Permanent Representative Affirms Launch of National Dialogue, Outlines Steps to Boost Security, Trust in Central Region
Condemning the recent upsurge in deadly attacks against peacekeepers in Mali, officials and delegates in the Security Council urged parties to the conflict there to step up implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in the embattled Sahelian country.
Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the Secretary‑General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), said by video‑teleconference from Bamako that the casualties cast a pall over today’s meeting. The continuing cycle of violence is particularly grave in central Mali, where more than 170,000 people have been displaced, he reported. However, there are also positive signs in the launch of the inclusive national dialogue and other areas, he added.
Expressing regret over last week’s horrific attacks on Boulkessi and Mondoro, the death of a “blue helmet” just 48 hours ago at Aguelhok and the wounding of another near Bandiagara, he noted, however, that the launch of the inclusive national dialogue is a significant advance towards implementation of the Peace Agreement. Others include the July promulgation of the law on national reconciliation and the law establishing the principles for the creation of a development zone in northern Mali. There has also been progress in the integration of former combatants into the national armed forces, he added.
Unfortunately, however, the meeting of the Follow‑Up Committee monitoring implementation of the Peace Agreement did not happen on 17 September as planned, creating bad feelings among the signatory parties, he noted. Those were exacerbated by the Government’s announcement of its intention to review certain elements of the Peace Agreement during the inclusive national dialogue. He called upon all stakeholders to engage in the dialogue nevertheless, noting that consolidation of trust is critical for the peace process truly to take hold and for follow‑up meetings to be held in a constructive manner.
He went on to report that, in addition to its peacekeeping function, MINUSMA is helping to organize community rehabilitation mechanisms to combat violence and help reintegration efforts. However, the resumption of State services is essential in ending the violence, he said, stressing MINUSMA’s determination to carry out all its mandated responsibilities in conjunction with the Government of Mali and international partners, including the “Group of Five for the Sahel” (G5 Sahel) joint force, Operation Barkhane and the European Union.
Also briefing members was José Singer Weisinger (Dominican Republic), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2374 (2017) concerning Mali. He reported that the Committee listed eight individuals for targeted sanctions and is working with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) to enforce the measures. He went on to announced that he will visit Bamako from 16 to 18 October to engage with national authorities and explore prospects for promoting peace and reconciliation in Mali and stability in the broader region.
A number of Council members then took the floor to condemn the attacks, express concern over the continuing violence and express support for MINUSMA, while urging further progress towards implementation of the Peace Agreement.
Côte d’Ivoire’s representative said the launch of the inclusive national dialogue represents hope in the “slow but encouraging” progress, and called upon Member States to provide full funding for the humanitarian appeal for Mali in light of widespread displacement and continuing extremist violence. The entire region requires a paradigm shift in efforts to combat terrorism, he added, recalling that the recent Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Summit in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, agreed a priority plan of action to that end.
The representative of the United States said that despite MINUSMA’s commendable efforts, increasing violence reveals a lack of political follow‑through. Stressing that MINUSMA should not be viewed as a solution to a regional counter‑terrorism problem, she pointed out that the G5 Sahel and the Multinational Joint Task Force already have the appropriate means to undertake that mandate.
Mali’s representative affirmed that his country’s Government is fully committed to implementation of the Peace Agreement. Affirming the launch of the inclusive national dialogue, he said: “That is proof that we are living up to our commitment to get Malians to talk to each other.”
He went on to outline measures taken in terms of security, justice, human rights and reconciliation, saying efforts to extend services and promote development are being established, with 21 per cent of the national budget allocated to local authorities. Acknowledging the impatience of Council members over the lag in implementing the Peace Agreement, he detailed the considerable challenges Mali faces, calling upon partners to dispense all the monies they pledged previously.
Amid continuing attacks by extremists, drug traffickers and other “handmaidens of evil” fuelling divisiveness among Malians, he continued, an integrated plan for the country’s central region addresses both the need to ensure security and to building trust, he said. In addition, he stressed the urgent need to invest further in the Sahel’s capacity to defend itself against terrorism, describing Mali and the broader region as a bulwark against the violent extremism threatening the entire globe. Initiatives such as the G-5 Sahel should be fully supported, he said, vowing: “We in the region are prepared to play our part to the hilt to live up to our responsibility.”
Also speaking today were representatives of Indonesia, China, Equatorial Guinea, and South Africa.
The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 11:24 a.m.
MAHAMAT SALEH ANNADIF, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General and head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), said his statement comes at an unhappy time for the country, given last week’s horrific attacks on Boulkessi and Mondoro, the death of a “blue helmet” just 4 hours ago at Aguelhok and the wounding of another near Bandiagara. Despite those repetitive traumas, however, there have been significant advances in the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali emanating from the Algiers Process ‑ signed in Bamako in May 2015 — particularly as concerns institutional and political reform, defence and security as well as socioeconomic development.
