Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
October 19, 2018


Thank you, Madam President, and thank you, Under-Secretary-General Lacroix, for today’s briefing.

Implementing MINUSMA’s mandate is an incredibly challenging task. A large part of that mandate, commanding over 12,000 military personnel in a country the size of Mali, takes the right leader and MINUSMA found that in Major General Jean Paul Deconinck. He completed his command on October 2, and we are grateful for his leadership during his time as Force Commander. We welcome the new commander, Lieutenant General Dennis Gyllensporre, to MINUSMA and thank him for his commitment to taking on such a challenging assignment.

Most importantly, we want to thank the soldiers, the police, and the civilians of MINUSMA, who risk their lives every day to support the UN mission in Mali. This includes the latest troop contributing countries of Canada and Jordan. The United States is grateful to all troop contributors to this mission and we honor your collective commitment and sacrifices to stabilizing Mali. We also commend MINUSMA’s efforts this summer in supporting the presidential elections.

Madam President, we’re concerned, however, about reports of some troop contributing countries not deploying with all the equipment they committed to bring. This heightens the risk to their units and to the overall mission, and we call on troop contributing countries to follow through on their equipment commitments.

We share the Secretary-General’s view regarding political progress seen in Mali since MINUSMA’s mandate renewal this past June. The Pact for Peace, which was finalized this week, the completion of the presidential elections, and the establishment of President Keita’s government provides cautious optimism to reinvigorate the peace process.

But it must not stop here. The Government of Mali and the signatory parties must use this momentum to make clear and swift gains in implementing the key provisions of the roadmap.

Madam President, increased reports of violent extremist attacks against MINUSMA peacekeepers, Malian and international security forces, and especially against civilians, coupled with the growing humanitarian crisis in the center of Mali, are extremely unsettling. The heartbreaking story this week from the village of Telly that gunmen killed approximately a dozen civilians reminds us of the urgency in finding an enduring solution.

This year’s mandate asked MINUSMA to continue to support the Government of Mali to stabilize key population centers in the North, Center, and other areas where civilians are at risk. We call on the government and the UN mission to protect civilians and strengthen community outreach mechanisms to end intercommunal violence propagated by self-proclaimed self-defense groups.

We also call on Malian forces to respect human rights and to comply with applicable international law in all phases of operations and urge the government’s continued pursuit of accountability for those responsible for past human rights violations and abuses.

Madam President, this year’s Security Council resolution was clear. Signatory parties must show significant progress or face changes to MINUSMA after the expiration of its current mandate. We implore all parties to take this timeline seriously, and show the world their commitment to a peaceful and stable Mali by rapid implementation of key provisions of the roadmap stipulated in this year’s mandate.

Thank you.