Statement by Ambassador Sven Jürgenson at UN Security Council VTC meeting on MINUSMA

I thank Under-Secretary-General Lacroix for his briefing. We welcome the appointment of Mr. El-Gassim Wane to the position of SRSG in Mali and offer our full support to him and to the work of MINUSMA.

Estonia is following very carefully the developments of the political transition in Mali. We take note of the latest progress, such as the adoption of the Government’s action plan and roadmap for the transition period, as well as the creation of the strategic committee on political and institutional reforms. At the same time, we encourage the Malian authorities to fully honour the commitments that they have made for themselves and for the Malian people. We recognize that the reform agenda for the transition period is ambitious and we call on the Malian authorities to identify and implement its most acute priorities. It is of utmost importance to take concrete, transparent and credible steps already now to make the elections in March 2022 a reality.

In the preparations towards the holding of elections, we urge the Malian authorities to focus on working out a detailed and operational electoral calendar. I would like to stress the need for inclusivity in the electoral process. Full, equal and meaningful participation of women – as candidates, community organizers and voters – is of key importance. We call on all parties to comply with the 2015 gender quota law. Women, as well as youth, need to be given an opportunity and a safe space to make their voices heard and their ideas taken aboard. More attention needs to be on building trust and consensus in the society.

I would like to recognise the positive role and engagement of the African Union and ECOWAS in supporting the political transition in Mali. Regional organisations can have an important role and offer their support in the transition process.

The security situation in Mali remains extremely concerning. All attacks against the national and international security presence, such as last week’s heinous attack against a MINUSMA camp in Kidal, must be condemned in strongest terms. Deliberate targeting of civilians by terrorists and armed groups is simply unacceptable and every effort needs to be made to alleviate the suffering of the people. Estonia will continue contributing to the fight against terrorism in Mali by participating in the international operations and training missions that are there to support the Malian authorities.

However, a military approach alone will not suffice. A long-term solution to the Malian conflict can only come through political will and inclusive dialogue as well as full ownership and commitment of all the parties. In this regard, the Algiers Peace Agreement will continue to be an essential framework and basis for such a dialogue. We are encouraged by the show of good will during the two meetings of the Agreement Monitoring Committee that took place outside of the capital in February and March. It is positive that progress was made on increasing women’s participation during these meetings. At the same time, we urge the parties to focus on achieving tangible progress in the implementation of the agreement. More needs to be done for the redeployment and effective use of reconstituted units of the army, as well as in the field of re-establishing the state presence and services in the North of Mali.

Mr. President, we remain very concerned about the continued negative trends in the human rights and the humanitarian situation. The recent steps taken by the Malian authorities to fight impunity for violations and abuses of international human rights law in central Mali are a step in the right direction. We urge the authorities to follow through with the relevant investigations and legal proceedings. Breaking the cycle of impunity and ensuring that all perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses as well as violators of international humanitarian law are brought to justice must be political and judicial priorities. The only way forward in achieving lasting peace is to focus on reconciliation and rebuilding trust in the society.

The humanitarian situation in Mali continues to be a source of concern. The adverse effects of climate change, as well as the spreading insecurity in Central Mali and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continue to exacerbate the suffering of civilians and especially the most vulnerable groups of the society. In this regard, we call on all relevant parties to allow access to humanitarian aid and relief efforts.