Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
January 13, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you Special Representative for your briefing, as well.
Let me begin by joining my colleagues in extending my deepest sympathies to the family members of those killed in recent violence in the region, including in the recent terrorist attacks in Niger, and the attacks against the French soldiers in Mali that killed five. The United States condemns these attacks and others like them in the strongest terms.
As we have heard from the Special Representative, the transition government in Mali has a window of opportunity to lay the foundation for a safer, more prosperous, more democratic country. The United States commends the steps the Malian transition government has taken to deliver on its commitments to its citizens and to move forward to those goals.
The United States supports the reform agenda that the transition government and the African-led Support Group for the transition announced last November. That agenda focuses on security, governance, a renewed social compact, elections, and implementation of the Algiers Accord.
The United States urges the transition government to focus its efforts on priority issues to ensure concrete progress by April 2022. What are those? First, free and fair elections need to be organized in the agreed-upon timeframe. Second, Malians must tackle impunity, impunity for corruption, and they must address human rights violations and abuses. Progress in these areas is crucial to rebuilding the relationship between the government and its citizens. Third, Malians must demonstrate a commitment to inclusive governance, especially focused delivery of basic service programs to Mali’s north as is outlined in the Algiers Accord.
Holding free and fair elections within the next 14 months is vital to return the country to a democratically elected government. The United States welcomes the transition government’s recent assurances that the timeline for both the legislative and presidential elections will take place well within the prescribed period. Malians deserve the opportunity to choose their own leaders, as my colleagues have said, and ensure that the next elected government has the necessary legitimacy to advance reforms.
The United States urges the transition government to organize the elections in a credible and transparent manner and through a very inclusive process. The government also should designate election authorities who are and will be perceived to be independent and technically competent to administer the polls.
The transition government has taken a noteworthy step forward to fight corruption by publicly stating its commitment to requiring public officials to declare their assets. This now must be enforced and those who abuse public assets must be held accountable.
Rule of law must also extend to human rights. We applaud the Transition President’s public commitment to improving the human rights record of Mali’s defense forces, and we take note of the Defense Ministry’s strict prohibition on the recruitment of children younger than 15. We call for strong enforcement of this prohibition and for continued progress towards further professionalizing the Malian defense and security forces. The United States urges the transition government to follow through to complete transparent investigations, and prosecute cases of human rights violations and abuses in a timely manner.
On the Algiers Accord, the United States is encouraged to hear that women, in significant number, participated in the first Monitoring Committee meeting held by the transition government, and we hope to see women’s full, effective, and meaningful participation, as my Irish colleague underscored, in Accord implementation moving forward.
As the largest humanitarian donor to the Sahel region, the United States remains a steadfast partner to the Malian people, and we are hopeful that in the months ahead the country will move forward towards sustainable reform and progress on the Algiers Accord benchmarks.
Thank you, Mr. President.