Thank you very much, Mr. President. And like others, I want thank SRSG Annadif for his remarks, for his presentation, which are always really excellent, and also to Ambassador Skoog for leading the mission to Mali and for your report here today. And I also want to join others in welcoming Foreign Minister Coulibaly back to New York. It’s great to see you here, committed to moving forward on the peace process in Mali and undertaking the security challenges there.
And I must, like others, take the opportunity to express our deepest condolences and sympathy to the families of the three MINUSMA peacekeepers who, again, made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of peace during last week’s attacks, as well as to the Governments of Chad and Niger. And we also wish those injured in the attacks a very speedy recovery.
Mr. President, Foreign Minister Coulibaly vowed in January to this Council that his government was committed to making progress on the peace agreement. In addition, also in January, the signatories to that agreement agreed to a revised timeline, this famous “chronogramme,” which promises major gains in the peace agreement implementation. It promised them for March. Now in mid-April, there is still no substantive progress in implementation of the agreement.
The United States has expressed concern many times in this chamber, and the Council made similar declarations in its statements and resolutions, that time is running out for the peace process in Mali. Yet, we see little progress from the parties despite our repeatedly sounding of the alarm. In January, the Security Council unanimously declared our intention, absent progress on this timetable, to respond with appropriate steps. Our tools include the sanctions regime that we have authorized for political spoilers, spoilers who engage in obstruction, including through purposeful delay of the implementation of the agreement. This also includes spoilers who obstruct through collusion with transnational organized criminals or those who plan or conduct attacks, regardless of affiliation. We look forward to working with our Council colleagues here to identify, in a careful and balanced way, individuals who fit this criteria and proceeding accordingly.
Mr. President, there really is no more time to waste because Mali faces a desperate and worsening security crisis. We are alarmed at the deteriorating security situation in central Mali, in particular, where violent extremists exploit absent state authority by increasing their control over disputed territory, restricting traditional practices, forcing the closure of schools, and threatening civilians with violence if they cooperate with the Malian authorities. We should also recognize violent extremists build their own community relations and administration in the absence of government. The dangers continue to grow as improvised explosive device attacks affecting civilians have risen dramatically. The recent doubling of lethal attacks against MINUSMA and Malian Defense and Security Forces is also extremely troubling.
But the lack of state authority is not the only problem. When a state moves into territories, it must be seen as a positive for the local population. MINUSMA’s support to deploy the Malian Armed Forces to establish positive state presence in central Mali is crucial, but the operations must respect human rights, promote accountability, and engage local communities. We are especially concerned by the report of possible extrajudicial killings in Dioura last week, as well as other outstanding allegations of human rights abuses and violations by security forces. We look forward to the results of government and MINUSMA investigations into these allegations, including appropriate steps to ensure accountability.
And as others have done today, the United States commends the conclusion of the Technical and Financial Agreements between the UN, the EU, and the G5 Sahel force, and we applaud the ongoing operationalization of the joint force. With half a billion dollars in pledges at the February donors conference in Brussels, a Technical Agreement to provide the force logistical support, and continuing regional efforts with partners to find holistic solutions to the region’s problems, it is clear Mali has dedicated partners contributing their time, resources, political support, and in some instances, their lives, to counter the violent extremist threat. All the more reason for Mali’s signatory parties to the peace agreement to do their part as well.
We look forward to the results of the Secretary-General’s strategic review of MINUSMA next month and urge the review team to make specific, clear, and achievable recommendations for the Council’s consideration with the inclusion of specific recommendations for specific actors to undertake.
Mr. President, the situation in Mali is critical. The brave and courageous peacekeepers in MINUSMA and the Malian people deserve better than what the signatory parties to the peace agreement are delivering. MINUSMA cannot solve the conflict in Mali. The Government of Mali and the signatory parties must be the ones to forge the way to a resolution to Mali’s underlying conflict so the country can turn its full attention to providing for its citizens and addressing the terrorist threat. We look forward to their immediate progress on the latest roadmap.
Thank you very much.