I thank SRSG Wane for his first regular briefing.
We also appreciated the insights of Ms. Fatima Maiga – a treasured former consultant at our Embassy in Bamako. We strongly commend her leadership in strengthening the voices of women in Mali.
Recently, Norway joined Mali, the UK, and France in an event that underscored one of the achievements Ms. Maiga has contributed to: The increased participation of women in the Monitoring Committee for the Algiers Agreement. The ideas and recommendations shared by the women clearly demonstrated why their participation is a master key to progress. But make no mistake: more inclusive processes are still needed.
Only days after this encouraging event came the reports of another coup in Mali – potentially jeopardizing some of the hard-won progress to-date. A huge responsibility now rests with those who took it upon themselves to forcefully take over Mali's transition.
Let me be clear: We join calls for the immediate release of former transitional leaders from house arrest and detention. We expect the recently appointed transitional government to respect the timeline for inclusive, transparent, and credible presidential elections by March 2022. As the Transitional Charter stipulates: neither the transitional president nor members of the transitional government are eligible for elections.
Norway strongly supports the roles of ECOWAS, the AU, and MINUSMA in monitoring the transition.
Amid these turbulent times, we embark on a mandate renewal for MINUSMA. In addition to women, peace and security -- let me highlight three other priority areas for Norway:
First: the protection of civilians – in particular children.
On this, we repeat our deepest condolences after the recent horrific attacks in Burkina Faso and elsewhere in the region. We also know that more than 1,300 schools in Mali remain closed – affecting hundreds of thousands of children. More than half of these closures are due to attacks and threats by armed groups. Attacks on education have significant long-term negative impacts on children and their communities. There is no question that safe, and unhindered humanitarian access is crucial: to protect and assist people in need; to provide education; and to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence. We echo the Secretary-General’s words that: “Mali needs now, more than ever, leaders that stand together in the interest of their country, and the future of their children”.
President, this brings me to my second point: Ensuring human rights and accountability.
This is a prerequisite for the trust-building needed to move Mali forward as a country.
We are deeply concerned by the worsening human rights situation – including reported violations by national, regional, and international forces. We commend MINUSMA for its efforts to support investigations of allegations of human rights violations and abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law. We call on authorities to hold perpetrators to account. To this end, Norway together with France is proud to provide a specialized capacity-building police team to MINUSMA. We ask again for follow-up to the recommendations of the International Commission of Inquiry for Mali – a report requested by the parties to the Algiers Agreement. A concrete first step could be a conference on impunity and fair criminal justice – in line with the Commission's last recommendation. Norway stands ready to support.
Third: Understanding climate and security.
Through its impact on increasingly scarce resources, we know the effects of climate change on security. It is time for this Council to follow AU and African leadership, and take climate and security seriously. At the same time: we acknowledge that MINUSMA's resources are limited. This is why we are looking at ways to financially support the mission's climate and security work.
As we will also highlight in Norway's updated Sahel strategy later this month:
Security depends on inclusive and sustainable development, good governance, and respect for the human rights of all Malians. They deserve to see the Algiers Agreement become a reality.