Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Representative to the United Nations, at a UN Security Council Briefing on Mali

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August 28, 2023

Let me start by thanking Special Representative Wane, for your briefing and for your leadership during an extremely challenging time for Mali and MINUSMA. I also thank Ms. Abouya for her briefing and recommendations in support of the Malian people. I welcome the participation in this meeting of the Malian Permanent Representative.

As many of us feared, the transition government’s decision to close MINUSMA has already triggered renewed violence on the ground. We are alarmed by a resumption of hostilities in northern Mali, including by violations of the ceasefire during the August 11th and 12th clashes at the Ber Camp and by subsequent attacks on a MINUSMA convoy on August 13th.

Additionally, MINUSMA’s withdrawal limits the ability of the international community to protect civilians from the predations of Wagner, whose activities contribute to greater insecurity in the country.

Colleagues, we are deeply grateful to the men and women of MINUSMA, and to the troop- and police-contributing countries for their commitment to peace in Mali in the face of grave danger. And we strongly condemn senseless attacks on peacekeepers, which threaten to reverse years of progress toward peace and stability – and undo so many of the remarkable gains made by the UN and Malians.

Let me be clear: if war were to break out, it would again unleash unspeakable, unthinkable devastation on the Malian people – who have already endured so much needless suffering.

Colleagues, the Malian people deserve peace. And further instability would open the doors to JNIM and ISIS-Sahel to spread their access and influence. It would be a recipe for disaster.

The Malian transition government and signatory armed groups, along with the UN and the international community, must demonstrate an urgent and revitalized commitment to the Algiers Accord. This agreement continues to represent the best opportunity for lasting peace and stability in Mali. Plain and simple. To that end, we call on all signatory parties to immediately renew their cooperation with the International Mediation.

The United States welcomes the Secretary-General’s plan outlining the transfer of some of MINUSMA’s tasks. And we strongly urge the UN to provide concrete recommendations for transferring mission tasks associated with the Algiers Accord to avoid significant delays in the Accord’s implementation. The establishment of a dedicated component within the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel may be the most prudent way to ensure continuity in this regard.

And, in light of this month’s dangerous events surrounding the MINUSMA force withdrawal at Ber, MINUSMA should remain engaged with all parties on the Algiers Accord while drawdown activities continue.

The United States also urges the parties to settle their disputes through dialogue and engage with MINUSMA on an agreement for the safe and peaceful transfer of its camps and bases to the Malian authorities. As the situation grows increasingly volatile, these transfers must prioritize the safety and security of peacekeepers. All parties must refrain from any action that jeopardizes MINUSMA’s safety and orderly withdrawal – or endangers UN personnel.

I also want to remind the transition authorities that the Status of Forces Agreement – and its provisions ensuring MINUSMA’s freedom of movement throughout Mali – remains in full effect until the mission’s final element has departed, which will extend beyond December 31st. The transition government has thus far cooperated with the mission’s withdrawal, which is notable despite the challenges they have already endured. And it must continue to do so.

I will say once again how regrettable the decision made to end MINUSMA’s presence in Mali was. But that’s water under the bridge. Now Mali’s leaders have an opportunity – an opportunity to build upon MINUSMA’s important legacy and recommit to dialogue to settle differences rather than violence. We urge all Malians, all Malian leaders, to choose the path of peace. Choose stability. Choose the future for the people of Mali.

Thank you very much.

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