Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Mali (MINUSMA Renewal)

Rodney Hunter
Political Coordinator
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
June 28, 2019


Thank you Mr. President.

The United States would like to thank Council members for a collaborative negotiation and express our gratitude for France’s extraordinary efforts in developing this draft resolution and conducting those negotiations. I also want to join our colleagues today in bidding farewell and expressing our gratitude to Ambassador Delattre. Ambassador, you have served France honorably both in New York and in Washington, and your service to this body has been instrumental in maintaining international peace and security – as well as promoting liberty and equality – around the world. We will truly miss you, and we wish you all the best.

Mr. President, with another year of insufficient progress in implementing the 2015 Algiers Peace Agreement and the worsening insecurity in central Mali, we could not accept the status quo for MINUSMA. We needed to create the right mandate to respond to escalating violence and hold the signatory parties accountable. This resolution will help accomplish both.

First, we have made the significant decision to create a second strategic priority for MINUSMA focused on central Mali, the most dangerous region in the country. The number of attacks, human rights violations and abuses, and civilians killed has reached a level not seen in Mali since 2012.

This second strategic priority shows Malians that MINUSMA, with more than 16,000 personnel and a budget over $1 billion a year, will prioritize support to the Malian government’s efforts to improve civilian protection and respect for human rights by re-establishing a constructive and rights-respecting state presence in the center. The government has the primary responsibility for ensuring security, opportunity, and access to services there, and needs to act accordingly.

Second, this mandate again makes clear that the mission’s key focus is to support implementation of the peace agreement, as it has done for the past four years. The United States has consistently noted our deep disappointment with the parties’ lack of progress on that agreement. This resolution includes new specific and measurable benchmarks focused primarily on the political and security pillars of the agreement. We expect the parties to make significant progress on these benchmarks, and to do so soon.

To reinforce this expectation, Mr. President, the sanctions committee is on the verge of designating more individuals under the 2374 regime. The timely message of these designations makes clear to all the parties that this Council will hold accountable those who block progress on the agreement to clear the way for leaders who will work together to achieve the agreement’s goals: power sharing through institutional reform, redistricting, and more elections.

Mr. President, this is no ordinary mandate renewal — because MINUSMA is no ordinary peacekeeping mission. Since its creation in 2013, MINUSMA has operated in a challenging, dangerous, and asymmetric environment. It is a peacekeeping mission in a counterterrorism environment. MINUSMA peacekeepers are consistently and purposefully attacked by unrelenting violent extremists who are mobile, smart, and organized.

Mindful of these unique and deadly challenges, this mandate more adequately focuses its attention on MINUSMA’s troops, which make up more than 80% of the mission and the main share of its budget. It calls for improved troop and police performance, more control and flexibility for the SRSG and Force Commander, and better pre-deployment training for incoming troop contributing countries.

Significantly, it asks for a level of detailed reporting that we have not received thus far. The resolution mandates biannual assessments by the SRSG, in coordination with the Force Commander, on performance, operations, rotations, and the mission’s work with the other security actors in Mali. It also calls for the mission to work with these other security actors to develop a transition plan to coordinate the eventual transfer of security responsibilities. We very much look forward to hearing about those plans, and the United States intends to ask both the SRSG and Force Commander to present them in person next year.

Mr. President, we note that this resolution contains references to the International Criminal Court, and refer to the U.S. policy on the ICC as announced by the United States on September 10, 2018. In particular, the United States reiterates its continuing and longstanding principled objection to any assertion of ICC jurisdiction over nationals of States that are not parties to the Rome Statute, such as the United States and Israel, absent a UN Security Council referral or the consent of such a State. Mali, as a State Party to the Rome Statute, has consented to the ICC’s jurisdiction and, as noted in this resolution, has referred the situation to the ICC.

The United States remains a leader in the fight to end impunity and continues to support justice and accountability for international crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. We respect the decision of those nations that have chosen to join the ICC, and in turn, we expect that our decision not to join and not to place our citizens under the ICC’s jurisdiction will also be respected.

Finally, Mr. President, the Council expressed support in this resolution for the delivery of life support consumables to the G5 Sahel Joint Force contingents operating outside Mali through the reimbursable support mechanism originally detailed in Resolution 2391 and later in the UN, EU, and G5’s technical agreement. We have seen minimal use of this option inside Mali itself, and look forward to the Secretary-General’s assessment next June as we consider whether to continue this mechanism.

On this note, Mr President, the threat of terrorism is a reality across all of West Africa, not just the Sahel, and the Council should review this problem comprehensively. It is time to transform the standalone report and briefing on the G5 Sahel Joint Force into a broader discussion of terrorism challenges across West Africa, including the devastating conflict with Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa and the increased threat against littoral countries.

This broader discussion should draw attention to the conflict’s impact on millions of people across the region and the efforts of all regional forces to combat terrorism. We have not had a dedicated meeting on the Lake Chad Basin region since April 2018, nor a meeting dedicated to security and humanitarian issues there since September 2017. It is high time we merged these subjects into one, rather than focusing exclusively on the G5 Sahel.

Mr. President, in conclusion, we salute the soldiers, the civilians, and contractors of MINUSMA who risk their lives for a brighter and more secure future for the people of Mali. The United States honors the sacrifices that they and their families make each day. Most of all, we hope that the Malian parties see in this resolution a clear, collective message: that they must take urgent steps to implement the peace agreement in order to create stability in Mali and an opportunity for its people. Thank you, Mr. President.