|Jan Eliasson; UN Deputy Sec. Gen.|
(Being UN Deputy Secretary-General's statement to AU/ECOWAS/UN Meeting of the Support and Follow-Up Group on Mali)
First, we must assist the Malian authorities in designing and implementing a credible political process that addresses the underlying causes of the crisis. Security Council resolution 2071 mandates the United Nations to support Mali in finding a sustainable solution.
Second, we must help the Malian authorities plan and execute military operations which may ultimately be required to return the areas occupied by terrorist groups and criminal networks. In resolution 2071, the Security Council declared its readiness to respond to a Malian request for an international military force following the receipt of a written report with actionable recommendations. The United Nations will support planning efforts for a possible force.
In doing so, we must ensure that military action does not exacerbate tensions or worsen an already fragile humanitarian situation. Any military action must also support a coherent political strategy for the country’s reunification. And for the international community to back an international military force, human rights and humanitarian law must be scrupulously respected.
The aim of the political process should be to build a broad-based national vision for the future of Mali. This will require a roadmap for the Transition so that preparations for elections can begin.
The process should enable the Transitional Authorities to engage in talks with rebel groups in the North, which represent the legitimate grievances of communities which have suffered from years of marginalization. It is imperative that these groups cut off all ties to terrorist organizations, as called for in Security Council Resolution 2071. The military forces are to refrain from interfering in the political arena.
The Malian defense and security forces must be at the forefront of the international effort to combat terrorism and crime in northern Mali. A critical contribution will be to support the re-organization of the defence and security forces, as requested by the Malian authorities.
Comprehensive reform of the security sector must also be at the core of our collective efforts to consolidate Malian state institutions, as called for in Security Council resolutions.
In resolution 2071, the Security Council requested the Secretary-General to support both the Malian political process and the development of military plans for the recovery of the occupied territories of the North. The Council called on the United Nations to work in close consultation with authorities in Mali, the AU, ECOWAS and other partners, and to submit a report on the implementation of the resolution within 45 days. This is now less than 40 days away.
The important work already done by the Malian authorities, ECOWAS and the AU will serve as a solid basis for our joint efforts. For its part, the United Nations is ready to provide immediate support to a national dialogue and assistance to strengthen national capacities for political negotiations. We are also in the process of deploying military planners and security sector reform advisers to Bamako.
The presence here today of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Sahel, former President of the European Commission and former Prime Minister of Italy Romano Prodi, is a tangible expression of the commitment of the UN to helping resolve the crisis in the Sahel and Mali. The Special Envoy will be working closely with all of you to mobilize international support, coordinate the United Nations integrated regional strategy for the Sahel, and help bring about a comprehensive solution to the crisis in Mali. He will work very closely and in tandem with the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, Mr. Said Djinnit, as well as his team and office. He will also coordinate with the Special Representative for Central Africa, Mr. Abou Moussa, and with the UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, Mr. David Gressly, as well as with the UN Resident Coordinators in the region.
The Strategy on the Sahel aims to stem the terrorist threat, fight organized crime, control the proliferation of weapons, tackle money laundering and improve border management. It stresses inclusiveness and mediation as the path to decreased tensions. Here, regional fora and networks which bring together government officials, religious leaders, civil society and cross-border communities can play an important role. The strategy also places emphasis on environmental management, better handling of land and water resources, and greater resilience in the face of extreme climatic conditions and market shocks.