among other things, increased patrols and mediation. The cycle of violence must end, otherwise people will take justice into their own hands, he said, emphasizing the need to combat impunity and congratulating MINUSMA’s human rights division for trying to establish facts and making recommendations to the Government.
He said the Mission has adopted an integrated strategy that includes the United Nations country team, as well as the establishment of a dedicated military sector in central Mali. Such initiatives should have a domino effect in the coming months. He noted that at least 70 per cent of MINUSMA’s uniformed personnel are in the field, protecting civilians and escorting convoys. A special unit of MINUSMA is meanwhile tasked with supporting the G5 Sahel joint force [Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger], per resolution 2391 (2017). He drew attention to several options set out in the Secretary-General’s report aimed at adjusting the composition of the Mission’s civilian and uniformed components and making it more mobile. Some specialized units would be reassigned and some camps transferred to Malian authorities, starting with the one at Diabaly. Through resolution 2423 (2018), the Council breathed new life into MINUSMA, giving it clear objectives and changes to better deliver on its mandate. The fruits of that repositioning are now reality, he said, and extending MINUSMA’s mandate will allow it to consolidate the political and security gains that have been achieved.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said his Government stands resolutely by Mali as it seeks to tackle heightened violence affecting the lives of the local population daily. He called for greater support to address increased violence in the central region, noting that his delegation will prepare a press statement at the end of this meeting. MINUSMA must be equipped with sufficient resources to address this situation. Insufficient progress has been made and he urged Malian authorities to adopt an updated road map for implementing the peace agreement. Non-implementation carries a price, including sanctions. Renewal of the Mission’s mandate for another 12 months is essential.
RODNEY M. HUNTER (United States) said that every quarter, the Council learns that the situation in Mali has worsened. Attacks on peacekeepers have become the norm. With four years having passed since the peace agreement, “the status quo is not acceptable,” he said, as the Council made it clear in a presidential statement earlier this year that it was dissatisfied with the accord’s slow implementation. A new mandate must achieve pressure, balance, transition and performance. The Council must increase pressure and strengthen tools to address the failure to meet benchmarks. The new mandate must support implementation of the peace agreement and address the security situation. It must take a long-term approach, empowering civilian and military personnel to envision a transition of responsibilities to the United Nations country team, G5 joint force, and Malian national security force. The new mandate must also streamline tasks and increase the Mission’s effectiveness, notably by repatriating poor-performing troops.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) expressed concern over the increase in civilian deaths in terrorist attacks and intercommunal violence, stressing the urgent need to restore State authority to protect civilians. It is also vital to address the worsening humanitarian situation, he said, urging donors to honour their commitments to the humanitarian appeal. There is a need to stimulate the economy and development in Mali’s north. The timeline for implementing key provisions of the peace agreement must be observed, as any delay would increase the country’s vulnerability, already undermined by organized crime and terrorist activities. He voiced support for MINUSMA’s efforts to stabilize the country, stressing that its effectiveness should not be weakened. A balanced approach is necessary when deciding its future mandate, he said, expressing support for efforts to bolster regional stability, including through the G5 joint force to combat terrorism in the Sahel.
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) said the horrific tragedy in Sobanou-Kou is the latest sign that violence in Mali is spiraling out of control. Calling on the Government to accelerate the implementation of the peace agreement’s provisions — especially the effective reintegration of combatants, security sector reform, decentralization and creation of a northern development zone — she said the constitutional review process must be as consultative and inclusive as possible. On the security situation, she voiced concern about developments in central Mali, where the level of intercommunal violence and number of civilian casualties are unacceptable. The Government must step up efforts to protect the population from violence, restore State authority and ensure access to social services, she said, adding that the disarmament of ethnic-based militia and self-defence groups and the fight against impunity for atrocity crimes must also be prioritized. The peace agreement’s implementation should remain MINUSMA’s top priority, while in the centre of the country, peacekeepers should facilitate the return of State administration by supporting the redeployment of Malian defence and security forces and civilian protection.
JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa) expressed concern over the surge in terrorist attacks in northern and central Mali. “It is disturbing that incidents of intercommunal violence are increasing, which have ravaged communities, displaced people and worsened the humanitarian situation,” he said. Emphasizing the need to address the root causes of the conflict, he welcomed the signing of the political agreement between the Government and opposition parties. A holistic developmental approach, which includes raising living standards and creating jobs, particularly for young people, will help resolve the complex challenges facing Mali. Regarding MINUSMA, he commended the Mission’s efforts to discharge its political and security mandate and expressed support for the Secretary-General’s recommendation to renew the mandate for another 12 months. Any recalibration of MINUSMA must be based on a review of the security conditions. This is essential to avoid a potential vacuum that will exacerbate instability in Mali and the Sahel region.
STEPHEN HICKEY (United Kingdom) said the recent attack in central Mali highlights how important it is to step up collective efforts to achieve long-term peace and stability. Renewal of MINUSMA’s mandate should advance implementation of the peace agreement, which was a focus of the Council’s visit to Mali a few months ago. Expressing regret that the overall pace of implementation has slowed in recent months, he said those responsible for impeding such efforts should be subject to Council sanctions. He recommended that the Council set ambitious benchmarks for the Government and armed groups that would address constitutional and security sector reform, economic development in northern Mali and the meaningful participation of women in the peace process. There is also an opportunity to tackle instability in central Mali, including through the restoration of State authority and the protection of civilians, with MINUSMA employing its good offices to reduce local tensions. Any comprehensive strategy for central Mali should include the disarming of all armed actors and the revision of an integrated security plan. Acknowledging the challenges faced by MINUSMA, he said the Mission must become more flexible and agile, and he welcomed the increased tempo of its operations in recent months.
KACOU HOUADJA LÉON ADOM (Côte d’Ivoire) said the path to peace in Mali lies in strong national ownership and inclusion, particularly in the north and centre. Violence between communities is eroding the social balance and hampering peace efforts, he said, requesting the Council to focus on the exacerbation of unrest by armed groups, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and security sector reform. He expressed hope that humanitarian responses will be strengthened, aimed at combating poverty and unemployment which are root causes of instability throughout Africa. MINUSMA should continue to enjoy Council support, he said, pointing to the Mission’s complementarity with other operations in combating terrorism and organized crime. Its capacities should be strengthened and the technical agreement with the G5 Sahel Joint Force reviewed, he said, adding that any decision to review the scope and means of the Mission should take into account the fragile security situation.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), welcoming limited but continued progress in implementing the peace agreement in Mali, urged all stakeholders to work towards the completion of constitutional reform through an inclusive and consultative process. Underlining the importance of swiftly establishing a northern development zone to improve people’s lives, he expressed concern over the security situation in the north and central regions. The redeployment of reconstituted and reformed Malian defence and security forces — as well as the restoration of State authority — are of paramount importance, and “it is high time for the Malians to take control of their destiny”. The State must deliver on its promises, including providing the population with security and basic services. Emphasizing that MINUSMA’s presence remains crucial to enabling progress and preventing deterioration, he welcomed the Mission’s increasingly agile position and stated that its significant reduction or withdrawal “is not the wisest way forward” in the current context.
YAO SHAOJUN (China), expressing concern over the intercommunal violence in central Mali, stressed the need to resolve disputes through dialogue. It is important to support efforts to build Mali’s capacity to counter terrorism and improve security so that its national security forces can assume such responsibilities. He went on to emphasize the importance of promoting economic and social development, calling for the early establishment of the northern economic zone. China contributes more than 400 security-related personnel to MUNISMA and supports the smooth renewal of its mandate.
MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium) voiced concern about the slow implementation of the peace and reconciliation agreement. Regarding constitutional reform, however, it is better to invest time in the delicate process, rather than imposing an artificial deadline, to ensure the participation of women and youth. The Council has targeted sanctions in place and stands ready to install new ones, he said, noting that the situation in central Mali continues to deteriorate. MUNISMA’s new mandate must support intra-Malian dialogue in the country’s centre, he added.
