Welcome to the United Nations

Remarks to MINUSMA Force Generation Conference

24 May 2017
António Guterres

[Bilingual, as prepared for delivery]

Excellencies, 
Ladies and Gentlemen, 

We are here today to focus attention on Mali and how we can together best ensure effective support. 

I would like to express my particular appreciation to all countries whose troops serve in Mali, and all those who have been supporting Mali and MINUSMA in other ways. 

I particularly thank the Member States that announced their intentions to make pledges yesterday, and ask them to do their utmost to ensure swift deployment.

Let me add my welcome to Your Excellency Mr. Issa Konfourou [Permanent Representative of Mali to the United Nations]. 

This meeting is an important sign of solidarity and support for the people of Mali, and the work of the women and men deployed in one of our most challenging peacekeeping operations. 

I pay tribute to the courageous peacekeepers who have lost their lives while supporting peace in Mali. Malian and French forces continue to be targeted by extremist and terrorist groups. Earlier today, two peacekeepers were killed when a MINUSMA convoy was ambushed near Kidal – a grim reminder of the dangers faced by MINUSMA on the ground. 

Since MINUSMA was established four years ago, Malians have made significant progress towards peace and reconciliation. 

Elections were held. A peace agreement signed almost two years ago. 

Despite delays and differences of opinion, the parties have found common ground to overcome obstacles and achieve progress in implementing interim political and security arrangements. 

However, tragically, that progress has not translated into peace. 

Violent extremist groups are actively seeking to spoil and stop the peace process. New armed groups have emerged while some existing groups have divided into different factions. Instability has spread from the north to the centre of the country, and beyond Mali’s borders into neighbouring countries. 

Security Council resolution 2295 urged the Malian parties to accelerate implementation of the agreement and restore State authority. 

This includes redeploying Malian defence and security forces to the centre and the north of the country. In light of serious security challenges on the ground, the Security Council reinforced the mandate of MINUSMA backing it with necessary capabilities and authorizing up to 2,049 additional troops. 

Yet confidence in the peace process was undermined by renewed fighting between armed groups last summer and continued delays in institutional reform and redeployment of Malian forces. 

Few countries have answered the Secretariat’s call for new contributions to MINUSMA, which are urgently needed to create an environment for political progress, security and sustainable development. 

Excellences,

Comme je l’ai dit au Conseil de sécurité le 6 avril, les opérations de maintien de la paix doivent être équipées pour répondre aux exigences des nouveaux environnements opérationnels. Le Mali a valeur de test pour la communauté internationale. 

Nous ne pouvons pas déployer les soldats de la paix de la MINUSMA dans les zones où opèrent les groupes terroristes et les réseaux criminels transnationaux sans leur donner les moyens de faire face aux difficultés qu’ils rencontrent. Nous devons aussi leur donner les moyens d’appuyer les institutions maliennes à graduellement exercer leur responsabilité de rétablir la stabilité.

Les chiffres de 13 289 militaires et 1 920 policiers sont relativement modestes compte tenu de la taille du théâtre d’opérations de la MINUSMA. En fait, la plupart des effectifs manquants sont des « multiplicateurs de force » – des unités militaires spécialisés qui augmenteraient considérablement la capacité des troupes déjà sur le terrain à exécuter les tâches prévues par le mandat. 

Elles sont essentielles non seulement pour que la MINUSMA accomplisse son mandat de protection des civils, mais aussi pour protéger le personnel des Nations Unies. 

Dans ce vaste terrain inhospitalier, la protection est primordiale pour écarter les menaces et mettre en œuvre le mandat de la Mission. Mais il a fallu deux ans pour obtenir le bataillon spécialisé en convois de combat qui permettra d’alléger les tâches de protection des troupes au profit de l’accomplissement du mandat.

Nous avons besoin de véhicules blindés de transport de troupes et d’hélicoptères pour que les soldats de la paix puissent intervenir plus efficacement. 

Nous avons besoin de la force de réaction rapide et de son équipe intégrée d’appui héliporté a Mopti pour répondre rapidement aux incidents, protéger les civils et contrer la propagation des éléments extrémistes violents. 

Nous remercions les Etats membres qui se sont engagés à contribuer ces unités et à les déployer dans les plus brefs délais. 

Nous devons maintenant réfléchir à la posture et aux capacités dont doivent disposer des opérations de maintien de la paix telles que la MINUSMA pour maximiser leur impact sur le terrain. 

Excellencies, 

In Mali, we need more robustness; more deterrence; more preparedness of the contingents; greater capability to implement the mandate and protect our personnel. 

Three factors are critical to achieving greater results:

First, success requires troop-contributing countries to commit to MINUSMA’s mandate. While a robust peacekeeping mandate does not equal a counter-terrorist mandate, it does imply a proactive, pre-emptive posture. Caveats work against our ability to protect civilians and ensure the security of the women and men who are deployed. I hope that troop-contributing countries will come to share this view. 

Second, we need predictable military assets. The Secretariat is working with troop-contributing countries to plan contributions up to five years ahead to ensure the uninterrupted availability of key capabilities. We must seek efficiency gains in this time of scarce resources, but we must also invest now to save later. 

Third, partnerships. Counter-terrorist forces and peacekeeping operations complement one another. We must enhance our cooperation with Barkhane, and support the G5 Sahel Joint Force in due course, to maximize collective efforts against the threats facing Mali. 

Excellencies,

Time is of the essence. Violent extremist groups have increased their area of operations and the speed at which they work. Civilians are under threat. Continued instability saps the Malian people’s confidence in State institutions. It saps hope for the restoration of law and order. And it affects the morale of MINUSMA’s troops. 

At this critical time, we owe the people of Mali the means to implement the Mission’s mandate. I trust that together we will identify solutions. 

I know that you are already exploring some ideas including the rotation of high-end capabilities. I challenge you to explore new ways of ensuring that peacekeepers have what they need to succeed. 

Once again, thank you for sharing our commitment to durable peace in Mali and the Sahel.

https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/speeches/2017-05-24/secretary-genera...