The promotion of peace and stability in Mali is crucial to its people, for the region and for the world, United Nations Secretary-General Bank Ki-moon said today, urging the parties involved in the country's reconstruction to implement the foundations that have been laid out regarding the way forward.
“Mali needs our continued support,” the UN chief said at a ministerial meeting at UN Headquarters in New York this morning on the implementation of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali.
“The Peace Agreement remains the framework that will give all Malians a chance for a better and safer life,” he added.
The Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali was signed in June 2015 by the Coordination des Mouvements de l'Azawad armed group, following its signature in May 2015 by the Government and a third party, the Plateforme coalition of armed groups.
The Malian Government has been seeking to restore stability and rebuild following a series of setbacks since early 2012, including a military coup d'état, renewed fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels, and the seizure of its northern territory by radical extremists. The country has also been wracked by a series of humanitarian crises.
At today's meeting, which was co-chaired by the Governments of Mali and Algeria, the Secretary-General highlighted that both the “historic” Peace Agreement as well as the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) – currently in its third year – have helped to drive progress.
In addition, he said, the parties have agreed on a way forward to establish interim administrations, and there are foundations for the cantonment of combatants and the redeployment of security institutions.
“The stage is set to strengthen the rule of law and basic services,” Mr. Ban said, “but progress is tenuous.”
Noting that confrontations and violations of the ceasefire were being seen in Mali, the Secretary-General recalled that just last month, he condemned armed clashes between signatory parties in Kidal. In addition, there were new confrontations this past week.
The Secretary-General said that the High Representative of Mali's President is working together with the UN Special Representative for Mali and Algeria to defuse tensions.
Calling on the armed groups to cease confrontations, and on all parties to set aside short-term interests and carry out the Peace Agreement, Mr. Ban emphasized that such actions are “essential” for Mali's partners, including MINUSMA, to achieve lasting stability and peace dividends for communities in Kidal, Gao, Timbuktu and beyond.
“Insecurity affects access to people; among them, the nearly half a million needing immediate food assistance, and 180,000 children facing severe acute malnutrition,” the Secretary-General said.
Mr. Ban said he is also deeply worried about new sources of instability in Mali, the impact of terrorism on civilian life, and the many instances of serious human rights violations. Along those lines, he called on all sides to fully comply with their human rights obligations, including during counter-terrorism operations.
“Violations play right into the hands of the terrorists. Any feelings of marginalization and disillusionment with the peace process can breed resentment and create fertile ground for spoilers,” the UN chief said.
He also called for inclusiveness of the dialogues that will shape Mali's institutions, stressing that all segments of society should participate, including women, youth, opposition groups and religious and community leaders. In that regard, he expressed hope that the “National Conference of Understanding,” to be held in December, will reflect a “spirit of inclusiveness of constituencies and interests.”
Mr. Ban added that he counts on the statesmanship of Mali's President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, to generate new momentum and propose clear benchmarks and timelines for the Peace Agreement's accelerated and inclusive implementation.
“Mali needs the unwavering and coherent support of its international partners,” Mr. Ban said, recalling that the Security Council has strengthened MINUSMA to ensure it can support the implementation of the Peace Agreement and the restoration of State institutions, and protect civilians.
“MINUSMA is doing everything possible to help stabilize areas where terrorist and criminal networks operate and where our troops face the threat of explosive hazards,” the Secretary-General said, calling on Member States to urgently help strengthen the Mission.
Countries in West Africa and the Sahel must also do their part to tackle instability in the region, and boost cross-border cooperation through initiatives spearheaded by the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the G-5 Sahel and others.
The Secretary-General also highlighted that yesterday was the National Day of Mali.
“There can be no better way to celebrate than to boost the peace process in formulating clear goals set and give the MINUSMA ways to achieve our common mission,” he concluded.
Hear more about the peace efforts in Mali from the head of MINUSMA, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, who sat down with the UN News Centre for a conversation about MINUSMA's work.