In that regard, he reported, the law on national reconciliation and the legislation establishing the principles for the creation of a development zone in the north was promulgated in July, forming the basis for the relaunch of development at the local level. In September, Prime Minister Boubou Cissé officially launched the inclusive nation dialogue, with necessary reforms included in its terms of reference, he said, adding that discussions are set to begin within days at the local level, expanding to the regional level and leading up to national talks in Bamako by early November. He welcomed calls by the political class and civil society for massive participation in order to make the talks truly inclusive.
Unfortunately, however, a meeting of the Follow-Up Committee on implementation of the Agreement planned for 17 September was not held, he noted. That created ill feelings between the signatory parties, exacerbated by an announcement by the Government of its intention to review certain elements of the accord during the inclusive national dialogue. Calling upon all stakeholders to engage in the dialogue nevertheless, he emphasized that consolidating trust is critical for the peace process truly to take hold and for follow‑up meetings to be held in a constructive manner.
Concerning security issues, he said the integration of 1,006 combatants into the Malian Defence and Security Forces is well under way, with other armed groups to make up the agreed number of 1,840. The nomination of a head of the National Security Council on 4 October was another step forward, he added. The activities of the Centre for Crisis Management have also been launched, which is seen as important for reducing violence in central Mali, he said, noting that MINUSMA has organized meetings for community rehabilitative mechanisms that will create opportunities for young people vulnerable to violence and help reintegration efforts.
He went on to report an overall decrease in attacks against civilians, overall, while pointing out that the cycle of violence in the centre of the country continues, resulting in the displacement of more than 171,000 persons. The resumption of State services is essential to reducing the violence, he stressed. Regarding human rights, he said the Platform parties have signed on to an agreement against the recruitment of children. Outlining MINUSMA’s efforts, in coordination with the parties, for the empowerment of women, he said that despite numerous challenges, the Mission is determined to carry out all its mandated responsibilities in conjunction with the Government of Mali and with international partners, including the “Group of Five for the Sahel” (G5 Sahel) joint force, Operation Barkhane and the European Union.
JOSÉ SINGER WEISINGER (Dominican Republic), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2374 (2017) concerning Mali, provided an overview of that body’s work since January. The Committee met five times over that period, he reported, recalling that it held informal consultations on 7 February to consider the midterm report of its Panel of Experts, in accordance with Council resolution 2432 (2018). On 12 April, the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict briefed Committee members on sexual violence in Mali, he added. He went on to report that the Committee has placed eight individuals on the 2374 Sanctions list since it was established, noting that in March it signed an agreement with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) to publish and circulate INTERPOL‑Security Council Special Notices. The Panel of Experts submitted its final report to the Council on 9 August, he added. He said he will visit Bamako from 16 to 18 October in order to engage with the national authorities and to receive briefings on the political and security situation in Mali and the Sahel. He added that he will explore prospects for future engagement with other countries in the region to promote peace and reconciliation in Mali and stability in the region.
GBOLIÉ DÉSIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire) welcomed the launch of a political dialogue that will make it possible for the voices of all Malians to be heard and urged the parties to put the interest of the nation above all else. The needs of the victims of violence, including terrorist attacks, must be considered as part of the peace process, he emphasized. While hopeful of a “slow but encouraging” progress, he nevertheless expressed concern over continued security challenges in Mali’s northern and central regions, strongly condemning the recent horrific attacks that killed dozens of troops there. Welcoming MINUSMA’s support in bolstering the national security and defence forces, he noted that intercommunal violence and continued attacks by terrorist groups have led to a deteriorating humanitarian situation and rising numbers of internally displaced persons. With some 3.9 million people currently requiring humanitarian assistance, he said, Member States should fund the humanitarian appeal for Mali. He went on to emphasize that worrying signs appearing across the entire region demand a paradigm shift in anti‑terrorism efforts, recalling that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed on a priority plan of action to that end during its recent summit in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
KELLY CRAFT (United States) said the recent killing of Malian soldiers should compel the Council to redouble its efforts in Mali. Emphasizing that “MINUSMA is no ordinary peacekeeping mission”, she condemned attacks against its personnel, recalling that it received a second priority mandate to support efforts by the Government of Mali to re‑establish State authority. Despite its commendable efforts, however, increasing violence over the reporting period reveals a lack of follow‑through. She went on to note the lack of consensus on how the inclusive national dialogue will proceed. Meanwhile, implementation of the Peace Agreement is hampered by administrative shortages, lack of funding and withdrawal by some key signatories, she said. Stressing that MINUSMA should not be viewed as a solution to the region’s counter-terrorism problem, she said the G5 Sahel and the Multinational Joint Task Force already have the appropriate mechanisms to undertake that mandate.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) joined other delegates in welcoming the launch of the inclusive national dialogue, expressing hope that it will lead to consensus on such issues as constitutional reform, parliamentary elections and redeployment of the national defence and security forces. Calling upon stakeholders to work together to accelerate implementation of the Peace Agreement as well as the priority measures set out in Council resolution 2480 (2019), he said the security situation in northern and central Mali remains a cause of concern. Against that backdrop, it is important to step up efforts to redeploy national troops and to restore the State presence across the country, he stressed. He went on to commend MINUSMA’s efforts to adjust its footprint and enhance its proactive posture and called upon regional and international partners to advance implementation of the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel and its related Support Plan.
