Mali: the peace process has accelerated over the past six months [fr]
Statement by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs
Security Council - 29 March 2019
First of all, I too would like to say a few words as a tribute to the villagers who were massacred on Saturday in Ogossagou in a reprehensible, cowardly attack. That tragic incident reminds us that we must take action to support Mali. France firmly condemns the attack. I call on authorities to do their utmost to find and prosecute those responsible for that horrendous crime and to disarm the militia groups that are sowing fear in central Mali. Such attacks are a betrayal of Mali’s tradition of secularism and tolerance.
The Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali was finalized in Algiers in 2015. We meet today to assess its implementation and to underscore the critical role being played on the ground by the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The agreement involves all stakeholders in seeking a settlement to the conflict. The peacekeeping mission tasked with supporting the process and other security forces deployed in the country to shore up stabilization and development efforts are two key components of the peace process in Mali.
The peace process has accelerated over the past six months — and it was high time. Last June, Council members raised the alarm about the persistent delays in implementing the main provisions of the agreement, expressed their impatience and called on all Malian parties to make a genuine and spirited effort. The Council set specific goals in resolution 2423 (2018), encouraging the Government and signatory armed groups to reach them within six months of the President’s inauguration. The report of the Secretary-General (S/2019/262) provides an overview of efforts in that regard and gives a clear idea of the progress made and of the work that remains be done. The facts are clear and can be verified. The spirited effort sought by the Security Council was made. Presidential elections took place in satisfactory security conditions, even in northern Mali. At this juncture, I would like to commend the decisive efforts of MINUSMA to support the elections, as well as the resumption of the national dialogue between the authorities and the opposition.
The security mechanisms outlined in the agreement have gradually become stronger in Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu, bringing together hundreds of soldiers from the Malian army in those three areas and combatants from the signatory armed groups and launching the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) process. With the return of a few deserters, nearly 2,000 members of those groups have already laid down their weapons and will join the Malian army following a period of training. The fact that former rebels are now poised to join the national army attests to the progress made and demonstrates the growing trust among the parties. It is a major step forward that should not be underestimated.
Consultations on a reconstituted army are under way, thanks to agreement among the Malian parties on the criteria for the integration of combatants, which were announced in a decree signed in early March. The establishment of a counter-terrorism unit, as called for in the peace agreement, has also been planned. The decentralization process is also under way in Kidal, Ménaka and Timbuktu. New interim administrations have been installed at the regional and district levels and financial and human resources are gradually being transferred. An important decree was issued a month ago for the transfer of competent services. With regard to development, a trust fund has been set up and legislation to create a development zone in the north of the country is under consideration.
To date, the level of women’s participation in the peace process has been negligible but is now on the rise. Prime Minister Maïga’s Government is now includes 11 women, in line with goal set by Malian legislation. Women have also been appointed to posts within the interim authorities and, with the help of MINUSMA, a greater number of women will be involved in the Agreement Monitoring Committee.
Lastly, the parties are engaged in regular dialogue with greater trust, in particular thanks to the new Ministry of Social Cohesion, Peace and National Reconciliation. I commend its head, Minister Bouaré.I congratulate the Malian authorities, President Keita and Prime Minister Maïga, whose presence here today demonstrates the importance he attaches to the agreement. I commend his efforts. I also commend all parties to the peace process, who have managed to find the resources and determination needed to demonstrate that spirited effort. Today, however, that effort must continue and be sustainable. We expect all parties to pursue their efforts. The DDR process must be completed and the establishment and redeployment of reconstituted units must occur in accordance with a precise timetable. Decentralization must continue following inclusive consultations and, on the ground, development must be achieved to the benefit of the people.
With regard to development, I recall that France and Germany are determined to take action in the region, working alongside our partners in the Alliance for the Sahel. The time for inaction and the status quo is behind us. All parties must honour their obligations and, if necessary, new sanctions should be envisaged for those who might hinder the implementation of the agreement. To confirm the Council’s determination, new designations may be required under the sanctions regime established by resolution 2374 (2017).I would like to inform our Malian friends that the attention of the Security Council shall not flag. We will set new specific goals to implement the agreement that will be based on specific criteria and, if possible, accepted by all Malian parties. I encourage them to work to develop a new road map that takes into account the progress already made and the work that remains to be done, as a token of their renewed commitment to the implementation of the agreement. The Security Council resolution that will renew the MINUSMA mandate in June could be used to formalize those goals.
MINUSMA has played a decisive role in helping the Malian parties to make considerable progress. I underscore the outstanding work done by Mr. Mahamat Saleh Annadif, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali. I also commend the commitment of all its civilian and military components and pay tribute to the soldiers who have died in service of peace in a demanding and dangerous mission. MINUSMA is making every effort to adapt to operational needs and to the dynamics of the peace process by securing the launch of the DDR process in northern Mali.
It has also demonstrated its responsiveness to the deterioration of the security situation in the centre, where circumstances require resolute action to put an end to the violence. Let us be clear — the primary responsibility for stabilization must be assumed by the Malian authorities, but we must also note that MINUSMA is the only international presence in that region and the one best able to support the efforts of the Malian authorities.
With troops from Operation Barkhane, France will continue to support the Mission, as often and as long as necessary. Not long ago, we provided air support in attacks on the Timbuktu, Ber and Aguelhok camps, and when necessary, Operation Barkhane’s health service cares for peacekeepers wounded in combat. These examples show that, both operationally and logistically, MINUSMA and Operation Barkhane are closely interlinked and mutually reinforcing in the performance of their respective functions and missions. While each has its own mandate and stance, it shares the same objective — the implementation of the peace agreement.
Thanks to the stabilization efforts of MINUSMA, its support for intercommunity reconciliation and the redeployment of the State in the centre of the country, Operation Barkhane can now focus on counter-terrorism and combat the territorial control of jihadist armed groups. This is a long-term and difficult mission, but, as Council members know, we have already achieved significant victories recently.
A new dynamic has begun in the implementation of the peace agreement. Six months after the inauguration of President Keita, we can only welcome this momentum. Without the support of MINUSMA, this process could not have begun or continued today. I am pleased to see that we are moving in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go, whether it is in the political, security or development field, whether it is for the Malian parties or in terms of international support. I think it is now important for everyone to pursue their efforts in this direction in a concerted and coherent way.