Delivered By: Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates
I thank Special Representative El Ghassim Wane for briefing us today. We recognize the important work that MINUSMA is doing in extremely difficult circumstances. I thank Ms. Aminata Dicko for her contribution, and I welcome the participation of His Excellency Abdoulaye Diop, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali.
First, I would like to take a moment to pay tribute to the MINUSMA family for the sacrifices they make every day. We honor the legacy of those peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. We must also remember the tens of thousands of civilians killed and displaced by extremism and violence, in the north, the center and now also the south of the country. We must strive to discharge our responsibility as a Council and ensure that Mali emerges more resilient, stable, and inclusive.
The strategic review of MINUSMA is a welcome step forward that will help the Council tailor the Mission’s mandate to the needs on the ground. We appreciate this opportunity to reflect on the options outlined by the Secretary-General in his report. “Business as usual” is no longer an option for MINUSMA or for this Council. This review, along with the forthcoming report from the high-level panel on the Sahel and other regional initiatives, will be helpful as this Council considers MINUSMA’s future and continues its support to the people of Mali.
After more than a decade of UN engagement in Mali, the situation remains alarming. While there is no easy fix for the challenges facing the country, the international community cannot – and must not – fail. The 2015 agreement lays out the framework for peace in Mali and it is necessary to build on this foundation. We encourage all parties to remain resolute and committed to its implementation. More specifically, attention should be paid to ensuring progress in the electoral and constitutional processes. We acknowledge Algeria’s constructive efforts in this regard.
Maintaining open channels of communication, and creating space for dialogue in this Council, in the region, and in Mali is critical. To this end, we note the positive steps taken towards regional engagement, including the return of members of the Ivorian forces. Good neighborly relations will be critical to overcoming Mali and the region’s interdependent challenges. ECOWAS, the AU, and MINUSMA continue to be key partners in supporting national state-building efforts.
In light of the complex challenges that Mali continues to face, I would like to highlight three key points:
First, as extremism continues to spread, a comprehensive response is needed. In Mali, extremists exploit the existing vulnerabilities of communities and distort religion to radicalize and recruit followers. Such political and social challenges are inextricably linked to the deteriorating security situation and must be addressed accordingly. In order to be effective, counter-terrorism operations need to work in tandem with the extension of state authority and the provision of basic services. The growing presence of State authorities in the north and center of Mali can, for example, contribute to the implementation of policies that will help protect the population, address their basic needs, and create an environment where extremism cannot thrive. This must be a strategic priority for the Mission, and it behooves this Council to take actions that complement regional counter-terrorism efforts.
Second, the human cost of violence is unacceptable. We cannot ignore the complex humanitarian crisis that is exacerbated by insecurity, including the far-reaching consequences for women and children. Mali’s social fabric is being torn apart and its future is in jeopardy: over 587,000 children are still affected by the closures of 1,950 schools. As we focus on the most pressing needs, let’s ensure that in addition to more immediate responses, we also prioritize medium- and longer-term planning. This will in turn lay the groundwork for rebuilding a more resilient and sustainable Mali.
And third, in considering the review and MINUSMA’s future configuration, we are really looking forward to engaging constructively with all relevant stakeholders. The Council’s decision should not merely be the lowest common denominator of our respective positions, but rather a significant results-oriented push in support of the people of Mali. For that, engagement with African stakeholders must be given a central role in addressing the challenges facing Mali and the region.
In conclusion, Mr. President, the UAE will continue to support all efforts aimed at preserving stability and peace and alleviating the suffering of the people of Mali. As a Council, we must remain engaged and prioritize their stability and their prosperity.
I thank you.