I thank Special Representative Annadif for his timely updates. I also welcome the presence of Ambassador Issa Konfourou - and Mali’s consistent participation in these meetings.
Five months have passed since the coup in Bamako. Progress in Mali and stability in the region now hinges on a peaceful, inclusive, and effective transition back to Constitutional normality.
Just over a year remains until free, fair and democratic elections must have taken place. But, the Malian people must already start to feel a sense of improvement during the transition. And, this needs to happen in line with the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation.
Looking ahead to the transition and beyond, let me highlight three key issues;
First: Inclusive political processes are essential, and women’s participation is necessary for sustainable outcomes.
While there is a need for more inclusivity, let me here highlight one of the positive developments:
We welcome the inclusion of nine women in the Agreement Monitoring Committee.Their input in discussions on DDR, reforms, education, development, reconciliation, justice, and more is crucial. We hope their inclusion marks a trend towards full, equal and meaningful participation and representation of women at all levels. Norway will continue to support these efforts every step of the way.
Second: Civilians, including children, must be protected. This is why Norway has been involved in MINUSMA since its outset.
As we speak, we are again deploying a transport aircraft to the mission as part of an innovative rotation scheme established with partner countries in 2016. We also provide a specialized police team assisting Mali to build capacity in its fight against impunity.
We are worried about recent reports on grave violations and abuses against children - including forced recruitment, and sexual and gender based violence. In this light we see MINUSMA's contribution to strengthen the rule of law, as important as ever.
We call upon the Malian authorities - with the assistance of partners - to follow up on the recommendations in the report of the International Commission of Inquiry for Mali.
Compliance with international law obligations and accountability are key to rebuilding trust, breaking spirals of violence, and restoring authority and the legitimacy of a state.
Impunity must end, and national authorities must lead by example.
We therefore welcome that the fight against impunity is a priority in the Transitional Government’s road map.
Third: In order to ensure viable and long-term solutions to Mali’s complex challenges, there is a need to address comprehensive security goals beyond combatting armed groups.
A swift return of state authority and basic services across the country, including quality education, is essential. Mali cannot afford a lost generation.
We also urge all stakeholders to continue to ensure safe and unhindered access for humanitarian actors, and to strengthen civil-military coordination.
Furthermore, it is important to address and adapt to the current and long-term effects of climate change - which leads to resource scarcity and reinforces existing conflicts.
And last but not least: Dialogue and reconciliation.
MINUSMA’s mandate includes to “support dialogue with and among all stakeholders”.
In short, it is necessary to address root causes.
Before I conclude, and in light of the New Year, let me pay tribute to everyone working to support progress in Mali. The Secretary-General’s report clearly shows the difficult tasks that they face.
We extend our condolences to France, who recently lost five soldiers combatting terrorism in Mali, and express our concern about the IED-attack on a MINUSMA convoy in Timbuktu this morning.
We also commend Special Representative Annadif, ECOWAS, and the AU for the key roles they continue to play after the coup in August. We have heard their calls for continued support to Mali.
As a new member of this Council, Norway will remain a constructive partner of Mali, including through MINUSMA and other international efforts.