NEW YORK (INPS | IDN) - The United Nations peacekeeping chief Hervé Ladsous has warned that, despite considerable progress, the peace process in Mali remains fragile, and stressed the need to urgently address political, security and humanitarian challenges.
Since the last consultations in October 2015, efforts by Malian authorities, parties signatory to the agreement, international mediators and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali MINUSMA had helped reinforce the dialogue between the Government and the movements, Ladsous, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told the Security Council on January 11.
Bu the peace process in Mali is “still fragile,” emphasized Ladsous, as he briefed the 15-member body during its first formal meeting of 2016. Presenting the latest report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the MINUSMA, he said the situation on the ground had evolved considerably since the Council’s last consultations on the matter in October 2015.
Efforts on the part of the Malian authorities, the signatory parties and international mediators had helped to improve the dynamics between the Government and the “Coordination” and “Platform” armed groups, he added.
In particular, the Government had released a number of persons detained as a result of the conflict, an important confidence-building measure. The Committee for Monitoring the Peace Agreement and the Technical Security Commission were functional, he added, describing MINUSMA’s efforts in providing good offices to those involved in the peace process.
However, that progress had not been translated fully into full implementation of the peace agreement, which had suffered significant delays, he noted.
While there had been several positive developments, including the establishment of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, Ladsous warned that “there is the potential to unravel the hard-won confidence built so far by the signatory parties” if delays continued.
In that respect, he welcomed the upcoming meeting of the Committee for Monitoring the Peace Agreement, expected to take place in Algiers, and expressed hope that new timelines would be set to implement outstanding reforms.
The first priority should be to introduce interim administrative arrangements upon which the resumption of basic services in northern Mali would hinge, he stressed. In addition, the Government must rapidly turn its attention to institutional reforms provided for in the peace agreement, he declared. Meanwhile, Parliament and the Government must continue to take the lead in advancing the implementation of such reforms in an inclusive and consultative manner.
Welcoming the Government’s announcement that the National Committee for the Coordination of the Implementation of the Peace Agreement would include representatives designated by each of the signatory parties, Ladsous called upon the various movements to designate their representatives without delay.
Time was of the essence in advancing key processes including cantonment, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, as well as security sector reform, he said. The various pillars of the peace agreement were highly interrelated, and should be implemented in a parallel and synchronized manner, he said, emphasizing that there would be no lasting peace in the north without “peace dividends” for the most vulnerable.
The UN peacekeeping chief welcomed in that regard the continued engagement of international partners who had pledged more than €3.2 billion, while noting that, although MINSUSMA had scaled up its support for communities in the north by 30 per cent, more remained to be done.
Terrorist groups still threatened the peace process as they continued to attack Malian armed forces and intimidate populations. MINUSMA’s own convoys and camps were under heavy attack, and despite repeated calls, Member States were still not providing the necessary logistical support. Joint patrols and cantonments alone could not end the conflict, he said, stressing that political and institutional reforms were also urgently needed.
Following the briefing, Abdoulaye Diop, Mali’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said the report before the Council underscored the challenges that his country faced, calling particular attention to terrorist activities that continued to threaten local communities.
Reiterating, nevertheless, the Government’s commitment to progress on implementing the peace agreement, he recalled that, on October 22, 2015, the Government of Mali and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) had hosted an international conference to discuss ways to move forward with the peace and reconciliation process, and bring about economic recovery and development, including by mobilizing development aid, private investment and domestic resources.
The Government had also prioritized fighting malaria and providing primary education for all children, he said, adding that electricity had been provided to the communities of Kidal and Menaka. In the political-institutional arena, it had established a ministry focusing on decentralization and State reform.
As for terrorism, Diop urged the international community to take the threat “very seriously”. Member States must demonstrate solidarity in order to defeat it, he said, welcoming to that end the adoption of Council resolution 2253 (2015), which expanded the Al-Qaida sanctions framework to include Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh). He invited Council members to conduct an in-depth study in order to ensure a successful strategy for exiting Mali. [INPS | IDN – 11 January 2016]
Photo: Peacekeepers with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) are greeted by children. | Credit: MINUSMA/Marco Dormino