6 October 2016 – Citing a lack of progress on the peace process in Mali, the United Nations peacekeeping chief today warned that the UN mission there would not be able to fully carry out its mandate as long as the signatories to the peace agreement do not resolutely engage in its implementation.
“If the relative respite in recent months [leads us] to expect a possible improvement of the situation on the ground, we need to face the fact that persistent delays in the implementation of the peace agreement and new violations the ceasefire are incompatible with lasting stabilization, albeit partial, of the situation,” Under-Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous told the Security Council.
He underscored: “Time has come to rise above their immediate, localized interests and think of the long-term concerns of their constituencies, as well as of the country as a whole.”
While he welcomed the announcement by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta to convene a ‘National Conference of Understanding’ in December to discuss the root causes of the conflict, strengthen ownership of the peace process and promote genuine national reconciliation, Mr. Ladsous said that unfortunately, at present, the parties to the peace agreement are yet to set their differences aside and sit down with Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, to prioritize implementation steps and finalize benchmarks and concrete timelines as requested by Security Council resolution 2295 (2016).
That resolution, which extended the mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA), until 30 June 2017, also authorized an increase in MINUSMA’s capabilities, including a force level of up to 13,289 military personnel and 1,920 police personnel.
Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. UN Photo/Loey Felipe (file)
Under the terms of the resolution, the Council also decided that MINUSMA should perform tasks related to, among others, supporting the implementation of the peace agreement of June 2015; good offices and reconciliation; protection of civilians and stabilization, including against asymmetric threats; protection, safety and security of UN personnel; promotion and protection of human rights; and humanitarian assistance.
Impact of violence, instability on Mission effectiveness
Following the clashes in July in Kidal, in the north of the country, the Mission launched an operation to deter violence and protect civilians by showing a robust presence with patrols and checkpoints. In August, the Mission launched another operation, again establishing checkpoints and conducting coordinated patrols with the Malian armed forces along the Timbuktu–Douentza–Hombori axis, which spans from Timbuktu to the Mopti region.
However, in spite of the Mission doing its utmost, civilians continue to suffer from the consequences of the armed groups’ and Government’s military operations, he said.
The ceasefire violations have further hampered access for humanitarian actors that strive to answer to the most pressing needs of the population pending the resumption of basic public services.
MINUSMA continues to seek to enhance collaboration with Mali’s neighbours and regional security initiatives to more effectively address common security challenges. It is in this context that Mr. Annadif has been engaging the Governments of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, or so-called the G-5 Sahel member States.
The Mission, however, suffered a series of attacks on its force, including the May 29 detonation of an unidentified explosive device that killed five peacekeepers travelling in a convoy in the Mopti region, and the 3 October coordinated attacks in Kidal that killed one peacekeeper and injured eight others, reported Mr. Ladsous.
As tragically illustrated by Monday’s attacks, the Mission’s capacity to protect civilians and counter asymmetric attacks in active defence of its mandate is further hampered by the absence of the capabilities authorised by resolution 2295.
Mr. Ladsous said he regrets to inform the Security Council that in the short to medium-term instead of receiving reinforcements, MINUSMA will be confronted with the loss of key enablers, explaining that two troop-contributing countries have recently decided to withdraw three out of the Mission’s five helicopter units by early 2017.
The UN Secretariat has deployed extensive efforts to generate assets to replace them, but no Member State has so far committed to contribute any of the outstanding capabilities authorized either by resolution 2295 or by previous resolutions, he said.