Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Mali

By Ambassador Richard Mills, Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations

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June 13, 2022

 

AS DELIVERED

 

Thank you Madam President, and thank you Special Representative Wane for your briefing today. I especially want to thank Ms. Touré for her important, troubling observations about the serious challenges facing the people of Mali, especially women and young people, and the dire need for the government to more effectively provide basic services to its people.

I also welcome Foreign Minister Diop to today’s briefing. My delegation appreciates your attendance given the importance of the mandate renewal. Let me begin, as others have, by expressing our deepest condolences and sympathy to the families and the friends of the Egyptian and Jordanian peacekeepers, and the Red Cross workers who were killed and wounded in attacks two weeks ago. The United States condemns in the strongest terms all attacks against civilians and peacekeepers. We also condemn the misinformation and disinformation campaigns that threaten the safety and security of peacekeepers and that hinder MINUSMA’s ability to fully carry out its mandate to support the people of Mali.

We reiterate the decision of this Council that those involved in planning, directing, sponsoring, or conducting attacks against MINUSMA peacekeepers or those planning, directing, or committing acts in Mali that constitute human rights abuses or violations, including those involving the targeting of civilians, may be subject to sanctions. MINUSMA’s nearly decade-long presence in support of peace is an expression of international solidarity with Malians. The United States looks forward to discussions with our colleagues on this Council to renew the mandate for MINUSMA. MINUSMA protects civilians, makes a difference in the lives of the Malian people, and advances the international community’s goal for a peaceful, stable, and secure Mali and a secure Sahel region.

As we discuss MINUSMA’s support to the people of Mali, I have three key messages today. First, the success of any peacekeeping mission hinges on the commitment of the parties to advance and pursue sustainable political solutions. As the Council has stated previously, it is urgent that the Malian authorities demonstrate their commitment to implement the Algiers Accord. We regret to note that the Algiers Accord Monitoring Committee has not met since October.

It is equally urgent that the Malian authorities restore constitutional rule by holding timely elections, and we welcome ECOWAS’ continued engagement with Malian authorities to support efforts to restore constitutional rule. We encourage the transition government to continue to be responsive to ECOWAS. The United States acknowledges the announcement by Mali’s transition government of a 24-month transition timetable starting in March 2022. We do not endorse this timeline as final, but acknowledge that it responds to this Council’s call for a clear and unambiguous commitment to a transition timeline. We urge Mali and ECOWAS to reach agreement in particular on a robust monitoring mechanism with tangible benchmarks for the remainder of the transition. Transparent and inclusive processes that respect diverse perspectives and freedoms will be critical to build a strong foundation for the future.

Second, we are deeply troubled by the recent MINUSMA-OHCHR report detailing the human rights crisis in Mali. The report documents a dramatic increase in human rights violations and abuses against civilians by both terrorist groups and the Malian armed forces with “foreign security personnel,” otherwise known to most of the world as the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group forces. Malian authorities are fully responsible for the actions of their security partners. Last March, reports emerged about the horrific massacre and mass graves in Moura. Malian authorities still have refused to allow MINUSMA access to the site to conduct an independent investigation. This is unacceptable. MINUSMA must have immediate access to all sites of reported attacks to conduct the investigations that are mandated by this very Council.

The alarming increase in allegations of human rights abuses and violations is exactly why the United States continues to warn countries against partnering with the Russian-backed Wagner Group. Wagner Group forces are widely reported to commit egregious human rights abuses everywhere they deploy. Wagner will not bring peace to Mali. Instead, Wagner will only divert natural and economic resources away from Mali’s fight against terrorism.

Third and last, Madam President, Mali must allow MINUSMA to do its job. As the Council stated previously, the transitional government must respect the Status of Forces Agreement. Restricting MINUSMA flights, movements, or access – especially over vast swaths of Central Mali – limits MINUSMA’s ability to anticipate, deter, and effectively respond to threats and to protect civilians. MINUSMA’s inability to fully operate due to Mali’s restrictions leaves Mali vulnerable. We urge the transition government to fully support and coordinate with MINUSMA. The mission is there specifically at the request of Malian authorities to help extend state authority, mitigate intercommunal violence, and deter the ability of terrorists to harm civilians.

The United States stands ready to continue our support for the people of Mali and for MINUSMA. We are committed to the stability and the security of Mali and the Sahel region.

Thank you Madam President.

 

 

 

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