8497th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Mali

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29-Mar-2019 02:35:45
Secretary-General encourages full Security Council support for stabilization mission in Mali, urging peace accord signatories to restore calm at 8497th meeting.

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Emphasizing that “investing in peace in Mali is an investment in global security”, the Secretary-General urged the Security Council today to maintain full support for the United Nations mission in the country, calling on the Government, opposition leaders and signatories to the 2015 peace agreement to redouble efforts to restore calm.

António Guterres made his appeal as Council members described conditions in the West African country six days after the massacre of 160 civilians in the village of Ogossagou, events which coincided with the Council’s visit, and amid negotiations on the renewal of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali’s (MINUSMA) mandate in June.

Condemning the massacre, the Secretary-General warned of more atrocities if extremist movements, communal tensions over land and water access, the spread of light weapons and the arming of ethnically based self-defence groups are not addressed. It is not a question of charity, but of self-interest, he said, as security in Mali impacted on both the entire Sahel and global stability. “We cannot stand by while the humanitarian situation deteriorates, development gaps increase and security risks become unsustainable,” he stressed.

In the ensuing debate, Mali’s Prime Minister said all parties in his country understand the importance of MINUSMA and the need to strengthen its capacity. Reducing its budget or changing its mandate risks endangering the fragile progress achieved, notably by strengthening the hand of terrorist groups. MINUSMA plays an essential role in supporting France’s “Operation Barkhane” and the Group of Five for the Sahel (G‑5 Sahel) joint force, and recent setbacks suffered by terrorist groups have opened a window of opportunity.

Describing Mali as a dam against the spread of terrorism in the Sahel and Sahara region into West Africa, he urged the Council to study the possibility of giving Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) members a role in strengthening MINUSMA’s capacity. Mali is at a crossroads: either peace will take root and development will spread, or the country will take a great leap backwards — a risk the entire international community must prevent, he said.

Several Council members voiced frustration with the pace of implementation of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement signed in Algiers in 2015. The Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs of the United States said MINUSMA cannot be expected to fill a gap created by the Government and its interlocuters. “It’s time to evaluate whether a peacekeeping mission in such an environment is the appropriate or effective solution to the problem set in northern Mali,” he said, asking for the Secretary‑General to recommend options for significantly adapting its mandate.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Côte d’Ivoire said success in Mali requires support from the entire international community, including the United Nations, African Union and ECOWAS. Emphasizing that attacks in Mali impact the stability in neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso, he pressed the United Nations and international financial partners to provide the G-5 Sahel joint force with all that it needs. As for MINUSMA, a stronger mandate is more necessary than ever.

While calling on Malian stakeholders to keep making significant strides to implement the 2015 Agreement, South Africa’s delegate said the Council has a responsibility, together with ECOWAS and the African Union, to support the Government and people along their path to peace.

The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, Council President for March, speaking in his national capacity, warned against persistent delays in implementing the Agreement. To prevent a setback, new sanctions can be considered for spoilers, he said, stressing also MINUSMA’s role in helping Mali implement the necessary political, security and development objectives.

Also speaking today were representatives of Germany, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Poland, Peru, China, Equatorial Guinea, Belgium, Kuwait, Dominican Republic and Indonesia.

The meeting began at 2:39 p.m. and ended at 5:15 p.m.

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