I thank the briefers for their insights. We also welcome foreign minister Diop's presence.
SRSG Wane’s remarks are in essence a tale of a UN that remains committed to Mali, despite the hardships. It is with sorrow, again, we pay tribute to MINUSMA colleagues who recently made the ultimate sacrifice. We also remind the host country of its responsibilities. This includes timely rotations for all UN personnel.
Almost two years after the military took power by force in Mali, the political, security, and humanitarian crises persist. We are deeply worried about increased human rights violations and abuses reportedly committed, including by Malian armed forces, and the Wagner Group.
The Secretary-General has accounted “the highest number of civilian casualties to date recorded in Mali”, also due to terrorist and armed group attacks. We note with concern that reports from Moura indicate an ethnic dimension, with most victims coming from the pastoralists Fulani ethnic groups. In accordance with its mandate, MINUSMA should be given full and unrestricted access to investigate what took place in Moura, and elsewhere. We especially remain alarmed by the increase in grave violations against children, which must end, now.
Protection of civilians must be at the core of interventions. We call on all parties to uphold their obligations under international law. Lack of protection will only further fuel violence and displacement.
For Mali to be able to move forward, at least three things must happen without delay:
First: We have taken note of Mali’s announced 24-month extension of the transition period. Agreement must urgently be reached with ECOWAS to ensure return to Constitutional order, and in a way that can be monitored.
Second: Progress must be made on the Peace Agreement, which is fundamental to maintaining stability in the whole country.
And third: State presence and basic services must be ensured, including in the North.
We embark on MINUSMA's mandate renewal as the mission is more troubled - and more crucial - than ever. We must collectively consolidate its mandate. This should include an increase in the mission’s troop ceiling, to allow for better protection of civilians. Norway also sees the need for a more robust, and cross-border, effort. This is why we have supported a UN support office for the G5 Sahel Joint Force. Realistically, however, we do see limitations to what robustness could be achieved within MINUSMA, as a country-specific UN peacekeeping mission.
Therefore, while we renew MINUSMA's mandate, the UN-AU Joint Strategic Assessment on Security in the Sahel should get to clear recommendations quickly. It should include a thorough discussion on the need for a robust, regionally-led, cross-border, counter-terrorism force – to address the increasing challenge from terrorism in Mali, and the wider region. Such discussions also cannot shy away from critical issues, such as predictable and sustainable financing, and human rights compliance. AU-led peace enforcement operations in Somalia demonstrate that solutions are possible.
Norway will support both renewal of MINUSMA's mandate, and efforts to seek wider Sahel solutions.