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‘Window of Opportunity’ for Peace in Mali Remains Open, but Requires Sustained Commitment, Senior Official Tells Security Council

Security Council

7158th Meeting (AM)

 ‘Window of Opportunity’ for Peace in Mali Remains Open, but Requires

Sustained Commitment, Senior Official Tells Security Council

While the restoration of constitutional order and the start of talks between the Government and armed groups were "signs of hope" for Mali to overcome its deep crisis, great difficulties remained, with serious consequences for security in the entire Sahel region, the country’s senior United Nations official told the Security Council today.

"The window of opportunity to consolidate and sustain peace and stability in Mali stands wide open, but may also close unless sustained commitment by all stakeholders is upheld," said Albert Gerard Koenders, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

Such support was crucial in light of the fragile security situation in the country’s north, marked by shelling in Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, and heightened terrorist activity, he said, noting that recent clashes between the Tuareg and Peuhl communities had killed 40 people in Gao.  Such negative trends could thwart early recovery and development.

Briefing the Council on developments in Mali since 16 January, he said the inauguration of a National Assembly and appointment of a senior Government representative to foster political dialogue among the warring parties in line with the June 2013 Ouagadougou Preliminary Agreement illustrated the nation’s determination to advance the peace process.

“The peace train has definitely left the station,” he said.  The Agreement, he stressed, must be fully implemented, with the participation of all sectors of Malian society.  The Government, which in February had unveiled to Council members elements of a political road map out of the crisis, must fast-track that, as well as the reconciliation process.

Mr. Koenders noted that at their recent conference in Yamoussoukro, Heads of State from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had welcomed the signing of the General Principles of Cantonment and had called on all armed groups to abide by it.  Regional coordination was also vital.

MINUSMA had deployed troops and human rights teams to establish the facts and dissuade further violence, he said, expressing concern about food insecurity in the country and calling on donors to heed the United Nations humanitarian appeal intended to ease it.  Intercommunal clashes were a stark reminder of the need to strengthen the presence of national and international forces on the ground, as well as begin the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme.

He said that, next week in Bamako, officials would discuss the link between achieving security and reaching a final peace settlement and the effectiveness of development spending, as a follow-up to last May’s donor conference in Brussels aimed at supporting Mali’s development.

Abdoulaye Diop, Mali’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, African Integration and International Cooperation, said after the briefing that his Government continued its efforts towards national dialogue and reconciliation, noting that considerable progress had been made on negotiations with armed groups in the reporting period.  It held a series of workshops jointly with MINUSMA, including those on lessons learned from past peace processes and the reestablishment of State administration and basic social services.

A workshop on the cantonment and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes had resulted in the adoption of a technical document, signed by the representatives of the Government, MINUSMA and armed groups, he said.  It outlined necessary steps for those processes, including modality and timeline, drawing on Security Council resolution 2100 (2013), the Ouagadougou Agreement and the February 2014 visit to Mali by Council members.

He agreed with the Secretary-General’s observation that some armed groups had shown a lack of coherence or declined to fully seize the opportunity presented by the informal discussions to shape the peace process.  That had slowed down the process.  Given the deteriorating security situation in the north, particularly the resumption of terrorist activities, he expressed his concern over the low level of force generation for MINUSMA, including the continued lack of military transport helicopters, and urged the Secretary-General, Member States and donors to increase their contributions to the Mission.

Lastly, he stressed the importance of regional cooperation, noting that a platform devised at the first ministerial meeting on the Sahel held in Bamako on 5 November 2013 would enable better coordination of efforts by countries in the region.

According to the Secretary-General's most recent assessment report on Mali (document S/2014/229), which covered developments during the first quarter of 2014, by mid-March 57 per cent of MINUSMA’s authorized strength of 11,200 personnel had been deployed.

The meeting began at 9:35 a.m. and ended at 9:50 a.m.

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For information media. Not an official record.