I thank SRSG Wane for his insights and valuable support during our visit to Bamako. My main take-away from that visit was the urgent need for the current leaders to move in the direction of constitutional government and rule of law.
The need for political and institutional reforms is also apparent. But to keep the foundations for peace, it will be key to keep the transition process on track.
After two coups, the transitional leaders now have a huge responsibility towards the Malian people. Their political decisions will also be consequential for the security situation of the broader region. So, let me highlight two issues: Democratic transition; and the protection of civilians - in particular children.
First, on democratic transition:
The only way to ensure legitimacy for key political reforms, is to hand power over to a civilian-led government. We would strongly advise Mali's transitional authorities to never lose sight of this fact. This means putting forward a credible plan for how and when elections will take place. ECOWAS, the AU, this Council - and Mali’s own Transition Charter- have all been clear on this issue. In addition: The Algiers Agreement is signed by all parties, and must be respected.
We call on all actors to speed up- and scale up- its implementation across the whole country. Building on some positive examples, inclusivity must also continue to be enhanced – including for women.
Second, on the protection of civilians:
Norway is alarmed by increasing attacks against civilians - and by human rights violations and abuses. The number of internally displaced people in Mali has also quadrupled in two years.
Thanks not least to the strong leadership of Niger, the Council this morning adopted a resolution on protection of education in conflict. So, let me stress: Close to half a million children in Mali alone are affected by almost 1,600 schools remaining closed. Without schools, children are more vulnerable to abuse, and to recruitment and use by armed groups.
We welcome that all Signatory Parties have now joined the ‘Action Plan Against the Recruitment and Use of Children in Armed Conflict’. We also commend Mali for having signed the Safe Schools Declaration – a declaration which was topic of an International Conference in Abuja this week. Norway stands ready to further support Mali’s efforts on these important issues.
Let me also express our support to the work of the 2374 Sanctions Committee - and its Panel of Experts. It is important that this work – which is mandated by the Security Council – is allowed to continue. We are concerned by delayed appointments of new experts, and encourage a swift resolution of this issue.