I thank Under-Secretary-General Lacroix for his briefing. We appreciate Mali's consistent participation in these meetings. Let me also thank Special Representative Annadif for his relentless efforts for peace and security in Mali – and we warmly welcome his successor, Mr. Wane.
I want to start by recognising some of the good news since we last met on this topic:
The arrival of the first COVID-19 vaccines in Mali through the COVAX initiative.
The meetings of the Monitoring Committee of the Peace Agreement in Kidal and Kayes.
And, not least: the increasing participation of women in that Committee.
Yet, at the same time, we have continued to witness horrific attacks against civilians in and around Mali. And we have again seen loss of life among MINUSMA’s brave personnel and its partners. We repeat our sympathy and condolences to Chad, and all affected by Friday's unacceptable attacks.
The deteriorating humanitarian situation also calls for increased action. To ensure protection of civilians, as well as safe and unhindered humanitarian access. Recent reports about sexual and gender-based violence and violence against children - including recruitment to armed forces and groups - are deeply worrying. We urge all parties to conflict in Mali to implement the conclusions adopted by the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict in December.
Persistent security and governance challenges in Mali tell us at least four things:
First: MINUSMA is still needed.This is why we agree that it was wise to keep the roadmap focused on the transition for now. The useful description of a “Phase 1 End State” will help the preparations for Phase 2 – to be done jointly with the UN Country Team. However, decisions on an exit are best left for later.
Second: Military force alone can never solve problems in the long term. Lasting security depends on: inclusive and sustainable development, good governance, and on respect for the rights of all Malians. They deserve to see the Algiers Agreement become a reality. This means: the return of a civilian state that protects its population against violence and injustices, and that provides basic services, like education. Along with full Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration.
Third: The fight against impunity must be stepped up in Mali. All perpetrators must be held accountable for violations and abuses of human rights, and violations of international humanitarian law. In this regard, we reiterate the call for follow-up on the recommendations of the International Commission of Inquiry for Mali.
And fourth: Local mediation and dialogue should be supported to mitigate and address conflicts, and to reduce violence. Inter-communal mediation has demonstrated some results recently when it comes to addressing competition over natural resources - which is increasingly a cause of conflict due to climate change. These results give reason for optimism. MINUSMA also has a role to play here- alongside various actors on the ground. As we stated at the ministerial meeting of the Sahel Coalition: “Norway stands ready to expand its engagement in peace and reconciliation work.”
There is now less than a year until peaceful and credible elections must be held in Mali. For the Malian people, there should be no doubt that the transition will end democratically- with political reforms, and the restoration of Constitutional order. We commend ECOWAS, the AU, and neighbouring countries for their continued engagement. We also commend the Government Action Plan approved in February. But this must be followed by a concrete timeline for the elections.
More than anything, the legacy of the transition government will be determined by its ability to ensure inclusive democracy in Mali – not least through the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women.