Welcoming the signature last Saturday by all parties to the conflict in Mali of the Accord for Peace and Reconciliation, the top United Nations envoy for the country today told the Security Council that now the implementation phase must start.
“Today we have a global and inclusive agreement, signed by the Government, the Coordination of Movements of Azawad and the Platform [armed groups], and negotiated in less than a year, with the assistance of international mediation and under the auspices of Algeria,” Mongi Hamdi reported as he briefed the Council this morning. “The Peace Accord opens prospects for Mali’s recovery and longer-term perspectives with a view to reversing the setbacks induced by the political and security crisis.”
This agreement lays out the conditions for peace and reconciliation, but several challenges lie ahead, as “reconstruction is a more difficult path than destruction”, stressed Mr. Hamdi, who is the Special Representative and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
He praised the Government for incorporating the Agreement in the political agenda which was introduced at the National Assembly two weeks ago, calling upon the international community and the financial institutions to support “as soon as possible” the implementation.
Indeed, in spite of notable progress on the political front, the security situation remains fragile, Mr. Hamdi warned. “The recent violations of the ceasefire agreements and clashes are a stark reminder of the complexity and unpredictability of the security environment in the northern regions,” he stressed.
Nonetheless, he welcomed the withdrawalof the Plateforme from Menaka, where MINUSMA continues to reinforce its presence and support arrangements to ensure the protection of civilians.
“If implemented in a timely, inclusive and consensual fashion by the parties,” the security provisions of the Agreement, which include interim arrangements such as cantonment and DDR (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration) and SSR (security sector reform) programmes, could positively impact the Mission’s efforts to stabilise the northern regions, Mr. Hamdi said.
“But the recent spate of violence in some localities in the northern regions has caused massive population displacements. This increased caseload exerts an even heavier burden on the resources of host families, health and education facilities as well as water and sanitation infrastructures.”
With scores of displaced people and refugees returning home in spite of pressing humanitarian needs, it is therefore crucial to quickly re-establish basic social services nationwide, particularly in areas of return, the Special Representatives highlighted.
The task is tremendously complicated by the fact that Northern Mali remains “one of the most difficult environments for peacekeeping.” “Its size, geographical environment, harsh climate and extremely poor or non-existent infrastructure continue to pose significant challenges to the Mission.”
Compounding these challenges, violent extremists and other enemies of peace continue to indiscriminately attack our forces and camps, he explained. Convinced that MINUSMA will be faced with more security and operational challenge “in the immediate future,” Mr. Hamdi told the Council it is critical that troop and police-contributing countries have the capacities and capabilities required to operate safely and effectively.
“As the Security Council initiates discussions on MINUSMA's mandate renewal, neither the challenges nor the risks at hand should be underestimated. Going forward, it is critical to clearly define the roles of the international community in the implementation of the Accord based on comparative advantage.”
For the Special Representative, a particularly important role for the Mission is supporting security and defence, as well as human rights and justice aspects of the Accord. But the implementation is primarily the Malians’s responsibility, he underscored.
“It is my hope that the future mandate of MINUSMA can be oriented fully behind the peace process including through continued good offices, active ceasefire monitoring.”
MINUSMA’s current mandate is set to expire on June 30.