Mr. Chairman,

I thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, El-Ghassim Wane and Ms. Aminata Cheick Dicko, for their informative presentations and welcome His Excellency, Mr. Abdou-laye Diop. Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali.

Mali has been a priority and partner country for Swiss cooperation since 1977, so for more than four decades. Active mainly in the regions of Sikasso, Mopti and Timbuktu, Switzerland is committed to the fight against poverty, with an emphasis on basic education and local economic development, to the respect of human rights and to lasting peace.

There is still a long way to go towards this peace. And I take this opportunity to say that our thoughts are with all the families of the victims, members and soldiers of MINUSMA and the Malian civilian population. We welcome the steps taken to advance the political transition, including the enactment of an electoral law, the draft constitution and the updating of the electoral list. This should be taken forward in an inclusive, impartial, transparent and timely process. We encourage the authorities to work closely with ECOWAS and the African Union.

Let me highlight four key points:

First, the implementation of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement remains the cornerstone for peace, democracy and prosperity in Mali. A continued commitment by the signatory parties to revive this process remains crucial and urgent. We welcome the efforts undertaken by the International Mediation in this direction, and we call for the rapid operationalisation of the ad hoc Commission as well as the resumption of regular dialogue between the parties. Switzerland is ready to support these processes. We see encouraging signs of women's active representation and participation. Their inclusion at all levels of decision-making and the integration of their capacities and contributions in all processes are essential.

Secondly, persistent insecurity, including the threat of terrorism, is a concern. Peace efforts are undermined by insecurity and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, for which the civilian population pays a high price. In addition, impunity contributes to the reproduction of cycles of violence. In order to ensure the protection of the civilian population and to restore their confidence in the country's institutions, Switzerland calls on all parties to respect their obligations under IHL and human rights law.

Third, humanitarian needs, including food needs, have increased. Insecurity and climate change are contributing to a worsening food crisis and forced displacement, leading to an even more precarious security situation. We are concerned that 1950 schools remain closed, affecting almost 590,000 children in the centre and north of the country. The future of these children, especially girls, is at stake. We call on all actors to guarantee and protect humanitarian access and on the international community to respond to urgent humanitarian needs.

Fourth, Switzerland thanks the Secretary-General for the good internal review of MINUSMA, which notes that its overall strategic priorities remain relevant. Regardless of the future configuration of the mandate and the mission, two points seem important to us: First, to fulfil its mandate and to effectively support Malian efforts, MINUSMA must have the necessary resources. It must, together with the Malian authorities, be able to create and maintain a security environment that allows it to operate effectively. In addition, a relationship of mutual trust between Mali and MINUSMA must be based on respect for existing agreements, including the Status of Forces Agreement. The mission's freedom of movement is essential for the fulfilment of its mandate. The four parameters identified by the internal review could form the basis for a stable and predictable relationship between the mission and its host country.

Mr. Chairman,

The insecurity in Mali has an impact on regional stability. The continued and united support of this Council is crucial to seek a common understanding and, by working with local and regional actors, to improve the current situation in Mali. Switzerland looks forward to contributing.

I thank you.

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