Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in Mali and the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Force in Mali (MINUSMA)

Ambassador Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
October 8, 2019


Thank you Mr. President. Thank you Special Representative Annadif for your briefing. Mr. President, today I want to emphasize the continued importance of follow-through. We have seen this essential quality in the sustained commitment of those serving in the MINUSMA peacekeeping mission – the UN’s most dangerous.

Both MINUSMA and the Malian Defense Forces suffered heinous attacks in recent days, with a Chadian peacekeeper killed in one and at least 38 Malian troops killed in two others. The United States owes a debt of gratitude to those families whose loved ones lives were taken and hopes for a speedy recovery to all who were injured. On a personal note, we must not become numb to this kind of violence.

The deaths of these Malian soldiers are wrong, the death of one is wrong; they come far too soon; and this should motivate this Council to redouble its efforts. These horrific acts reinforce the realities that MINUSMA is no ordinary peacekeeping mission, and that Mali’s security and humanitarian crisis continues a dangerous spiral.

Terrorist organizations operate with impunity, and civilians are killed, injured, or displaced in unacceptable numbers. To affirm that such a status quo is indeed unacceptable, the Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2480 on June 28th. Notably, the mandate created a second strategic priority for MINUSMA to support the Government of Mali to protect civilians in the center of the country.

We commend MINUSMA for its efforts to address instability in the center – particularly the launch of Operation Oryx II; its work to reestablish State authority; and its assistance with local reconciliation efforts.

We also welcome the Mission’s strategy to increase mobility and concentrate on major population centers. Furthermore, like my colleague of Cote d’Ivoire, we encourage greater and continued participation by women in the Inclusive National Dialogue and in the Peace Agreement monitoring mechanisms.

The United States also recognizes efforts by Mali’s government to stabilize the center. The handover of a MINUMSA camp to Malian security forces is an example of a small but concrete step in the right direction, and we wish to see more transitions like this one in the future.

However, Mr. President, despite MINUSMA’s commendable efforts, the overall trend in this reporting period is deeply concerning, as it speaks to a notable lack of follow-through. The Government of Mali and the Signatory Armed Groups have made little progress implementing the Algiers Peace Agreement, despite Resolution 2480’s clear message that signatory parties are expected to accelerate the Agreement’s implementation.

In the three months since the Resolution was signed, we have yet to reach any consensus on how the Inclusive National Dialogue should proceed. A number of critical parties have pulled out of the process. And implementation has been hampered by administrative shortages and the failure to fund local authorities at the level required by the Agreement.

This is not acceptable Mr. President. We cannot continue to support a peacekeeping mission where the signatory parties enjoy security provided by international forces while refusing to fully implement their own agreement. We have also heard calls to give MINUSMA a more robust counterterrorism mandate. In our view, however, MINUSMA – which is a peacekeeping mission – should not be viewed as a solution to a regional counterterrorism problem. The G5 Sahel has already developed a Joint Force to address those specific challenges, and the United States supports this effort.

As I close, I want to return to the theme of follow-through. The late theologian Eugene Peterson once wrote that “beginnings are important,” but that “a beginning without a continuation is a lie.”

Fellow Council members, we cannot allow another promising beginning to evade continuation. We cannot allow another year to pass and be no closer to the implementation of the Algiers Accord or the achievement of the Agreement’s key political goals. If all stakeholders remain unwilling to break the status quo, then we must be willing to begin developing a different approach to peace, security, and renewal for the people of Mali.

Thank you.