WU HAITAO (China) strongly condemned the 6 October attack targeting MINUSMA peacekeepers while welcoming the start of the inclusive national dialogue. Noting that the regional situation remains challenging, he emphasized that it requires continued international attention. The Council’s sanctions must adhere strictly to its own rules, he emphasized. Calling upon the international community to help the Government bolster its security and counter‑terrorism capacities, he also urged partners to contribute financial support to the G5 Sahel joint force. States should help Mali’s efforts in pursuit of peace through development, including through a strengthened economy and more foreign investment, he said. Expressing support for the critical role played by MINUSMA — to which China contributes troops — he expressed hope that the Mission will perform all its mandated functions in full and make the best use of its resources.
JOB OBIANG ESONO MBENGONO (Equatorial Guinea) also condemned the recent attacks against security forces, while stressing that they should in no way slow down or hamper the laudable efforts undertaken by Mali’s international partners. Concerned that neither the signing of the Peace Agreement nor the massive mobilization of funds and deployment of security forces has been able to halt the spread of terrorism in the region, he said the inclusive national dialogue is the ideal framework within which to create conditions suitable to peace and stability. Citing recent delays, he called upon all parties to adhere to the Peace Agreement and to work towards consensus around critical issues. He went on to welcome the communiqué issued by the African Union Peace and Security Council — which underscores the need for the Malian parties to further speed up implementation of the Peace Agreement — he said that document also calls for expanding the G5 Sahel joint force’s counter‑terrorism operations. Efforts to support the restoration of full State authority across Mali must also continue, he added.
JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa), Council President for October, spoke in his national capacity, urging stakeholders in Mali to participate in the inclusive national dialogue. Full implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali is vital to re‑establishing peace, security and stability in northern Mali, he emphasized, while welcoming the creation of an independent observatory enabling women to participate in monitoring the Agreement’s implementation. On the security situation, he expressed concern over continuing instability in the country’s north and centre, as evidenced by attacks against MINUSMA peacekeepers, national and other forces. Condemning the attacks, he also called for a cessation of hostilities between the Fulani and Dogon communities. The protection of civilians, especially vulnerable groups, must be a priority for all parties. He went on to urge the Council to encourage, support and capacitate community‑based conflict‑resolution, mediation and dialogue processes, while stressing the need to re‑establish State authority in northern and central Mali in order to facilitate the restoration of basic services. Any sanctions imposed should support political and peace efforts, not undermine them, he stressed, describing Mali as a wall holding back terrorists from the rest of the world — much as a dam holds back floodwaters.
ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali) thanked all those who have provided support to his country in the present difficult time, recalling the high‑level meeting on Mali and the Sahel that took place at the start of the General Assembly session. Affirming the Government’s commitment to full implementation of the Peace Agreement, he said it is working hard to convene an inclusive national dialogue that will result in action plans to deal with the root causes of the conflict in Mali. Dialogue is already under way in the communes and will lead up to an overarching national dialogue in Bamako, he added. “That is proof that we are living up to our commitment to get Malians to talk to each other.”
He went on to outline the accelerated programme for reintegrating former combatants and the progress of the Reconstituted National Army, saying that security‑sector reform is also under way. At the same time, 21 per cent of the national budget has been allocated to local authorities, with significant amounts devoted to development. The national justice and reconciliation mechanism continues its activities apace, and the justice mechanism will consider events occurring in Mali since 1960, he said. However, the Law of National Understanding does not allow impunity for the worst crimes while promoting reconciliation.
Acknowledging the impatience of Council members over delays in implementation of the Peace Agreement, he noted the considerable challenges Mali faces, including insecurity and lack of resources, appealing to Mali’s partners to dispense all monies they pledged for the humanitarian appeal. The new roadmap for implementation of the Peace Agreement should accelerate action, he said. Unfortunately, continued attacks by extremists, drug traffickers and other “handmaidens of evil” have been fuelling divisiveness among Malians, and for that reason, the integrated plan for the country’s central region addresses both the need to ensure security and to building trust, he said.
The growing incidence of terrorist attacks in Mali underscores the urgent need to invest further in the region’s capacity to defend itself, he continued, stressing that Mali and the region are a bulwark against the violent extremism threatening the entire globe. Initiatives such as the G5 Sahel joint force should be fully supported, he added, declaring: “We in the region are prepared to play our part to the hilt, to live up to our responsibility,” having invested heavily in both security and development programmes. Praising the hard work carried out by MINUSMA personnel under difficult conditions, he conveyed deep condolences to the families of the fallen.