Remarks at a UN Security Council Meeting on the Situation in Mali (MINUSMA)

Rodney Hunter
Political Coordinator
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
June 12, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President.

Thank you SRSG Annadif for your briefing. And welcome Foreign Minister Dramé to the Council today, we very much look forward to working with you and Mali’s new government.

Mr. President, every quarter we sit in this chamber and listen to how the security situation in the center of Mali continues to deteriorate. We hear how violence against civilians surpassed the previous quarter’s report. We hear how attacks against UN peacekeepers and international forces remain the norm. We hear worries about how the volatility is spilling over and destabilizing other Sahel countries.

In this reporting period alone, 333 civilians were killed in intercommunal violence. This is a sharp increase from the 43 civilians killed in intercommunal violence during this reporting period last year. And just this week another massacre occurred, where dozens were killed in Central Mali due to intercommunal violence.

Additionally, 148 peacekeepers have been killed in hostile action since the establishment of the peacekeeping mission. The United States pays tribute to those who have paid the ultimate price and to all the soldiers, civilians, and their families who sacrifice daily to bring peace and stability to the people of Mali. We offer our condolences to the latest victims’ families.

In addition to hearing how things continue to grow worse, we hear how there is little progress between the Government of Mali and the Signatory Armed Groups in implementing the Algiers Peace Agreement. Four years after signing the agreement, and it seems as though the parties and the government are always on the verge of a new understanding or a roadmap that will lead to progress on the agreement’s signature political and security tasks.

Mr. President, as we have said before, the status quo is not acceptable. In the Council’s March meeting and in the Presidential Statement that followed, the Council made clear our dissatisfaction with the signatory parties’ performance on the benchmarks in Resolution 2423. The renewal of MINUSMA’s mandate is our opportunity to demonstrate this frustration and make changes based on evidence and analysis. It is also the opportunity to show the world that the people of Mali deserve better.

Mr. President, considering the stark realities of the political and security dynamics in Mali, the new mandate must achieve four key outcomes: pressure, balance, transition, and performance.

First, it must continue to apply pressure on the signatory armed groups and the government to implement the peace agreement. One way to do this is by strengthening the Council’s tools to respond when signatory parties fail to meet the key benchmarks in its mandate. Additional pressure can and should be applied to ensure inaction and obstruction have specific and concrete consequences.

Second, the mandate needs to augment MINUSMA’s single strategic priority to support implementation of the agreement with a second strategic priority that will adequately address the worsening security situation in the center focused on stabilization and protection of civilians. Nevertheless, we expect the government will do all it can, as soon as it can, in the center to be the enduring security and governance solution there and for all of Mali.

Third, it is essential to focus on the long-term transition or else remain in a reactive posture. MINUSMA’s collaboration with the Country Team on the integrated strategic framework was an important step in this regard. But this mandate should further empower the civilian and military leadership of MINUSMA to begin identifying a plan for MINUSMA’s transition, departure, and for other capable entities – such as the UN country team, the Government of Mali, Malian Security Forces, and the G5 Sahel Joint Force – to assume a greater roles in political, security, and stability tasks.

Lastly, performance. The political and security realities demand that MINUSMA focus its efforts on the peace agreement and also the center. This mandate must streamline tasks to allow MINUSMA to do this effectively. It must request that the UN Secretariat increase its effectiveness with respect to repatriation and remediation of poor performing troops and work to provide MINUSMA with capable, flexible forces, with minimal caveats. This mandate must be paradigm setting in this regard to ensure MINUSMA receives sufficiently trained and equipped troops.

Mr. President, the Security Council must have the political will and vision to adjust mission mandates as a result of facts-based analysis. We cannot allow another year to pass and be no closer to seeing the progress on the core political and security tasks of the agreement. The peace agreement addresses important drivers of conflict and its implementation will have a positive impact on the lives of Malians. We must expect political courage from stakeholders on all sides to work together, break the status quo, and achieve real and lasting positive change.

Thank you, Mr. President.