Wednesday, 12/8/2020 | 9:19 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire

Despite Overcoming Fresh Challenges in Mali, Swift Action Needed as Peril Still Threatens Civilians, Peacekeeping Mission Chief Tells Security Council

While recent crises threatening the peace process in Mali had been overcome and new agreements reached, progress must be accelerated as the situation remained perilous for peacekeepers and civilians, the head of United Nations peacekeeping efforts in the West African country told the Security Council today.

“Despite the positive developments, we must remember that the agreed deadlines of 2018 are quickly approaching and the challenges are enormous,” said Mahamat Saleh Annnadif, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Mali and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said via videoconference from Bamako.  “All parties must redouble their efforts to re-establish trust between them and, despite the prolonged delays in the implementation of the Agreement [on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali], engage in necessary reforms and provide a peace dividend to the people,” he added.

He said that the period under review, mid-June to mid-September, had witnessed debate over a draft revision of the national Constitution amid armed clashes between the Platform and Coordination, the two coalitions that had signed onto the 2015 peace agreement.  The combined efforts of the signatory movements and the international community had allowed MINUSMA to overcome the crises, but delays in implementing the agreement had persisted.

Following the clashes, he said, truces had been agreed upon in August, with further commitments to end hostilities having been signed in September.  Earlier in the day, several prisoners held by the groups had been freed and recent progress included the participation in a 20 September high-level meeting in New York of both coalition leaders, who had agreed to accelerate the peace agreement’s implementation.  Some of the specifics they had discussed included establishing a second chamber of Parliament, operationalizing territorial collectives, launching demobilization activities, security sector reform and redeploying the reformed national military.

Yet, challenges remained enormous, he stressed.  Human rights remained a source of deep concern, particularly given the rise of armed extremism, the absence of State authority in certain areas and the imposition of anti-terrorism measures.  While progress in fighting impunity for abuses that had occurred during the 2012 crisis had included the conviction of Aliou Mahamane Touré, there must be justice for all and every perpetrator must held accountable.

He added that the recently authorized sanctions regime was an important part of the pursuit of justice and peace.  Initiatives such as the dissemination of information on human rights and the establishment of the international Commission of Inquiry would also help fight impunity, he said, adding that MINUSMA continued to support State institutions in all areas through regular dialogue.

The security situation remained a major obstacle, he said, with nearly daily losses of United Nations peacekeepers due to anti-personnel mines and improvised explosives.  Accelerated reconciliation efforts were needed as was the full deployment of the escort battalion for the regional reaction force.  Given all the challenges, he reiterated the need for funding to invest in protection, improve monitoring, enhanced patrolling and detection, and early warning systems to reduce the toll of attacks.

Deployment of the Group of Five Sahel States Joint Force presented an opportunity to pursue a holistic approach to creating conducive conditions in Mali, beyond military action.  A recent inter-office United Nations mission to regional partners had shown the subregion’s willingness to assist in all wider peacebuilding efforts.  Reiterating the Secretary-General’s appeal for funding for such efforts, he said humanitarian appeals had only been funded at the level of 35 per cent, which allowed, however, critical assistance to many in the north of Mali.

Following that statement, the representatives of Uruguay and Bolivia took the floor to discuss the situation in Mali and pay tribute to peacekeepers.  Uruguay’s representative welcomed the deployment of the Joint Force, but noted that the Mission’s mandate remained imperilled.  Primary responsibility lay with the national Government, but international assistance was needed alongside a multidimensional approach that addressed the root causes of the violence.  He appealed for all security actors to strictly observe all provisions of human rights laws, with violators held accountable.  Beyond sanctions, all available tools must be utilized to bring about the implementation of the agreement.

Bolivia’s representative condemned the attacks in Gao and against peacekeepers.  The impact on Mali of the regime change in Libya must be taken into account, he said, calling on all in Mali to lay down their arms and implement the peace agreement, and for the international community to continue its strong support.

Finally, Abdoulaye Diop, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali, addressed the Council via videoconference, expressing surprise that the Secretary-General’s reports had indicated that hardly any progress had been made in the implementation of the peace agreement.  His Government certainly had met with difficulties, but remarkable progress had been made, he maintained.  There now was a continuing cessation of hostilities between the signatory groups and the Malian security forces and the 20 September high-level meeting in New York had produced a positive outcome.

His Government remained determined to implement the peace agreement as fast as possible, he said, adding that delays in doing so had been caused by the deterioration of the security situation due to asymmetric attacks against the Malian military and the “Blue Helmets”.  In that context, he welcomed the imposition of the sanctions regime and the increased deployment of mixed patrols.  He noted that local and regional elections were scheduled before the end of 2017 and that the referendum on the draft Constitution had only been postponed, not cancelled.

His Government, he said, would continue to uphold all its obligations under the peace agreement.  The Council needed to focus on strengthening MINUSCA’s operational capacity and increasing coordination with Malian Security and Defence Forces.  The Mission’s robust mandate had not been translated into concrete facts on the ground, he stated.  He urged more consistent support, in addition, for the Joint Force.  Conveying condolences to those that had been lost in the deadly clashes on the Niger-Mali border, he said that such violence pointed to the need of the Joint Force’s rapid deployment.

The meeting began at 10:12 a.m. and ended at 11:01 a.m.