January 29, 2013
Thank you Mr. Chairman,
Excellencies, Distinguished participants, ladies and Gentlemen.
I am here to express Canada's support to the international community's response to the ongoing crises in Mali.
Canada has longstanding relations with Mali, cooperating closely bilaterally, regionally and in la Francophonie on development, good governance and security.
We have been one of Mali's principal development partners assisting the country to become, until recent developments, an increasingly stable democracy and one that was making concrete health and education gains.
Canadian investments have contributed to improving the quality of life for the most vulnerable people of Mali.
Canada also has a history of working with the national security agencies and armed forces of ECOWAS.
This is accomplished through training military and police units in understanding the rules of war, protection of civilians and on how to mitigate barbaric sexual violence in conflict.
As well as through facilitating ECOWAS member deployment to complex theatres of operations on the African continent.
A continent which holds so much promise in one aspect, and so much risk on the other.
It is therefore deeply troubling that we have witnessed the deterioration in the security and humanitarian situation in the country, and its resultant impact on stability—not just in Mali but throughout the Sahel.
It is the consequence of terrorist networks seeking ripe opportunities to exploit, an opportunity made all too attractive should the Malian government not take the immediate steps towards retaining Malian democracy.
Furthermore, the establishment of a safe-haven for terrorist groups in this region is a threat to the broader international community—as our Prime Minister Harper noted on the 8th of January "the development of essentially an entire terrorist region in the middle of Africa is of grave concern to everybody."
This must be avoided at all costs, from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa, our long-term prosperity and security are intrinsically linked.
Canada fully supports UN Security Council resolution 2085 and the efforts of the UN, African Union and ECOWAS to take strong and collective action in response to the security challenges we are facing here.
We applaud the leadership role of ECOWAS and the African Union in mobilising military resources to assist Mali in regaining control of its territory and in convening this Conference.
We also applaud the French initiative to halt the Islamist offensive, and to work with international partners, the UN, ECOWAS and the AU, to bring stability to the region.
Canada is pleased to support this French led effort as we continue to provide strategic airlift capacity for the transport of equipment to Bamako, in support of the military operation.
The deployment of the African-led International Support Mission and efforts to address the security situation must be considered as part of a broader, process of restoring the legitimacy and stability of the Malian Government, and with concerted efforts to address the political, humanitarian and development situation in the country.
Canada is providing substantial support to our humanitarian partners responding to the needs of those affected by the conflict and the ongoing food crisis both in Mali and in neighbouring countries.
Although our suspension of direct aid to the Government of Mali remains in effect, we are continuing our significant development program working with our partners to address the needs of vulnerable Malians, particularly women and children.
To this end, I am announcing that Canada is providing an additional thirteen million dollars ($13M) for a number of ongoing initiatives aimed at addressing the humanitarian needs that are so pressing.
This type of support is critical to avoiding social unrest in southern Mali and stabilizing the part of the country where the vast majority of the people live and which is the seat of the interim government.
A stable south means more efforts can be concentrated on the security situation in the north.
So let me reiterate that Canada remains committed to a concerted international approach to the crisis in the Sahel, to the re-establishment of security and democracy for the people of Mali, and to overcoming the humanitarian crises that plague the region.
The Canadian government is currently considering how best to support efforts by ECOWAS, the African Union, and other partners to resolve the political and security crises in Mali.
Our discussions here today will help inform our own deliberations towards preserving the territorial integrity of Mali.
In the meantime we will continue our humanitarian support for Mali, our logistical support to the French led operation, and our significant development and diplomatic efforts to respond to the challenges throughout the Sahel region.
Canada's foreign and development policy places value on freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
These intrinsic Canadian values will define the terms of our engagement in the difficult struggle ahead.
Minister of International Cooperation