JUERGEN SCHULZ (Germany) welcomed the formation of the new Cabinet. The new Government must maintain gains, as it has the primary responsibility for advancing progress on key reforms. It is necessary to address the causes of conflict in central Mali, he said, stressing that investigating human rights violations is key to advancing the rule of law. Germany contributes troops to MINUSMA and supports the renewal of the Mission’s mandate. Implementation of the peace agreement must remain a key priority of the new mandate. For central Mali, the Council should not set unrealistic goals, but rather those that can be reached with the Mission’s limited resources. Germany favours maintaining the current troop ceiling and he called for increased cooperation with other security institutions.
LUIS UGARELLI (Peru) said full implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation must be the top priority for the Government and people of Mali. Welcoming progress on the political front, he urged no delay on decentralization, electoral and constitutional reform, and raising women’s participation in the peace process. Special attention must be paid to violent extremist groups that seek to establish their own administrations, he said, underscoring the pressing need for conflict prevention and resolution measures at the local level alongside the protection of civilians. With more than 1 million people in Mali requiring humanitarian assistance, he said that achieving stability means addressing root causes, promoting development and respect for human rights. He agreed on the need to strengthen MINUSMA, with the Mission focused on protecting civilians and supporting the peace process, and expressed support for the renewal of its mandate for another year.
VICTOR MANUEL ELÉ ELA (Equatorial Guinea) called the security situation in the Sahel “nothing short of a tragedy”, as the current strategy and deployed military and financial resources are unable to curb the jihadist threat. The risk of inter-ethnic conflagration is proof that this “tinderbox” situation is slipping out of hand. As such, national and international stakeholders must come up with the means to prevent violence. Welcoming the formation of a new Government, he said the Prime Minister should commit to a new road map that includes a timeline for a constitutional referendum, security reform and northern economic development. He condemned attacks on MINUSMA personnel and urged Malian authorities to investigate all acts of terrorism and cross-border crime. Equatorial Guinea will support a strengthening of MINUSMA’s mandate to enable the Mission to defend itself while keeping up the pressure on terrorists and jihadists, he said, calling on the Council to maintain a united front on the topic.
JOSÉ SINGER WEISINGER (Dominican Republic) said recent attacks and intercommunal violence means the scenario in Mali is grim. It is vital for MINUSMA to work alongside the Government to open channels of information and cooperation with communities and expand the coverage of early warning mechanisms. He condemned serious rights violations by community self-defence and terrorist groups and called for redoubled international efforts to establish a mechanism to protect internally displaced persons, especially women and children. Hopefully the perpetrators of the 9 June attack will answer for their crimes before the courts. He expressed concern about the humanitarian situation, noting that 3.8 million people in Mali are facing food insecurity. Ways must be found to deliver a humanitarian response that is commiserate with the scale of the problem, he said, underscoring the connection between climate change and security. He went on to express regret that the number of female ministers in the Government has been reduced, and that women are not fully represented in the peace process.
SABAH KHALID AL HAMAD AL SABAH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait and Council President for June, speaking in his national capacity, deplored the deterioration of security in central Mali and increased intercommunal violence, welcoming the recommendations to support the Mission in central Mali and the investigation to be carried out by the Government. With four years having passed since the peace agreement, he urged all signatories to build on gains made. Regarding renewal of the Mission’s mandate, he welcomed proposals by the Secretary-General, stressing that the Council should examine all options.
TIÉBILÉ DRAME, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali, said the Government took note of the Secretary-General’s report and comments by Council members today. The reporting period was marked by a number of developments, including the appointment of a new Prime Minister and the establishment of a new Cabinet. During the first Cabinet meeting, priorities were set out. He commended the Special Representative for helping to bring about a political agreement on governance, noting that various legislative measures have been taken to enable political and institutional reforms through a consensual process. He also highlighted progress made on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, with more than 1,000 former combatants of armed groups having been registered and many of them joining training programmes.
Next week, signatories to the peace and reconciliation agreement will discuss a new road map with revised timelines for implementation, with the meeting to be chaired by Algeria’s Foreign Minister, he said. In connection with the recent attacks in Mopti, more than 70 people have been detained for preliminary investigations. The Defence Minister is there and army helicopters are patrolling the region. The Governor of Mopti will be replaced. More broadly, he said the Government rejects impunity and requests the Council to provide necessary resources to MINUSMA. He called for an increased presence of the Mission in central Mali to protect civilians and help end the violence, adding that such an increase should not create a security vacuum in the north.