8703rd Security Council Meeting: Situation in Mali

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15-Jan-2020 01:53:54
Rapid, thorough implementation of peace agreement remains ‘only viable path’ for stabilizing Mali, Under-Secretary-General tells Security Council.

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With security conditions in Mali worsening at an alarming rate, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations today called on the Government and signatories to the historic 2015 peace agreement to uphold their commitments as he unveiled “ambitious” plans in the Security Council for a mobile task force able to adapt to changing power dynamics.

“The rapid and thorough implementation of the peace agreement remains the only viable path for the stabilization of Mali,” said Jean-Pierre Lacroix, presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report (document S/2019/983). The Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali provides the framework for political and institutional reforms to restore and decentralize State authority and to build a nation that reflects the diversity of all its citizens.

Progress in breaking deadlock among signatories was made during a recent national dialogue, he said, thanks in part to the involvement of the Coalition des mouvements de l’Azawad. The Government must now “hold out its hand” to the opposition, paving the way for the adoption of timelines for elections and constitutional reforms.

Such efforts are vital against the backdrop of an alarming security situation, he said. With terrorists proliferating in Ménako and Gao, and improvised explosive devices injuring “blue helmets” on a near daily basis, redeployment of the reconstituted units of the Malian Defence and Security Forces to the north remains an urgent priority. The first reconstituted battalion, deployed from Bamako to Kidal via Gao on 6 January, is expected to arrive by the end of the month.

However, it is not feasible for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to carry out its additional strategic priority in the centre without additional resources, he said. Attempting to do so has resulted in dangerous gaps in areas in northern Mali where the Mission’s presence is critical. As such, MINUSMA has developed a plan that provides for the establishment of a mobile task force, which will enhance the Mission’s ability to implement its mandate — most importantly through additional air mobility — which he called “indispensable” for it to deliver on its mandate.

In the ensuing debate, delegates reiterated that the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali is the sole framework for achieving a lasting solution. The heavy casualty numbers reflect an urgent need to act. France’s delegate highlighted a recent summit in Pau, where G5 Sahel joint force countries — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger — along with his country, decided to establish a Sahel coalition to quash terrorist activities and restore State institutions.

Niger’s delegate, who also spoke for South Africa and Tunisia, agreed that concerted efforts are required to help Mali’s security and defence forces, particularly in improving intelligence capacities. Cross-border terrorist attacks remain a grave concern. He called for accelerated implementation of the peace agreement and respect for commitments to the G5 Sahel joint force.

Turning to MINUSMA, the representative of the United States called for de-prioritizing the Mission’s role in facilitating implementation of the peace agreement and evaluating how MINUSMA can complement other actors in the region. If the signatories are serious about MINUSMA’s continued support, they can work to meet the benchmarks set under resolution 2480 (2019), she said, noting that any changes to the mandate must be considered as part of a regional security strategy.

The representative of the Russian Federation, however, said his delegation is not ready to consider options for reforming the parameters of MINUSMA’s operations or drawing them down. The situation in Mali — and indeed the region — is beset by “the consequences of the Libyan factor”. The Liptako–Gourma triangle is the juncture for most challenges and he welcomed operations carried out by the G5 Sahel joint force, underscoring the need to seek African solutions to African problems.

Offering the national perspective, Mali’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation underscored the Government’s diligent efforts to uphold the peace agreement, with accelerated efforts to be made from 19 January onwards, when the deployment plan will be validated, under which 1,300 former combatants designated by the signatories will be deployed, and a monitoring mechanism set up in the four regions of the north.

In the same vein, he said the President of Mali on 12 December 2019 signed a decree appointing 100 ex-combatants to various officer ranks within the army, noting that security sector reform has been stepped up and a positive outcome reached to ease tensions among signatories in Ménaka. The Government also has increased its contact with MINUSMA at all levels so that “its forces know that we are in solidarity with them at all times”, he said.

Also speaking today were representatives of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominican Republic, Germany, Indonesia, Estonia, Belgium, China, United Kingdom and Viet Nam.

The meeting began at 10:02 a.m. and concluded at 11:56 a.m.

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