8163rd Security Council Meeting: Situation in Mali

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SIX OFFICIAL 23-Jan-2018 02:02:11
Amid growing insecurity, parties to Mali peace accord must increase efforts towards restoring stability, peacekeeping chief tells Security Council at 8163rd meeting.
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With the security situation in Mali taking a turn for the worse, and elections set to take place in April, the United Nations’ top peacekeeping official told the Security Council today that parties to that country’s Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation must redouble their efforts to implement its provisions and restore stability.

Describing last week’s adoption of a timetable by the committee monitoring the peace agreement as an important step forward, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, described the situation in the country as a race against time, with growing insecurity claiming hundreds of civilian lives, in addition to fatalities among peacekeepers in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and members of Mali’s defence and security forces. The human rights and humanitarian situation was worsening, as well, he added, with humanitarian actors estimating that 4.1 million Malians, or 22 per cent of the national population, facing the prospect of food insecurity in 2018.

The goal now must be to create conditions conducive for elections and the peace process, he said. To that end, he encouraged the Government to implement two key parts of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation — decentralization and security sector reform — in a concerted and inclusive manner, with MINUSMA’s support. He also welcomed progress in the operationalization of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G‑5 Sahel) joint force to combat cross-border terrorism and organized crime.

“The upcoming presidential elections will mark the beginning of a new chapter in the stabilization of Mali,” he said, adding that, five years after it was established, it was time to reassess the assumptions underpinning MINUSMA’s presence in Mali, to review its key mandated tasks against achievements on the ground and to re-examine its layout through a comprehensive review. Despite persisting capability gaps, the Mission was striving to project a robust posture, as mandated by the Council, but more must be done to ensure that all peacekeepers received the required training and equipment to operate in hostile conditions, he said.

Tiéman Hubert Coulibaly, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali, reaffirmed the determination of his country’s President to do everything possible to speed up implementation of the Agreement, saying there was no other option for resolving the nation’s crisis. With time in short supply, the Government would strive to speed up political and institutional reforms. He acknowledged, however, that repeated attacks in the north and centre of Mali were undermining efforts by the State to assert its authority. He reiterated his Government’s call for MINUSMA’s operational capacities to be strengthened, while at the regional level he welcomed progress in the operationalization of the G‑5 Sahel joint force, as well as the Council’s support for that entity.

In the ensuing debate, Council members emphasized the urgency of implementing the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation as elections in April drew closer, and for MINUSMA’s capacities to be strengthened amid a deteriorating security environment.

France’s representative said it was time that all the parties to the Agreement made progress in fulfilling their respective commitments. The window of opportunity was small given the electoral deadlines, he said, and the relevance of the Agreement might be called into question unless progress was made in its implementation. Underscoring the Council’s responsibility to encourage the parties to fulfil their commitments, he said MINUSMA remained key to ensuring Mali’s stability.

The representative of Côte d’Ivoire said that, as time was running short, it was important to advance the implementation of Agreement. The worsening security situation in central Mali was worrisome, raising the prospect of terrorist attacks spreading to the south, he said, calling for MINUSMA’s rapid reaction force to be made operational as soon as possible and for Member States to provide the Mission with the means to secure its camps and convoys against attacks by terrorist groups.

In the same vein, Equatorial Guinea’s delegate said the lack of significant progress was a matter of great concern, with terrorist groups meanwhile attacking MINUSMA, French and Malian forces. All possible measures must be adopted to strengthen the Mission, he said, calling on all parties to the Agreement to make all efforts to implement it in a spirit of trust and a with shared vision of restoring peace and security.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Bolivia, Sweden, Peru, Kuwait, Poland, China, Ethiopia, Netherlands, United States, United Kingdom, Russian Federation and Kazakhstan.

The meeting began at 10:09 a.m. and ended at 12:11 p.m.
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