I thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, El-Ghassim Wane, for his briefing.
Switzerland condemns the violence and attacks perpetrated since our last meeting against peacekeepers, the Malian armed forces and civilians, and I would like to begin by expressing my most sincere condolences to the victims and their families.
The Secretary-General's report notes some progress in the political transition process. The next milestone is the holding of credible and transparent elections within the set timeframe. The establishment of the 15-member “Autorité Indépendante de Gestion des Elections “, including four women, is a positive development for the elections in the first quarter of 2024. Women must participate in large numbers in the elections, both as candidates and voters. It is a matter of "winning with women," as also stated in an initiative supported by Switzerland and USAID, which has allowed political parties to evaluate the representation of women in their bodies.
In view of the parameters identified by the Secretary General in the internal review of MINUSMA, let me highlight three key points regarding the overall situation in Mali:
First, the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation (APR) is a crucial instrument for the construction of peace. It must remain the central framework to avoid a resumption of hostilities between the signatory parties. However, the implementation of the APR currently appears to be at an impasse. We encourage the Government and the Movements, who confirm that they remain committed to the APR, to resume the dialogue through the established mechanisms and in a regular manner. Switzerland welcomes the efforts undertaken in this regard by the International Mediation and its leader, Algeria. We remain committed to supporting the implementation of the APR.
Furthermore, to strengthen security in Mali, the launch of the Stabilization Strategy of the Centre region and its action plan for 2022-2024 is an important step. We support the consolidated approach that aims to restore peace, security and social cohesion, as well as improve governance and strengthen justice. The challenge now is to implement the strategy without delay and in close collaboration with MINUSMA. To combat the current growing insecurity in Mali, all actors must pull in the same direction. Freedom of movement for MINUSMA must be guaranteed, as well as increased coordination with the Malian defense and security forces. Flight restrictions reduce both the safety of the mission's personnel and its ability to fulfill its mandate for the benefit of Malians.
Finally, it is essential that international humanitarian law and human rights be respected in all circumstances. In particular, the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and the Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security have both recently noted a worrying situation in Mali. The number of grave violations against children continues to grow, including cases of recruitment, use, and abduction. Similarly, sexual and gender-based violence is increasing, particularly violence related to armed conflict, in areas where the humanitarian situation is precarious and where armed groups are present. We urge all parties to the conflict in Mali to immediately end these violations and release all children in their ranks. We also call on the authorities to prosecute the perpetrators in order to combat impunity. Without respect for these fundamental rights and without accountability, no lasting peace is possible.
Over the past ten years, the Council has repeatedly adapted the mission's mandate to best meet the needs and expectations of the Malian people. The continued support of this Council and the work of MINUSMA are crucial to resolving the multiple challenges that threaten the security and future of Mali.
Restoring peace requires first and foremost a firm commitment: A commitment to unconditional respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. A commitment to implementing the APR quickly. And a commitment to acting in ways that build mutual trust, not undermine it.
I thank you.