Security Council: The situation in Mali - 8794th meeting

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14-Jun-2021 01:46:52
Amid Mali’s worsening humanitarian situation, delegates in Security Council call upon authorities to protect civilians, underline need for credible elections.

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In the wake of the second military takeover in nine months, strong international support is needed to ameliorate the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Mali, the top United Nations official in the country told the Security Council today, amid calls for the transitional Government to facilitate free, fair elections by February 2022 so that Malians can assume responsibility for national stability.

El-Ghassim Wane, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), recounted recent developments there since the military coup d’état on 24 May, which saw the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union condemn the takeover and subsequently suspend the country’s membership in both organizations. While the transitional President and Prime Minister have committed to holding elections by February 2022 and working to implement the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, the security and humanitarian situation there is worsening. More Malians are currently displaced than at the height of the crisis in June 2013, and almost half of the schools in central Mali are closed due to the threat of violence.

Against this backdrop, expectations for MINUSMA are high and, while political engagement in Bamako will remain essential, “the Mission’s efforts need to be field focused”. People living in areas with little or no State presence look to the Mission as the only provider of security and basic services but, while MINUSMA “makes a tangible impact often overlooked”, it cannot meet all of these expectations. Detailing what the Mission can and will do in central Mali — where citizens are most at risk — he said MINUSMA is committed to fostering an approach centred on people and focused on action, observing: “Ultimately, we will be judged by the impact we have on the lives of people who suffer most.”

Many of those people, said Fatima Maiga, President of the Coalition des Femmes Leaders Nord, Sud et Centre du Mali, are women and girls — 2.9 million of which require emergency humanitarian assistance. Further, in areas where armed groups exert partial control — an estimated two thirds of the country — hundreds of thousands of girls and women are deprived of access to schools, health centres, markets and fields and subjected to sexual violence, including gang rape and sexual slavery, with little access to justice. She urged that the women, peace and security agenda must “move from being just everybody’s business to being a clearly defined responsibility”.

Many Council members then took the floor to condemn the coup, underscore the need to hold free, credible elections by February 2022 and charge MINUSMA and the Malian authorities with providing increased protection for civilians. Others stressed the need to ensure greater participation for women in the political and peace processes and, while supporting the extension of MINUSMA’s mandate, underscored the primary role the Government must play in building lasting peace in Mali.

The representative of Niger, speaking for the group of countries known informally as the “A3+1” (Kenya, Niger, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), highlighted the need for the international community to support the holding of credible, inclusive and transparent elections in February 2022. This assistance must meet the aspirations the Malians themselves, who must take ownership of the stabilization and reconciliation process in their country. While he supported extending MINUSMA’s mandate for another year, he said this mandate must be readjusted to realities on the ground, where insecurity persists.

Detailing this insecurity was India’s representative, who recalled an attack on a MINUSMA camp in the commune of Aguelhok on 2 April and highlighted the need to ensure the safety of peacekeepers by upgrading the security infrastructure of United Nations peacekeeping camps. The primary responsibility to fight terrorists and extremist armed groups lies with the Malian armed forces, he said, urging that peacekeepers not be burdened with duties that should rest with host States or other relevant international organizations.

Echoing this call for State responsibility was the representative of Estonia, Council President for June, speaking in his national capacity, who said that authorities must not rely on regional and international support to restore security. Malian authorities must instead take stronger ownership of restoring State presence in conflict-affected areas and resolve the fragile security situation by implementing the transitional road map with the aim of holding elections by February 2022.

The representative of the United Kingdom said that the transitional authorities must also renew their commitment to the 2015 peace agreement, as progress depends on full ownership by all signatories. She further called on these authorities to meet conditions set by ECOWAS and prepare for elections without delay, unconditionally release detainees and base the remainder of the transition period on dialogue, consultation and compromise.

Speaking before the Council as a specially affected Member State, the representative of Mali said that the transitional Government — following the recent resignations of the President and Prime Minister amid sociopolitical tensions — is working to return to constitutional order, restore public administration, implement the 2015 peace agreement and undertake political reform. While responsibility for the transition’s success falls on Malians, greater international support is needed and, to this end, he called for the lifting of sanctions and robust, stable financing for the G5 Sahel joint force.

Also speaking were representatives of France, China, Mexico, United States, Ireland, Norway, Russian Federation and Viet Nam.

The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 11:53 a.m.

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