Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Acting Deputy Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 16, 2023
Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Special Representative Wane for your briefing. I welcome the participation of Foreign Minister Diop to today’s meeting.
We are pleased to see the Secretary-General continues to monitor the Malian transition government’s progress toward full compliance with the four benchmarks included in the UN’s internal review of MINUSMA.
These benchmarks are clearly defined and fully attainable. They ask the Malian authorities to uphold their existing obligations under the 2015 Algiers Accord, the Status of Forces Agreement with the UN, and the timetable agreed by ECOWAS for completing the political transition.
We are disappointed the Malian transition government demonstrated obstructionist behavior during the reporting period. We are especially frustrated by Mali’s ongoing restrictions against MINUSMA’s freedom of movement and access, and that it denied 170 MINUSMA flight authorization requests in the last three months alone.
The transition government also denied four out of five MINUSMA requests to conduct in situ investigations into reports of human rights violations and abuses. Despite these restrictions – which are in contravention of Mali’s Status of Forces Agreement – we commend MINUSMA for conducting dozens of other investigations using widely accepted remote forensic tools.
In the same vein, we commend MINUSMA and OHCHR for their diligent investigation into and factual reporting on the human rights abuses and violations committed by FAMa and the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group last March in Moura despite being denied access to the area. The UN’s ability to shine a light on abuses and violations despite such obstructionism reinforce the importance of MINUSMA’s mandate to promote and protect human rights in Mali.
Statements accusing MINUSMA of espionage for conducting an independent investigation as part of its mandate are unacceptable and they present a serious threat to the safety and security of UN peacekeepers authorized by this Council, who deserve nothing less than our full support.
On May 25, the United States imposed visa restrictions on two Malian military officers who commanded units involved in the human rights violations committed in Moura. We are appalled by the disregard for human life by elements of the Malian Armed Forces in cooperation with the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group in Moura. Never has it been more evident the destabilizing role of Wagner forces and direct threat they pose to the Malian people and the country’s sovereignty.
Members of this Council should also take note of how military operations harming civilians in central Mali, such as that in Moura, are undermining both efforts to protect civilians and the implementation of a politically-focused strategy.
In a more positive development, the United States applauds the transition government’s robust preparation and planning for the June 18 constitutional referendum. We reiterate once again our support for the transition process, and for elections in February 2024 in which neither the transition president nor prime minister can run for office, as the transition government agreed to with ECOWAS.
We encourage transition authorities as well as signatory armed groups to demonstrate similar commitment to the peace accord by responding to the proposals of the International Mediation constructively and in spirit of compromise.
It is clear that MINUSMA cannot achieve its mandate under the current conditions, and so we reiterate our rejection of “business as usual.” Only the transition government’s fulfillment of the four benchmarks should convince this Council to continue to support MINUSMA’s deployment in its current form.
Thank you, Madam President.