The situation in Mali - Security Council, 9154th Meeting

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18-Oct-2022 02:06:10
Progress towards peace in Mali is unfolding, Security Council told, despite tough security, humanitarian and human rights challenges.

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Speakers Demand Better Safety, Freedom of Movement for MINUSMA after Four Peacekeepers Killed

Progress in Mali’s political transition and peace process is unfolding amid a challenging security, humanitarian and human rights situation with severe consequences for civilians, the top United Nations official in the country told the Security Council today, as delegates called for strengthened measures to ensure the safety and freedom of movement of peacekeepers following the deaths of four United Nations blue helmets just a day before.

El-Ghassim Wane, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), said that the security situation remains volatile in central Mali and in the tri-border area between Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, with a sharp increase in the activities of extremist elements affiliated with Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. Such groups are taking advantage of security voids and fighting for territorial control while also targeting Government forces and MINUSMA alike, he said, urging the need to restore State authority and rebuild trust with local communities.

Citing progress in Mali’s political transition, he pointed to the draft constitution, preparations for a constitutional referendum in March 2023, adoption of the electoral law in June, and the planned establishment of an independent election management authority. MINUSMA and the United Nations country team have been engaged in delivering logistical and technical support and by contributing to the monitoring mechanism, he said, also highlighting the Mission’s work in support of the peace process.

Turning to the humanitarian situation, he said there are now more than 422,000 internally displaced persons in Mali and more than 1.8 million people facing severe food insecurity. Humanitarian efforts are hampered by a lack of funding, he said, adding that the resilience and determination of MINUSMA personnel cannot substitute for the assets required for them do their job. “The United Nations, in spite of the inherent limitations of peacekeeping, offers the best reward for achieving lasting peace in Mali and the greater Sahel,” he said.

In the ensuing debate, Council members expressed condolences for the four MINUSMA peacekeepers who died on 17 October and called on Malian authorities not to restrict the Mission’s work. Delegates also welcomed progress on the political front, noting that an upcoming strategic review of MINUSMA should help ensure that the Mission can discharge its mandate.

Ghana’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Gabon and Kenya, said that “Mali is not out of the woods yet”. The reconfiguration of international counter-terrorism efforts in the Sahel, including the withdrawal of the French forces from Mali, has created capability gaps, he said, adding that a decision by some troop-contributing countries to withdraw their peacekeepers by year’s end could worsen the situation. He urged the timely implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali Emanating from the Algiers process, stronger political will and commitment by Malian authorities, and close monitoring by the local monitoring committee, comprising the African Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations.

The Russian Federation’s representative said that Mali is struggling against terrorism in the midst of a security vacuum that is linked to the unprovoked withdrawal of French and other European units. The Malian army has shown they can achieve tangible results to counter terrorists. Noting attempts to tarnish her country’s assistance to the Malian army, she said Moscow will not interfere in Mali’s internal politics.

Representatives of France, Norway, Ireland, United States and the United Kingdom drew attention to the Wagner Group’s activities in Mali and its links to alleged human rights abuses and violations. The representative of the United States in particular said that that organization will not bring peace to Mali, but rather exploitation and instability.

France’s representative added that since its inception nine years ago, MINUSMA has become one of the Organization’s most dangerous missions. Today, it is a mission in danger, with a security threat hovering above it, he said, calling on the Malian authorities to renew cooperation and trust with subregional partners to present a united front against the cross-border threat.

Abdoulaye Diop, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali, outlined the progress made on the political front, emphasizing that his country is committed to the diligent implementation of the peace agreement. On the security situation, he said that Mali’s defence forces are growing in strength, but he added that the question cannot be addressed by responding to security threats alone. Turning to human rights, he said that contrary to unfounded allegations, military operations were being conducted in stringent compliance with international humanitarian law. He went on to say that Mali has no desire to restrict MINUSMA’s movements and that it is fully committed to working with the Mission so that it can discharge its mandate with full respect for national sovereignty.

Also speaking today were representatives of India, China, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Albania.

The representatives of France and Mali took the floor a second time.

The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 12:14 p.m.

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