AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
Thank you, Under-Secretary-General Lacroix, Minister Diop, and Minister Mesahel for chairing this meeting and to our DPKO colleagues for facilitating.
We all desire for peace to take root in Mali. But no level of international engagement can secure peace for Mali alone. The signatory parties to the peace agreement, especially the Malian government, must drive the effort to bring peace. Indeed, the only sure path to stability is a full commitment to implementation, especially the return of stable, legitimate, a nd inclusive governance to the center and north.
The recent fighting in July by signatory armed groups in the Kidal and Menaka regions signaled a further breakdown in political will to implement the agreement. We applaud that they have agreed to a thirty-day ceasefire in early September but implore them to take their ongoing dialogue seriously and honor and implement the peace agreement, all of which requires a durable cessation of hostilities.
In adopting Resolution 2374, the Security Council made clear there are consequences for those who obstruct efforts to create the peace that the people of Mali deserve.
This resolution serves as a powerful message and warning to parties on all sides of the conflict that they may be sanctioned for undermining the peace process, and strengthens the hands of those who work constructively towards a sustainable peace in Mali.
MINUSMA plays an equally important role in creating an enabling environment for peace in Mali. We thank all the MINUSMA troop and police contributing countries for their dedication to international peace and stability and the sacrifices they have made. Indeed, far too many peacekeepers have lost their lives in service to their duties. We are grateful for the ultimate sacrifices they have made for the Malian people.
This is why, as member states, we must energize our efforts to ensure that MINUSMA has the troops and equipment it needs to accomplish its mission. We urge contributing countries to honor pledges to get the mission closer to its force ceiling.
We recognize French leadership in addressing the threats in the Sahel through Operation Barkhane. We are also very proud of the logistics support that the U.S. military provides to this Operation in close collaboration with our French allies.
We encourage the Government of Mali to promote stability by enhancing reform of its security forces, addressing allegations of impunity for human rights violations, as well as increasing northern participation and building these forces’ counter-terrorism capability.
That terrorist threat continues to exacerbate insecurity in Mali and more frequently crosses into neighboring countries, something of great concern to us all. We understand the interest of Sahelian leaders in devising a solution to address this transnational threat in the region. The United States stands with Mali and other African and international partners to counter the growing terrorist threats in the Sahel – through the G5 Sahel Joint Force and other mechanisms.
We are committed to supporting the African-led and -owned G5 Joint Force through bilateral security assistance. But we do not support UN funding, logistics, or authorization for the force. We will continue to seek to identify new bilateral opportunities to provide specific support and encourage all nations to do the same. We have already provided approximately $840 million in assistance to G5 member states since 2012.
As we have said before, the Malian signatories are the ultimate arbiters of their own future. A more durable peace is only in reach for those who extend a hand to it. We are here to support those with the courage to do so.
Thank you again co-Chairs.